Monday, May 19, 2014

Common Sens..uality (Part 1 of 3)

A lot of debate has occurred last week regarding a kiss by an NFL hopeful Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend after he was drafted last Saturday. Some have been outraged. Some of those outraged have been silenced. Others are celebrating and welcoming in a more accepting culture.

But understand, a kiss between two men (or two women) is not the issue. Perhaps the issue is how pervasive sex has become in our culture. Of course, it must be understood that God ordained sex. Sexual relations between a man and woman can be a beautiful representation of the love that a couple has for one another. In fact, within this context, realize the first command in the Bible specific to humanity is to be fruitful and multiply. That is impossible without sexual activity. So, in a real sense, the first command God gave was to engage in sexual activity. Last week, we celebrated Mother's Day. Next month, we will celebrate Father's Day. Now I don't want to be crass, but understand a person cannot naturally become a mother or a father without sex.

But as pervasive as sex is, we can actually dig even a little deeper and see sensuality as the issue. Sensuality is being preoccupied with the gratification of the senses. This has to do with all of the senses. It has to do with being pleased or aroused by the senses. We don't often think of it this way, but steak and potatoes can be sensual. Again, God gave us our senses, and they allow us to enjoy life. When our senses are dulled, life is not always so pleasant. Consider lack of hearing, loss of eyesight, numbness, etc. Again, the issue isn't with finding pleasure in our senses it is being PREOCCUPIED – as the definition I just gave stated.

And, in our culture today, there is a great deal of preoccupation with gratifying the senses – and a large part of that is through sexual pleasure. And the boldness with which this is expressed continues to expand. Yet, as bad as some consider our culture today, we have to realize that we do not have a monopoly on sensuality. The Bible is filled with examples such as Tamar's deception of Judah, David's lust of Bathsheba, the idea of temple prostitutes, etc. In fact, in many ways, our culture isn't nearly as bad as previous cultures. Granted, the scope has changed because of television, magazines, romance novels, the internet, etc. But the nature of sensuality that is, has also already been.

Jesus' brother, Jude, wrote his letter about overcoming false teachings, but especially related to the sensual activities of his day. In fact, if a few of the examples were changed, such a writing could show up in the editorial page of a newspaper today and people might think it had just been written. In verse 3, Jude indicates his original purpose was to write about their salvation. But the issue of contending for their faith was more important. Why? Verse 4 says that people have come in and perverted the grace of God into nothing more than sensuality, denying Christ.  The idea is that God wants us to find pleasure, so let's seek all the pleasure we can. There is a fine line here. One of the most prominent pastors of our day is John Piper. Piper speaks of Christian hedonism. His thought is that we should have our pleasure in God. He does not mean this in a bad way, and I think he is right, but it does run right to the edge of overstepping our bounds. It is as Paul wrote in Romans 6, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace abounds. Absolutely not.” The point is that grace frees us not just from our sin, but from seeking the pleasure that comes from it. Grace frees us to enjoy God for who He really is.

Next Jude provides some examples of those who have taken advantage of God's grace in the past. These examples will be explored in Part 2.

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