So as I said on Sunday, and in my previous post, we are going try out this question and answer thing and see if it is helpful. Please let me know your feedback.
I am going to answer the questions off the top off my head to best simulate real world conditions, since one of my goals is to help you learn how to think on your feet with the Bible as your guide. However, this is also somewhat of a disclaimer. Please keep in mind these aren’t carefully planned out thoughts and the video is raw and unedited.
One more thing before I get started. This is in response to this past Sunday’s sermon on Being Clear on Sex from Genesis 2:21-25. My answer is going to assume that you have listened to that sermon, because I don’t have time to repeat everything I said. If you haven’t listened to it, please do so before moving on. Seriously, stop and go listen to it. These answers can’t be understood without the context of the sermon that they are in reference to. So stop….
Ok, here goes…
In today’s world weddings are not cheap. Careers also take much longer to get started. Because of this, there are many people of Christian faith that spend years and years together before marriage happens. I know it can be very difficult to refrain from having sex before marriage especially in these instances. If two people plan on, and know they'll be together for the rest of their lives, and have said this with God as their witness- but just don't have the time or money to get married, what then? I feel like traditionally people got married at a much younger age because college/starting a career wasn't as big of a necessity and things weren't necessarily as expensive. Many moons ago there WEREN'T even pieces of paper that solidified a marriage, it was just something you did in the presence of God. So if two have admitted that and realize that-but cannot fulfill today's wedding culture norm stresses (family, careers, money, etc) then what?
The first thing that must be noted about this question is that it is being asked about Christians, followers of Jesus. How I answer this question for someone who says they are a follower of Jesus and someone who doesn’t is very different. If someone is not a follower of Jesus, then that needs to be the focus of conversation. I’m not going to waste time trying to convince them to live with Jesus as their God, if they don’t believe that He is God. Having sex outside of marriage is probably just one of many ways in which their lives are in rebellion to God. The issue isn’t picking out each individual area of rebellion, but rather calling on them to surrender. If someone doesn’t believe the gospel of Christ, then that must always be the focus.
But this is being asked about people who do believe the gospel and so I am going to assume that they want to honor God, obey his word and love Jesus. That’s what it means to be a Christian. I think for the Christian, they are approaching this question from the wrong direction. Instead of saying “how does the Bible fit into today’s culture?”, the question should be, “How does today’s culture need to fit into the Bible?” As Christians we must always be bound by God’s word. We need to start with what the Bible says and build from there.
As we saw on Sunday, the Bible clearly says that the physical act of being one flesh with a person is only to take place when you are covenanted together as one flesh in marriage. All sex outside of this covenant is a lie. It is saying that you can take pleasure from a person without being bound to them. That is not how God created sex to be. Sex is meant to be an act of commitment. A physical pleasure that ultimately points to the spiritual pleasure of experiencing God’s commitment to us through Jesus (Eph 5:31). Saying that you intend to be covenanted together is not the same as actually being covenanted together. You either are married or you are not. The Bible does not say anywhere that intentions matter. Only what you actually do.
As I said on Sunday, we currently live in a country to recognizes marriage through giving a marriage certificate. However, that is not ultimately what makes someone married. God was the one who brought Adam and Eve together and he has left behind his the leaders of his church (Matthew 18 , 1 Peter 5) to be delegates of his authority, one of which is the authority to authorize the covenant of marriage. And so, at the end of the day, a piece of paper doesn’t matter, but being married by a pastor before God and witnesses does.
This question seems to imply that saving money, starting a career and having a big wedding day are all necessary for marriage. That just isn’t biblical. The only biblical requirement for marriage is that the two parties be adults (man and woman, not boy and girl) and both Christians (2 Cor 6:14). Other than that, have at it. That’s not to say that there isn’t a tremendous amount of wisdom that should be employed before getting married. This is a lifelong covenant, you better think long and hard about what you are doing and get a lot of godly counsel. However, at the end of the day, 1 Cor 7 makes it clear that if you desire to be married, do not delay. The whole idea of waiting to get married until- fill in worldly objective- that just isn’t Biblical. I know plenty of godly couples who are thriving and they were married while in college and dirt poor. That’s not to say that there won’t be stresses with that, but if God has called two people to be together wouldn’t you rather walk through those stresses together than to be apart? If you prioritize finishing school, or saving money for a big wedding, or getting your career started, you are saying that all those things are more important than being with the person that God has created for you to share your life with. What a terrible way to start your relationship by saying that there are other things that you value more than being with that person.
So the short answer is, don’t let what the world tells you that you need for marriage trump what God tells you. If you feel called to get married and your significant other meets the biblical requirements for a marriage partner, then go for it and God bless you.
Question #2 How do you talk to people about this sensitive subject? It seems really personal and overstepping to say anything.
I am so grateful that this question was asked. We need to be thinking about how to interact with people around us in a way that reaches out without selling out. Too often Christians fail in this. They either are totally irrelevant by being “truth speakers” and their lack of love silences their voice. Or they are sell outs and they don’t actually say anything of substance. So praise God that we want to learn how to speak the truth in love. This is about being a real friend, a real neighbor, in the real world.
First, if someone does not know Jesus, as I said in my previous answer, I would not make this the focus. Not because I am scared to go there, but because their sexual sin is just one of probably many fruits that come from the root of their heart of sin. What they need is not just to be sexually pure, but to be purified through having their hearts cleansed by the blood of Christ. When Paul went to the Corinthian church that was about as messed up sexually as you could imagine, he said that the first time he went he resolved to knowing nothing, but Jesus and him crucified. You have to keep the gospel about the gospel. Sexual purity is not the gospel. The gospel is that Jesus Christ came to die for sinners (1 Cor 15:3) and rose again from the grave to prove that His death accomplished the means of our salvation (1 Cor 15:4). And so, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom 10:9 ESV). That’s the gospel, the good news of what Jesus has done. That’s the gospel that is the power of God to change lives (Romans 1:15). Keep going back to the gospel. Stay on message. Their sexual immorality might be helpful as an illustration of their sin that they need to be saved from, but there are probably others too. So I wouldn’t say avoid it, but don’t make that the focus.
In Acts 2 Peter preaches the gospel and just lays out in a broad way people’s sin; how their hearts are rebellious to God. And they cry out, “What must we do to be saved?” Until people recognize their need for salvation, they will never turn to the savior. So don’t be scared to talk about sin. Make sure to talk about your own sin (1 Timothy 1:15). Just make sure you go from sin to the savior and don’t preach a gospel of morality, salvation through learning to be a good person, but salvation through putting your trust in Christ.
If a person is a follower of Jesus and they just aren’t being obedient in this area, I’d encourage you again to keep it about the gospel. It is the gospel that would call you to confront your friend. Sex is meant to be a physical pleasure experience in the covenant of marriage that illustrates the spiritual pleasure of being in a covenant with Jesus Christ through faith. And so when sex happens outside of the marriage covenant, it is saying a lie about the gospel. Now I don’t want to give anyone a license to go be self righteous and call people liars. Pray for compassion. Pray for humility. Remember what you have been saved from and how many times your life has been out of step with the gospel. But don’t hold back from going. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6). I don’t trust people who never correct me, because I know me. I need to be called out on things. Be a good friend and talk to your friend. Keep it framed in the gospel, not “being a good Christian.” And remember Galatians 6:1 that the goal is to restore them with gentleness.
Lord willing, I’ll see you on Sunday
- Pastor Jeff
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