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About this series
God's Boundaries for Abundant Living
Psychologists tell us that boundaries provide security, protection, and self-esteem. Long before psychology, God provided ten clear boundaries to protect His people from harm and give them the highest values ever recorded on the earth. "God's Boundaries for Abundant Living" gives a fresh look at the Ten Commandments and will help you discover God's boundaries for your highest, best and most abundant living.More from this series
I was at a dinner party about, oh, I don’t know, three or four years ago and it was a neighbor and so ninety-five percent of all the people were unbelievers and they were professional people.
And so eventually I saw a kind of distinguished looking guy with a little goatee and he was sitting over by this couch and I thought, you know, I might as well get to know some people. God has me here for a reason. And I sit down and we get talking and I think he assumes, he doesn’t know me, I don’t know him, and about three minutes into the conversation he looks at me like we’re old buddies and says, “You know, life used to be great, didn’t it?” And I thought, well, I could go with that one. “Yeah, life used to be great.” He said, “Yeah, man, I mean, you could have a good time,” and he said, “You know it was free sex and you could just go have fun, party, party, party.” But he said, “Now you’ve got to be careful.”
He said, “So what do you think?” And I said, “Life used to really be great, to tell you the truth. But I think us believing that sex was really free and didn’t have huge complications, it’s really a reminder that it was never free and there’s a huge price tag. And I think we’ve taught totally and thought really randomly wrong about sexuality in general.”
“Oh, really?” Now, because of what I do, I’m sure you all think that, you know, I just handled everything really well and thank God I’ve, you know, studied the passages and represented Christ well.
And I will tell you, I gave it my best shot. But I want you to hear something. That’s the view of sex in the world. And I had a lot of time to think about it. And since then I’ve done a ton of research. And I want to give you some facts about sex as we enter in to the 7th Command that I’ve entitled No Second-Rate Sex.
And before I do, I just want to ask you - where would you have stood in that conversation? What would you have said?
First, I’d like to say is that sex is far from free, it’s costing us plenty. Sexually transmitted diseases. We are paying, I mean, financially alone, hundreds of millions of dollars every year because of the violation of the 7th Command. The psychological price tag is even higher.
So, fact number one is that free sex is costing us plenty.
And fact number two is, sex outside of marriage under any circumstances is, you got that pen I asked you to bring? It’s a good group, you’re learning, it’s good. Write the word “sin.” Sex outside of marriage under any circumstances is sin. I’m amazed at the number of Christians I meet who will tell me things like, I mean, “The Bible doesn’t really say that sex outside of marriage is really sin, does it? I mean, it might allude to it but it doesn’t really say that…”
So let’s put this on record - 1 Thessalonians 4:3 to 8. It says, “It is God’s will.” That’s pretty clear. “It’s God’s will that you should be sanctified, or set apart, that you should avoid sexual immorality.”
And then, in case you don’t know what that phrase means, “That each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable. Not in passionate lust like the heathen who do not know God. And in this matter, let no one wrong his brother or take advantage of him.”
The idea is, is when you have sex with someone who is going to end up someone else’s mate, you defrauded him. You took advantage of him. You spoiled for that man or for that woman a very special moment in relationship that God wanted for them.
The Lord will punish men for all such sins as we’ve already been told and warned you. Why? “For God did not call us to be impure but to live a holy life. Therefore,” just in case, you know, you’re missing the point here, “He who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God who gives the Holy Spirit.”
The Bible is very clear. There are some grey issues in Scripture. This is an issue that is black and white. It is clear that any type of sexuality except between a man and a woman inside the boundary of marriage is called sin. It’s called missing the mark. It’s called not doing God’s will.
Fact number three, God is pro-sex. Are you ready? He invented it. Did you ever think about this? I mean, God is all-knowing. He could have figured out a lot of ways for us to multiply.
I mean, you know, when you think and you look at nature. I mean, there are some ways where there are just two cells and the cells just divide on their own. I guess we could have been, you know, walking around one day and all of a sudden you look and there are two of you or something like that.
But God decided that there was a better way. God is pro-sex. He determined that the best way, not only for procreation but for intimacy, and for pleasure, and because it brings delight to His heart, He would invent a way for a man and a woman to come together, inside this boundary of marriage, where He would bless them. He invented it.
And then He actually speaks about it. Notice the Scripture says, far from it being something dirty, you know, necessary. You know, I guess if you can ever have kids you’ve got to go through this terrible act.
But that has been, actually, what the Church has taught in some ways. In fact, some great Church fathers have really missed the mark on this one. Martin Luther, although he had a number of kids, actually taught that sex was just for procreation. If you weren’t having sex to, you know, have more kids then it’s wrong. I mean, it’s just perverted.
God says, by contrast, Hebrews 13:4. “The marriage bed is holy.” It’s to be undefiled. It’s to be enjoyed without shame and without any holding back. Inside of marriage, God says, sex is about love. It’s not about lust. It’s about not being self-centered, it’s about expressing communication and commitment with the person that you love the most.
God says, I want to give you a good thing. I want you to experience with this one person this bond, this commitment to express your emotions, your mind, your heart in a way that’s too intimate for words. And by the way, I think there are some Christians that actually think that when a man and a woman are having sexual union, that God might look down and just cover one eye and say, “Oh Gabriel, I just can’t look.” As though there’s something unholy or uncomfortable. I want you to know the God of the Bible, under the right circumstances, a man and a woman, married, loving one another, celebrates that and says, “This is an act of praise.”
There are not a lot of places in Scripture I have where God says, “This is holy. Keep it undefiled. This is special.” In fact, you do the psychological research and you’ll find that sexuality and spirituality are very closely linked - very closely linked. And when you read in Old Testament passages when God wants to make parallels about unity and intimacy in the Old Testament, He talks about spiritual adultery.
And when He wants to come up with a metaphor to try and somehow explain this mystery of our union with Christ, what’s He come up with? Ephesians chapter 5. It’s marriage - in all of its fullness. Sex is sacred. Not only that, it’s encouraged.
I’m not going to read the passage but if you want your husbands to get in a little Bible study, tell them Proverbs 5:15 to 20 would be a good text. It’s very graphic, it’s R-rated. This is a passage, literally, it just comes out and says, “Gentleman, take all your sexual drive and energy and keep it at home. Gentlemen, let your wife’s breasts satisfy you. Gentlemen, be intoxicated with her love.”
Now, does this sound like a God who’s a prude? Does this sound like God that’s something that’s necessary, you kind of have to just get it over with? Boy, we in the church, I’ll tell you something. For as much explicit sexuality there is in our culture, among church people and the counseling I’ve done, this is a huge area in the Christian community. For couples that really love each other, really love God, and really are clicking on all cylinders in a number of areas, you would be astounded or you wouldn’t be.
Maybe you’re nodding inside and going, no, I wouldn’t be astounded at all of the number of couples that can’t speak openly and honestly about what this means in their relationship, where they struggle in this relationship. Where they’ve had baggage in the past from this relationship, where there have been failures that have influenced this and how they can come together in a way that is honoring to God, that is holy, and is encouraged.
In fact, the Song of Solomon was so provocative, in the Middle Ages, more commentaries were written on the Song of Solomon than all other books of the Bible combined, in the Middle Ages. At one point in time, they had to tell the monks, you aren’t allowed to read the Song of Solomon.
See, it’s a graphic picture from God’s perspective of what He longs for a man and a woman to enjoy. Sex is sacred, it’s encouraged, and it’s commanded. And I don’t know the last time you heard a message on 1 Corinthians 7:3 through 5, but it’s very clear. It says, “Wives, your body is not your own. Husbands, your body is not your own.”
There is a dynamic in the sexual union that I don’t understand. But God is really clear. He says that when a woman has a desire for her man and needs to be held and loved and needs sexual intimacy or if a man has desire for his wife and needs to be affirmed and encouraged.
And why it is so affirming, encouraging for a man. I don’t know. Okay? I don’t know. But, ladies, you go home and take a walk, those of you that are married. Take a walk today with your husband. And go ahead and ask him.
“You know, honey, what that guy said today. Is that, like, really true? I mean, is it really true that you feel more like man and more affirmed and more loved and that no matter what’s happening out there and all the pressures and all the stresses, that when we come together, you feel like somehow you’re affirmed and that you’re secure and you matter and you’re a real man and things are really okay?”
You ask your husband. And guys, all you have to do, if this is an uncomfortable area. All you have to do is this. [Nods yes.] And the Scripture is clear. And this is disobeyed everywhere.
Except for a commitment to mutually pray, we need to offer ourselves one to another sexually. And if there are struggles here, often the sexual relationship is like one of the lights on the dashboard. And if it’s not working real well and, by the way, can I just say this? I’ve never met a couple and I’ve done tons of counseling, I’ve never met anyone, so far, that hasn’t had a struggle in this area in one season of their marriage or not. So, I mean, if you think that, well, everyone else really has it together. They really love God, they probably never had a problem. Then they’re lying. And if you have a problem or a struggle, often, it’s like a light on the dashboard that says something under the hood needs to be addressed.
You know, if one person in the marriage relationship is insensitive and you get anger and resentment toward them about it, guess where it shows up? It shows up in the bedroom.
You can’t make love to someone and feel uninhibited and caring toward someone who you’ve got anger in your heart for.
You know when there are not long walks and talks and sensitivity and encouragement and nurturing in a relationship and at ten o’clock at night the husband says, “Wow, I’m really attracted to you.” And the wife, in her heart, feels like, “Attracted to me? Yeah, I just feel used. Where were you when I was doing the dishes?
You know, when you came home and I had three kids circling around my feet? Where were you when I feel all the pressure and I did the dishes, I got the finances, and you watch the ball game for three hours, then you come to bed and you want to be with me?”
And you know what her heart is? Get a break, buddy. I’m tired. In fact, excuse me? I feel a headache coming on. And see, the sexual relationship is a barometer on the dashboard to let you know, maybe there’s some work that needs to happen in the marriage. Maybe there’s some energy and time that needs to go in, as a man, nurturing, loving, caring, and communicating with my wife.
And, as a woman, maybe it tells me that maybe I’ve got some unresolved anger or hurt toward my husband and that’s why. Because you know what we do? We’re really smart people. We’re passive aggressive. We learn how to punish one another.
And the average woman has learned, she has one trump card in the marriage relationship. And that one trump card is she can control an awful lot about what happens and what doesn’t happen by her withholding sexuality to her husband.
And what I want you to know is, that’s not the way to go. God says, “I’m pro-sex. I invented it. It’s a gift.” But it’s not a gift that comes gift wrapped and you’ll never have any problems. It’s a gift like every other gift. You’ll need to work at it to enjoy it. To experience the sacred, encouraged, commanded activity to love and fulfill your mate.
God is very pro-sex but you notice He’s pro-family. God says, sex belongs inside the fireplace. See, if you could take fire and you take it outside the fireplace and you can build a fire on the living room floor, right? There’s only one problem. What happens? The house burns down. It’s fire. It produces light and provides warmth. It just burns down the house.
But you can take the same fire and stick it in the fireplace and there are boundaries around the fireplace. It produces light, it produces warmth. And, you know, when the electricity goes out, I’ve learned you can cook a little food there. And what God wants you to know is, that’s what sex is. It’s fire. It’s a God given gift to bring about life and encouragement and love. But it’s got to be inside this boundary.
Fourth fact, is that cheaters never win. What I’ve said so far, there are a lot of people in the back of their mind are saying, it may be some of you going, “Buddy, you’ve got to be on drugs, this is the twenty-first century. Are you actually saying, look, I’m single, okay?” Or, “I’m married and you don’t understand. It’s not that we don’t have, you know, it’s not in my marriage like we have bad sex. We don’t have sex. And I’ve got to go find this somewhere. And I love God and I go to church once a month and are you actually saying, like, with two brain cells working, that you really are telling me that not, this is not only God’s will but it’s a good thing and the best thing for me is to keep sex inside the boundaries of marriage? One man, one woman, forever? I mean, are you really telling me, in our day, that you buy that?”
Because see, most people in our day don’t. And what I want to suggest is the research is overwhelming. Not only biblically but in practical experience. And so, I’ve entitled that, Cheaters Never Win. Adultery causes pain. Look at Proverbs 6:32 and 33. It says, “But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment. Whoever does so,” listen to this, “destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot and his shame will never be wiped away.”
Adultery causes pain. You know. The problem is, we’ve seen all those TV programs and all those romance novels and all those quick commercials. Eighty plus percent of all the people shown on TV, videos, and movies that are having great, passionate, wonderful sex aren’t married. And you know what that does to you and me? It tells you, down deep in your heart and your mind, that the great stuff is out there somewhere.
When I was doing research for this book I came across some very interesting statistics. Talk about cheaters never winning. Let me give you just a handful of facts. These aren’t from the Bible. You’re talking to someone and they’re saying, no sex except… you’re crazy. Okay, those who abstain from sexual intercourse before marriage report the highest levels of sexual satisfaction in marriage. Do you know that?
They discovered that those who cohabitate also not only have higher incidence of divorce but are more likely to commit adultery once they get married. By contrast, the University of South Carolina, in a study said, those who abstain from sexual intercourse before marriage have the highest rates of fidelity in marriage. The introduction of sex, for those who are single, into a dating relationship is almost always the ushering in of the breakup of that relationship.
And then, finally, sexually transmitted diseases, can remain dormant or asymptomatic, in other words, you don’t know you have it, for up to ten years. You can have sex with someone today and never know it and it can be in your body for ten years and you can pass it on. Now, I don’t, you know what? Seems to me that when God says, no sex except for in marriage, it must be an all-wise, all-loving God who would say, sex belongs inside the fireplace.
And by the way. It only takes once. It takes one moment on one business trip or with one neighbor in one situation in one weak moment and all the consequences we talked about can occur. And by the way, this doesn’t occur to people out there. This occurs to regular, good people who go to church. This occurs to people who get up and have a quiet time three, four, five, six times a week.
This letter. I won’t read it. This is a letter from a family in our church. Young couple, early thirties, good looking, committed, involved in ministry, two small children. And she writes in it, “I’m really praying,” I’ve taught this series in our church. “I looked ahead and I found out which commandment’s coming and I’m really praying for the weekend.
My husband had an affair that lasted over a year. We’ve been in counseling for the last nine months. It has brought more havoc and pain in my heart and in his. He loves me. It was something he never, ever intended or dreamed could ever happen to him. It was with a co-worker and they just became friends.”
And the story goes on and she says, “I’m praying that when you teach this the Spirit of God will intervene in any person who is having an affair. Any person that’s, kind of, in that stream and gravitating toward another person other than their mate. Because I wish I could tell others, I wish I could tell people the destruction and the pain that it brings for us, for our marriage, and for our two little boys.”