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How Valuable is Sex?

How Valuable is Sex?

Whether you’ve been tracking with us or not, we’re in week #8 of a teaching series called You Care Too Much: How to Right-Size the Value of Everything. The premise is that life goes well when we value something to the degree of what it’s actually worth…and that our problems tend to come when we overvalue or undervalue something. And here’s the question we’re asking today that also serves as the title of this message:

How Valuable is Sex?

Some of us believe sex is the highest value in all of life. Others of us believe that sex has little to no value. Our world has taught us how to overvalue sex by telling us that this is where the good life is and if you’re missing out, you are MISSING OUT! And our world has also taught us how to undervalue sex by treating it like any other urge we have, which has caused us to be quite casual about sex.

Is God willing to show us the true value we should give to sex? If you grew up in a certain kind of church environment, you’re like, “I already know the answer to this question. Sex is bad. Don’t do it. God will get you.” If you didn’t grow up in church and your vision of life has been mostly formed by the culture at large, you’re probably thinking, “What someone does with sex is up to them. It’s kind of like a “choose your own adventure” approach.

As we get into today’s teaching, here’s the vantage point we’re viewing this from:

What would it look like for us to orient our sexual beliefs and practices around the way of Jesus?

One of the most fun and challenging parts of my job is speaking into such a diverse church community. We are a multigenerational church that has people from over 60 nations represented in it. We are single, married, divorced, dating, engaged. There are so many things have shaped our view of sex, so I know we’re already coming into this with our own assumptions and our own experiences. And yet, I think what we’re about to read from Scripture is for all of us.

1 Corinthians 6:12-7:5 “I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” – but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

First, a little bit about first-century Corinth. It was a cosmopolitan city with strong commerce. Do you know any other city like that? It was a city filled with a variety of religions and worldviews. Do you know any other city like that? It was a city that basically had this as it’s motto for sexual practice – Whoever, Whatever. Do you know a city like that?

And we might think, “Okay so it was a pretty sexually immoral city…but why include these things in a letter to the Corinthian Christians? Why write all of this stuff about sex to the church in Corinth?”

We can be in church every Sunday and still have our lives mostly shaped by what’s dominant in our culture.

I really think Paul’s framing this entire teaching around how valuable sex should be to us as people living in the way of Jesus. As we walk through his words, we’re going to see him right-size the value of sex in the life of someone who’s wanting to orient their entire life around Jesus. As we get into this, here’s a question for you…but not one I would advise you to answer out loud:

Do you tend to overvalue or undervalue sex in your life?

When this text begins, you have Paul quoting some of their common slogans. They were saying, “I have the right to do anything.” And Paul counters with, “Okay, but not everything is beneficial.” And then he says, “but I will not be mastered by anything.”

Isn’t it ironic that we are usually mastered by what promised us freedom?

It’s common for people to see God as the great killjoy in life, especially when it comes to sex. He just seems so restrictive. And we have a problem with this because we are on a quest for freedom. Think about how freedom and restriction actually work. There is no true freedom without proper restriction.

You are free to have a fit body, but only if you restrict yourself through diet and exercise.

I was free to memorize this message Friday morning, but only if I restricted phone access during those 3 hours.

Shauna and I are free to have a deeply intimate marriage, but only if we restrict our romantic love to each other.

One of the great ways Satan deceives us is to make us think we’re gaining our freedom when we’re actually engaging in something that will enslave us.

Then Paul quotes another saying the Corinthian Christians had. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” What does that mean? They were saying that just like the body has an appetite for food, it also has an appetite for sex. Your stomach is the organ to take care of the food urge and your sexual organs are there to take care of the sexual urge you have. That’s it – it’s no big deal!

The Corinthians devalued their bodies. They thought their bodies didn’t matter; they believed their bodies would one day just go away. They didn’t connect who they were with their bodies. They treated their bodies like shells that housed the real person they were.

Paul wants them to raise the value they place on their bodies, so he tells them this – “The body is meant for the Lord.” Your body is meant for God – to reflect God’s glory, to commune with God, and to house the presence of God…more on that in a minute.

Our bodies aren’t only for biology; our bodies also play a key role in our theology.

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.

We worship with our bodies. Yes, we sing with our voices. Yes, we raise our hands to praise God. We kneel as we pray. And we honor God both by what we do with our bodies and what we don’t do with our bodies. It really matters what you do with your body or to say it a different way:

It really matters who or what you unite your body to.

We are called to unite ourselves to the Lord. To unite means to become one with. We were made for oneness with God. This is why we don’t unite our bodies to prostitutes. And in case some of you are thinking, “No worries – I don’t do the prostitution thing – I’m good”…Here’s the full teaching: ONLY unite your bodies to the Lord and to your spouse. That’s it? That’s it! And that’s enough! More on that in a moment. There’s so much gold in this text, but there’s one specific phrase that really stood out to these Corinthian Christians and should really stand out to us today in San Francisco:

You are not your own.

This statement might be the one in all of Scripture that is the most diametrically opposed to the dominant narrative of our current world. The world tells us the exact opposite: You are your own. It’s your body, so do what you please. It’s your truth. You do you. Make your identity whoever you want to be. And if you only want to belong to you, I guess that works. But if you want to belong to Jesus, you aren’t your own. It isn’t your body, your money, your time, your gifts. It’s HIS.

As chapter 7 opens, you see other ways these Corinthians were undervaluing sex. They started teaching that married men and women should practice abstinence. They were dismissing the gift sex was designed to be by God Himself. They were missing the sexual practices that bring greater intimacy, delight, and protection to a marriage.

To the married individuals – Paul was saying that your belonging has an extra layer than those who are single.

If you are single, your body belongs to Jesus.

If you are married, your body belongs to Jesus…and your spouse.

Matthew 19:4-5 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?

When you read what Paul says to husbands and wives, you’ve got to place yourself in the historical context in which he’s writing these words. At this time and place, men had sex with whomever they wanted. Women had no power. So when Paul says to both the husband and the wife, “Yield your body to your spouse. Do not deprive each other except to pray and that only for a little while” – this is a radical practice that would have been so foreign to the culture surrounding them.

We don’t have enough time in this message to get into every possible nuance that exists on this topic, but let me say this. You might be married and for all kinds of reasons, your reality impacts your ability to carry out these imperatives. You could have a health issue. You could have significant trauma that impacts this. Age could have something to do with the frequency of sex in your marriage. And there are seasons of life that challenge your ability to have consistent sex with your spouse.

Before today, some of you thought the Bible was boring and now your like, “I think I’ll get into one of those daily reading plans.” It’s so fascinating what was happening in Corinth. You had Christian singles who treated sex in such a casual way – no different than how they thought about eating food. And you had married people who were deceived into thinking they should abstain from sex in their marriage. It’s kind of crazy, right?!

Well, just imagine you’re Satan and you know how it all works. You know what causes single people to live for Jesus and you know the good gifts God designed for those who are married. What plan or scheme would you come up with to destroy people on all sides of this conversation?

Single: You need it. Everyone’s doing it. It’s just your body. It doesn’t have to mean anything to you. And after you do it, then the enemy’s like, “How could you. You’ll never be pure again. No one will ever want you in the future.”

Married: You’re too busy for sex. There’s no reason to keep pursuing your spouse or offering your body to your spouse.

Sex has value, but it’s not the most valuable thing in any of our lives, single or married. Straight from this text, we’re told what we should value more than sex:

Our bodies were made for God.

Jesus gave his life and his body for us, the highest price he could pay.

If you’re a Christian, your body houses the Holy Spirit.

Your body is of great value.

What do the two greatest commands have to do with our sexual practices? Everything. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Live your sexual life in such a way that you’re able to fully love God, others, and yourself.

Response #1: You can tell the value of something by the price someone paid to have it. Jesus gave his entire life and body to have you. Would you receive his offer of life with Him forever? You can receive that today and put your faith in Jesus.

Response #2: Jesus wants to do something with the regret, shame, and condemnation so many of us have in this area. It’s not enough to just observe the great stories in Scripture; we must put ourselves in the story. In John 8, a woman gets caught in the act of adultery. She’s brought before Jesus by the religious leaders. She feels deep shame and condemnation. She’s already assumed her verdict. The religious men tell Jesus, “The law says we’re supposed to stone such women. What do you say? Eventually only Jesus is left with this woman. He asks her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

John 8:11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Put yourself there. Here his words to you – “I do not condemn you.” Go leave your life of sin. Unite yourself to me.

Response #3: Some commitments need to be made. Stop having sex. Get help with porn. Stop living with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe you decide your life with God is so valuable that you don’t want to date or marry someone who doesn’t have or even want a life with God. If you’re married – maybe it’s a fresh commitment to pursue your spouse or to gladly receive their pursuit of you.

We need the Spirit to help us and He is here.

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