Written by Pastor David Ude / December 2017
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (Heb. 13:4)
The allegations keep flooding in. Every other day it seems like some high profile celebrity is accused of sexual misconduct. “Multiple allegations,” usually. Sometimes the person says he is sorry. Sometimes he denies any wrongdoing. And then since it’s common knowledge and since we are sinners who love to gossip and since things like facebook make it really, really easy to gossip, everyone starts saying one thing or another about it. “What a scumbag!” Or, “They were probably asking for it.” “Do you really think this is all true?” And at least one question worth being asked “Whose fault is this?” Unfortunately, you don’t hear many good answers to that question. Most people seem to think it’s one of two. Either “Men are pigs.” Or, “Women ask for it.” And those are both terrible answers.
The real answer is, it’s all our fault. I made a fairly foolish mistake a few years back. It was my first Christmas Eve service as a Pastor and I wanted to make it a candlelight service. I bought something like a hundred tea-light candles and twenty or so votive candles to put on the altar. When I read the label it said that they would burn for about two hours. So I was pretty shocked when about halfway through the service I noticed that they were all totally melted and the ones that didn’t have a metal casing had dissolved all over everything! What I hadn’t thought of was that one hundred and twenty candles burning together, close to each other, would cause each of them to melt faster.
And that is exactly what is happening all around us and in each of us. Every flame makes us all burn more quickly. Every person who dishonors marriage and the marriage bed means we all melt more easily because the sanctity of both marriage and sex within marriage are lowered in each of our eyes. Every time you look at pornography you make everyone burn with you. Every time you have sex outside of marriage, every time you get too physically involved with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Every time you talk with your buddies about which girl has the best this or that you make each of those girls more likely to become targets of sexual abuse and each of your friends more likely to become perpetrators. Each time you dress in a way that is intended to make other people desire you sexually you both melt more quickly. Every time you stare at someone’s butt as they walk in front of you, every time you try to convince them to go to the next level, to fool around a little more, every inappropriate sexual joke, every time the only reason you open Song of Solomon is to laugh at what it says about sex instead of rejoice in the good gift it describes and the picture it paints of Christ. Every commercial or TV show that uses your lust to entice and entrap you, every dirty romance novel, every sports metaphor applied to girls as if they are nothing but baskets to be scored. Every song – rap, country, pop or punk – that describes, makes light of, or objectifies sex or women1. Every movie or story that suggests that sex is just a “need” or that it’s good to get a divorce if you’re not happy any more or if you found your “true love” after you were married to someone else. Every claim or action or thought or word of any kind that suggests or even hints that sex is anything less than a good and life-creating gift intended for one man and one woman who have committed to each other for life in marriage, never to look for another, never to wish for someone else, but to rely on each other, respect and honor and love and sacrifice for each other…anything else is a flame that burns us all closer to hell.
And we all light these hell-fires. Oh. So. Carelessly. So it’s all our fault. It’s my fault. And it’s yours.
I want to be clear here. I’m not suggesting we are all at fault in the exact same way. Let’s use an example that gets replayed over and over. If a woman dresses in a sexually provocative way, that is her sin. It’s also all our fault because we, by our failure to properly honor marriage and sex within marriage have made it that much easier for her to fail to do so. If a man sees her and sexually mistreats her in any way that is his sin. Her dressing that way is not “asking him to do it.” He has no excuse. But at the same time her sin and all of ours make us all burn and melt more easily, they make all of us more likely to commit those sins, they make it that much harder for each of us to resist.
Some people talk about global warming and the effects that CO2 is having on our world. I am saying nothing here about whether they are right or wrong since that’s not the point of this article. But for the sake of illustration let’s assume they are right. According to them, each car, each plane, or train, or whatever else that burns greenhouse gases makes the whole world hotter and will cause various terrible and traumatic results.
But the global dishonoring of marriage is far worse and far more deadly. Because “God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” He will burn them up in hell. That means you. And that means me. That ought to terrify us far more than the worst threats of global warming.
And there is only one escape. Flee! “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18) “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). Flee from sin and flee to the cross. Flee in repentance, hating every part of this in yourself. Flee to the cross where Christ burned under the wrath and fury of God for sins he did not commit. Where He offered himself up for all the sexual immorality, adultery, fornication, pornography, filthy jokes, sexual abuse, homosexuality and every other sin ever committed. Flee and behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Flee into Jesus, the Rock of Ages. Flee to His perfect righteousness which alone can cover you. Flee to His Words of promise: “And such were some of you2. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11)
Flee to the pure one, the one who has sanctified and cleansed His church through the washing of water with the word, who gave his life for her that she might be his holy bride (ref. Eph 5:25-27). Flee to Him. You are not too dirty for him. Your sins are not too terrible. The fire of your guilt is not too great for him to put out and wash away in His love. Return to the promise He made you in your baptism. “You are mine. You are holy. You are forgiven.” Flee from the fire. Flee to the waters!
And in that washing, let marriage and the marriage bed be once again honored in your eyes. Hold these in great esteem because they are such precious, potent gifts from God, capable of causing terrible trouble when abused and able to give such great joy when used as directed. Let them be held in honor in your sight, as precious, sacred things, because God says so! Let them be honored too because they are a picture of Christ and the Church. Of the bridegroom Who is coming at an hour you do not expect to take you into His joyous, eternal, wedding feast. Honor Him. Honor marriage. Honor one another.
1 Or men for that matter, if such songs exist.
2 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals1, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.