“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:3–5 ESV)

    Let’s talk about sex.

    I know, it’s taboo. It’s hard to talk about.

    I think it’s ironic how the things that we most need to talk about are sometimes never truly addressed. Sometimes we skip around these ideas because somehow if we ignore them, they might go away, yet in our culture today, sex is deeply ingrained in our everyday experiences. It’s talked about casually on TV and in movies, ads with partially nude men and women leave little to the imagination, and often, it isn’t taken very seriously. You might hear all the time, “If it feels good, go for it!” or, “Do what you want with your body.” These are not the words we should be leaning on and trusting! Though, sometimes these conversations are avoided, a question we can ask ourselves and each other is: What does sexual integrity mean for the Christian today?

    First and foremost, God does not hate sex. God gave humankind the gift of sex to share between spouses in a meaningful and intimate way! From the beginning in Genesis, God’s design for sex was intended for a man and wife within marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

    Outside of marriage, the Bible responds differently. In 1 Corinthians 6:18–20, St. Paul tells the Corinthians to “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” This is so important and meaningful for each and every one of us! We were bought through Jesus’ death on the cross—He died so we could be saved and have new life in Him! Through Jesus’ sacrifice, the Holy Spirit dwells within our bodies, and because of this, what we do with them matters to God. We are His, and we are valuable— ultimately, our bodies belong to the Lord, not just to ourselves.

    Keeping sexual integrity today is hard because of our sinful nature. Even close friends may have different opinions, tell us to live freely and justify behavior that is not right in God’s eyes. What God commands of His people is obedience and faith. We should stay away from inappropriate sexual relationships before and after marriage, and strive to lead a life that is dignified, virtuous, and pleasing to God. Yet, if we slip up or stray, God will never turn His back on us and leave us in our sin. He will forgive our lustful desires and our sins of the flesh, because He is always merciful. St. Paul in Romans 6:11–14 gives us hope in the grace of Christ: “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

    The Bible’s teaching on sexual integrity relates to each of us as we journey through life. All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God. Though, we should never despair, because forgiveness is always able to be found in Christ! As Heather Ruesch writes in her book Sexuality Mentality: Creating a Culture of Biblical Integrity: “We are sinful, fallen people in need of a Savior . . . [and] there is always, always hope in Him and in all that He is accomplishing in you to further His kingdom. You are His daily work of art, an all-original sculpture being made by God.”

    We are under grace. This is the most freeing thing a Christian man or woman can ever hear! You are saved. We have been given new life in Christ and should seek to do His will in all things. For the Christian, sexual integrity means keeping God’s design for sex, and fleeing from inappropriate sexual relationships until and through marriage, while being assured for forgiveness if we go astray!

    © Concordia Publishing House

    Download an excerpt from Sexuality Mentality: Creating a Culture of Biblical Integrity

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