On Sunday, Nov 25th, we had a panel of 7, addressing questions from our church on various topics related to sexuality, dating, marriage, etc. This was the final week of a sermon series Pastor Bob did on the subjects.
Here are the answers I prepared, but due to time constraints I could not share everything. Please keep in mind that I’m seeking to answer these questions from a biblical perspective.
QUESTION: Is dating without marriage in mind ok? What is the purpose of dating and marriage?
Let me answer the last questions first. Marriage is the joining of a husband and wife in the most intimate of human relationships, the ideal context for childrearing, and the ideal setting to depict the love, commitment, and affection of Christ for His church.
First of all, it’s worth noting that dating is not found anywhere in the Bible, in fact the norm there is for the parents to arrange the marriages of their children – which by the way I think is a brilliant idea – although my two teenage daughters might disagree. In all of scripture, the closest thing we find to dating is in the Samson account, and we all know how miserably that turned out!
Seriously though, dating is the reality in our culture. So what is the purpose of dating?
For those seeking to find a husband or wife, dating – or courtship – provides opportunities to learn about the character, personality, and interests of the other person, which are essential things to know when selecting a spouse.
So is dating without marriage in mind ok? Depends what you mean by dating. If it means going out on occasional dates as friends, fine. But I say dating is NOT OK in at least the following five circumstances:
• If it’s Recreational Dating, using the other person for your own immediate satisfaction.
• If it involves any kind of sexual intimacy.
• If it isolates the two of you from healthy interaction with family and friends.
• If having a boyfriend or girlfriend is merely a way to gain or retain social status.
• If it strings the other person along in an undefined, nebulous, pseudo-commitment.
QUESTION: What are some practical steps for living out a Biblical view of sexuality?
The only proper context for sexual expression is within marriage. This is God’s gracious design as a way for husbands and wives to experience great intimacy and mutual delight. Those who are married should make the pursuit of intimacy – including sexual intimacy — a priority in ways that bring mutual satisfaction. This is biblical. See 1 Cor 7.
Since sexual expression has no proper place outside of marriage, this creates a problem for those who aren’t married. What do Christ-following singles do with the reality that they have raging hormones and sexual desires, but don’t have marriage as a way to express them? This is an important question.
The first step is to bring these things to God. This doesn’t just apply to sexual appetites, we must do this with any illegitimate craving, temptation, anxiety, frustration, unmet expectation, or desire that can’t be righteously fulfilled – we must surrender them to God.
The second step is to make choices that will reduce our sexual appetites. Fred Stoeker uses the illustration of our sex drive being like a Sumo wrestler. If you feed the Sumo wrestler, it will conquer you. If you starve it, you will conquer it. So what can you do to reduce your sexual frustrations?
• Stop viewing pornography. Statistically speaking, hundreds of you struggle with this – guys mostly, but also girls. It doesn’t satisfy, it leaves you empty, it takes more and more to thrill you, but you feel less and less satisfied and more and more helpless. Porn gives you a false idea that sexuality is about taking and consuming, rather than giving and serving the way God designed sex in marriage. No women could ever live up to the expectation of porn. It’s all about you, but there’s nothing real about it. Enough is enough. How about getting victory over this starting today? 1. Secret sins never go away. 2. Tell me or someone who you can make yourself accountable to. 3. Read “Closing the Window” by Tim Chester.
• By the way, women, romance novels have been called emotional pornography. Are you meeting unfulfilled desires by living in a fantasy world of literature. Are you creating expectations and desires that no real man could live up to? Think about it.
• Entertainment. Our culture is sex saturated. What kind of sexual messages are you exposing yourself to through movies, tv, music, jokes with the boys. How about changing what you expose yourself to?
• Modest dress. Both guys and girls. Dress in a way that doesn’t feed someone else’s Sumo wrestler.
QUESTION. If someone has a very detailed sexual past, how do they fully move forward in Christ’s forgiveness and grace?
Sexual sin naturally produces much embarrassment, guilt and shame. Satan, the great “Accuser of the Brethren” in Rev 12:10, would want to keep us perpetually enslaved by this guilt and shame, sidelining us from abundant living. We wrongly think God must have lost His patience, resulting in a false sense of being alienated from Him. Ironically this perceived wall between us and God puts us in a much worse condition than the sexual sin itself. When such debilitating thoughts arise, keep in mind these scriptural truths:
• If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Do you believe this? Will you accept His cleansing?
• While we were his enemies, Christ reconciled us to Himself (Rom 5:10). He loved you as an enemy. Couldn’t He love you despite sexual weaknesses? Yes!
• If he could forgive the blatant in-your-face sins of the soldiers who were nailing Him to the cross (Luke 23:34), then couldn’t he forgive you for your sexual sins? Yes!
• Nothing can separate you from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39).
• If God can remove your sins as far away as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) why do you keep them near at hand?
• If you were dead in your trespasses and sins before God’s grace rescued you (Eph 2:1-10) why not divert your attention away from your deadness and trust Him to make you “alive in Christ” now?
• Are you living in the Room of Good Intentions or in the Room of Grace?