Church @ 6 Q&A – October 30 to November 5
From Pastor Luke – Two things that stuck out to me this week:
Do the next right thing. Regardless of circumstance, Joseph sought to live for God.
Joseph was not passive in his desire to follow God. The Christian life is never passive; God calls us to action.
Does it matter if you’re legally married or committed to each other for God’s sake to be considered married?
Our society teaches, sex first than commitment. Bible teaches, commitment first than sex. Jeremy mentioned that sex was ‘set apart’ for marriage. So as Beyoncé says, put a ring on it! Now marriage is the 2nd most influential life decision you’ll make (1st is decision to follow Jesus). So we’d recommend thinking it over and making sure you aren’t marrying just to have permission to have sex (see next question).
I will say that, commitment in marriage is very different than commitment before marriage. Vows and covenant before God and witnesses reveal one’s commitment much much more than a 2 person mutual agreement for commitment. Furthermore, consider Mary and Joseph, they were engaged and committed to each other, yet, withholding from sex. Why? They were already pretty much married and clearly committed… True enough, BUT sometimes (or all the time) obedience to God’s Word trumps our personal interpretation or justification.
What can the church community do to encourage a young couple from engaging in sex before marriage, but not pressure the couple to get married after a short term dating or very young?
This is a question I truly wrestle with myself. Here is how I (Luke) have thought this through personally.
Let’s capture the 3 main ideas behind it:
1. We know marriage is a big commitment. The Bible calls it a life-long covenant. Thus, marriage should be entered into advisedly, deliberately, and reverently. You do not want to enter into a marriage just because you want to have sex.
2. We know, the bible teaches that sex is for marriage.
3. We assume: hormones, emotions, and passions cloud judgement and may lead you to believe you are in love when really you are just young with a sex drive. When we make life long decisions off emotion and hormones we could be setting ourselves up for failure. Thus many recommend waiting till you are older, or giving your relationship a little more time to grow.
…BUT we have a sex drive and we want to have sex… Especially in our sex saturated culture.
So how can the church help…
1. Well, we have to be in relationship with each other so that we can have these conversations and challenge each other.
2. We should be careful not to judge people who marry young or who date quickly. I know many successful marriages that started young and/or dated quickly. Having said that, most of those people would be cautious recommending it! I’ve heard it said, a wise rule of thumb is to have 1 year between the first date to the wedding date. This may seem ‘too short’ or ‘too long’, it isn’t biblical but it gives you time to get to know the person in all four seasons.
3. We do need to challenge people with self-control. It isn’t impossible to wait till marriage! And it isn’t impossible to wait a year (or many more) to get married…. In fact, your marriage may even be richer given more time to grow as a couple before marriage. If you can’t control yourself now, you’ll have to learn how to sooner or later. Temptation doesn’t stop after marriage. Many argue that Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 7: 9, ‘if you can’t control yourself get married.’ It is helpful to know that Paul is talking about singleness and the benefits of singleness. He actually says, ‘it is better to be single’… Thus, sex isn’t the be all and end all…
a. Paul does say, if you are single and can’t control yourself (referring to the people who are sleeping with multiple partners) he says, it is better to get married (sleep with 1 person not many). Last comment, make sure you read Paul’s words in verse 10, ‘a wife must not separate from her husband.’ Paul re-enforces that marriage is to be life-long.
b. So, would Paul say, marry for sex. No. Paul would teach the importance of self-control and how we honor God with our sex life (1 person and life-long).
4. Lastly, Proverbs 15: 22, Plans fail for lack of counsel, many advisors brings success.
a. You are responsible for yourself and your marriage. Seek wisdom and learn from others. It is hard for the people of God to support you when you don’t ask or seek counsel.
b. Are you too young? Is it too quick? Seek counsel. But ultimately this is your decision. It is your life.
c. We the church need to be in relationship with each other and have these discussions without judgement. But ultimately this question does come down to one’s own decision.
Is it possible that with the examples of sexual promiscuity being all female (Potiphar’s wife, the adulterous women, even Rita Mae’s song lyics) that you put off an unconscious message that only men have to strive to stay pure of promiscuous women and that all women are promiscuous?
I’m sorry if that’s what you got out of my message! That is definitely not what I was attempting to communicate, even at a sub-conscious level. My goal is to always be faithful to the Scripture. In this case, the ‘hero’ was male. The passage was about a woman attempting to use sex to assert her power over a male slave and his resistance of that attempt.
However, there are lots of stories of women who were faithful to God’s calling. Wisdom is personified as a woman in Scripture. Women are often portrayed as obedient to God’s direction (while the men often argue and debate with God).
I hope that we are willing to learn from the whole story of Scripture – whether the ‘hero’ is male or female – and I hope that my preaching as a whole reflects the whole picture of Scripture. However, I am aware that I can have unintentional blind spots so I appreciate the question.
On a side note: stay tuned for our Advent Series focusing on the women in Jesus’ lineage.
How do you talk to someone who is going through hard times and is off the grid so that they can understand that God is still in control? Can you do this without coming across as preachy or uncaring?
A question just occurred to me, ‘Is it necessary for someone to understand that God is in control?’
Now, if a person thinks, how can God possibly allow this to happen. Therefore, He must not be in control. OR, How can God be good if He allows this to happen. As Psalm 77 shows us, questions are part of the human experience. We ought to allow people to ask, wrestle, and get angry with God without feeling the need to provide answers.
Personally, as Ecclesiastes 3 states, there is a time for everything. The time to discuss God’s control and sovereignty is probably not during a difficult time in their life. We can reassure them that God is in control even though it doesn’t seem like it. But anything more may come across as preachy. Stay in relationship and be present for them.
The time for the ‘God in control talk’ will come, they’ll be more responsive when they’ve healed up a bit and are not right in the middle of crisis. You’ll know when, because you’ll be present with them journeying with them. These are hard questions because everyone responds so different and needs to be ministered to differently in times of trial and crisis.
Jeremy mentioned that sex in a relationship ruins the trust barriers… used the example of couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce. I know I am not the only one in the room who has unwanted sexual encounters… what do you say to those people? Since they have technically engaged in adulterous relationship?
I am curious as to what you mean by “unwanted.” If you mean that someone has forced themselves on you against your will, then you are not to blame. It is not your fault. You did not give yourself in any way to the other person; they stole from you. You are not guilty. You may feel shame – I get that. One thing I’ve really appreciated lately is that Jesus not only took our guilt for the things we did wrong, he took our shame. Over and over again, God comes to those who feel shame and restores them with dignity and love. God can do the same for you.
However, if you have been the victim of sexual violence, it can definitely affect your view and experience of sex in the future. One of the ways God may bring healing is through counselling. I would encourage anyone who is carrying deep shame to explore this.
If by “unwanted” you mean you engaged in consensual sex but have come to regret your decisions, I would remind you of what I said in my sermon: your past actions are not irredeemable. Your past decisions and experiences will not prevent God from fulfilling his mission for creation and his purpose for you. The cross and empty tomb testify to this! John’s promise is true: if you confess your sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Sometimes that purification and restoration happens in an instantaneous miracle. Other times we may have to seek help to work through the shame and guilt we feel. Again, I would encourage anyone who is carrying guilt and shame to explore counselling as an avenue to experience God’s healing and restoration.
Any opinions on those who later struggle in sex because of ‘shutting off’ sexual desires prior to marriage?
Good question. Here is some opinion…
I have heard from few people (meaning some but not many) who get married and who struggle with sex because they held such strict boundaries (for example, not kissing before the wedding). There are many reasons for sexual issue. But in some cases it does seem to come from a suppression of sexual desire. It is so bad and dirty that even in marriage they feel it is wrong.
Sex is good. It is not dirty, it is not the worst possible sin. Sex isn’t from the devil. Sex is a gift from God for those in marriage.
We need to talk more about sex in church. We need to give people space and relationship where it is appropriate to voice their concern, struggles, and views in a safe place.
Perhaps we also need to motivate people differently as well. Not with guilt and shame but with God’s design for sex which is good and worth pursuing. So many barriers for people in church to talk openly about sex and sexual struggle. We do need our brave disciples to rise up and lead the charge in the appropriate context. This question isn’t surprising because I do talk about it on a regular basis with others in church. So I think we just need to encourage people to talk about it. If the church is a barrier, tell someone why… talk about it!
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