Sex Week: Want What’s Best

” ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

In an effort to confuse the search engines, we’re labeling our online Bible study for the next few days “sex week.” We’re going to break down the end of 1 Corinthians 6, where Paul explains to a group of Christians why casual sex is a bad idea.

sweek_350The Corinthians were confused. Paul himself had explained that they weren’t bound by the Old Testament Law; “everything was permissible” for them. So why should they not have sex with whomever they wanted? Even prostitutes? There were no “rules” against it in this new covenant with Christ, right?

Not right. Paul will show them that the problem isn’t in the rules, it’s in them. Christians have become different people with a different purpose. Our bodies, he will say, are now part of Christ. Having sex is more than just scratching a biological itch. It is using our bodies to form a kind of spiritual bond. To do so outside of the marriage commitment – with bodies made for the Lord, he will write – is not “beneficial.”

In other words, it doesn’t help. It hurts him and us. More tomorrow.

Think: Why do you think so many people become mastered by sexuality even though that leads to so many problems?

Pray: Ask God to help you to want his best for you and for him. Ask him to help you not to be mastered or controlled by anything except him.

Do: Notice the messages you hear this week from friends and media that suggest sex is just a physical act and not a big deal between willing participants. What’s wrong with that perspective?

Sex Week: What’s a Body For?

” ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food’—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” (1 Corinthians 6:13)

Sex is just an appetite. When you’re hungry, you eat. Sex should be the same. When you feel like it, you should do it. It’s just a physical thing. It’s just bodies and nature. Why make a fuss? Why does it have to be a big emotional, spiritual deal?

sweek_350That’s the case some of the people in Corinth were making, especially those new to Christianity who wanted to keep having sex with prostitutes like everyone else did. And it’s still a popular argument among those looking for ways to justify sex outside of a committed marriage relationship. Paul told his Christian readers, “No, you’re missing the point.”

He’s about to make the case that believers have been changed. Christians belong to Christ, now, and not just in a spiritual sense. God has a plan and a purpose even for our physical selves, for our bodies. And that plan doesn’t include “sexual immorality.” It matters what we do with our bodies because we belong to God and we are not the same people we once were.

Think: Do you tend to think of your body as disposable or eternal? Do you think of yourself as having a responsibility for your body for God’s sake? Do you think of your body as being “meant for the Lord”? Why or why not?

Pray: Ask God to help you not to misuse your body for sexual immorality. Thank him that your body is “meant for the Lord.”

Do: Notice this week if you hear anyone making a claim of ownership for his or her own body

Sex Week: Christians and Prostitutes?

“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!” (1 Corinthians 6:14-15)

Jesus walked around on the earth after his resurrection from the dead in a body, a physical human body that had been “glorified.” He could apparently walk through locked doors with it, as well as appearing and vanishing at will. He could also do normal things like cooking and eating. He was real. Thomas touched his hands and side.

sweek_350Later in this letter, Paul will tell the Corinthians (and us) that as Christians we, too, will walk around in glorified bodies after our own resurrection from the dead. Before that, Paul will describe how we all are parts of Christ’s “body,” also known as the church.

All this body talk to make the point: What you as a believer do with your body sexually cannot be separated from who you are in Christ. If you have sex with a prostitute (or anyone else), you are involving Christ in that activity. You are also involving yourself – body, mind, spirit – the self God has eternal plans for.

Think: Should we really worry that what we do with our bodies sexually also involves Christ in that activity?

Pray: Ask God to help you not to use your body for anything that would involve Christ in something inappropriate.

Do: Read Paul’s description of the resurrection body in 1 Corinthians 15:35-58.

Sex Week: One Flesh

“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.’ ” (1 Corinthians 6:16)

The Bible seems to teach that when two people have sex, some kind of significant connection is formed, that it’s more than just a physical, biological act. To make that point, Paul quotes from all the way back at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 2:24: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

sweek_350Jesus quoted the same passage when he was teaching about divorce in Mark 10: “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

God made sex – something I’m really glad he did. But he intended for it to be a physical connection uniting two married people in a way that you do not connect with anyone else. Sex is supposed to be a kind of super glue for marriage. When we “become one” with a prostitute (or anyone else we’re not married to), we’re missing the point of both sex and marriage – and the negative consequences from that can be painful and long-lasting.

Think: What would you say are some of the negative consequences of using sexuality outside of marriage? How does that lessen the positive impact of both sex and marriage?

Pray: Ask God to help you to understand his intentions for both sex and marriage – and to follow them.

Do: Read what Jesus says about marriage, divorce, and sex in Mark 10:1-12.

Sex Week: One in Spirit

“But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:17)

We don’t get it. At least, I don’t. It’s tough to carry around in my mind the reality of what really happened to me, for me, at the moment God welcomed me into his family – because I trusted in Jesus. I can write three-paragrpah devotionals about it, but how do we live with our heads in that place?

sweek_350It’s one of the reasons we keep flirting with sexual experiences outside of marriage. We don’t think of ourselves – our real, everyday selves – as being united with Christ. Paul described our current reality this way: “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)

So he yells at the Corinthians: “Wake up! Remember who you are!” He understood that they lived in a culture where going to a prostitute was as normalized for some of them as going to Starbucks is for us. But he also knew they didn’t fit into “normal” in that culture any more. They were new, different, changed, “one with the Lord in spirit.”

Once you get who you are in Christ, he said, don’t take Jesus to a prostitute! Don’t “hook up” you/him with someone you’re not married to. You’re different. Live like who you are now.

Think: On a scale from 1 to 10, how difficult is it for you to live in the reality that, as a Christian, you are united with Christ right now? What could you do to make accepting that reality easier?

Pray: Thank God that by his grace and through faith you have been united with Christ. Ask him to help you live with the awareness of that fact.

Do: Notice in Colossians 1:27 what is the “hope of glory.”

Sex Week: Run Away!

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)

I was one of those guys in high school who spent way too much time watching and quoting “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” with my friends. You know those guys, the really cool and popular ones. Yeah, those guys.

sweek_350Anyway, one of my favorite scenes is the one where King Arthur and his men come upon the dreaded lair of an evil creature that destroys all who approach it. When the monster turns out to be a fluffy, white bunny, they laugh it off. But when the bunny quickly (and comically) kills two or three of them in close combat, they’re left with only one option: “Run away! Run away!” (That’s the line that’s fun to quote.)

Paul didn’t offer the Corinthians a three-step plan for dealing with sexual temptation. No secret strategies. Just this: “Run away!” Sexual sin might seem harmless at first glance, but it leads to disaster. It’s a sin that you commit against yourself. Don’t try to fight it, Paul says. Don’t try to outthink it. Just run away.

Think: Have you ever seen anyone (or yourself) actually flee from sexual immorality? What’s the danger of not running away, of trying to get closer-but-not-too-close? Why do so many of us try to dance around immorality instead of getting out of its way?

Pray: Ask God to help you to have the courage to run away from sexual immorality.

Do: Joseph ran away. Look for new-to-you details from his example in Genesis 39:1-23. (Notice that he paid a price for running.)

Sex Week: Who Owns You?

“Do you not know that your body is a temple 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 body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Paul wraps up his case against sexual immorality, which we might define as “participating in any sexual experience with anyone you’re not married to.” His last two points have to do with occupation and ownership.

sweek_350Occupation: If you’re a Christian, God’s Spirit lives in your body. So when we sin sexually, we take him along for the experience. In one sense, we are actively defiling his residence.

Ownership: Even harder to take for some of us is the idea that God owns us. He bought us, paid for us with the blood of Jesus. We belong to him. Thus, he has the right to tell us what to do with our bodies. The question we must ask ourselves, then, is: How can I use my body to honor God? Or, reversed, what use of my body will dishonor God?

Think: How often do you think about the ideas that God’s Spirit lives in your body and that you are owned by God? How does being aware of those ideas change the way you think about sex and your body?

Pray: Ask God to help you to honor him with you body. Thank him for giving you the Spirit to live in you and for paying the debt you could not pay to purchase you for himself.

Do: Read 1 Corinthians 7 to find out what Paul says next about marriage and sex and being single.