AGCC Sun. a.m. 5/2/99
"1 + 1 = 1"
TEXT: Ex. 20:14; Gen. 2:18,22-24; Matt. 5:27-30; I Cor. 7:3-5
INTRO: The culture we live in today scoffs at the concept of sexual fidelity in marriage, consider the following:
ILLUS:The conclusion made by a study of 104 leading television writers and executives conducted by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, the study found that Hollywood's views run far from the mainstream of public opinion. Some examples: Though 85 percent of Americans believe adultery is wrong, only 49 percent of TV writers and executives do. Everyone else is less likely than Hollywood to say a woman has a right to an abortion (59 to 97 percent). While only 4 percent of Americans have no religious affiliation, 45 percent of the TV writers and executives have none. -- Reported in Newsweek, 7/20/92, "To Verify," Leadership.
It is no wonder that our society is inundated with messages about sex that is contrary to God's 7th commandment "You shall not commit adultery." Our divorce rate and the number of married couples in counseling over extra marital affairs has never been higher. It is time we stop listening to Hollywood and listen to God's Holy Will!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that healthy marriages are built on sexual fidelity and that the healthiest sexuality comes in a committed relationship of one man and one woman in marriage for life.
I. PURPOSE IN MARRIAGE Gen. 2:18,22-24; 3:20
A. Partnership 2:18
1. To understand a healthy marriage it is necessary to understand the purpose of marriage, God has created marriage to have 3 elements to it and in a particular order, and the first of these elements is "partnership".
a. Note that Adam was productive without Eve, he had already started "work" - but he was not complete without Eve!
b. Men need to understand this dynamic, while they may feel fulfilled in their work experience they may also feel empty emotionally and incomplete without a healthy relationship with a spouse.
c. God looked at Adam and said it was "not good for the man to be alone."
2. When Eve is created there is nothing said at the beginning about her existence to make babies, she was made first and foremost to be Adam's "suitable helper" (2:18) which in the Hebrew means "a counterpart" or "partner" of equal value!
a. God's call for having dominion over all the Earth was given to them both, (1:28) not just Adam, they were equal partners.
b. Eve was different in function and roles, not less in value.
3. God's purpose for marriage was clear from the beginning, one woman for one man for life, God made no other women for Adam nor any other men for Eve.
ILLUS:Adam and Eve had the world's only perfect marriage. She couldn't talk about the man she might have married and he couldn't complain that his mother was a better cook. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
4. In a world that changes partners, or fails to cement a relationship as a marriage in favor of simply living together, the purpose of marriage as God intended cannot take place!
a. Every attempt by society to alter God's intended purposes in marriage has proven to be a step backward and not one forward.
b. Though the voices in our culture are loud against a Biblical sexual ethic the evidence proves society wrong and the scriptures as true!
ILLUS:According to an article by Felicity Barringer of the New York Times, trial marriages do not increase the chance of a marriage lasting or being successful. In fact, those who live together before marriage, separate and divorce in significantly greater numbers than those who go directly to the altar. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
5. A good marriage is one built first on "partnership," both with each other and with God!
B. Pleasure 2:22-24
1. The second purpose in marriage was pleasure, not producing children!
a. When God brings Eve to Adam to present her to him the first words out of his mouth were, "THIS IS bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh…" The first two words in English here are a translation of the demonstrative adverb in Hebrew which can also be loosely translated, "WOW, bone of my bone…" an expression of pleasure!
b. Marriage was to be enjoyed, a relationship of great pleasure, as was their relationship with God before sin entered the picture.
2. The mutual sharing and the bonds emotionally, physically, and socially all produced great pleasure.
3. This pleasure was not just some accidental product however, it was the product of great responsibilities and a commitment to one another exclusively.
ILLUS:In the "Peanuts" comic strip, drawn by Charles Schulz, Charlie Brown says to his friend, "My Granpa and Granma have been married for fifty years!" The friend replies, "They're lucky, aren't they?" Charlie Brown answers. "Granma says it isn't luck--it's skill!" -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
4. Too many young people enter into marriage today expecting pleasure without the responsibilities that are required to find it.
a. Happy couples and well adjusted couples are those who live responsibly and a disciplined life.
b. Pleasure is a product of responsible behavior.
C. Procreation 3:20
1. Only after PARTNERSHIP and PLEASURE do we see the third purpose in marriage coming into existence, that of reproduction or bearing children.
a. Eve was valued as an equal person and not just as a baby factory.
b. The loss of this in the Old Testament created a horrible imbalance in marriage for generations. Women became valued only as far as they could produce children for their husbands, this was not God's plan for marriage, it was a distortion of it.
2. In our modern society PLEASURE has been put in the #1 spot and so marriages are built solely on how we "feel" in marriage, and if it is no longer fun the relationship ends and we look for someone else to make us happy! This too is a distortion of God's design for marriage.
3. Children should be the product of two people who are equal partners first, whose relationship is loving and joyous, the environment will then give the greatest atmosphere in which another generation will know the joy of God's purposes in marriage.
a. Partners before Parents!
b. Too often today this is missing
II. PURITY IN MARRIAGE Matt. 5:27-30; I Cor. 7:3-5
A.Preserving Matt. 5:27-30
1. It is very difficult to preserve a marriage that has experienced sexual infidelity.
a. The pain of unfaithfulness sexually can be greater than the pain of death itself.
b. The broken vows and trust in the union is devastating.
2. For this reason Jesus expands on the simplicity of the 7th commandment to explain the process that yields to brokenness.
a. It begins in the heart long before it becomes an outward act of sin.
b. Jesus is attempting to help explain the carefulness of our thought life and how it can impact our actual life.
3. It is not the fleeting thought that Jesus is explaining here, it is the dwelling thought that is entertained.
a. To look on another woman and allow a process of fantasizing to develop with lust can be just as sinful as the act of adultery, because in fact it will often lead to it!
b. No one wakes up and decides they will commit adultery today, it is usually the result of dwelling on lustful thoughts that produce the fruit of sin later.
4. The battle is often won in our thought life, we must guard our HEARTS AND MINDS in order to live godly.
ILLUS: There is a story of two Buddhist monks walking in a drenching thunderstorm. They came to a stream, and it was swollen out of its banks. A beautiful young Japanese woman in a kimono stood there wanting to get to the other side but was afraid of the currents. In characteristic Buddhist compassion, one of the monks said, "Can I help you?" The woman said, "I need to cross this stream." The monk picked her up, put her on his shoulder, carried her through the water, and put her down on the other side. He and his companion went on to the monastery. That night his companion said to him, "I have a bone to pick with you. As Buddhist monks, we have taken vows not to look on a woman, much less touch her body. Back there by the river you did both." The first monk said, "My brother, I put that woman down on the other side of the river. You're still carrying her in your mind." -- John Claypool, "The Future and Forgetting," Preaching Today, Tape No. 109.
5. This is precisely why pornography can be so devastating, especially for men who are more visually directed than women are.
a. The processes of lust once stimulated will cause one to seek opportunity to find expression for that lust.
b. It is also the reason the Bible talks about our dress and appearances as being "moderate" and not in such a way as to help create lust in someone else's mind.
6. Jesus' point here is to promote a healthy discipline with our minds and thought life - for ultimately it will impact our lives through actions.
a. No wonder Paul also encourages a proper thought life in Philip. 4:8-9
b. The root of sin begins in our thought life.
7. Jesus wants us to understand just how important it is to discipline our thought life to the extent that he uses two powerful metaphors about gouging out your eye if it tends to stray toward lust or cutting off your hand!
a. He is not encouraging actual self-mutilation, He is simply stating how critically important it is to do whatever is necessary to prevent the process of lust from developing.
b. It is a strong call to find ways to control our appetites, to discipline our lives, to act responsibly.
c. Like young Joseph when Potiphar's wife tried to entice him into bed, HE JUST FLED - The Bible says, "Flee youthful lusts" (II Tim. 2:22) and he took it literally!
B. Practical I Cor. 7:3-5
1. Paul likewise takes a very practical view toward sexual relations in marriage.
a. Understanding that the Corinthians were going through some kind of crisis at the moment of his writing he actually had encouraged them to not get married in light of the present crisis (see I Cor. 7:26)
b. Paul did not mean that marriage is less preferred than being single, only under the present crisis.
2. However, if married, Paul also recognized the importance of a husband and wife staying sexually pure with one another.
a. He encourages them to continue a normal sexual life lest either one be given to lust elsewhere.
b. Notice how even-minded Paul is about the sexual needs of husband and wife - he is equal in his command here that they both give each other their due!
c. There was no subservient role of women sexually in a Christian home!
3. Paul reminds them of what the Bible teaches about marriage, that a husband and wife are ONE FLESH, not two! 1+1=1!
a. Again he is equal in both directions
b. Both partners are seen with equal need, equal responsibility.
4. Paul explains that the only reason to abstain from a normal sexual life in marriage is when BOTH parties agree for a specific purpose for a specific time period, and then they should come back together so as not to cause either one to be tempted sexually.
a. In our modern life where we are apart so often from one another there can be a strain on a relationship and create the dynamics for temptation to occur.
b. For this reason we should make sure each other's needs are met in a relationship as much as possible.
5. Paul's point is to act responsibly, sexual temptations can cause an otherwise disciplined person to go astray - and the price tag is always high for both partners!!!
ILLUS: The Illinois Department of Natural Resources reports that more than 17,000 deer die each year after being struck by motorists on state highways. According to Paul Shelton, state wildlife director, the peak season for road kills is in late fall. Why? The bucks are in rut in November. "They're concentrating almost exclusively on reproductive activities," he said, "and are a lot less wary than they normally would be." Deer aren't the only ones destroyed by preoccupation with sex. -- Greg Asimakoupoulos in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.
6. It is indeed a foolish spouse, a foolish society, and a foolish world that thinks adultery is only a minor problem or something that everyone is going to do anyway so we need to quit being so uptight about it.
a. Adultery undermines the trust and bonding between two people.
b. It is not just a sexual act, it is also a spiritual act - hence why the damage is so powerful when one is unfaithful.
7. Think what marriage would be life with faithfulness in both partners; what types of diseases would disappear from the earth if everyone was faithful, the children who would know who their parents are, the homes that would experience a loving commitment of two people!
8. The 7th commandment was given to allow marriages to experience the deepest sharing, with the greatest joys, and children who would grow up in the most stable of environments.
CONCLUSION: While we live in a culture that encourages sexual diversity, the Bible teaches sexual discipline! Sex is not just a physical act, it also has spiritual dynamics to it, thus Jesus said that when a man joins himself with a prostitute they become 'one' - not just in flesh but in spirit also. It is for these reasons that so much spiritual damage is done when sex occurs outside marriage. In God's economy 1+1=1, not 2! Sex can bring great joy when followed God's way, or great pain when we ignore His command. Don't commit adultery - find God's plan for a joyful union!