Marriage & Family

Sexual Purity & Relating to the Opposite Sex

As disciples of Christ who are called to live holy lives, one of the areas in which we must strive for purity is the area of sexuality. Sexual sin is one of the main ways Satan destroys our minds, our bodies, our marriages, our homes, our churches, and our lives. In order to guard ourselves against sin in this area we must understand what the Bible teaches about the purpose of sex, the boundaries for sex, and the importance of maintaining sexual purity of heart and eyes.

1. The Purpose of Sex

If we are going to walk in sexual purity, we first need to understand what God has to say about the purpose of sex. The Bible teaches that there are at least three reasons God has seen fit to make us sexual beings: 1) procreation, 2) pleasure, and 
3) avoidance of temptation.

The first purpose for sex is procreation (i.e., human reproduction). In Genesis 1:28, God told Adam and Eve they were to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” This meant that they were to have children, grandchildren, and so forth, until the earth was full of God’s image bearers carrying out God’s work. Of course, God has designed it such that the way humans multiply is through sex. Thus, one of the chief purposes of sex is procreation.

The second purpose for sex mentioned in the Bible is pleasure. God did not give humans the gift of sexuality simply so they could have children, but also so a husband and a wife could experience the pleasure that results from sex. This is seen, for example, in the book of Song of Solomon. The entire book is a love song between a husband and his wife, and much of it speaks of marital sex. Solomon, the author of that song, also tells us that sex is for pleasure when he writes in Proverbs 5:18-19, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.”

The third purpose for sex given in Scripture is that sex between a husband and a wife can help them avoid temptation. In 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, Paul says, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. . . . Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” Paul is saying that husbands and wives should have sex regularly, and that one of the reasons for this is so they will not be tempted to fulfill their sexual desires with someone outside their marriage. One of the best ways to avoid sexual sin is a healthy sex life with one’s spouse.

2. The Boundaries for Sex

The fact that God has given humans the ability for sex does not mean people are free to have sex with whomever they want. Sex is a good gift from God, but it is a gift that must be enjoyed within certain boundaries. The Bible teaches that the only proper place for the fulfillment of sexual desire is in the context of marriage. The act of sex is part of what initially joins a husband and wife together as “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24), and it is only in the context of the one-flesh union of a marriage between one man and one woman for one lifetime that sex is to occur. This is why the Bible forbids both “fornication” and “adultery” (1 Corinthians 6:9). Fornication is sex before marriage. Adultery is sex outside of marriage. Both of these sins involve sex with someone to whom you are not married. This is also what the author of Hebrews means when he writes, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4, NASB). In other words, in order to hold marriage in honor we must keep the marriage bed (i.e., sex) undefiled by not committing the sins of fornication and adultery.

3. Purity of Heart and Eyes

It’s very important that we not commit the physical act of sex with someone other than our spouse. But Jesus went further than this and said that we should not even lust after someone with our hearts and eyes. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). This means that even looking at someone of the opposite sex and desiring in one’s heart to have sex with them is sin. This would rule out lusting after a physical person, but it would also rule out the use of pornography of any kind. This is why Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). We must guard our eyes, and therefore guard our hearts, from lust. Any sexual desire that is directed toward someone other than our spouse is sin, even if that lustful desire remains at the heart-level and never leads to the physical act of sex.

One of the practical out-workings of this is that we must be vigilant in guarding how we relate to the opposite sex so as not to fan the flame of lustful desire with someone who isn’t our spouse. This is why Paul tells Timothy to “treat the younger women like sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:2). No Christian is so strong that he or she cannot succumb to sexual temptation (e.g., David with Bathsheba). We would be wise, therefore, to set boundaries for ourselves with those of the opposite sex. For example, it is extremely unwise for a man and a woman to be alone together if they aren’t married. Likewise, we must guard against communicating with those of the opposite sex in ways that do not include their spouse, or at least a third party of some kind. Many cases of adultery can be traced back to texts, phone calls, emails, and other forms of private communication between unmarried people.

Questions for Reflection

Have you seen sexual immorality destroy the lives of people you know? How so?

Why is it helpful to understand that God gives marital sex for pleasure and not just for procreation?

Why is it unhealthy for a husband and wife not to have sex regularly?

What are some practical ways you can set boundaries with the opposite sex in your workplace, church, and other areas of life, to avoid the temptation of sexual sin?

What measures might you need to take to avoid the specific sin of looking at pornography?

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Does the Bible Really Call Homosexuality a Sin?

A friend recently came across this New York Times article from last year in which Matthew Vines addresses some of the Bible passages about homosexuality (Rom 1:26-27; Lev 18:22; Matt 19:3-6; 1 Cor 6:9-10) and explains how he believes they should NOT be interpreted as condemning homosexuality. She asked me what I thought about his interpretations. The following is my brief response. I  share it here in case it might be helpful for others who hear people explaining away Bible passages the way Vines does.


This is a very important issue and one that isn’t going away any time soon. I’m glad you’re wanting to think this through biblically. In response to Matthew Vine’s interpretation of those passages, I think he avoids the clear meaning of those texts. To say that Romans 1:26-27 allows for same-sex relations as long as they are not driven by “self-seeking lust” (quoting Vines) is special pleading to say the least. For the Leviticus 18:22 passage, Vines dismisses it as old covenant much too simplistically. If we treated the whole Old Testament like he treats this passage, we might as well tear out the entire Old Testament from our Bibles and only read and live by the New Testament. Of course Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, but that doesn’t mean he abolishes it and it’s relevance for our Christian lives (see Matthew 5:17). There are principles behind this Old Testament passage that carry over into the New Testament and still apply to us today.

I think he also dismisses Matthew 19:3-6 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 with special pleading as well. In Matthew 19 Jesus is appealing to the order of creation before the fall into sin to make a point about divorce. New Testament authors frequently appeal to the order of creation to show that there are norms in the way God ordered creation originally that apply throughout time. Marriage as between one man and one woman is one of those creation norms, and this is precisely Jesus’ point in Matthew 19. When it comes to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, how anyone could say that Paul is repudiating only those cases of homosexuality that involve “expressions of power, dominance, and lustfulness” (quoting Vines) and not homosexual activity in general is beyond me. It is reading something into the text that simply is not there. What would Paul have to say if he did want to repudiate all homosexual acts? This is just denying the obvious meaning of the text.

Matthew Vines actually wrote a book on his views, and Albert Mohler wrote a detailed response to it. When it comes to debating these and other biblical texts on homosexuality, you won’t find a better treatment. You can download Mohler’s response for free here.

I encourage you to read it. Also, a couple of really helpful short books on this issue are these:

and

A Guide to Family Worship

On Father’s Day, June 19, I preached a sermon on “How to Be the Spiritual Leader of Your Home” from Deuteronomy 6:4-9. In it I talked about how regular times of family worship can be one of the best ways to “teach God’s Word diligently to your children” (Deuteronomy 6:7), and “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). I was able to share a little bit of application on how to have family worship and gave a few examples of how we do family worship at the Gaines household, but I wasn’t able to go into much detail because of time constraints.

So, I’m writing this post to go into much more detail about how to do family worship. Keep in mind that what I’m about to share is just what we do with our family. Not every family will do it exactly like us. My hope is simply to give our church members (and anyone else who might be reading this) one Family Worshipexample of what family worship can look like and how to do it. Feel free to take or leave different aspects of what I’m laying out here and mold it into something that works for you and your family.

Before I begin describing exactly what we do, let me plug a resource on this subject that I cannot recommend highly enough. Donald Whitney’s little booklet, Family Worship, should be read by every Christian family. In sixty pages you’ll be motivated to do family worship, and you’ll be given a simple plan for it. If you would like to read a review of this booklet that I wrote recently you can access that here.

During our times of family worship we stick to the three key components of (1) reading the Bible, (2) praying, and (3) singing. Here’s how we do each of those.

Read the Bible

We always start family worship with Bible reading. Right now the ages of our four children are seven, six, two, and one, so we have chosen to use a good children’s Bible for our Bible reading. We use two:

1.   The Big Picture Story Bible, and
2.  The Jesus Storybook Bible.91tkEHGFIpL

We’ve found that The Big Picture Story Bible is best for kids five and under, and The Jesus
Storybook Bible is best for kids six and up. We have been using The Jesus Storybook Bible with
our older kids for a year or two, but now that our third child is two and able to pay better attention to the Bible reading, we’ve switched back to The Big Picture Story Bible because it’s easier for her to understand. Before long I plan to use a regular Bible with my oldest kids and continue with one of the children’s Bibles with the younger kids.

The way our Bible reading works is that, typically, I sit on the couch with my children gathered beside me and with the youngest in my lap. I then read one of the entries in the children’s Bible. I’ve found that it’s helpful to do anything possible to keep their attention. Use inflection in your voice, for example. Have them help you turn the pages. Stop in the middle of a page and have them repeat a name or word you just read: e.g., everybody say “Nebuchadnezzar”—anything that keeps their attention from wandering off to other things in the room. This 1440017203076usually takes no more than five minutes.

Sometimes after we read the Bible entry, we do things to reinforce the story. For example, I might ask the kids a couple of questions about what happened in the story to make sure they were listening. One of their favorite things to do after reading a Bible story is to act it out. Once, after we read about Joshua and the armies of Israel marching around Jericho and how God gave them a miraculous victory, we had the children march around the living room seven times, and then shout and act out blowing a trumpet and we pretended the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

This is the first part of our family worship time: Bible reading.

Pray

A second important part of family worship is prayer. Often we try to pray together about something we have read during the Bible reading time. Or, we might ask the children if there is anything or anyone for whom they would like to pray. Sometimes we let one of the children lead in prayer, and other times Melisa or I will do it. The time on this varies, but it usually only takes a few minutes.

This is the second part of our family worship time: prayer.

Sing

Singing is an important part of our practice of family worship. After we read the Bible and pray together, we sing a few hymns and worship songs. Believers throughout the Scriptures not only read and preached the truth of God’s Word, but sang it as well. We all know how putting words to music helps us remember those words. This is one of the reasons singing can be such a great way to “bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” If you pick doctrinally rich songs for your family to sing, they will often remember the truths in those songs more effectively than if they simply heard those same truths read. So, singing is helpful because of the TEACHING IMG_0819potential it has. But singing as a family is also helpful because of the PRAISING potential it has. By training your family to sing to the Lord, you are leading them to praise God for the truths they are singing. In this way, singing together can lead your family from simply knowing the Word of God, to praising the God of the Word

Here’s how we do the singing portion of family worship. We have put together several copies of what we call the “Gaines Family Song Book.” It’s a three-ring binder, and inside we’ve inserted pages with the lyrics of our favorite hymns and worship songs. Each page is numbered, just like in a hymnal, so we can tell the kids to turn to page seven, and we’ll all have our song book opened to “This Is My Father’s World.” I usually add a song every week or so by finding the lyrics online, copying and pasting them onto a word document, and printing a copy out for each of the song books. We put each page in a plastic page protector as well, to keep them from being torn (At first we didn’t use the page protectors and after the first night our kids had destroyed all the pages!). A lot of times I choose songs we have been doing lately in our corporate worship services at church. This has been a great way to involve our children in church worship. They love it when we sing a song in church that they’ve learned at home and are able to sing confidently because they know all the words.

IMG_1440I play guitar, so in my copy of our songbook I have guitar chords printed above the lyrics. I sit in front of a music stand in our living room and play while we all sing along. We let each of the kids have a turn picking a song to sing. We usually sing three, and then we’re done. If you don’t play a musical instrument, I would still encourage you to consider making your own family song book. In place of a guitar or piano, you could use a service like Spotify or Apple Music to play the songs you pick for the night and sing along to the music as a family. The benefits of a song book are that it allows you to have the lyrics in front of you, and it doesn’t limit you to singing the songs in a hymnal. You can always add or take away hymns or newer worship music as you see fit.

This is the third and final part of our family worship time: singing.

Time of Day, Frequency, and Being Busy

We typically do our family worship right after dinner time, which for us is usually around 6:00. Family’s with unusual schedules might need to pick another window of time that better fits their family’s needs. While we don’t do family worship every single night, we do make a point to do it most nights. This can be very difficult, especially during certain times of the year when we tend to be extra busy. For example, during the spring our two oldest children were involved in playing baseball and softball. There were several occasions when we were at a baseball or softball field three nights a week. But even though it was much harder to maintain consistent family worship during these busy days, we decided beforehand that nothing and no-one would prevent us from family worship. This was going to be a priority for our family over any other extracurricular activities. What this meant was that there were times when we kept our kids up later than we normally would to have family worship. Sometimes, if the kids had a ballgame in the evening, it meant having family worship before supper or even first thing in the morning. Life is busy, and I’m sure it will only get busier for us; but we are convinced that family worship is too important to be given up for something else.

I hope you will consider making family worship central in your home, and that what I’ve written here might give you some helpful tips on how to do it. My prayer is that a whole host of families will rise up and say with Joshua,

“Choose you this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

Review of Colt McCoy & Matt Carter’s “The Real Win”

The Real WinI recently wrote a review of this book for The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Here’s the first part of the review:

Colt McCoy and Matt Carter. The Real Win: A Man’s Quest for Authentic Success. Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2013. 224pp. $19.99.

Regretfully, many men in church pews are passionless observers of Christianity. They’re content to maintain life goals that are no different than those of unbelieving men around them—make some money, enjoy my family, and have a little fun before I die. If this describes some of the men in your church, then The Real Win will be a helpful resource for your ministry. McCoy and Carter’s book can challenge your men, reorient their minds, and put them well on their way to passionately pursuing Jesus in every area of their lives.

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Read the rest here