When we fail to know the difference between love and sex, we are doomed to fail in both our relationships and our sexuality. What is the difference between love and sex?
It's been lost in our day, but if you don't get it right, you'll never have a relationship that you really want. That's today. Stay with me. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram.
We are a discipleship-driven ministry on a mission to encourage Christians everywhere to live like Christians. And we're in the middle of our series, Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships. And as Chip hinted, today he's addressing a big topic that impacts every married couple. Whether you're newlyweds or been together for decades, how you think about and approach physical intimacy is key to a healthy relationship.
Well, Chip has a lot to share, so let's dive in. Go in your Bible to Ephesians chapter 5, beginning in verse 3. When you hear the word love and sex in the same sentence, a lot of people think they're the same thing. But I'm going to talk today about why knowing the difference makes all the difference in the world. I have three specific stories I want to tell.
I could tell a thousand of them, probably. The names would be changed, but they're true of younger people and older people and single people and married people and divorced people. But this confusion about love and sex keeps us from having the kind of love, the kind of sex, and the kind of lasting relationships that God really wants. The first two stories are going to be told through the eyes of a counselor who interviewed these people, Les and Leslie Parrott. The other is through the eyes of another counselor named Paula Rinehart.
And I share these in a way because I want you to kind of sit back and listen, not just with your mind, but with your heart, and listen to what happened in the lives of people who were confused about love and sex and how they go together. Lauren and her boyfriend walked into their apartment during their college days. After studying, Mike nudged her as they walked in the door and said, my roommate's gone for the weekend.
She barely got in the door and, in her words, couldn't quite get her jacket off. And he began to kiss her and tell her how wonderful and gorgeous and I love you so much and I've just got to express that. And Lauren would later reveal that they'd been dating for about four months. She believed in her heart that Mike really cared about her. They'd shared some very, very deep things and she knew that if she didn't have sex soon, it would probably end the relationship, or so she believed.
Without much forethought, the nudge led her into the bedroom and she didn't plan on having sex that night, but she did. And the moment that happened, the relationship completely changed. All she could think about was Mike. She was obsessed with him. She felt like she crossed a barrier and there was a commitment and a level that she really wanted the relationship to be at.
She loved him deeply. Every date after that involved sex, and so much so that she decided that when summer break came that she would rearrange her schedule so that she could live close to Mike so they could be together. She, as the counselor would explain, told him that I've changed my summer plans and I'm going to be here and we can be together all summer. And it was received with a cool withdrawal by Mike.
We'll hear his story in just a minute. She was baffled. She, quote, gave in, loves him, makes a decision to want to be around him, and he begins to retreat.
By the end of the spring semester, they broke up. Now, Lauren's story is very common. Only 17% of women pre-decide when they're going to have sex. 87% say, well, it just happened.
Well, lest we think Mike is sort of the bad person or in any way coerced his way into this situation, the counselors then sit down with Mike, and his side of the story is quite different. He said, you know, we've been together four months. I would never take advantage of a girl.
I don't believe in one-night stands. We shared everything together. She knew about the tragic breakup I had, cried with me, prayed with me, all the rest. Not only that, but I knew about the family situation and the near borderline abusive situation with her dad. We had these, I mean, hour-long make-out sessions that were marathon and wonderful.
We'd lose track of time. I remember even one time he shares with the counselor that I teased about taking a bath together, and she kind of giggled. And all that flirtation and all that time, I just really believe that if you really love someone and you want to express it, sex communicates in a way that words quite different. But then when she changed her summer plans, it was like, wow, she's making this big commitment, and I felt smothered. And that's when the distance happened, and that's when they broke up. Paula is a counselor, and she's going to interview two young women. And as you listen to the stories of these two young women, I want you to be thinking about your own history and your own perspectives. Paula is the counselor and says, the woman listening to me, in whom I'm counseling right now, is slouched on my sofa. She's a lovely woman, but her eyes are tired and she's depressed.
I can hardly believe she's only 20 years old. She says her life's not going well. She doesn't want to be here, but she has to talk to someone.
She says she has big questions about God, and yes, she's sleeping with her boyfriend if you're going to ask that. And the counselor says, she looked at me like that was such a dumb question. And so I ask her about her depression, and then I ask her a little bit about her history.
And her countenance changed, and she begins to recite for me her journey. How about five years ago, she just decided she wanted to get her virginity over with. And so she found a guy that she didn't have any close feelings for, wanted to get her virginity over with so she, in her words, could have sex with guys that she really cared about. The counselor Paula, I scratched her head and said, that's a logic I'm not familiar with. But she says one common in our day. The rite of passage for young women is the happy people, the action people is when you have sex. The next woman in the counseling is 30 years old.
Completely different story. She's attractive, two kids, married, attractive husband, good jobs. She just has one small, actually, big problem. She hates sex. It's boring.
It's distasteful. The counselor asked her, tell me a little about your journey and your history, and where did this attitude come from? And she said, well, when I was 16 in high school, I had sex for the first time, and since that time before I met my husband, I'm not sure, maybe 10 other men or so. Counselor listens and she says, I don't get it. Help me. My husband, we argue all the time.
I'm disinterested. We've got great kids. We have a great life. I have a good job.
Things are going well, but this area is killing our marriage. Help me. And so the counselor asked a very penetrating question. She quietly whispered, can you picture what it would have felt like to be really cherished by a man, to be so special to him that he wanted to protect your innocence? Can you sense what it would mean to be valued by that man that much? The young, attractive 30-year-old woman who had never made any connection about her past promiscuity and her present problem with sex and marriage had the alignment of an a-ha in her mind and heart.
She sat quietly and didn't say anything, but as that a-ha occurred, tears began to roll down her cheeks as for the first time she realized her past is now informing her present. Laura's message is, I love him, and if we don't have sex, I'll lose his love. That's the message. The truth is, unplanned sex may feel right at the time, but it almost always ushers in the end of the relationship. Mike's message is, if we really love each other, how can it be wrong? I'm just expressing what I really feel. The truth is, love means a total commitment, not a strong emotional feeling. When physical intimacy exceeds genuine commitment, the relationship shatters because one has given all and the other is holding back. Paula's story is, I need to get sex over with.
I just want to get the rite of passage and then what I do in the past, whether I'm young at 20 or 30, has nothing to do with the future. It's just the way life is. And the truth is, promiscuity causes you to begin to hate yourself, doubt yourself, positions you where your capacity for intimacy, which is the goal from God, gets diminished and diminished and diminished. Sex with multiple partners is like two pieces of cardboard being glued together and then ripped apart. And when you rip them apart, there's a little piece of this cardboard over here and a little piece over here. And when it happens over and over and over and over, it creates baggage that God never intended. God is the most pro-sex being in all the world.
Are you ready for this? He created it. It's a gift.
It's beautiful. When we fail to understand the difference between love and sex, we are doomed to failure in both our relationships and our sexuality. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. And before we get back to today's message, let me quickly remind you that this teaching comes from Chip's popular book, Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships. So if you're ready to find love, stay in love and develop meaningful intimacy with your spouse, you're going to want to get this resource.
Stick around after this message to learn how to get your copy today. Well, with that, let's get back to Chip's talk. If you don't get clear as a married person, as a single person, as a divorced person, as a teenager, if you don't get clear on this is sex, this is what it's about, understand it clearly, this is love, and this is what real love is about, and this is how and when they fit together, if that's confused, you'll not only have bad relationships, you'll have bad sex. So let's go to the author of sex.
As you open those notes, what's it say? The very top, a word from God about sex. I mean, if we could just open up heaven and say, God, I mean, there's sex everywhere, there's commercials everywhere, we're bombarded in a world, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. Would you please give us your word on sex since you created it? And to do that, we're going to be in Ephesians chapter four and five, and so if you will, open your Bibles or a mobile device, whatever you're using, and let me give you a little historical background, because the danger, if you're like me and you don't, I didn't grow up as a Christian, I never opened the Bible, I had views about the Bible that were like this. How could that old book know anything about sex?
Are you kidding me? Or, you know, isn't the Bible about people that are really kind of prudish and don't know much about sex, and, you know, we're modern and we're kind of with it and we're kind of hip and all that old stuff. Let me give you the history when this was written. Paul's writing to the Ephesians, the main temple there was called the Temple of Diana, or the Temple of Love. Sex was available 24-7 any way that you wanted it. In fact, the ancients would say that Christianity introduced a new virtue, uncommon in the day. It was the virtue of sexual purity or chastity. If you were a Roman or Greek man in this culture, you were expected to have a wife to bear you children. You were expected to have a mistress to fulfill you whenever you want. You were expected to go to a temple, and the temples had prostitutes, male prostitutes, female prostitutes.
You could have homosexual sex, heterosexual sex. And often you would have a slave girl and she understood that her role was not only to do whatever you said and help around the house, but sexual favors, she's a slave, she's a piece of property. The liberator of women was Jesus. Jesus said you're co-heirs with the grace of God. Jesus said you have value.
Women were exploited, used, abused, a piece of property. And Jesus comes and then the Apostle Paul is writing the most counter intuitive message that's ever been heard of in the day. And he talks about the role of a woman and the role of a man and the role of sex and the role of love. And he's going to say is you need to walk in love.
Notice the context. Chapter 4, if you're looking in your Bible, you can see that in chapter 4, verse 1, it opens up and it talks, the metaphor for walking is basically how to live. Step by step, here's how you live. And so in verse 1, it says we're to walk in unity, that's good. Skip down to verse 17, we're to walk in holiness, we're to be separate, we're to be pure in our thoughts and our minds and our actions. And then in chapter 5, verse 1, we're to walk in love. But let's get a little bit of a runway.
Let's get a little bit of a runway of what does he say? I put it in your notes, verse 30 of chapter 4, it says, and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Circle the word grieve in your notes. I think we've fallen into a bad theology of thinking somehow that God is the force, some impersonal force that gives us rules and guidelines and we're supposed to live by them. He's one essence and being in three persons.
He's a person. Grief means making someone sad, disappointing them, breaking their heart. The commandment is talking all about relationships is don't break the Holy Spirit's heart because he's sealed you, he loved you, he has the best for you, this day of redemption. And then he says, well, how not to do that? Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice.
I could define all those words, but basically all those words are dissing people, disrespecting people, hurting people, verbal actions and attitudes that make relationships bad. Verse 32 says, instead, be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. How? Just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Underline the word kind. Underline the word tenderhearted. Underline the word forgiving. He says this is how relationships work. Don't all of us want to have a relationship with the opposite sex where they're kind to us and we're kind to them? Don't we want to be tenderhearted and instead of having expectations and they ought or they should where you really understand where they're coming from and where they've been and when they blow it or when we blow it? Don't we want to have relationships where someone says, I'm willing to forgive you for what you said?
I'm willing to forgive you for what you've done the way God has forgiven me. So now we get the command. The command in verse 1 is to walk in love. This is how relationships work.
So we've got to understand. So what's it mean to love? We're never going to understand the difference between sex and love if we can't define clearly. So what's it mean to walk in love? Well, positively it means to be giving, caring, sacrificial and unselfish toward others.
Can we all agree on that? I mean, you're loving when you care for someone, right? You're giving.
It costs you something. It's sacrificial. We gave a definition in our last time that love is giving another person what they need the most when they deserve it the least at great personal cost.
So yes, we have feelings and we have emotions and they're wonderful and they go up and they go down, but love is different from that. Love is a commitment. It's loyalty. It's caring. It's giving.
It's paying a price. It says, I want what's best for you even if it's difficult for me. And it says walk in love. In other words, it's a process. It means when you learn to walk, what do you do? You fall down.
You're going to mess up. But he says, therefore be imitators of God. You want to learn how to walk in love? Right above that word imitators, remember this word?
M-I-M-I-C, mimic. Literally he's saying, you want to learn to walk in love? Well, just mimic God as a dearly or deeply loved child. And walk in love just as Christ also loved you. And he gives us this example of he gave himself up for us an offering, a sacrifice as God's love-fragrant aroma.
And so you just have those characteristics that make relationships deep and wonderful and good. Now what he's going to do is something that if I didn't know this passage, I would have not thought what we're going to read next would have anything to do with love. But he's writing to a society that's just inundated with sex everywhere. And he's watching it destroy relationships. He's destroying the relationships of the teenagers in Ephesus as they grow up in this world. It's destroying the relationships of people that are married as love and sex get confused. And I mean, can you imagine being a woman in that day and, you know, your husband leaves and you've given him two children and they bear his name and yours? And then he goes have sex with this person and sex with that person.
And it's just expected. And pretty soon you feel used and abused. And so the Apostle Paul's going to say real love is giving, caring, sacrificial, and being unselfish toward other people.
That's the positive view. Now he's going to say let me show you the opposite of walking in love. This is not walking in love. Verse 1 and 2, positive.
Verse 3 and 4, the negative. So look at, negatively, it's to refuse to take, exploit, cheapen, defraud, or substitute sexual activity for genuine love and authentic intimacy. In other words, the opposite of loving is taking, lusting, exploiting, to cheapen. It means to defraud. I get what I want sexually.
I don't care about you. I'm going to satisfy me. It's substituting sexual activity. Yes, when people have sex and bodies come together, there's this intimacy, this bond that occurs, whether you know the person or not. The Scripture would say that even when a man has sex with a prostitute, he becomes one with her. God designed sex to bond you to that person.
It helps sustain the relationship over hard times. But he says that when you rip it apart, and you rip it apart, and you rip it apart, it creates pieces and baggage and pain, and people feel rejected and used and exploited and cheapened. And so now he gives us a command. The one command was walk in love.
Now notice this command. Verse 3, but do not let immorality or impurity or greed even be named among you as is proper among the saints. He goes on to say, and no filthiness or silly talk or coarse jesting, but rather the giving of thanks. So he says walk in love, but by contrast, let me tell you what's not loving. Let's just walk through these words very, very carefully.
If you have a pen, you might jot down. He's going to start and he's going to say, but let no immorality, like the word porn above that, the Greek word is porneia. Porneia is the most general word for sexual immorality in the New Testament. Porneia would include adultery, that's having sex when you're married with someone other than your mate, fornication, that's when you're not married having sex with someone else, homosexuality, that's having sex with someone of the same sex, sexual addiction, multiple other perversions. It is in thought, word or deed, anything other than one man, one woman in a monogamous relationship to express love to one another, he says is porneia.
And then in case you want it, it's kind of like the lens, that's the big picture, and then the lens tightens and he goes, now let me clarify what this really includes. Let no immorality or notice any impurity. This is a word that has the idea of any sexual indulgence at the cost of another. You log on to porn sites and this is what it does to your marriage. You flirt with this person at work, this is what it does to your marriage. You flirt and act like and fondle another person and excite them sexually but can't fulfill it in a righteous way.
Anything, any impurity. And then finally he goes on, or greed. And the context here is sexual. We think of greed about money. This is about sexual greed.
This is about satisfying your lust. If you've done any research about sexual addictions, they're just like drug addictions. You know, when you start and do drugs, and I've been around the world with lots of people who've done drugs and they'll just all tell you, you know when I started all I needed was I took a little hit and man I got a buzz that was crazy. But that same little hit over time didn't give me the same buzz so I had to take more or different drugs.
And I kept going, going, going, going. The same is true for sexual addictions. The reason it gets more and more and more dark and perverted and weird is because the same chemicals in your brain that bring pleasure, you need a bigger and bigger hit. And so what he's saying is that it is not loving to be immoral. It's not loving to use people. It's not loving whether it's in your mind or words. This first section is all immoral sexual perverted behavior. It's not loving.
That's his point. And unless we think it's just sort of in a lifestyle, I'm just, you know, we have good feelings and we're living together. He goes on to say what? No filthiness or silly talk or coarse jesting.
He moves from behavior to your speech and your attitudes. Filthiness has to do with obscenities or, you know, coarse joking. It's the dirty talk, the dirty joke, the coarse jesting, the innuendo. If you've ever been around people that are looking for acceptance, especially comics, if you ever, you know, watch maybe Comedy Central and there's someone there, you know, has some really good clean jokes. It's hard to find but there's a few. When a comic late night person or some of the most famous comics are stuck and a crowd's not responding, what do they always do?
Where can you always get a laugh? Sexual innuendo. I mean, in some comics that's all it is. It's prohibited. Now, by the way, so often people thought about this, oh, God's a prude and he doesn't want to do these things. Here's the context.
No, no, no, no. Those things reduce your capacity. They cheapen things. They destroy things.
Sex is over here in love and commitment. In other words, most of us would be pretty upset if we saw a beautiful meadow, a great stream, salmon, wonderful trees, absolute pristine and someone pulled a big truck into it and it had poison in it and just started pouring it into the stream and then took three loads of garbage and then they drove off. You'd be ticked off, wouldn't you? You're destroying something beautiful. That's the apostle Paul's point.
He said this isn't about restrictions. This is you don't understand what love is. You've mixed them together. So often relationships are talking about love. It's self-indulgent. It's all about you. It's using. It's exploiting. You live together and then you move out and what's she going to do?
Over half the women that get divorced live under the poverty level. Paul's saying love means you really are committed and you care. So sexual immorality violates that and that's why he says don't settle for second best. This is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram and you've been listening to part one of Chip's message Love and Sex Why Knowing the Difference Makes All the Difference from our series Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships.
Chip will be back shortly to share some helpful application for us to think about. The pursuit of true love is everywhere we look. It's overly romanticized in the movies and TV shows we watch, the books we read and the songs we listen to. In this study in Ephesians chapter 5, Chip's going to expose the love we see in culture as a mirage of the real thing. Stay with us as we uncover God's design for finding, staying and growing in a genuine love that can last a lifetime. To learn more about this series or our resources, visit livingontheedge.org. That's livingontheedge.org. Well before we go any further in today's program, let's join me in studio now to share something with all of you.
Chip? Thanks so much, Dave. Before I share some application for today, I just want to pause and I want to address a very delicate subject. There's a lot of lies when it comes to the area of sexuality, about love, promiscuity, divorce.
I want you to understand that God has a prescription and it really, really works because he made us and he designed it. He's the all-wise engineer who created marriage and he has a prescription, he has a game plan, he has a model and it's deep and it's rich, it's not easy. But in my book Love, Sex, Lasting Relationships, especially if you're single or if you're single again, whatever age, this book will help you understand that finding the right person, having this over-the-top falling in love and putting all your hopes and dreams in another person is a recipe for disaster and there's a different way. And when you follow it, you're going to discover that you become the right person, that you draw the kind of people that you really want into your life. And in the book, I'll help you understand whether you're in love or not. I'll give you a game plan about how to walk through the various stages of the relationship. Don't settle for pseudo-relationships, pseudo-sex, perversions that take you to places that will never satisfy your soul. God has a better plan for love, sex, and lasting relationships. To learn more about this valuable resource, visit Special Offers on the Chip Ingram app or LivingOnTheEdge.org. If you're ready to experience God's blueprint for intimacy, romance, and security, then you're going to want to get your hands on this book. Again, to order your copy of Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships, go to Special Offers on the Chip Ingram app or at LivingOnTheEdge.org. Well, Chip, today you said that if we don't know the difference between love and sex, we're doomed in our relationships and in our sexuality.
Well, doomed is a pretty serious word. Well, take a minute if you would and unpack that a little more for us. I'd be glad to, Dave. Here's what I have now witnessed and seen. It really is the story of what I shared in the teaching. My heart breaks when I see when people who love God, when people that are really good people, when people that have all the natural desires and whether you're a 20-something, a 30-something, a 40-something, or a looking for a relationship again 60-something, we had these desires to be sexually intimate. But I would remind people of the stories when there's confusion between love and sex about Lauren who thought, you know, if I don't give in sexually, I'm going to lose my boyfriend.
And then what happened? You think about Mike who honestly believed, wait, you know, we really love each other, so the Bible's got to be okay with this, and yet it produced disaster in their relationship. Or the story about the young 17-year-old that just wanted to get sex out of the way and found herself as a young Christian mom in her 30s with a distaste for sex in her marriage. When we violate God's design, and I'm speaking to the Christian community here, I'm speaking to those of you that would say authentically, I'm a follower of Christ, but I'm currently living with someone or I'm currently having sex with someone and we're not married. What I want you to know is it will not work, is that you're actually damaging your relationship. And what I want you to know is that God's heart is not in any way to be prudish. He wants the best. I often say as I've counseled people over the years, do you want to live with second-rate sex?
The fact is, without the covenant, without the absolute commitment, what you know is that person can walk out of your life and they're going to take a piece of your soul, because when two people have sex, the two become one. So here's both my comfort and my challenge. My comfort at this very moment, God longs to forgive you, for you to come to him and say, oh Lord, I'm sorry. I violated your design. Would you forgive me? We'll talk in our next broadcast about a game plan and how you can be sexually pure.
But then I want to say to those of you who kind of have said, you know something, I know what's right. I'm just not going to do it. Be very, very careful.
God's grace, when presumed upon, can produce disastrous consequences. He loves you, but he wants you to know that when you violate what is true knowingly and perpetually, there are consequences, and he longs to prevent those. He's your father. Obey him.
Let me encourage you to make the decision today to be sexually pure. Difficult? Yes.
Unpopular? Absolutely. But God's blessing and your future demands sexual purity. You'll be glad you did. A much needed word of encouragement on a really important topic, Chip.
Thanks. As we close, would you stop for a minute and pray for Living on the Edge today? We've never seen a greater need for God's truth to go out than right now. And by God's grace, Living on the Edge has provided encouragement, teaching, and personal discipleship resources to more people than ever. So thank you to those who support us in prayer. God is doing amazing things. Well, be sure to join us next time as Chip continues his series, Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships. Until then, I'm Dave Druey, saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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