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It's Only Sex
Hebrews 13:4

 

I'll be the first to admit that I grew up in a Norman Rockwell painting-you know, basic middle America brimming with traditional family values, but all that aside, I've come to see myself as sophisticated and in tune with today as the next guy. But to be totally honest with you, some recent trends are alarming me. 

The demographers are starting to analyze the 2000 census data and are reporting some of the trends they are discovering. On May 14, 2001, the Washington Post reported that the number of cohabitating unmarried couples rose by 72 percent over the past decade from 3.19 million to 5.47 million. Commenting on the trend, Andrew J. Cherlin, a Johns Hopkins University sociology professor said, "The central place of marriage in our family system is eroding." (Http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26160-2001May14.html)

Are we on the lower end of a slippery slope that began decades ago? Will the day come when traditional values will no longer include marriage as the accepted context for sex? Has that day already arrived?

The Bible teaches a clear standard for sex-the only acceptable context for sex is marriage.

Hebrews 13:4 says, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (NASB) Forget about the scarlet letter, or other people judging you if you are a fornicator (one who has sex before marriage) or an adulterer (one who has extra marital sex) God, will judge you.

Why? What we do with our bodies is personal to God. He considers our body His temple. 1 Cor. 6:18-20 says, " "Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. [19] Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? [20] For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (NASB)

Another reason is the only context where sex can really be safe is in a monogamous relationship. In his book, Boy Meets Girl, Joshua Harris wrote about a missionary who gave in to sexual temptation before he was married. "He was a virgin in his thirties and two months away from getting married. One night, inflamed by lust and tired of resisting temptation, he made his way to the red-light district of the city and the bed of a prostitute. Only once. Just fifteen minutes in a dark, dingy room--a moment of indulgence in years of work for God. But he left infected with AIDS. Two months later he unwittingly infected the bride who had waited so patiently for him."

-Boy Meets Girl, Joshua Harris p. 147

Not only does God restrict sex to the context of marriage, but it makes it a priority in the marriage relationship. " Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. [2] But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. [3] The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. [4] The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. [5] Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:1-5 NIV

The only reason the scripture gives for depriving a spouse of sex is if the two have entered into a covenant to devote themselves to prayer for a time, but then, it teaches the couple to "come together again." 

What is so valuable about sex that the Bible restricts it to the marriage relationship and then encourages married couples to "not deprive each other [of sex?]" I mean, after all, its just sex, isn't it?

Let me tell you a story.

Seven or eight hundred years before Christ, Hosea got a job as God's prophet to Israel during unstable political times. In a twenty-year span, Israel had six kings and suffered greatly due to the civil war between the northern and southern kingdoms. Not an easy time to be a prophet.

Hosea was a bachelor. Not a confirmed bachelor, I mean he wanted to get married, and eventually he did. A marriage made in heaven-literally. Hosea fell in love with Gomer. Gomer wasn't your typical prophet's wife, she was a prostitute. I'm not sure if she was a common prostitute or a temple prostitute working in Baal's temple, either way, she wasn't exactly what Hosea's mother was hoping for.

But Hosea loved her.

Love conquers all, right? Hosea had to believe that if he just loved her enough and provided a healthy environment for her, she would change. And for a while, it was looking like it would.

God blessed the union with a son. They named him Jezreel, a name meaning, "God sows." A beautiful name. Every time Hosea called Jezreel to the table, he was reminded that God sows-that He is actively bringing blessings to His people. 

Has God sowed in your life? Can you see the imprints of His blessings on your soul? You can be sure that Hosea did.

Once again, Gomer became pregnant but this time she gave Hosea a little girl-Lo'ruhamah. A beautiful sounding name, but it has a venomous meaning-not pitied or unloved. Who was unloved? Not Gomer-she was loved, the scripture says so. Hosea? Did Gomer love Hosea as much as Hosea loved Gomer? Was it Lo'ruhamah herself? Was she not loved? Certainly Hosea loved her. She was Daddy's little girl. But did Gomer? 

Finally, Gomer bore Hosea a third child. His name, Lo-ammi. A name that must have broken Hosea's heart every time he spoke it. A name that means, "not my people." Lo-ammi wasn't Hosea's son.

With time, Gomer stopped the pretense of the marriage and left. When she did, she shattered a home. Can you hear the cries of the children left behind?

"Daddy, where's Mommy? When's she coming home?" "I don't know Jezreel, I hope soon." "I miss Mommy, where'd she go Daddy? Will she be back soon?" I don't know Lo'ruhamah, I miss her too." And then there were the cries of Lo-ammi, too young to articulate her pain, but old enough to know something was wrong.

Late at night, when all the children were put to bed, Hosea would try to get to sleep. But couldn't. Where is she? Is she OK? Whose arms is she in tonight? He couldn't put her out of his mind. Everywhere he turned, there were reminders of the woman he loved that left to go into the arms of other men. Her clothes hanging in the closet. Her jewelry laying on the dresser. Her smell lingered on her pillow. Hosea knew better, he should be able to get her out of his mind. After all, she had left him to sleep with other men. He deserved better. But he couldn't shake her from his mind--he was haunted by his love for her.

I'm not sure how the word got to Hosea. Perhaps he overheard a whisper as he walked by the townspeople, or maybe it was as a result of a tireless search. But Hosea heard that there was going to be an auction. A prostitute auction, and he heard Gomer was up for sale.

He gathered what little resources he had and went to the auction.

Naked, Gomer stood before the crowd that gathered to bid on prostitutes as a farmer would bid on a pig. "How much do I hear for this one?" The auctioneer said? Amid the snide comments and lewd remarks, the local prophet, Hosea, spoke up. "I'll give you 15 pieces of silver." The crowd quieted. "Is that his wife?" Someone whispered. "Is she the one that married the prophet?" 

"Yes, I've got 15 pieces of silver, and a homer and a half of barley." What had he done? He'd bid everything he had. Shouldn't he have started low and moved up? What if someone outbid him? He'd be humiliated.

"I've got a bid for 15 pieces of silver and a homer and a half of barley. Do I hear any more?" The auctioneer asked. "Going once. Going twice. Sold! To the man with the silver and the barley."

Hosea makes his way through the crowd, pays the price and walks toward Gomer. He places his robe around his bride, and says, "Come on Gomer, we're going home." And then he said to her, You're going to stay with me now for many days. You're not a prostitute any longer, and will not be with another man. Only me."

Don't tell me it's only sex. I know better.

Impact Preaching: A Case for the
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