This is a tough one to write, largely because it’s a subject that’s close to home.
I’m reaching out to those caught in sexual immorality.
There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise Perish.
“Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
— Luke 13:1-5
Wait: did you think that I was talking about that sexual immorality? No. I could do that , and it would be an easy score. But I don’t know anything about the experience of dealing with urges of that sort. It takes someone with that understanding to talk about Redemption in Jesus and overcoming through the Holy Spirit.
But I do know something about the urges of good old man-woman, let’s-get-it-on, no-commitment, no-one-gets-hurt-okay? sexual immorality. Because I was caught in it. And I tried to overcome it in my own strength. And I failed miserably.
This is not a testimony of my past. I’ll spare you that. But it is a testimony of the fact that it took realization that I had to repent and hand the problem off to Jesus, because I was unable to overcome it on my own. If one doesn’t repent, the consequences are dire.
“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
— Revelation 21:8
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God.
— 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Fornicators and adulterers, according to Paul, do not inherit the kingdom of God, and since there’s no “Door Number 3”, you know what that means. In Revelation, God Himself uses the blanket term, “sexually immoral”. In other words, people who engage in sex outside a marriage covenant.
(For what it’s worth, I don’t believe sex between two unmarried people is necessarily immoral. If they’re in a committed relationship, I don’t see anything in the Bible that mandates a wedding ceremony to seal the deal. However, a wedding ceremony is like baptizing the relationship, upping the ante by declaring their commitment to each other in front of God and witnesses. As I’ve looked at the definition of the word, “fornication” has a connotation of wantonness and promiscuity – misusing sex solely for physical pleasure. When you consider that another of the definitions of the word translated as “fornication” relates to worshipping something other than God, that would make sense.)
We need to confess that the “freedom” we thought was represented by the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s actually enslaved us. We traded the chains of purity for the chains of peer pressure. Anyone who didn’t embrace the Revolution (figuratively, if not literally) was derided as a “square” and “repressed” and anyone who had the temerity to say, “this is wrong” was “out of step with the times”.
And now, here we are, fifty years on, with screwed-up ideas about love, sex and relationships. Would anyone care to deny that the #MeToo movement is the direct result of the Sexual Revolution, where guys figured that “liberation” meant that they could “take liberties”, and women would be expected to enjoy it? (Actually, some people do try to deny the connection: it’s quite pathetic.)
And I was certainly part of that – until I realized how people were hurting and what a self-centered jerk I’d been. And it wasn’t until I realized the only solution was to repent, to turn to Jesus and focus on Him, thereby renewing my mind, that I started to overcome.
We sometimes tend to forget that heterosexual immorality is just as damnable as anything else. And just as redeemable, through the Blood of Jesus. Today’s culture hasn’t helped. We’re still bombarded with messages about sex – movies that portray “love at first sight/bed on first night” encounters as being magical and positive. Deep thinkers like Stephen Colbert and Pee-Wee Herman mock the concept of “saving yourself”. Just today, I heard Freddie Mercury singing “Don’t stop me now / I’m havin’ a good time / I’m havin’ a ball”, and couldn’t help thinking, I wish somebody had: that lifestyle killed him and we’re all the poorer for it.
There’s a lot to overcome, and Jesus gives us the focus we need to get past the noise. And I know that, in my case, the man I was died many, many years ago.
Don’t think I haven’t felt temptation. But now, I know that rather than focus on the negative inference of not giving in, I focus on Jesus, I can bring that temptation into captivity and the urge dissipates like a vapor.
(REMINDER: “No man is an island, entire of itself ….” (John Donne) — what we do, our actions, our words, even our level of faith, affects others, just as their actions affect us. The whole mindset of the Sexual Revolution was that we pleased ourselves and if others were adversely affected by it, that was their problem.)
One more thing: “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
What is this “likewise”? The common factor in Pilate’s slaughtering the Galileans and mixing their blood with the sacrifice, and the tower collapse in Siloam, is that these deaths were horrible, unjust and unusual. And Jesus is warning us that we, too, can “perish”, either physically or spiritually or both, in a horrible, unjust and unusual way, if we don’t repent.
Fellow “straights” – men and women — we need to repent. We need to take a hard look at our attitudes towards sex and relationships and bring them all into line with the Word of God. Yes, it’s hard to overcome the urges, but we have Jesus: His sacrifice to pay the price for our sins, His victory over death and the world, and His Holy Spirit to give us the strength where we are weak.
And — most important in this “post-Christian” era — we have His mandate to us: to set an example by walking and living in repentance — killing the “old person” and putting on the new — and to tell everyone about the power in the Holy Spirit and the true freedom of being in line with God.