sexuality, the myths, the misconceptions, our thinking, and God’s side of the
equation. In these particular parent
devotional copies you will be given an overview of each point in my message,
the scripture I will be speaking on, and some commentary on that Scripture. I will end each of these with a challenge to
you as parents in light of the message.
I hope this helps facilitate an open dialogue with your child on these
issues, while also challenging you as well.
I love the
Discovery Channel. A channel purely
designed to show us the wonder and beauty of the world around us as well as its
ferocity. A few years ago I was watching
a program on Discovery about lions which are incredible animals. They were covering the life of these lions
and at one point they began to delve into their mating season. I remember watching as a male and female lion
would go through this intricate and programmed ritual for hours and even days
before mating. The female lion would
periodically get up and walk back and forth in front of the male, then she
would roll on her back and side, then lay still for a little while, then she
would do it all over again. The narrator
then explained this ritual and how lions are attracted to one another and the
nature of their relationship to help us understand the ritual.
me so incredibly was the primal aspect of it all. These animals are going to mate because it is
in their DNA, their blood, their environment.
They aren’t lying out in the field wondering if the other lion really
loved them for more than their body.
They aren’t discussing their plans to make a difference in this world,
or the level of their commitment to their relationship. Other than biological functions, there is
nothing else going on. Pure
instinct. No higher plane, no greater
cause, no transcendent purpose.
Spring Break for millions of college or even high school students. Flooding places like Cancun, Daytona, the
Caribbean, to drink large amounts of alcohol and have sex with lots of
people. This is the week you let
yourself go, to lose yourself, to give in to your desires and cravings. Because what happens in this particular city,
stays in this particular city. There’s
the pervading sense that if something feels good, it takes precedence over
everything else. So the stories all
start with: party animal, we attacked
each other, basic instinct, etc.
parties aren’t just about having a good time and hooking up with someone, they
raise the questions about what it means to be fully human. The temptation is to ignore your conscience
or sense of a higher purpose, sacrificing what it means to be human. Which leads a person to act like an
animal. The question has to be asked
though, are we the sum total of our urges?
A man named
Paul didn’t think so. You see back in
the days of the New Testament there was a Greek philosophy known as food for
the stomach and stomach for food. This
basically meant that man was really just a collection of their physical needs,
you’re hungry so theirs food to satisfy that hunger, you’re tired so you
sleep. They concluded that sex is just
like food, so when a man was “hungry” we would go to a prostitute saying, “food
for the stomach…” Paul challenges this
way of thinking in the book of 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
“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. 13 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.
14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise
us also. 15 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! 16 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.”[a] 17
But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.[b]
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a
person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against
their own body. 19 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; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with
us as human beings to realize that we are more than animals. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul uses this image to challenge us with the
idea that a human isn’t just a collection of urges and needs but is a being
whom God resides in. He’s trying to
elevate our thinking, to change our perspective, to open our view to a higher
view of what it means to be human.
The stomach for
food perspective continues to be the dominate worldview today. The problem with it is that it is rooted in a
low view of human nature. The assumption
behind it is that people are going to have sex because they can’t help
themselves. Its presented as freedom and
honesty and just being who you are and doing what comes naturally, but its
built on the belief that certain things are inevitable. It views people like animals. And so we live with a low-grade sense of
despair, thinking that we are helpless, that this is simply how it is. Nowhere is this despair more on display than
in current sex education curriculums, many of which are based on the premise
that kids are going to do it anyways. If
you deconstruct that thought, what do you get?
A loss of hope. Who decided that
kids or anybody else for that matter are incapable of abstaining?
In a lot of
settings, abstinence programs and commitments to wait till marriage are laughed
at as naïve, and those who promote it are just living in la-la land and aren’t
in the real world. They are told to be
realistic and that people aren’t capable of restraint. But it’s not realism. It’s the voice of despair. It’s the voice that asks, “aren’t we all really
just animals anyways?”
And now for the
angels. If the animal impulse is to give
in and let our cravings rule us, then the angel impulse is the opposite. It’s the denial of the physical and the
failure to acknowledge that our sexuality is central to what makes us
human. Understand, your sexuality does
not define you but is a central part of who you are. To deny that is to deny your humanity.
Angels never talk
about their sexuality, they never acknowledge its existence in their
lives. They push it down, repress it,
burying it deep within their souls. Its
parents who simply never talk to their children about sex, or if they do, they
present it in terms that it is dirty, evil, corrupt, and wrong. It’s no wonder that one of the number one
issue facing Christian marriages today is over the issue of sex. The church has given us so many mixed
messages concerning sex that we are paralyzed in the face of it.
So for many the
answer is to simply push it away, deny its impact in our lives, and live, well,
like angels. We construct rigid walls
around ourselves and our loved ones concerning sex. It reminds me of an interview that was given
with Hugh Hefner a few years ago. Many
don’t know that Hugh was actually raised in a home where his parents taught
that sex was for procreation only and everything else was sin. His parents were pretending to be
angels. His parents were
prohibitionists, puritanical, they never hugged, never kissed, never showed
affection to anyone. This lack of
affection and a denial of their sexuality pushed Hugh into a life that was
consumed by sex and affection, a world where he created Playboy. In reaction to this denial he headed to the
other end of the spectrum.
Living in the Tension:
The simple truth
of the matter is, we are neither animals nor angels. The creation poem in Genesis 1 tells us that
God created animals before us, and something significant happens in creation of
people that doesn’t happen in the creation of animals: people are created in God’s image. We have a spiritual dimension to us that
animals simply don’t have. Have you ever
seen a dog concerned that his life simply wasn’t going anywhere? A cat reflecting? A horse that didn’t feel centered? Animals have a physical body but no spirit.
The book of Job
tells us that angels were created before humans as well, and Hebrews says that
Angels are spirits. An angel is a being
with a spirit but without a body. When
we deny the spiritual dimension to our existence, we end up living like
animals. When we deny the physical,
sexual dimension to our existence, we end up living like angels. Both ways are equally destructive because God
made us human. He made us to live in the
enough, there was a group of early religious people in a city called Ephesus that
saw the powerful sexual forces that we carry within us and the trouble that it
can get us into. They concluded that
since sex is so dangerous it should be avoided all together. But to avoid sex, you need to avoid romance
and affection that comes with it, and of course you’re going to have to do away
with marriage altogether because that’s tied to it as well. So this religious group banned its followers
from getting married. They also made
lists of food that their followers couldn’t eat for fear that they would eat
something that had been sacrificed to a pagan god.
The problem was,
anytime things got ethically complicated, anytime there was something to be
held in tension, they simply avoided the issue.
Instead of clarifying the issue, they would simply throw the whole thing
out. Paul however, saw things a little differently. In his first letter to Timothy he challenges
this thinking in 1 Timothy 4:1-5:
The Spirit clearly says that in later
times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things
taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through
hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain
from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those
who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything
God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with
thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the
word of God and prayer.
Paul’s point is brilliant. He makes the distinction between something
that is good because God created it, like sex, and the abuse of it. People may have seriously distorted the good
gift that sex is, but that doesn’t mean that sex is wrong. For everything God created is good, and
nothing is to be rejected if it is received in thanksgiving, because it is
consecrated by the Word of God and prayer.
The way that we keep things in check, the way
that we live in the tension between animals and angels is found in this
Scripture. God created sex and so sex is
inherently a good thing. The keys to
keeping sex a good thing is three fold:
Receive the gift of sex and sexuality with gratitude to God – It is not
because we are animals that we are sexual beings, but because God created sex
and humans to enjoy it. Thankfulness to
God in this area automatically rights our thinking to focus on God rather than
our desires and urges.
Use the Word of God as our guide – If God created sex then it makes
sense that the guide to understanding sex and our sexuality is found in his
direct words to us which happens to be the Bible. We have to study, reflect, and discuss what
his word says about sex and sexuality.
This is done together in community, not alone.
Use prayer to focus your lives and thoughts – To live in the tension
between animal and angel requires a focus that is achieved only in
communicating with God. Prayer doesn’t
necessarily change your situation, but it does change you. It connects you with your spiritual side
which helps you keep sex and sexuality in balance.
The thing we all need to understand in this
room tonight is that everyone on this planet struggles with the tension of
their sexuality and the issue of sex. We
all have different struggles, with different circumstances, but we all
struggle. Our natural inclination is to
bottle these struggles and forces, and urges up within us, to repress them and
hold them down. This isn’t healthy, and
ultimately will lead to absolute failure.
You have to talk about these things, to get them out in the open, or you
will begin to die on the inside. To
openly confront your failures, your denials, your problems, your struggles, is
to embrace your humanity.
Some of the most comforting words in the
universe are, “me too.” That moment when
you find out that your struggle between the animal impulses and the angelic
denials is also someone else’s struggle, that you’re not alone, and that others
are on this same road.
I hope that you will find this message
challenging, because it is designed to be.
Let me be perfectly honest, your teenager cannot afford for you to
demonize, demagogue, or neglect the issue of sex and sexuality in their
lives. Just because you are
uncomfortable talking about this subject doesn’t mean you can simply ignore
it. Your child right now in their lives
are experiencing changes, challenges, and hormones that are powerful. If they don’t have the tools to live in the
tension of these biological realities and the higher purpose that God has
called them to, they will fail miserably.
As parents we must model this tension in our marriages, our lives, and
our speech. It’s not enough to simply
tell your child about Godly sexuality, but you must also model what a healthy
intimate relationship looks like. They
don’t need to see repression in action, but rather healthy Godly expression.
to ask yourselves as parents:
How have we unconsciously and consciously modeled sexuality and intimacy
to our children?
How do we as parents live in the tension between animal & angels in
our own lives?
What concrete things can we do to model a healthy Godly view of
sexuality to our child through action and speech?
Questions to ask your teenager:
Do you think it’s really possible for people to restrain themselves
sexually? Why or why not?
Why then do you think the world says it’s not possible? Does that offend you in any way that they
think you’re nothing more than an animal?
Do you think we as your parents view sex as a good thing or a bad thing
(allow them to really give an answer and not to pressure this helps you see if
you’re doing an effective job of modeling godly sexuality)? Why do you think that?
Do you think sex is a good thing or a bad thing? Why?
What is one thing we as your parents can do (other than never talking
about this subject again which some will say, its ok to laugh here) to help you in this area?