The substance of these articles was first given as a speech for the Adult Fellowship, or A.F. as it is called here, of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore. The subject was chosen by the A.F. themselves. Since most of the members of the A.F. are unmarried young people we concentrate especially on this subject as it relates to them. We decided to reproduce this speech in two installments in theStandard Bearer in the hope and prayer that it may be of some benefit also to the youth of our churches in the U.S.A.
When we were first asked to speak on this subject we experienced some fear and anxiety. This subject is surely one that is very sensitive and personal in nature and it requires a lot of discretion and wisdom to speak on it. Nevertheless there are several compelling reasons why this subject is both necessary and proper for us to speak on and it is good that you as young people should desire to hear the Word of God on this subject.
God has created us with a sexual nature. It is necessary for us as Christians to have a proper understanding of this. It is urgent that we know how to use this part of our nature in a God-glorifying way.
That this subject is proper and necessary for us to address is also born out by the fact that Scripture speaks of it very often. It is indeed striking how much God’s Word has to say about this subject; and we must know and receive this Word of God. This subject is dealt with very often in the law of the Old Testament. Solomon has many things to say about this subject in Proverbs, in Ecclesiastes, and in The Song of Solomon. In the New Testament we find our Lord addressing the subject in the Sermon on the Mount. The apostle Paul deals with it extensively in I Corinthians 6and I Corinthians 7 and in I Thessalonians 4:1-8, as well as more briefly in Ephesians 5:3-5 and Colossians 3:5, 6. You are encouraged as young people to read these passages of Scripture carefully. The Word of God often warns against the great sins of the misuse of our sexual nature. On the other hand, the Word of God also tells us positively much about the proper use of sex. Though the Bible is not to be used as some modern day sex manual, we can find in the Bible all of the principles that ought to govern this area of our lives.
As young people you are seriously thinking about marriage. It is a God-given desire in you that you should be looking for a young man or a young woman to be your life’s partner in that intimate and blessed relationship of marriage. Some of you are already seriously dating. It is natural that you should be attracted by the opposite sex. This attraction is in large measure a sexual attraction. You long for sexual fulfillment and happiness in your life. You are faced also with many questions concerning what are the proper activities to be engaged in as young people when courting and dating. It is urgent for you to know the limits and restraints that you ought to observe as wise Christian young people when you are together on dates.
You as young people are filled with sexual energies. You long for sexual pleasure, excitement, and fulfillment. This is particularly strong in young people in harmony with all of the strength and vigor and vitality of youth. There are also in you, in your sinful nature, strong lusts and passions. There is within you a great temptation to experiment with sex, to prove yourselves as men and women, to feel something of the great excitement that sex brings. There is in this area of your lives such a tremendous power in you to sin that you need to resist with all the strength of God’s grace in you.
It is really urgent that we have proper Christian attitudes about sex, especially in the world in which we live. It hardly need be said that the world in which we live is one filled with the great abomination of sexual sin. Practically every area of our life in the world is saturated with it. It is seen in the world’s movie houses and on television; it is seen in the vast majority of the world’s books; it is seen in the advertisements of the world and in the world’s dress. The most powerful instrument to draw the attention .of the world is that of sexual display. Never before in the history of the world has this sin been so blatant and brazen. It can surely be said that you as young people have greater temptations to face in this area than any generation before you. There is in the world a total permissive attitude towards sexual sins, an “anything goes” philosophy. Many today are advocating that it is perfectly innocent for young people to be engaged in premarital relationships. Modern day psychologists go so far as to suggest that it is entirely wrong to seek to limit the sexual activities of young people. They must be allowed to find release for pent-up sexual frustrations. They must be allowed to experiment with sexual relationships of all sorts in order to prepare themselves for a well adjusted sex life in marriage. Statistics are available to show that by far the vast majority of young people are what is euphemistically called “sexually active” before marriage. It is very rare for young people to be virgins when they marry. To take a strong moral stand about fornication and adultery will gain you the reputation of being ridiculously out of touch with the modern world. It is possible to claim oneself to be a committed Christian and yet to be openly and unashamedly living in fornication.
There is today very much emphasis on-sex. The glorious young, woman or young man in the world today is the one who is sexually exciting. Successful marriage is said to be almost entirely dependent upon one’s ability to perform well sexually.
Many books have therefore been written about how to attain to sexual happiness and fulfillment in life. It is especially striking how many of these kinds of books have been written by authors claiming to be Christians. You will find more books on the subject of sex in mostmodern Christian book stores than in any other book stores. Sad to say a great many of these books are not very good, and Christian young people must be strongly warned about reading them. Many under the subtle guise of being Christian present views that are as immoral as those of the world, and certainly more dangerous, because they pretend to come with Christian perspectives.
For all of these reasons then it is both necessary and proper that we consider this subject of Christian attitudes towards sex.
We believe, first of all, according to the Word of God, that the sexual aspect of our nature is a part of the good creation of God. God created man male and female. God created all of the mysterious and wonderful differences that are involved in this distinction among men, including all of the physical differences of our bodies. God created the woman in her great beauty and the man with his masculine features. God made our bodies such that they are sexually attractive to the opposite sex. God created in man the strong desire for sexual fulfillment. The deep joy and excitement and fulfillment of the sexual union are all part of God’s good creation. Sex in itself is not something evil or base or animalistic. The Christian understands that this aspect of his nature is a beautiful creation of God intended by God for the great joy, happiness, and pleasure of man when properly used. The Christian young person may surely look forward to sexual happiness and fulfillment in marriage. It is good for the sake of a good and happy marriage that he learn the proper use of his sexual nature.
That all of this is true can easily be proven from the Scriptures. We can learn this from the beautiful story of creation. When. God made man, the most glorious of all His creatures whom He fashioned after His own image and likeness, He created man with a sexual nature. He did not stop His wonderful work of creation after He had made man, but He went on also to create a beautiful woman. And when He had made the woman in all her beauty He brought her unto the man. Before the fall they were brought together in shameless nakedness. We can be sure that soon after the Lord had brought Eve to Adam they were united together in sexual love. In the holiness and purity of their unfallen state they enjoyed the pleasure and fulfillment of the sexual union. The Lord was pleased as the man and his wife enjoyed the gift which He Himself had given to them.
There are other places in Scripture that teach us the goodness of sex when properly used. In Proverbs 5:18, 19Solomon, filled with the wisdom of God, exhorts the young man: “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; ‘and be thou ravished always with her love.” It is plain that Solomon is speaking here especially about the joy and pleasure of sexual love. This love within marriage is good and something so intense that it is said to be ravishing.
In the Song of Solomon we have a beautiful picture of the love of Christ for His bride the Church. This we believe is the proper understanding of this book of the Bible. Solomon speaks unashamedly of the sexual aspects of this love as part of this picture.
In I Corinthians 7 the apostle exhorts those who are married to render to one another “due benevolence.” In this he is referring to the gift of sexual love. Those who are married are obligated to give to each other continually the gift of sexual love. The married are to give their bodies to one another. This is not evil but good. It is an essential and good part of holy marital love.
Finally Paul exhorts in I Thessalonians 4:3, 4, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor.” Again it is clear that Paul is speaking here of the proper use of our sexual nature. It is possible by the grace of God to use this sexual nature in sanctification and honor.
God has created the sexual aspect of our nature exclusively for marriage. That is very clear in the Word of God and that is absolute. There are no exceptions to this. To engage in premarital sex is not a matter of innocent sexual activity; it is according to the Word of God the great sin of fornication. The very nature and character of the sex act as created by God is such that it is good only in the sphere of marriage. It is the means whereby a married man and woman express their intimate and fervent love for each other. It is especially through the sexual union according to the created nature of man that a man and a woman become one flesh. God has ordained that sex should be used in the sphere of the intimate, personal, loving relationship of marriage. The proper and good use of sex presupposes that a man and a woman are totally committed to each other in the life-long unbreakable bond of love and trust of marriage. According to the ordinance of God, sex is a gift of love which a man and woman must give to each other in marriage. Sex is not something that must be used merely for self gratification and for the exploitation of another. Sex is a gift that a married man and married woman are to give to their partners whereby they express their love and joy in one another.
Today, especially among young people, we find often that marriage is discounted. It is said that marriage is not absolutely necessary. It is said that you can engage in sexual intercourse before marriage as long as there is a measure of love and commitment to each other. It is emphasized that marriage is not made by a legal contract or ceremony of the church or the state. Marriage according to them is really made when two people love each other. All of this is nothing but a ruse. It is an attempt to justify the great abomination of which we hear so often today where couples live together inan open-ended relationship and engage in sexual intercourse without committing themselves to each other in marriage. It gives to them the “freedom” to commit fornication with one partner and when they get sick of this partner to have another. There is no amount of fancy reasoning that is going to change the fact that such relationships are nothing less than abominable fornication and adultery. God is pleased to marry us through the means of the legal contract and ceremony of the state. Though committed love and trust certainly are absolutely necessary for marriage, the legal institution of the God-ordained state is also absolutely essential. Until we have by God been united together in marriage, sexual intercourse is always without exception a great sin in the sight of God and against our partner.
As Christians we must know that sex in itself is a good creation of God, but the perversion of sex is condemned by God. Sex is perverted when it is engaged in outside of the God-ordained sphere of marriage. Sex is perverted when it is used merely for self and for the satisfaction of one’s own lusts and passions and not for the giving of marital love.
Man through sin has horribly corrupted and perverted every human relationship. Man in his totally depraved nature hates God and he hates his neighbor. He does all things in rebellion against all of the holy ordinances of God. He seeks himself and the satisfaction of his own lusts and that at the expense and exploitation of his neighbor. There is perhaps no area of life in which the horrible depravity of man’s nature is more evident than in his misuse of sex. He will go to any end to satisfy his own passions. The young man will force the young girl in the darkness of the night, he will rob her of her honor, use and abuse her, and that only to satisfy his own wicked passion. Yet hypocritically he will speak of this as love. In the extreme, man will commit even rape and murder in this great wickedness. To have proper Christian attitudes towards sex we must be aware of the awful depravity of man’s sinful nature. And then also we must understand that we have that same old sinful nature within us. We have the same sinful and wicked passions in our flesh. We must be on our guard against them. We must fight against them and reign over them through the grace and Spirit of Christ Jesus our Lord. We must flee these lusts, never playing with them, keeping far distant from them. We must always know how wicked is the world in which we live and how great the power of our sinful nature.
Sexual sin is a horrible sin. It is first of all a great abomination in the sight of God. Those who walk in this sin surely incur the terrible wrath and judgment of God. We as Christians must always be aware of how God hates this sin. There are today many who seek to minimize the seriousness of this sin. They dismiss it with a smile. The very prevalence of this sin can easily make us forget how horrible it is in the sight of God. In holy fear before God we must never forget how our holy and righteous God hates all adultery and fornication.
The misuse of our sexual nature is also a very great evil against .our fellow man. No amount of talk of love will remove this great evil. It always causes great psychological and spiritual harm to those with whom you sin. No amount of “liberation” of our modern day world is going to change this. Fornication will cause deep anguish for those who commit it. It involves the destroying of one’s honor; it involves cheating and defrauding one another and debasing one another. Those who commit this sin will always be left with deep feelings of guilt and shame. They will be left with the anguish of feeling cheated and shamed, of having been used for great evil and having been made worthless. Virginity is a very great and precious possession. To give that away, or to have someone in the throws of sexual passion take it from you, will cause bitter anguish. Any pastor who has counseled those who have been involved in this sin will know something of the great anguish it brings.
Young people, the Word of God strongly warns against the sin of fornication. Take heed to this warning. Flee fornication. Fall not into the condemnation of God and the misery and anguish of this great sin. Let no man tempt you into thinking that this can be avoided. Let no man tempt you by saying there is true love and good pleasure in the sin of fornication. There is not.