May 26, 2019
Series: The Other Hours
It doesn’t matter what you’ve experienced sexually. It doesn’t matter how messed up you might be, or how unholy you think you are. A relationship with Jesus Christ can make you whole. A relationship with Jesus Christ can take whatever deformed situation you have in your life and it can reform you into something that is absolutely beautiful in God’s eyes, and in your eyes, as well. It might take time. It might take some real hardship. It might take a lot of things, but if you take Jesus’ hand and you walk with him, you will see, in time, that he can and will make you whole, holy and beautiful.
That’s a little spoiler alert for you, in case you don’t listen to the rest of this message because I say the word sexuality so much.
We’ve been going through this Other Hours series. And I don’t know why, but for some reason we thought that sexuality should be part of it. The concept of Other Hours is that God doesn’t want to make you good at church, because that’s really just a couple of hours a week of your life. For me it’s more than that, but for normal people that’s all it is. God doesn’t want to focus on that. He wants to make you good at the other hours of life. The whole of life.
So we broke it up into five different categories. We’ve got the relationship aspect of our life. God wants to make you good at relationships.
We talked about our work. Not just what we get paid for, although that could play, the occupation that we have. But the work that God has fashioned you for and made you to do — the work that brings fulfillment into your life.
We talked about rest. For some reason in the Bible, this God that’s revealed to us through Scriptures and through Christ himself, is really into rest. It’s very important to him. It made it into the Ten Commandments. So I think that we should take it seriously that we need rest. Probably more than we think in our Protestant work ethic type mindset. Rest is important to God. So we talked about that.
Now we’re starting this section called sexuality because we are sexual beings. And sex is obviously a very, very big topic in our world. It’s a huge motivator. It’s what all of our advertising marketers think is the easiest win. All of our comedians, when they’re not funny they know they have to start doing sexual jokes, it’s the only way to be funny these days.
And even in our own souls, if we’re honest, there’s a lot that goes on that nobody else ever sees that comes from our sexuality.
We have people like Sigmund Freud, who basically revolutionized the psychology industry. He said every single thing we do comes from our sexuality, our libido. And Jung, who was after him, kind of said, well, maybe it’s not all that, but it’s still basically along the same premise, that we are sexual beings and our intimacy issues for Freud, with our parents, affect every aspect of our life. And for Jung it was more like our intimacy issues with the opposite sex have basically wired us and formed us in a way, sexually, that we are basically either doing well or not so well. It’s a big issue.
In the book of Genesis, God seems to say the same thing. One of the very first things that we learn about humanity is that we are sexual beings. God ordered everything in the beginning. He created a moon to rule the night, a sun to rule the day. He created hours of life and cycles and all of that. And one of the very first things that he created was humanity. And humanity is said to be made in his image—male and female, he created them. One of the very first descriptors of humanity: male and female. It seems like in our world today we’re trying to get rid of all these labels and differences.
But according to the Scriptures, God was saying, “Hey, I want people to know who I am so I’m going to make a part of creation that actually has my image on it. They’re not going to look like animals. They’re not going to look like trees. They’re not going to look like fish and birds. I’m going to create one part of creation. It’s going to look like me.” And so he created male and female, different but equal. And together, when male and female get it right, it’s the best picture of God that we can have. God is not male. Oh, it says “he” in the Bible. Yeah. It’s the best way they could describe who it is. God is outside of gender. He is not male. He created male. God is not female. He created female.
And somehow, together, when male and female get it right, we get to see a picture of the image of God. Take that a little further: mom and dad. When moms and dads get it right, they’re kids get a chance to see and know what the image of God is. So I think Freud was on to something, obviously.
In the New Testament it comes to more clarity—husband and wife. When husband and wife get it right, it releases this image, this picture of God that’s clearer than anything else than can every be seen, when it’s done right. And the truth is, I don’t know if there’s ever been one that’s been done just right. They all have their own wrinkles. But we do see this throughout Scripture.
It’s interesting, because, when I was growing up in church, whenever we talked about sexuality, it was never about gender, it was always about desires, right? Unwanted or wanted desires. Which ones are good desires. Which ones are bad. Which ones should we go for… It was always desires. That was the only aspect of sexuality. But in our cultural moment today, no doubt about it, we in the church need to keep teaching about gender. Because there’s a lot of confusion about it.
Different but equal, and when it’s done right, it shows us who God is. And if we can know who God is and we can be intimate with God, it solves every problem. Because Jesus taught us that, we’re not just sexual beings, we’re spiritual beings first and foremost. And it’s not our intimacy issues with our parents or the opposite sex, it’s our intimacy with God. If we have issues there, then the rest of life is going to be confusing.
So, in the book of Genesis, we have four things that really comes out clearly that we need to make sure that we’re teaching, that we’re paying attention to, that we’re listening to. The first is this: God is the author of sexuality. “What? I thought God was trying to get rid of all of that!” No! He is the author of sex and sexuality. He was the one that thought, “Oh, this would be cool. Let’s do some of this. And let’s do some of this. Whoa! That’s cool!” It was him! And when it was all said and done, he looked at it and said, “It is good.” Sex ad sexuality is good in God’s eyes. So good. That’s not at all what the world would have us believe.
The second thing we learn is that sex and sexuality is more than a physical thing. Somehow sexuality and spirituality are very connected. And we learn this when God says that when the two come together they’re not just going to be two separate anymore. They’re going to become one. And obviously it’s not a physical thing he’s speaking about there. Two come together. Me and my wife come together and we’re one. We get that in a lot of ways. But it’s not like she’s here.
I actually asked her if she would preach this message and I could teach the kids — if she would do that. But she doesn’t love me that much, I guess. And so we understand God’s trying to help us understand that sex is a lot more than just a physical thing. Even though you can swipe left and swipe right and our world’s trying to teach us that it’s just a physical thing. It’s much, much deeper. It actually forms us spiritually. Or deforms us spiritually.
Third thing we learn from Genesis: The first and maybe primary thing affected by sin was humanity’s sexuality. What was the very first thing that happens when sin came? Immediately Adam and Eve were confused, embarrassed and hiding from God in the area of their sexuality. They were naked and afraid or ashamed.
Basically, I think this describes where humanity is at today. All the noise. All the screaming. All the shouts. All the things that we’re experiencing today are really just cries from the hearts of people who are confused, embarrassed and hiding from God. And they don’t know what to do. And that’s the starting point for our message today.
I wrote this up and, I don’t know, it seemed like it was a good thing, but it left me feeling a bit embarrassed or ashamed. This is what I wrote:
I’m a white, middle class male. So most of the world doesn’t want to hear anything I have to say anymore. And I have never had the addictive hooks of pornography in me. I’ve never had sex outside the covenant of marriage. I’ve never felt the exciting, yet conflicting feelings of same-sex attraction. I’ve never been married to someone who struggles with sexual addiction. I’ve never been touched inappropriately by someone who was supposed to be caring for me. And I’ve never had honest and deep questions within me about my own gender.
Instead of feeling thankful and grateful, I felt disqualified to speak about sexuality. I had to follow it up with this:
I understand that for some this confession disqualifies me from speaking about sexuality at all. For some this confession makes me an anomaly that’s hard to relate to. But my hope is that, maybe to some, this confession can be an encouraging reminder that not everyone everywhere has succumbed to or been scarred by conflicting sexual identity and uncontrollable sexual desire.
My story is a story of a really good mom and dad, and a really safe environment. I had these ideas that were taught to me, that if I go this way, it would save me from a lot of other things. And, by the grace of God and a little baptism, a little reading of the Bible every day, I was able to stay on a course and land in a place where I’ve felt real secure in my sexual identity and real satisfied and fulfilled in my sexual desires my whole life.
And yet, I also know just what Jesus taught his disciples. He said to them, “You guys have heard it said of old by the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, that if you’ve never committed adultery, you’re doing great.” But he said, “Here’s something that’s real. Something that’s true. Something that’s not made up. Anyone who has ever thought inappropriately about anyone in the area of sexuality is broken, is guilty, and in need of healing and restoration.”
And though this is my story, we’re all different on a spectrum. We’re all broken, and guilty, and in need of restoration in the area of sexuality. No doubt about it. I don’t think anyone in this room would claim to not be in that category, as Jesus defines it.
So, how do we get to this place where, even though things go good, we’re guilty—even when things are right, we feel embarrassed or ashamed and find ourselves hiding from God? There are a lot of different reasons. I’ll just go through a few of them here.
First of all, there was a sexual revolution in the 1960’s or so. In that sexual revolution, basically, the young people were saying, “Forget this—this whole idea that sex should only be reserved for the confines of the covenant of marriage.”
So there was this whole destigmatization and demysification of nonmarital sex, because people wanted to be free. And we’re living in the fruit of that revolution.
In addition, there’s been a cultural war. Listen carefully to me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I know all of you are going to want to email me with all of your problems afterward. So there. Have fun, okay? It’s not just me. I’ve done some research on this. There is really a cultural war taking place in our time. And I believe that there are people in the LGBT community and some of the people out in the forefront of that who say that they represent the whole community, are politically trying to gain advantage. And I really do believe there is actually demonic influence involved in that.
Now before you get too crazy right now—over on this other side, which could be labeled the “Religious Right” or whatever they want to call it, there are some people way out on the forefront who are trying to gain political advantage, and are totally demonically influenced.
And they’re having this war that the media is picking up on. And we’re all watching and going, “Wow! This is intense! This is crazy! And we’re all going to die!”
But it’s not what most people are living with and feeling.
I talk to my friends in the LGBT community from time to time. They’re not crazy. They’re not angry. They’re a little confused, a little embarrassed. Maybe hiding from God—maybe not. Trying to figure out how to be formed sexually whole. Some of them have their own ideas and some of them are even following Jesus, seeing if he can make them whole.
And then, over here, there are a lot of people who are not so crazy, trying to answer some of these questions that their dear friends are dealing with. I had a mom come up to me after the first service. And she said with tears, “Thank you so much for that message.” Her son is grown and he has a gay partner. She’s been trying to figure this thing out his whole adult life. Still hanging on to Jesus. Still trying to sort it all out. She doesn’t want to be a part of this cultural war. She just wants to find wholeness and healing and health.
So we have these powerful forces at work. I really believe it. One of my friends says that, “In our world, we have deceptive ideas that play to our disordered desires that are normalized in the sinful society.” Basically: We have the world, the flesh and the devil. They influence with these deceptive ideas that, when they connect with our disordered desires, they sound really right and good; then, when we look, and they’re normalized in the sinful society, we’re like, “Yeah. We got this.”
The one problem is, they contradict what the Scriptures and God is teaching us. We’ve got to figure out what’s true.
But that’s the basic situation that we’re in. It’s confusing. It’s embarrassing. And we have really found ourselves hiding from God—even in the church.
So, if that’s our situation, what are we supposed to do? Well, I want to read a verse to you. Romans 1:22-31
Paul is kind of describing his cultural moment. He’s describing what’s going on in his first-century Christianity in Rome, as a Roman and a Jew at the same time.
22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Pay close attention, even if you’ve read these Scriptures before.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Then watch this.. he says:
…and even more—like worse than that…
just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;
31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
I think it’s so interesting. This is Paul the Apostle, one of the most intense Christians of all time. He had no time for compromise. He basically taught us that we’re supposed to beat our bodies into subjection and run the race with perseverance. And here he’s saying, “Look. This is what I’ve seen. This is what I’ve noticed. When people start to remove God, remove the knowledge of God, the teachings of God, the ways of God, it affects their sexuality.”
If you’re not intimate with God, then you’re going to be starving for intimacy with other things. If you choose other things, it’s going to start forming you sexually, which affects you spiritually. He said, “First they’ll start doing things that seem very selfish. And then, what gets worse than that is they’ll start doing things that are like homosexuality and these other things that are not good.” And then he says, “After that, they’ll start doing horrible, horrible, way worse things, like greed, or jealousy, or disobeying your parents.”
Do you see what’s happening here? For some reason in the church today, we’ve made homosexuality or those type of things to be the most heinous of all sins. And for Paul, he’s saying, “No. That’s just kind of one of the steps that leads to the real bad stuff.”
You know what Christians need to do? They need to start spending some time with homosexual people. Really. I believe it. All of us got loved into the family of God. And that’s all homosexuals need, too (or whatever their sexual orientation). Every single one of us should be, every year or every couple of times a year, making sure we’ve invested in a relationship like that, in the hopes of loving someone into God’s family. Is that really hard for us to understand and grasp? Is that really such a challenge?
And I get it. It is a challenge sometimes. I’ve been spending some time with some of my friends that are trying to figure it out, or have made decisions in contradiction with what I believe. And we have a great time together. And, every once in a while, probably more for me than for anyone else, “Now, you remember that we disagree on some of this stuff, you know?” And they’re like, “Yeah, I know. I know.” And we have really a fund time, and “Thanks for helping me with this or that.”
We all got loved into the kingdom of God. And that’s what this mom was basically crying and saying, “Thank you so much for telling people to just keep loving me son. And maybe someday he’ll actually see that God loves him and God has room for him.”
So what do we need to do? What if we find ourselves in the place where we feel guilty, broken and sinful? Well, the promise of the gospel, the promise of Jesus is not only that he forgives us, but he cleanses us, he heals us, and he restores us. This is what’s so amazing about Jesus. We sang that song, “Oh, the blood of Jesus. It washes me white as snow.” But it’s even deeper than that. It washer us. It cleanses us. It heals us and restores us to a place where we have this word called justification: “Just as if I’d never sinned at all.”
And so we have to ask this question: In light of all of this heaviness that we’ve described—the sexual revolution and all its fruits that we’re enduring; the cultural war that’s going on; all the deceptive lies—the world, the flesh and the devil; all of our own sexual formation that’s been so deformed and mistreated; all of the times that we, in our own decisions, have been victimizers or victims; and all the times where people have made decisions that have stolen from us or changed us and we really had no power to do anything about it—what do we do in that situation? Is there something strong enough for that? Is there a remedy at all?
Well, that’s what Jesus came to give us. He came to do a few things. He came, first of all, to give us a deep and powerful vision of what humanity can be, spiritually and sexually. He came to give us the power of his Holy Spirit to help us resist our carnal desires and live into fullness of life. He came to give us a way of living that actually, as we walk in his ways, forms us into healthy sexual beings who are in control of our sexual desires instead of being controlled by them, and secure in our sexual identity instead of confused, embarrassed, and hiding from God.
And, not only did he come to give us all of those things, but he died on a cross to pay for all of our sins. The ones we’ve done and the ones that have been done to us. And so, really, we are left at this point: Is Jesus enough? Is his blood enough? Was his sacrifice great enough for me? And can his Spirit really be powerful enough to take me in my deformed state and make me into something that is reformed and whole? And that’s the question that each of us has to ask.
I asked my aunt this question because I know her and I know she’s lived a life of celibacy. It’s been her decision. And so I asked her, as I was preparing for this. I said, “Can I ask you a weird question? Have you been, and are sexually fulfilled?”
And she’s an honest person. She doesn’t make things up. She exaggerates sometimes when she’s telling a story, but… But she wrote this long thing, and I’ll somehow get it in a podcast or an email to get it out, but I found myself crying three times reading it, with tears of wonder and beauty, as she described to me how she has been totally sexually fulfilled.—even though she knows that she’s picked a very different way.
She even said that she kind of made up this term between her and Jesus. And I’m going to say it. It’s going to sound weird, so just track with me. She wrote it down and it’s r-o-t-i-c, so it’s rotic. And I was like, “Whoa. Like erotic? What’s going on? This sounds a little weird.”
But she wasn’t going that way at all. It’s just romantic, without the man in it. You get that? You take out the “man” you’ve got rotic left. And she said, “There have been so many moments when I’ve been caught up in the Father’s love, the Husband’s love in my life, and it’s carried me through. It’s not that I’ve had to live without that kind of intimacy, that kind of fulfillment. I’ve just had to live without a man bringing that into my life.”
And she said—this is what’s huge for me—she said, “I’m 67 now and it’s pretty easy for me to say these things to you. But when I was 27, it was hard. It was hard.”
She was telling me that has chosen to follow Jesus and he has led her into absolute fulfillment, and she has no regrets. And so Jesus’ love is strong enough for that.
And then I was able to talk to another friend. He was telling me about how, in his marriage, he really did have intense struggles with pornography, leading up to finding this girl that he wanted to marry. And his wife had been promiscuous. And they had come to Christ separately. They had surrendered to Christ and his ways, and they felt the heaviness of their sin, of what they had done. They felt it very strong. They were concerned because they wanted to come into this marriage, and they knew they had all this baggage as they were coming in. And he was telling me this story, how then they got married and they did what work they could with counseling and some of those things to kind of unpack that baggage. But he knew. He had heard all the stories. He knew the weight of it all. He knew he was coming in with all of these bags. They’ve been married a number of years now and he said, “We just keep waiting, because at some point it seems like these bags should have effect.” But every times these bags come up—their past—they basically open them and they’re empty. They have no weight in their life anymore. It has no power over them. Yes, they still have the bags. Yes, they still have the identity. “I struggle with pornography.” “I was promiscuous.”
But now, I’m this situation, they’ve been reformed. They’re different. They don’t think the same way. And, actually, all of that past is just a testimony. They can say, “See this bag? It used to be full. It used to be heavy. But check it out now. It’s empty because of Jesus.” Cleansed. Healed. Restored. This is the gospel.
One other analogy that I’ll share with you as we close: A sealed envelope. This guy was describing how, when you seal an envelope the first time, it holds pretty well. But then, each time that envelope is opened, the seal isn’t as strong. And, sociologically speaking, not just Scripturally, not just theologically, but sociologically speaking, that analogy proves out. That those who have been with many people, it’s really hard for them to stay with one person in a marriage, or to be faithful in that regard. And that is why Jesus teaches us to flee sexual immorality. Run from it. Stay away from it. You don’t want to have to go through it. But it also is an analogy that works on the other side too, because Jesus can restore. The grace of God is more powerful than any sociological paradigm.
And I felt like that analogy was something that the Lord was saying, “If anybody will take my hand, if they will walk with me, if they will allow me to be the Lord of their sexuality, I will come and I can even restore what was lost. I can make it be able to be sealed again.
Lord, I thank you that we have some people speaking in some of these Sundays that are going to be able to speak with such a beautiful testimony of how you have done these things. Not just the idea that you can, but they can actually say from their own life and experience, “This is what the Lord has done. He’s emptied the bags. He’s made me be someone who’s able to be sealed once again.”
And Lord, I do pray that we, as a people, every single one of us who is guilty and broken and in need of restoration, Lord, I pray that you would show us how to take your hand in this way, how to offer you our sexuality, whether old or young, and find your restorative work happening. Lord Jesus, we need you.
©️2019 Living Streams Church
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV®,
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.