So far, we've covered six deadly sins. These sins fall into three categories. There is the lust of the eyes: greed and envy; The pride of life: wrath and pride; and the lust of the flesh: glutony and sloth. But the lust of the flesh includes one last sin which has proven to be just about the most troublesome throughout human history. Lust.
Lust covers a great many individual crimes. Adultery, fornication, pornography, rape, bestiality, orgies, the traffic of concubines, and much more.
Now don't get me wrong. While I may be a virgin, I am not one of those who claims that all sexual activity is wrong. Far from it. I believe that sex is a wonderful thing and to be thoroughly enjoyed. I hope to do so myself someday. But sex is also extremely powerful in terms of both physicality and emotion. It has the power to create life, to change life, and to destroy it. Like atomic energy, it can either vastly improve the quality of life if done right or prove horribly devastating if done wrong. Just as an example, the lifespan of the average southern african, due to sexually transmitted disease, is shorter than that of an ice-age neanderthal.
The abuse of God's gift of sex has numerous consequences great and small. It inspires jealousy, which may turn to rage. Countless are the times someone has been murdered as a direct result of adultry. It spreads such diseases as syphillus, gonorhea, AIDS and more. I recall one morbidly humorous sermon illustration in which a man, upon hearing the diagnosis of his STD, exclaims "Thank God it's only syphillus!" It destroys families and turns love and affection into pain, estrangement and resentment.
You'd think that people would learn. But no. Instead of listening to the lessons of those who have come before, our modern storytellers try to balance things in their favor by making up tales of sex done wrong with no consequences.
Many of you may think I'm being hypocritical on this one. My stories are full of people having sex. (Off-camera, of course) There's the Oposums, the Fluffles, the Pandas, the Kaytons, the Brims... but if you take a closer look, you'll find that I'm promoting sex done right: sex according to God's plan. What you'll find in my stories is not "I had sex!" "You had sex?!" "It sounds even better when you say it!" No. When I portray a couple who get sexual, what you see is love. Not infatuation. You get two people who will stick by each other through thick and thin. One of my favorite fictional couples, Rick and Leesha Ortiz, were turned into a slug and a worm, yet they still loved one another. THAT is the kind of love that a sexual relationship needs. The kind of love that says "Even if you get disabled to the point where we can never have sex again and beautiful naked women are flinging themselves at me, I'll stay faithful to you."
Now we could talk at length about the consequences of abusing sex. There are a lot of them, and I could preach for hours about that alone. But I really don't think it's needful. There are plenty of examples of that if you're looking for them. It seems much more productive to talk about what TO do rather than what NOT to do.
Sexual relationships must first, foremost and overall be about commitment. If you're not willing to say "I do", or you haven't, then don't. If you don't have the wherewithal to commit to your mate for a lifetime, you have no business messing around with something so emotionally powerful. That means that you don't get married with the intent of getting divorced later. and if you plan to get married, do so first. If you can't control yourself until your wedding day, chances are that you won't be able to avoid temptation later.
There has to be respect. Many women do not understand this. In a recent poll, when asked whether they would rather be loved and humiliated or alone and respected, most women chose to be loved. Most men could not understand the question. To your average man, love and respect are synonymous. You can't have one without the other. And while it is predominantly men who hold this view, it is far from untrue. Respect is integral to love. A marriage without respect is not marriage. It is slavery.
Yet at the same time, a spouse has to be willing to be owned. Yes, I said owned. A person's flesh is their own property. When a man and woman are married, they become one flesh. Thus, they now belong jointly to themselves and each other. Several years ago, I was at a wedding in which the vows began "You cannot own me for I am free." I know instantly that the marriage was going to fail. And it did. For exactly the reason I predicted. The wife became selfish and decided to go her own way. A marriage cannot abide alongside a selfish atitude. One must be willing to give him or herself completely to his partner as completely as a Christian gives himself to his God.
Now for those of you who are still involuntarily single, (and I am one of you), you have a much harder challenge. You need to keep yourselves pure for someone you don't even know. Neither do you have the priviledge of going to that spouse when the pressure gets to be too much. For you, I have some practical tips to make the going a little smoother and resisting temptation a little easier.
Avoid caffeine, chocolate and spicy foods. Trust me, this works. These items are actually aphrodesiacs.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity helps to keep the libido down.
Keep yourself busy. Give your eyes and hands something appropriate to do to cut down on idle time.
And here's the tough one. Have an accountability buddy. Someone to whom you give the authority to demand the truth, who will know when you have screwed up.
That's all I have for today. I hope this message has been helpful to you. I know I have need of improvement in the area of lust, and it is my desire that all of us who have such need can build each other up and grow together into the perfection of God's design.
Pastor Oren Otter
September 23, 2006
Today's Reading Ephesians 5:25-33
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.