March 8, Wednesday

markThe AMI QT Devotionals from March 6-12 are provided by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S. F.  Mark, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.), has been married to Mira for 20 years; they have two children, Jeremiah and Carissa.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY

1 Corinthians 7:17, 24-8 (NIV)

Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. . . . 24 Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. 25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

I know that the main point of this passage isn’t about maintaining one’s virginity but being content in one’s current situation.  However, in today’s over sexualized society, being content in one’s relational status is clearly connected to keeping proper sexual boundaries until marriage.  In her book Sex and the Soul, Donna Freitas captures the essence of the modern struggle on the issue of sex from one of the women she interviewed for her book.  She quotes her as saying:

“Until recently my faith has been completely absent from my dating life…So I decided to give up sex and dating because I don’t know how to date without sex anymore.  There are virgins, born again virgins, and then there is me, a thinking it through virgin.  I feel that I have no right to apply the word “virgin” to myself but there is a kinship somewhere between my recent decision and a kind of virginity.”

I believe this is the proper application of grace for single adults who are trying to live out their faith in the context of dating.  You have to make a commitment to date without sex and to resolve to remain a virgin.  If you cannot date without being physically involved, then you are still not mature enough to date seriously.  If you have past sexual history, this type of resolution is what allows you to reclaim a sense of your purity that you feel has been lost and to prepare yourself for future marriage.

I know that preaching sexual abstinence in the modern world seems crazy, but Christians need to overcome this sinful trend and to remain set apart.   Here are three practical steps to maintaining your sexual purity until you the day of your marriage:

  1. Understand the difference between a consumer and covenant relationship. In a consumer relationship, you test the waters and make sure that everything is to your liking before you make the commitment.  A covenant relationship says I will make the commitment, no matter the flaws and problems that I find.
  2. Develop a biblical theology of sex. A famous Jewish rabbi once said, “When a man unites with his wife in holiness, the Shekinah is between them in the mystery of man and woman.” The breadth of this statement is sobering when you consider that this Shekinah glory is the same presence experienced by Moses when God met with him face-to-face (see Exodus 24: 15– 18).
  3. Realize the limitations of sex and marriage. Neither sex nor marriage was meant to completely satisfy and fulfill our deepest longings. To believe that someone else can fulfill you completely is to put an unfair expectation on yourself and the person you love.

Ultimately, the purpose of sex and marriage is to point us to the perfect spousal love of Christ.  It is common these days for Christians to talk about intimacy with Christ.  This has its roots in Christian mystics who understood intimacy with Christ as the idea that the passion and yearning that you have for your spouse is but a small taste of what you can experience with God.  They believed that the most effective way to break the power of sexual sin and temptation was to lose yourself completely in God’s love, to surrender yourself to Him, and live a life completely devoted to serving Him.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be satisfied with my marital status at this moment.  If I am married, provide me with the love to make this relationship happy and lasting.  If I am single, provide me with the grace to keep my sexual desires under control and to remain pure until the day of marriage.    If I have failed, help me to receive Your forgiveness as I resolve to live for You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 19


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Matthew 5:27-30: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does Jesus place such a high standard on sexual purity?
  2. How can we apply the extreme measures that Jesus commands us to take against lust?
  3. Why is the punishment so severe for the sin of lust?

Notes

  1. At the bottom line, Jesus is most interested in the purity of our hearts. The Pharisees in their quest for holiness had narrowed down the definition of sexual purity as simply being free of an adulterous relationship.  But Jesus, as He did with the sin of murder, takes the issue of sexual sin into the depths of the human heart.
  2. Most people don’t take time to reflect on the self-destructive nature of sex driven by our lust and broken sexuality. Jesus has done that reflection for us, and His bottom line is that lust is so dangerous that it is better for you to pluck out your right eye and cut off your right hand before you fall under it’s control.  This is a figurative way of Jesus telling us to do whatever is needed, go to whatever extremes necessary in order to deal with the problem of lust.
  3. For the modern person, Jesus’ warning that uncontrolled lust can bring a person to the doors of hell go largely unheeded as being old-fashioned or intolerant. But the Hebrew word that is translated as “hell” in your Bibles is the word Gehenna, which actually is a reference to a literal place outside of the walls of Jerusalem where historically, Israelites who had turned against God went to worship the idols of Baal and Molech.  And the literal warning that Jesus is giving us is that the same judgment reserved for idol-worshippers is the same fate reserved for those who cannot find a way to get their lust under control.

EVENING REFLECTION

Reflect on your thought life today.  Were you filled with negative thoughts like anger, jealously, or lust?  Consider what Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8, and end the day meditating on these things: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s