One year for Christmas, I gave bikes to my little twin boys. For months I saved money so that I could bless them with these gifts. After they unwrapped the presents on Christmas morning, I took them outside so they could learn how to ride for the first time. They were so excited!
And then … I did the “unthinkable.” I made some rules.
Rule #1: They were only allowed to ride their bikes around a small area of the apartment complex.
Rule #2: Under no circumstances were they allowed to ride down the stairs.
My rationale for the first rule was because the apartment complex we lived in at the time was located in a dangerous neighborhood and it was about 100 yards away from a four-lane highway. As for the other rule, I think it’s pretty obvious why that wouldn’t be such a good idea!
Most people would agree that by making some rules I wasn’t trying to be cruel or a killjoy to my little boys. I did it because I love them!
The truth is every gift that flows out of love almost always has some rules and parameters that are set around it.
This is also true with the gifts of love and sex that are given to us by our loving, heavenly Father. In Ephesians 5, we’re given some rules about how to enjoy these gifts:
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. (Eph. 5:1-3)
To walk in love means to give, care and share with others and follow Christ’s example. It also means not living a sexually immoral lifestyle. This includes homosexual behavior, living with your partner outside of marriage, and engaging in any behavior that causes someone to desire you sexually that is outside the bounds of marriage.
Ever wondered, why all the rules? And why does sex matter so much to God, anyway?
Because He loves us! And as a good Father, He wants His cherished sons and daughters to have the best when it comes to love, sex and relationships. God knows that sex outside of marriage is second-rate sex – it’s sex with guilt and shame attached and some pretty devastating consequences.
Even if someone doesn’t believe in God’s Word or follow His rules, it is undeniable that there are certain spiritual, physical and emotional price tags that go along with sex outside of marriage.
According to the researches at UCLA, couples who cohabitate before marriage have a 50 percent higher rate of divorce than those who do not. They are also more likely to experience infidelity in marriage. Studies have also found that the introduction of sex into a dating relationship almost always ushers in the breakup of the relationship.
This is why our heavenly Father says, “Keep the fire of sex in the fireplace of marriage. If you take the fire out and put it on the living room floor, it will burn the house down.”
Contrary to how we might feel, God isn’t “withholding” sex from those of us who aren’t married. Rather, His desire is for each of us to experience deep, intimate love, lasting relationships, and passionate sex. The purpose of His rules is to maximize our relationships and pleasure in the long run.
It’s my prayer and hope that those of us who are single, single again, or wanting more from our marriages, will discover and follow God’s way to have better relationships.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip