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About this series
Taught by Chip's son, Ryan Ingram, Relational Intelligence gives us a clear understanding of what it takes to develop intimate, life-giving, character-shaping relationships where people share a rugged commitment to one another for the long-haul. Ryan exposes the flaws in relational thinking that result in broken, disillusioned lives. He provides alternative, biblical insight into how healthy, mature, and fun relationships can be nurtured and enjoyed.More from this series
Paul says self-control, the ability to say “no,” not self-indulgence, is a mark of freedom. And he goes on and so he starts philosophical. I have the right to do whatever I want it just doesn’t make whatever I want right. Self-control, not self-indulgence is a mark of freedom.
Then he’s going to move it theological. And this is so important. This is so profound. This is where we make this grand disconnect with our sexuality and spirituality. And he says this, “All of you,” not just part of you, “is meant for God.” All of you, not just part of you, is meant for God.
Notice what he says, “The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord.” Whoa. Did you catch that? And we are going to unpack and define sexual immorality in just a minute. But just hang with me here. The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality. Now, what we think he would say right after that moment is, “But for sexual chastity or purity or whatever.” And he doesn’t.
He says, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for,” who? “the Lord, and the Lord for the body,” then he makes a theological argument. “By His power God raised the Lord from the dead and He will raise us also.” Jesus was not raised merely spiritually from the dead. He was raised physically, bodily, as well that we, too, will have a physical resurrection from the dead. And that our bodies aren’t intended for this earth, but our bodies are intended – heart, soul, and mind – all of us, for the Lord.
See, all of you, not just part of you, is meant for God. The philosophy at the day is Greek philosophy that was embraced and it was this dualism that your body was evil and your spirit was good.
And so, you’re – what mattered is the spirit and the body didn’t matter. You can do with your body whatever you want and it doesn’t impact the spirit. And Paul is saying, “Nuh-uh.” All of you, all of you, not just part of you, is meant for your Creator.
Christopher West said it so beautifully. He said, “The sexual confusion so prevalent in our world and in our own hearts is simply the human desire for heaven gone berserk.”
And so, and so, here’s what he’s saying. If all of us, not just part of us is meant for God, then sex is more than just about sex. There’s something deeper there. This is why he would go on to say, “Flee,” run, “from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside their body, but whoever sins sexually sins against their own body.” Something we all have seen, and some and many have experienced the pain and the regret and the shame and the hurt that comes sexually he wrote over two thousand years ago.
Sins against our own body. Because sex is more than just about sex. Well, what is this sexual immorality? I think when we think about this idea and sexual immorality, it’s like, Ooh. Like, okay, adultery, right? I mean, we go to the extremes. This is the Greek word porneia.
It’s the broadest term for anything that is outside of God’s design for sex. And so, sleeping together with your girlfriend or boyfriend is sexual immorality. Porn, and taking in movies that are erotic is sexual immorality, an emotional affair with another person who is not your spouse is sexual immorality.
You see, what we need to recapture is this vision for our sexuality. That sex was designed by God to express oneness with another person and it’s actually this picture of the intimacy we are created to have with our Creator.
I like the way Tim Keller said it. He said, “Sex is a God-invented way to say to another person, ‘I belong completely and exclusively and permanently to you.’”
And so, he says, man, God says, I created this. I’m not down on it. It’s awesome. And the context is within a covenant, committed relationship called marriage between one man and one woman for life. And outside of that it will create great harm and pain. And it’s a way to express the oneness that I have made you for, but it’s so much deeper than that. It’s a way for you to get a glimpse of actually how I have made you to be in relationship with Me.
This is why he says, “Flee from it.” Run from it. Like, anything outside of God’s design, anything that is pulling you away, like our world, our dating world, like the mantra, like the progression is you hook up, you shack up, and then you break up and then repeat. And that’s what you do. You just – dating, it’s expected. You have sex. And it’s like you hook up and then you eventually shack up because you’re sleeping together, you might as well live together. And then eventually you break up and you repeat, and you go through it.
And He says, No, no, no, no. I have a vision for your life and your sexuality and I long for you to embrace it for your good, not because I’m trying to keep you from fun, I’m trying to keep you from pain.
And here’s the thing we do. We go, “Well, how,” if we’re followers of Jesus, we’re like, “how close to the edge do we get?” Right? How do I get here? Like, “Ryan, here’s my question.” “Okay, great.” “How far is too far?” Okay, is heavy petting too far? You’re like, “Did you just say that in church?”
And then, like, how far is too far? And I just get to this edge. And Paul says, “No, no, no, run!” Get your running shoes on, put them on, and go, “You know what? How close can I get to Jesus?” That’s the question. Wrong question. Not: how far is too far? How close, Jesus? How close, Jesus?
And then you just look around yourself, singles, as you run after Jesus, who is running at the same pace with you? That’s a great marrying person. Because sex is more than just about sex.
And then he gives you a picture, he gives me a picture. It’s something that you have probably never thought about your body before. And, yet, it’s so true and if you really get it, it will change the way you think about your body.
He says this, “Your body is the temple of God.” Your body, your body isn’t just a random body. It’s the temple of God. Notice what he says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you received from God?”
The picture, the same way in the Old Testament, the people would come to the temple to meet with God and that the Spirit of God resided there, he is saying, “Now, because of the finished work of Jesus, when you place your faith in Him, the Spirit of God, the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, is now deposited and dwells in you.” That you’re not just an anybody, you are a Spirit-filled body.
Then he says this, “You are not your own.” No, no, no – my body, my rules. That’s fantastic. Follower of Jesus? You are not your own. Why? You were bought at a great price. The Son of God hung and bled and died to buy you back, to bring you from death into life, from an enemy of God to a son and daughter of the King most high. Therefore, in light of that, I will honor God with my body.
And so, follower of Jesus, when you step into a relationship, when you invite Him to be the Savior and the Lord of your life, this is what you’re saying: I am laying down my rights, my preferences, my desires, and my sexuality at the foot of the cross. I am going to follow You, Jesus, and Your ways. I am no longer my own, but I am Yours. And so, Jesus, You get to call the shots.
That is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. And so, singles, would you refuse the hookup culture? Men and women alike that are medicating with porn, would you come out of hiding? Would you get help and go, “No, no, no – not my way but Your way”?
Marrieds, would you not supplement your sex life maybe with emotional conversations or outside things? Dating, you don’t have to move in together to be together. Same-sex attracted, where you would say, “I’m going to deny myself, pick up my cross, which I understand is incredibly painful, and follow You.”
You know, it’s interesting, I have some good friends who are deep, wonderful, followers of Jesus who are gay and who are honoring God with their sexuality and this one friend was telling me that one of his fears was to die alone. As he has chosen a life of celibacy and he says, this is where when we talk about family and the Church, it has got to mean something and where the Church has really got to return to being the family of God for every person who are followers of Jesus.
Sam Allberry writes on this. He’s a Christian who is gay, honoring God with his sexuality, he says, “We need to recognize the cost of discipleship for everyone. For many in our churches, the cost of discipleship for the LGBT background people looks cruel and unusual. I suspect in most cases that is because we are not counting the cost of discipleship in other areas of life. Jesus says all of us have to say a profound ‘no’ to some of our deepest longings and intuitions. That is discipleship. Jesus says it up front; He doesn’t bury it in the small print. The wonderful paradox of the Christian faith is as we deny self, we become our real selves.”
This is what it means to follow Jesus. Debra Hirsch in her book, a great book, I’d encourage you to read it, Redeeming Sex, it’s worth just the opening of her story. Like, I cried, the introduction, I just read it and wept. I was just like, “Oh my gosh,” and seeing how God has redeemed her life.
“Every human being on the planet is sexually broken. Everybody’s orientation is disoriented.” It’s not saying, I’m not coming up here going, “I have it all together.” So let me start with my sexual brokenness.
When I was a teenager, I got hooked on pornography. I brought that darkness into my marriage. It brought incredible pain and heartache. And it has been a journey and a process of God restoring and redeeming and bringing freedom in my life. And still to this day, lust is a struggle in my life.
And I’d love to say, “Healed!” When I see a girl, I don’t have any thoughts. No. I’m a red-blooded man who is heterosexual who has thoughts and I’m being daily redeemed by His grace. Broken. Broken. We are broken.
Repentance. It involves accepting our broken condition and looking to the Savior, Jesus, to fill our gaps. We can’t have it on our own terms. We have to accept God’s perspective on the human condition.
Your body, my body is the temple of God. And so relational intelligence says it has never been just physical. But you already knew that. Even though it has been pushed down, you already knew that. It has never been just physical, and so I will honor God with my body.
No longer will I say, “I have my sexuality over here and my spirituality over here, but I have me who God created, fully spiritual, fully sexual, and those are actually to work together.”
So let me give you just a little bit of application. What does it look like to honor God with your body? Singles, contrary to public opinion, you are not incomplete. You’re not lacking.
I think we have this desire, in our culture especially, everybody has someone to love but me. If you’re single, this is what you feel. You’re wrestling with this. And I just, I need to somebody to complete me. Here’s the beautiful reality of our Savior. Jesus, fully God, fully human, which meant fully sexual, was single but not incomplete.
Christianity was actually the first religion ever to elevate singleness. And you can be single and it does not exclude deep levels of intimacy. And some are single because of circumstance, some are single because of choice, out of honor for God. Others are single of calling. And you can live a full and fulfilled life apart from your sexuality.
Like, there’s the deep – the pointing of that is the deep levels of intimacy and says, “You don’t have to find someone to complete you. You are complete in Christ.”
Dating, would you refuse to settle? Would you refuse to settle? You go on a date; sex is expected. You don’t want to be weird. I get it. But you refuse to settle. Would you say, “No, no, no, I am going to honor God with my body.”
What does that look like? Where you would put some boundaries in your life where you say, “I am going to run. I’m going to flee. I’m going to run. I’m not going to have this.” I got this from my old youth pastor. I still use it to this day. Dating Guidelines. And we’re just going to go through this quick because we don’t have a lot of time on this.
But would you say, “Here are some boundaries that I am going to put in place that are going to keep me far from anywhere close to that boundary line for my own good.” First area, the bikini rule. If you’re dating, would you refuse to settle and go, “I’m not going to touch any area that is in the bikini area, male or female.
I am not going to,” as the Song of Songs says, “Awaken love before its time.” The H factor – if you’re dating, would you not get horizontal? Right? You get horizontal, you’re watching a movie, you just kind of slide down.
The bikini factor, the H factor, third one: nothing good happens after midnight. The later it gets into the night, the lower your inhibitions. Your ability to say no. You’re like, “Lots of good things happen after midnight!” But would you honor God with your body?
And finally, Joe’s secret weapon. Joe in the Bible, Joseph, he was pressured, Potiphar’s wife. And what did he do? He ran. And for some, you’re in that moment, it gets heated, and the only thing you can do is run. And I encourage you, it may be weird, but it’s worth it, run.
Singles, you’re not incomplete. Dating, would you refuse to settle? And married, would you water your own grass? Would you water your own grass? It has been said that if the grass is greener on the other side, it’s time to water your grass. We look to the greener grass and go, “I need to go over there.” No! You’re just doing a bad job watering!
My brother and I, we have some good friends and it has been a season of heartache and pain as we have watched friends of ours that are close, their marriage of fifteen, twenty years end in divorce. One where the wife ran off with another man and we’re just watching families being devastated.
And we are just heartbroken and trying to figure out how to walk alongside and so, this is what my brother and I have been saying to each other: water your grass. Because it’s easy in the busyness of life to kind of go, date nights, to slip, right? It’s easy to just get caught up with all of the stuff that is going on and just go, “You know what? We’ll put that on the backburner. The kids need this or work needs this or…” And then what happens is the grass begins to get brown and you don’t notice it, but then you start to notice someone else’s grass and you’re like, “Huh.”
And so, we have seen what we don’t ever want to be. And so, we just remind each other every once in a while, make sure date nights with our spouses are a priority, getting away every once in a while is a priority. Marrieds: water your grass.
It’s never been just physical. And so, I will honor God with my body. Today, some of you have an incredible decision in front of you and are wrestling.
And there is no shame with God. He says, “Come to Me. I want to give you a brand-new start, but you’ve got to come.” Would you do that? May we be a people full of grace and truth.