Sex was God’s Idea!

Many people, especially Christians, get hung up over sex. Sadly we are bombarded with all kinds of ideas about our sexuality and how to express it. This can lead to confusion and disappointment. Misinformation in this area is not a new problem. As we shall see when we resume our studies in 1 Corinthians this week some strange ideas were floating around in the first-century church. Most notably the idea that abstinence from sexual intercourse was the best and most spiritual course of action. Fortunately, Paul makes it clear that this is far from the case and he gives some really helpful advice for married couples concerning sexual intimacy.

As part of my preparation for preaching through what Paul has to say on a number of issues related to sex and marriage I have read a couple of books that you may find helpful. These go into the subject with greater depth and thoroughness than I will be able to in a few brief sermons.

My first recommendation is What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Sex by Ryan Howes, Richard Rupp and Stephen Simpson (ISBN 978-0-8010-6774-7). As the title suggests the book is targeted at men, however there is a chapter specifically for women. The authors candidly show how the Bible is not coy about sex, and in places is actually quite explicit in its celebration of the act of love between a husband and wife. Although I wouldn’t agree with every statement made the overall message is helpful in teaching that sex is part of God’s design for healthy marriages. It includes sound advice for sparking up our sexual relationships in a godly way.

Buy What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Sex from Amazon UK
Buy What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Sex from Amazon US

My second recommendation is The 4 Seasons of Marriage: Secrets to a Lasting Marriage by Gary Chapman (ISBN 978-1-4143-0023-8) You may recognise the author who wrote the 5 Love Languages. In this book Chapman uses the analogy of spring, summer, autumn and winter to describe phases that marriages go through. Just as during our lifetime we experience many seasonal cycles so in a marriage we may go through these phases many times. He offers hope for those whose marriages have become cold and frozen as in winter, that it is possible to move back into the heady days of spring and summer again. As well as describing what marriages in each season look like he provides helpful strategies for enhancing the seasons and advice on developing an appropriate action plan. Obviously it is a book that is best worked through together as a couple but he is realistic enough to address that sometimes only one person in the marriage desires to make a change and gives advice for them alone.

Buy The 4 Seasons of Marriage: Secrets to a Lasting Marriage from Amazon UK
Buy The 4 Seasons of Marriage: Secrets to a Lasting Marriage from Amazon US

If you are married I would encourage you to read either or both of these books and pray that doing so will enrich your marriage.

This blog post featured in the September 2016 edition of Lifelines

Marriage Matters

Following the vote in Parliament on the 5th February, the media frenzy surrounding the government’s bill on same sex couples marriage has quietened down for now. There are several stages for it to go through before it becomes law, and the public debate will doubtless continue to be robust and heated. However, regardless of the final outcome, it’s worth taking time to consider what our position should be as followers of Jesus.

Debate about marriage law is not new; indeed the Pharisees tested Jesus by asking him a question about divorce cf. Matthew 19:3-12. Jesus’ answer did not appeal to tradition, to Old Testament law, or even to social convention. His answer was firmly grounded in God’s creation plan as revealed in the early chapters of Genesis. According to Jesus, God’s plan was to create human beings as ‘male and female’. God ordained that in marriage ‘a man would leave his father and mother and be hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’. His conclusion so far as divorce was concerned was: ‘What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’

The Pharisees were not satisfied with Jesus’ answer, and even his disciples found Jesus’ teaching hard to accept, so we should not be surprised that a biblical understanding of marriage between a man and a woman is unpopular in contemporary society, and even some wings of the Christian church. Jesus himself said that ‘not everyone can receive this saying’.

The challenge we face is to uphold the creational principle that biblical marriage is a union between a man and a woman that is exclusive, permanent and sacred in the sight of God. Does that mean there is no place in the church for those who have not attained this high standard? Of course not!  We show compassion and love to the broken. We seek to bring healing and reconciliation to those who are hurting. We offer grace and forgiveness to the fallen. There is a safe place in our church family for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation. At the same time we affirm Jesus’ teaching that any sexual activity outside marriage between one man and one woman is sin and needs repentance if we truly wish to follow him.

This blog post featured in the March 2013 edition of Lifelines