By Marc Engelhardt –
In the first few Christ in Common recaps, I wrote about the awesome bonding, oneness-making result of sex, as well as our culture’s embrace of the separation of sex from marriage. Using all of that as a background, we now start to discuss how to engage and live in a culture that views having sex as a right.
The simple answer is to tell people not to have sex outside of marriage. The problem with that solution is that it is often perceived as a Law/Sin dynamic. While it is true that going against the will of God for his creation is the result of sin, seeing sex outside of marriage as sin alone actually fuels the culture’s view that sex can be had without consequences. In other words, if the only consequence of sex outside of marriage is that God will be “mad” at me, then what’s the big deal? People either know they are forgiven, think they are good enough anyway, or don’t believe in the one true God. On the flip side, if we take the approach that following God’s will for his creation does nothing to make us righteous before him, but it does make life for the people around us and ourselves generally better, then God’s goodness for showing us his will for creation is highlighted, and we are given a sense of purpose in following it.
This puts us into conflict with one of the results of the Sexual Revolution, which is the idea of “casual sex.” It’s the concept of having sex without attachment, afterthought, or consequence. It is sex that is only noticeable during the act and without effect before or after. The concept of casual sex is a life-altering lie, and we look at 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 to see what Scripture says about it.
This section of Scripture begins with the apostle Paul quoting some popular sayings of Corinth at the time. In philosophical thought, there was an idea that the physical world didn’t matter (that’s an oversimplified paraphrase, but it would be very lengthy to talk about all the background here). It appears that the Christian church in Corinth ran with this idea and mixed it with Christian freedom. The outcome was an idea in the church that Christians are free from the Law because of grace and therefore they could do whatever they wanted with their bodies because heaven is all that mattered anyway. They couldn’t have been more wrong, and Paul points this out.
In verses 13-14, he makes it clear that our bodies have been given to us to serve the Lord and that our bodies matter because of the resurrection. In other words, the physical world here and now matters. Things get serious in verses 15-17, where he makes it clear that when we are connected to Jesus through the Spirit we are also connected to each other. What we do does not affect ourselves alone. It has effect on other Christians too. Paul’s example is that when someone has sex with a prostitute, that person becomes one with the prostitute and through the act connects the church and Jesus to the prostitute. He goes on to say that sexual things are just different than other things, and so sexual sin has different consequences. Very real, reality-changing consequences.
To wrap up the section, he re-emphasizes that we have been bought by the blood of Christ. That is how we have gained our freedom. The Spirit living in us is evidence of that. Being freed by God means that we are now his, and being his means that our lives and bodies are to be used to glorify and serve him.
All of this shows us that there is no such thing as casual sex. Sex always has a bonding consequence. Having sex with a prostitute is probably the highest form of “casual sex” because it is a supposed to be a business transaction with no attachment. Paul makes it clear that having sex with a prostitute makes a person one with that prostitute whether either party likes it or not. The consequences of that oneness go beyond the people directly involved because Christians who engage in “casual sex” are affecting the rest of the church because we are all connected. They also bring Jesus and the Holy Spirit into their “casual sex.”
Sex, by the very nature God created it, cannot be casual. It joins people together and changes their reality and who they are. Casual sex is no different than the idea of casual branding; both leave scars that change a person.
This is heavy stuff, and it leads us to a few ways to see the world arounds us. The first thing we need to take to heart is that sexual things have a different effect than most other things. That is because sex bonds us to others and changes our reality. Casual sex is like casual branding.
Additionally, nothing we do affects us alone since Jesus is with us everywhere. So that means that in Christ, we are free from sin and free from the Law but not free to do whatever we want. We are to use our bodies to serve and glorify God.
Those worldviews can be lived out in very practical ways. One way is to be careful not to change the reality of your oneness with your spouse by bonding yourself to other sexual things such as pornography, television, movies, music, etc. And remember, looking matters too. A good practice to avoid this is to stop and think “Do I want Jesus to be here?” That certainly goes for single people as well.
Last, and we will cover this more in depth in the next section, people who push sexual things on you either want to consume you or justify their own actions. They will change your reality. Don’t let them.