Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. Marriage is honorable. The bed is undefiled. But those who participate in that outside of that marriage covenant, God will judge. That means sex during the engagement stage.
It means sex during the serious dating stage. That kind of oneness is to be experienced only after the indissolvable covenant of marriage has been made. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author and theologian J.D.
Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today we're starting a new teaching series called From the Beginning. And over the next few weeks, we'll dig into scripture for clarity and direction on sexual expression and healthy relationships. The truth is many people get uneasy when the preacher starts talking about these personal issues. But the fact is sex is one of those few topics that's addressed in almost every book of the Bible. And God has a lot to say about it. So we need to pay close attention and follow his lead. So grab your Bible.
We're jumping into the deep end right out of the gate with a message from Pastor J.D. titled The Power of Sex. One of the legendary stories around here seems to be about a word gaffe that I committed while preaching about sex. People that have been around here for a while now just refer to it as the sex and the fireplace story.
But if you're new here, you're like, what are you talking about? So I was explaining how because sexuality is one of the greatest gifts that God gave to the human race, it had incredible power to bless. But the flip side is it has incredible power to destroy. And I said, it's like fire. You know, fire. Do you want fire in your house?
And your answer ought to be, it depends on where you put it. Fire in the fireplace is awesome. Fire in the sofa, not so much. But instead of saying that, I said sex in the fireplace is awesome. And I didn't realize what I said until people began to laugh.
And it probably would have been fine if I had just left it there. But no, I had to say whatever the first thing that popped into my mind was. And so I said, well, it's dirty and it's hot.
And at that point, it became a summit legend. So our pastoral team has requestfully asked that I not say anything that spontaneously pops into my mind throughout this series that I stick really closely to the script, which I will be happy to oblige them on that. I use that illustration because it sets up the main idea that we're going to get into. And that is that sexuality is a special creation of God. It is among the loftiest of the natural gifts that God has given to the human race. And as such, it has incredible powers for life.
If it's engaged correctly and destruction, if it is misused or abused, think of it almost like you would think of a nuclear power. Human sexuality is so much more than just the propagation of the species. It is, to use the words of a friend of mine, a mingling of human souls.
One sociologist pointed out that human beings are the only species who procreate face to face. Because for us, it is not just biology. There is something profound that is happening that goes down into the soul, the very core of who we are as people. And when we go back to the very beginning, we find that God first designed human sexuality to teach us primarily about Himself and what His love was like. You see, in sex, one person loses themselves in another and becomes one with them, mysteriously. The two, those separate and distinct, become one, which is, Paul says, like the Trinity, different persons, distinct persons, yet one essence. That is my new pickup line, by the way, for Veronica. Would you like to contemplate the mysteries of the Trinity together this evening?
It has not worked yet, but I'll keep trying. We're going to delve into this sacred mystery over the next few weeks. We're going to see that Jesus had a very different view of singleness than what our culture currently crams down our throat. We are going to ask some difficult questions about same-sex attraction. Is it really wrong? If it is wrong, why would you say it's wrong?
I mean, it's not harming anybody. It just seems like a choice that adult people should be able to make. And after that, we'll talk about why it is that divorce can be so devastating, how it is that you can avoid it, or how to deal with it once you've been through it. A few weeks ago, I said that if love is a dream, then marriage for many people is like the alarm clock. And I want to try to show you on that week that it doesn't have to be that way. And then finally, to wrap up our series, we're going to take a look at a precious gift that God has given to us that is unfortunately obscured through our culture's obsession with sex, and that gift is friendship.
Let me tell you why I really want to get into this now. Many of you listening to me each week are engaged in sexual sin. And you think it's no big deal.
You're like, you know what? We're adults. We love each other. We're going to get married someday. But God says in His word that you are bringing His curse upon your lives.
Hebrews 13.4, the marriage is honorable and the bed is undefiled, but those who violate that covenant, God will judge. And the many of you that think it's just a light casual thing and it's not a big deal, but I'm going to tell you it is a big deal. For others of you, many of you listening to me, pornography is destroying your soul. And when I say that, I'm talking to both men and women.
I know the statistics. I know that it might be a little different in the church, but I know what they are for Riley Durham. And I'm going to tell you, there's a lot of you listening to me that are held captive by this, and there's a lot of you that it is destroying not only your relationship with God, it's destroying your capacity to love and relate to somebody else. For others of you, your craving for romance and sex has gotten so out of balance in your life that you've become obsessed with getting married, or maybe getting into a new marriage, or a better marriage, and you feel like you just could not be happy unless you're in a different marital situation than the one that you're in right now. And that idolatry is ruining your life. There's nothing that gets down to the core of why we are unhappy, nothing that gets into the core of what's broken in our relationship with God. There's nothing that touches that as much as this subject does right here. And so I am asking God to speak life into this area of our lives and mine, particularly mine, over the next several weeks.
And I'd love for you to pray together with me for that, because when God establishes Himself as the Lord of this part of your life, you will find it brings untold blessing to multiple dimensions of your life. Today, Proverbs 5, if you've got a Bible, Proverbs 5, we're going to look at the power of sexuality. Tim Keller, who I have told you before is kind of like a spiritual Yoda to me, great Bible teacher he is, says that our culture both overvalues and undervalues sex.
It's ironic. We undervalue it on one hand and we overvalue it on another. So Proverbs 5 unpacks that a little bit. In fact, the whole book of Proverbs does. So let's look first how we undervalue sex.
As you're finding Proverbs 5, let me explain that our society wants to believe that sex is just physical. It's like food. You get hungry, you eat. Or it's like a sport. You just got to figure out what you enjoy, what position you're good at, and then you play.
It's like tennis or wrestling or football where you just tackle each other and stay on the ground for a while. But the really only important questions are, what do you enjoy? What satisfies you?
What works for you? And the idea of any rules for sex, particularly strict rules about sex, seems terribly draconian because if certain kinds of sex are a crime, well they seem like victimless crimes. But let me ask you, present you with some questions I heard once that will tell you what you already know and that is that sex is not just physical. If sex is just physical, why is rape so much more harmful to a woman than simply being beat up? You know, women will more often report physical abuse much more often than they will rape.
Why is that? Why is it if sex is just physical that when a child is sexually abused, when they become an adult and they finally connect the dots, why is it so difficult for them to shake? It's not that an authority figure just betrayed them.
The wound goes much deeper than that. If sex is just physical, why is adultery always so devastating to a relationship? If sex is just physical, why is it that men with the deepest sexual issues often had uninvolved or missing fathers? Why would those two things be related? If sex is just physical, why is it that most people's greatest regrets have something to do with a sexual mistake? When somebody comes in my office and they sit down and they start to cry and they say, I've never told anybody this pastor, but I've got to tell somebody what comes out of their mouth 99 times out of a thousand has to do with a sexual mistake that they made.
Everything in our experience screams out. Sex is not just physical. We know that. Something much greater and more profound is at work. And so Solomon says in Proverbs chapter 5, to his son, drink water from your own cistern. Flowing water from your own well. A cistern is an image of female sexuality. You went into a cistern to get water. He continues verse 16, should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets?
Now verse 16, he switches to a male image for sexuality, springs or fountains. These treasures be for yourself alone and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight. Be intoxicated always with her love. I think I saw some of you guys for the very first time underline something in your Bible.
Whatever it takes, man. You might not realize how countercultural this passage was in Jewish culture. In all ancient cultures of the time, there were really only two reasons that you got married. Economics, you married strategically into another family so your family could be in a better position.
Or fertility, you wanted to have children. Sexual erotic desire was not a part of the marriage process. In fact, most people would satisfy that outside of marriage with a prostitute or something of that sort. But here you have Solomon talking about sexuality in terms of finding erotic delight to the point that you feel inebriated in a partner that you've given yourself to for life. In Proverbs chapter two, he calls a wife the companion of your youth. The word in Hebrew he uses for companion, haloop, means something like what we would mean when we say soulmate. That was so far beyond how Solomon's culture saw sex.
They saw it functionally or they saw it as the satisfaction of an appetite. Solomon says there's something much more profound than that. Let me take you to another passage where Proverbs talks about this again, perhaps even more colorfully. Proverbs chapter 30. Flip over 25 chapters there in your Bible. Proverbs chapter 30.
Proverbs 30 verse 18. Three things are too wonderful for me for I do not understand. This is called a three four poem in Hebrew used to express wonder. Three things are awesome. They're wonderful.
The fourth just totally blows me away because you're working in this escalating sense of wonder. By the way, that word wonderful is the Hebrew word palau, which is a very strong Hebrew word that usually gets tied to divinity. Something divine, it's incomprehensible, it's mysterious. It's the name given to Jesus in Isaiah nine six.
You will call his name palau. Wonderful. So he's saying there's something divinely mysterious about these three and this fourth, oh my goodness, it just blows it out of the water. This is Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer. We'll return for the conclusion of today's teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to quickly remind you that this is the last day to get our latest Advent resource. We all know it's important to spend regular time in scripture.
We can so easily get distracted around the holidays, right? For us as individuals, families and churches, it's essential that we keep our focus on Jesus. What we celebrate at Christmas, God coming to earth, was always part of God's plan. And throughout scripture, God changes everything for the people he meets, and it can change everything for you, too. During this Advent season, God is inviting you to meet with him.
So we're offering you a 25-day Advent devotional to help you prepare your heart for Christmas. It's called He is Here. Reserve your copy right now by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.
Or visit us online at jdgreer.com. Thanks for being with us today. Now let's finish up our teaching for the week. Once again, here's Pastor J.D.
here on Summit Life. So what are the three? What are the three? The way of an eagle, verse 19, in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, and the way of a ship on the high seas. The air is mysterious, it's invisible, yet the eagle glides effortlessly through it. The snake has no legs, yet it's able to kind of magically work its way up a rock face, slide up a rock face, and you and I would not be able to do it with our arms and our legs. How does that work exactly?
A ship weighing thousands of pounds is able to glide, soar across the top of the ocean. To other creatures, these things seem almost like magic. There's a special mysterious design at work. Then he builds his way up to number four. The big ultimate mystery beyond all these is the way of a man with a virgin.
Now there's a little tongue-in-cheek humor there that you just don't want to miss. He's saying just like the sea and the air and a rock face seem unmanageable to most creatures, so the woman also is mysterious and unmanageable. By the way, when I said that last night in our service, a guy yells out, amen.
I'm like, bro, this is not the time for you to be yelling out amen. That's why you're still single. Just as the eagle seems designed to mysteriously work in the air, he says, and just like the ship worked magically on the sea, there's a wonderful divine mystery taking place between a man and a woman in a sexual relationship. The next image, verse 20, is deliberately jarring, but this is the way of an adulteress. She eats and wipes her mouth and says, I have done no wrong. You see here, by contrast, you have a woman for whom sex is like sloppy eating. I had an appetite. I ate. After I was done, I wiped my mouth and got rid of the traces. That was it.
It was nothing magical at work here. It was an appetite. I just had a snack. I got hungry.
I ate. Solomon says that totally misses the incredible wonder that God built into sex. It is a complete devaluing of sex because it puts it back on the animal level. In sex, the two become one, and that oneness, the apostle Paul would later explain, is to be achieved in a context where everything else in their lives has become one also. That's what marriage is. In marriage, your lives have become one. Your families have become one. Your last names are one. Your finances are one.
Your future is one. Sex outside of marriage separates that physical oneness from the oneness in all the other dimensions. You are saying to that person, when you have sex with them outside of marriage, I don't really want all of you yet. At least, I'm not willing to commit to all of you yet. I just want your body for right now. That's what I want oneness with. Not everything else.
C.S. Lewis had a great analogy for this. The guy who wants to have sex, he said, with a girl without marrying her, feels about the girl the way that the bulimic feels about food. The bulimic person loves the taste of food.
It brings pleasure and comfort to them, but they don't want to carry around the calories and the saturated fat of the food in their bodies, so after they eat it and taste it and have the pleasure of it, they vomit it back out. That's what the guy is doing, Lewis says, who has sex with a girl outside of marriage. He's saying, I love the taste of you. I love this sense of oneness with you, but I don't want all of you yet, so we'll just have sex and I won't fully unite myself to you. You say, well, I'm not married yet, but I love this person and I do want all of them. Then why haven't you gotten married? I'm not saying that you don't love them.
I'm not saying that you're not on some level committed to them, but at least be honest enough with yourself to admit that you have not given yourself to them yet, and you and I both know that as committed as you feel to them today, you retain the right to walk away at any minute. Let me be very clear on this since there seems to be some confusion. According to God's word, in the clearest of possible ways, sex of any kind, in any context, before you've made that lifelong commitment in marriage, is sin. Hebrews 13 four, marriage is honorable, the bed is undefiled, but those who participate in that outside of that marriage covenant, God will judge. That means sex during the engagement stage. It means sex during the serious dating stage. That kind of oneness is to be experienced only after the indissolvable covenant of marriage has been made. Well, somebody says, okay, okay, I get it. Sex is better in marriage, but what's the big deal if we just have a little fun?
I think of the words of Woody Allen here, sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experiences go, it's one of the best. Or Katy Perry, I don't even know your name. It doesn't matter. You're just my experimental game, just human nature. You're like, how does he know the words of that song?
Not taking questions at this time. But see, that's it. That's it. Because you're human and because you're not just an animal, it's more than just nature. And it's never just an experiment. I told you about a book that I own.
I think I told you this a couple of years ago. It's called Hooked. It's not a Christian book. It's a scientific study written by a couple of neurologists showing what having multiple sexual partners, especially when you're young, does to your brain. Again, they're not writing as Christians, but they explain that multiple sexual partners actually rewires your brain in a way that makes, they say, genuine, lasting, selfless relationships much more difficult, if not nearly impossible. Here's what they say, and I quote, the individual who goes from sex partner to sex partner is causing his or her brain to mold in such a way that eventually accepts that sexual pattern as normal. The pattern of changing sex partners therefore damages their ability to bond in a committed relationship in the future. The kind of attachment damage caused by repeated sexual encounters is, in many respects, more devastating than the unwanted pregnancy, more devastating than STDs.
Repeated sexual encounters actually hinder our abilities to form lifelong and satisfying relationships. The authors use the metaphor there of tape, which duct tape, which you've probably heard. If you take duct tape and you wrap it around an arm and you pull it off, you're going to pull off bits of hair and pieces of skin on that duct tape, because it's really sticky, but then you take that same piece of duct tape, you wrap it around somebody else's arm and you do it. It still has powers of cohesion, but less.
You do that 20 times, and by the 20th time, that tape has lost all of its stickiness. And they said that's what multiple sex partners does to somebody's brain. It prohibits their power of cohesion in a lifelong satisfying relationship. Again, these are not pastors. These are people writing from scientific analysis of the brain.
Here's what they conclude. You can no more try out sex than you can try out birth. The very act of sex produces a new reality that cannot be undone. Let me talk for a minute here about the damage of pornography, because looking at pornography, these authors show, perhaps to an even greater extent, destroys your capacity for lifelong and satisfying relationships.
It's not only an offense to God, it is, because he's pure. It's an offense so up first it causes you to start looking at the opposite sex like a commodity, as someone without a soul. Let me talk to men specifically here, though this issue, as I know to, plagues both men and women. Men, when you gaze at pornography, you are looking at an image of a woman whose body you just want to use. You don't see her as a person, as a soul, and that trains your mind to begin to see all women in a certain way, and that's how you start to relate to all women in your life. When you look at pictures of women with no recognition they have a soul, your mind starts to see the real women in your life as objects. Next time you pull up a pornography image, why don't you remind yourself that behind every porn star is a father whose heart is broken with his little girl. When you begin to think of women that way, you begin to relate to all women that way.
No, no, no, no, I can keep it separate, I can keep pictures, and that's where you're wrong. That's why the authors of this book are showing you that pornography literally rewires your brain to begin to relate in certain ways. They say that the way that men and women got comfortable with committing the worst atrocities against Jews during the time of the Holocaust was because for nearly two decades they'd heard Jews talked about a subhuman.
And so these Germans, who were not moral monsters, but they just became very accustomed to the pain and the suffering of Jews not really mattering because they had started to think about Jews in a certain way and that made them begin to relate to Jews in a certain way. Then the same thing happens when you consume pornography as it trains your mind so that it affects every female relationship in your life. If you have pornography, man, listen, for the sake of your relationship with all future women, you need to get rid of it today. And just like I would tell you, if you got on your playlist a song in which a woman is referred to as a whore, it ought to be erased from your playlist forever by tonight. And you should not support any artist who's going to talk about a woman as a commodity that way.
Why? Because how you train your mind to think about women is how you're going to start seeing them and how you see them is how you're going to start relating to them. The other thing that pornography does is it destroys your own capacity for sexual fulfillment. That's why Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 said these things are a sin against you. Andy Stanley says that every time you look at porn you rewire your brain to relate to Jews.
You rewire your heart to believe three things. A real body isn't enough. Only one body is not enough. Number three, my wife's body is not good enough. Because no woman, no matter how beautiful she is, can live up to what you see in porn.
In fact, men, I'll tell you this, if porn is something that's in your life and you're just not willing to deal with it, you ought to at least have the character to look that fiance or that girlfriend in the face and tell her that you're not willing to deal with it and tell her you're going to bring those three assumptions into your marriage. That number one, a real body is not good enough. That only one body is not good enough and your body isn't good enough.
So she at least has the option to know what she's getting into so that she can opt out now before you destroy her heart later. It's possible that you're listening today and you're wrestling with these extremely personal issues. If so, you're not alone and regardless of what you've done, you're never outside the reach of God's grace. This is Summit Life with pastor and theologian J.D.
Greer. Don't forget today is the final day to reserve your copy of the 25-day Advent devotional called He is Here. Set aside time for yourself or with your family and walk through this book daily, remembering God's faithfulness and His loving plan to send us a Savior. For your gift of $35 or more today, we'll send you a copy of this new resource as our way of saying thanks for your generous support. So give us a call at 866-335-5220. That number again is 866-335-5220.
Or you can give and request the book online at jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to join us again next time when we'll continue this important message on the power of sex. Tune in right here at the same time next week to hear Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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