A new year is a new opportunity. We hear this all of the time. Physically there is nothing different that happens between December 31st and January 1st, but in our heads it feels like a new beginning. We feel like a slate has been wiped…and that’s a good thing! What are you going to do with your fresh start?
You’ve heard me talk a lot about the vital importance of in person Church gatherings. I will continue to say this and all that is related to it because I believe it is of utmost importance to our health and healthy return to life after the virus. BUT I do not want to talk about that today. We have harped so much on virus safety and health I fear we’ve left some more important topics up for grabs. One of those is sexual ethics.
During our almost year of isolation we’ve given the enemy a lot of time to work on our minds. This is one area that is wide open for him to really get to work. For the next few weeks I want us to talk through the benefits of adopting a Godly ethical standard. Today we can talk about the shady side of this conversation.
This is an uncomfortable topic because this is one of those sins that is acted out in the dark. Not only do we not like to talk about it, we actually practice it in the dark. Our society constantly bombards us with illicit images and flirtatious ads that are designed to leave the door open to some exploration later. Movies and TV shows are full of sexual innuendos prepared to leave us salivating for more. Explicit ads pop up on nearly every major website luring us to check out their wares. But this does not in any way make us victims. Let me clearly say, we are 100% responsible for our sexual ethics. We must decide when we are clear headed and pure hearted what our line will be, which rooms we will enter and which we absolutely will not, and stick to those lines. Every time we cross them, we sin. And this sin eats at our hearts and lives more than most.
From the perspective of a guy who has counseled several hundred couples in over 20 years of ministry, this one sin has destroyed more marriages than anything else I can think of. Money matters are the only things that even come close. The goal of this tool the enemy wields is to eat a guy from the inside out. He first captures his thoughts. He plants a seed that is mulled over again and again throughout the day. This thought, seed, image then is pursued later. It attaches itself to the emotions. The thought becomes a desire. Within a very short amount of time a perfectly good guy can turn his life upside down. And the sneaky side of the equation is the guy is constantly thinking he can manage the sin and that it is not getting the best of him.
I believe we are at an all-time high for sexual ethics to be disregarded. Isolation, fear, anxiety and the looming dark unknown all play into our choosing to disregard this boundary. We rationalize our sin thinking it will only be this once or we are under too much pressure. We hide it thinking we don’t want to hurt those who really do love us. We lie to cover up sin that we downplay as no big deal. All the time it is eating away at our souls.
Listen to a description of this sin from the mouth of the Proverb writer: “…For the lips of the forbidden woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison…her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.” (Prov. 5.3-5) If that doesn’t convince you of the destructiveness of this sin nothing will.
What do you do if you find yourself across this ethical line? Run to the Light! Come clean with Jesus and those who love you, beginning with your spouse. Ask yourself why God’s boundaries here are good and healthy? Why do His boundaries promote life where these others destroy it? God’s boundaries are based on His character not our desires. When we submit our hearts to Him, no matter how far we’ve run on the other side, we experience healing and restoration. I can’t tell you how incredible it is to see a marriage restored after being on the brink of disaster because of a blurry sexual ethic. I also know how sick it makes you feel to watch a marriage go down the tubes because one party refuses to submit to a higher authority. One side decides they know what’s best and they run with their emotions instead of the truth. The writer says it this way: “How I hated discipline! If only I had not ignored all the warnings! Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers? I have come to the brink of utter ruin, and now I must face public disgrace.” (5.12-14) Don’t let this be you.
I pray this New Year we can fix more than an errant virus. I pray our isolation has taught us we need the Lord every minute of the day. I pray our pressing illnesses have shown us that we are not our own healers and our death is nearer than we think. I pray we long for our own holiness more than our own happiness in 2021. This year can be different. Will you choose the new?