Tough Love Week 3: Purity
During the course of this series, we’ve been talking about how much harder love in action is, than merely loving in dreams – turning love from a noun into a verb. Last week we looked into the idea that our acts of love don’t necessarily get rewarded, but they have a ripple effect beyond our lives. Today we’ll talk about sexual morality and how it affects other people. The Church’s teaching on sexual morality is quite beautiful, but so often people have questions, misconceptions, or guilt that distances them from God. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthian community who were struggling with internal divisions (for example, they were fighting and even bringing lawsuits against one another), all the while living in a larger pagan culture that opposed the way of life of their newly acquired Christian faith. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-19, Paul lists several immoral activities that are incompatible with the Kingdom of God. He tells the Corinthians that they have been sanctified in baptism, and are now members of the Body of Christ. In that culture, people understood “body” vs. “spirit” being completely separate from one another, and as a consequence they, for example, had no problem going to temple prostitutes as a way to worship the local gods, or just having sex whenever they felt like it. Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are now temples of the Holy Spirit, and they should now glorify God with their bodies (6:19-20). Sexual sin is unique because it is a sin against one’s own body (6:18b – Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body) – and it limits our ability to love; and Paul’s advice is simple: “Flee (sexual) immorality” (6:18). Our culture teaches us to live and let live, but in reality, when we live that way, we will find it difficult to love in an intimate way. People who have struggled with sexual compulsions and past behaviors often think cynically about their ability to love, and may also feel intense shame and guilt. However, if impurity limits our ability to find intimacy, the habit of purity paves the way for love and intimacy. Perhaps you have questions about Church teaching, and maybe you have past sins, particularly in the area of sexuality, that you’ve never repented from. Acknowledge this sin, repent (change your thinking) before the Lord, and ask Jesus to heal your heart. Questions for Small Groups:
Would you rather ignore this topic and just talk about sports or politics or fashion or anything else?
The Corinthians were largely ignorant of Christian sexual morality. How familiar are you with teachings from Scripture and the Church on this topic? How did you receive this information?
What does it look like to “flee immorality?”
Read aloud 1 Corinthians 6:18b. What do you think Paul meant by that statement?
Like the Corinthians we live in a culture at odds with the Church’s teachings on sexual morality. How does our culture’s view on sex impact us?
If you have kids, have you talked to them about sex? If you haven’t yet, when do you plan to do so? What do you plan to teach your kids about sex?
What is the next step you need to take? Do you need more information? Do you need to repent of an activity?
I will be away from Monday February 17 to Tuesday February 25 on my annual retreat. I will be praying for all of you – please pray for me!