Selected biblical passages: May 4—Living in moral purity
Apr 27, 2014
By MARK A. RATHEL

Mark Rathel is a professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
Rather than specifically discussing the selected Proverbs for this lesson, I have opted to set the discussion related to God’s call for moral purity in the context of broader Scriptural themes. My goal is to undergird our lesson from Proverbs by addressing the problem of purity in our culture and churches and provide a summary of biblical themes on the topic of sexual purity.

Why does confusion exist in our culture and churches regarding moral purity.  First, mottos summarize the contemporary confusion regarding sexuality. “Sex is love” romanticizes sex. “Sex is life” defies sex. “Sex is evil” demonizes sexuality. “Sex sells” commercializes sex. “Sex is fun” hedonizes sex. “Sex is natural” biologicalizes sex. Second, numerous factors account for this confusion. The primary reason is a secularization of life—the removal of God from this important area. 

Further, privatization affirms that my life is my business, as we are told in the constant barrage of media, image access and commercialization of sex. Moreover, some forms of mental-health teachings maintain that sexuality is fundamental to humanness and repression of any desire creates mental-health issues.

In contrast, the Bible sets forth clear principles of this important area of life.

First, according to Genesis, God established the parameters and purposes of sex. God created Adam and Even for intimacy. God set the parameters of sexuality as one man and one woman in a covenanted relationship. A relationship between husband and wife is an intimate one-flesh union involving separation from all others (2.24). God defined the purposes of sexuality as companionship (2:18), procreation (1.28), and bonded intimacy (2.25).

Second, God provided guidance to protect people regarding sexuality. The seventh and 10th commandments address the topic. The commandment against adultery (Ex. 20:14) protects the sanctity of the marriage relationship. The final commandment against coveting prohibits desire for the spouse of another person (Ex. 20:17).  Coveting literally means “to set the heart upon, to have an intense desire outside the will of God.” The 10th commandment addresses the internal thought or motive that leads to sin. Jesus affirmed the continual validity of the prohibition of the 10th commandment against improper thought patterns of lust (Matt. 5:27-28).

Leviticus 18, located in a section known as “the Holiness Code,” prohibits incest, homosexuality, and bestiality. Leviticus 18 provides two reasons for these prohibitions. First, God desires his people to not follow the practices and customs of pagan culture (Lev. 18: 3). Second, the foundational reason is God’s moral nature, “I am Yahweh your God” (vv. 2,4,5,6,21,30). God calls His people to a higher standard.

Third, Proverbs, God’s Wisdom Book, encourages positive celebration of sex within the context of a marriage union (Prov. 5:15-18). Proverbs teaches that sexual union is limited to one’s spouse (v. 17). Proverbs 5:19, the key verse, expresses two thoughts: First, Proverbs encourages the enjoyment of the intimate union between husband and wife. “Be satisfied” expresses the thought of gratification and contentment. Second, the relationship between a husband and wife is a celebration of a committed love. 

Fourth, the Bible affirms that illicit sexual activity is a sin against the Triune God (1 Cor. 6:12-20). First, fornication is a sin against the God of creation (v. 13). God did not create the human body for sexual immorality. Since God created our bodies, He claims ownership of our bodies. Our bodies belong to Him. Second, sexual immorality is a sin against the risen Christ (vv. 14-17). God raised Christ from the dead and will also resurrect the bodies of believers from the dead. Christ’s redemptive activity of death and resurrection mean we have been bought with a price. Third, sexual immorality is a sin against the indwelling Holy Spirit. Our bodies then are a temple for the Holy Spirit.

 

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