Sunday Sermon: Biblical Sexual Ethics are Confusing Many
By Pastor Ed Evans
Scripture: Romans 8:28
”And we know that God works all things together for those who love God, for those who are called according to His purposes.”
Charles Spurgeon is quoted as saying, “This present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Savior he is a fanatic and if he hates the powers of evil, he is a bigot.”
No doubt about it, there are many things in this present age that are confusing. But it has been that way in every age. Yet men and women of God need not be confused, for they are given explicit and direct guidance in the word of God regarding how to conduct themselves.
Nevertheless, the number of professing Christians who reject the traditional Biblical sexual ethic has been steadily increasing over the last few years as men and women succumb to the societal pressures of “political correctness.” Except that such deliberate ignorance of God’s word is neither politic nor correct.
Many of those once submitting to the Bible’s clear condemnation of homosexual behavior now propose that theologians have long been off base in their interpretation of the texts addressing this issue. They don’t believe the Scriptures speak ill of loving, monogamous same-sex relationships, but only homosexual activity in the context of rape, child molestation, and idol worship. They may believe that all they wish, but none of it is supported by scripture.
The word of God is very clear – “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." (Lev. 18:22 & Lev. 20:13). And since this is neither a civil nor a ceremonial law but a moral law in Leviticus, there is no expiration date. It still stands today. God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Now, no one should misunderstand this as a demand that we judge and ostracize those who disagree with God. The Almighty gives each of us free will, and we are free to hate God if we so choose. And some of us do exactly that in order to serve ourselves, and not God. God will do the judging, although some of us think that’s our job.
However, there is a big difference between judging someone, and discerning evil. The two are not the same at all. In the Bible, the word "judge" is often a poor translation of the Greek word "katakrino." This word literally means "to judge against." In other words, it really means "to condemn." But there is another Greek word, "krino," which is often translated "to discern." "Krino" literally means "to separate." Or, to put it more clearly, it means "to separate the good from the bad."
The word of God calls for us to have a fine balance between head and heart. Biblical Christianity means loving God and others fervently, from the heart; but also, such love is in line with God’s truth as revealed in His Word. Exercising such love is what leads us to Christian maturity. Love for God or others that is not based on truth is just deluded emotionalism. But truth devoid of love leads to arrogance.
The signpost we are looking for leading to the true love of God is true knowledge. Since God cannot be known except as He has revealed Himself, such true knowledge of God can only be obtained through His Word. Since God Himself is love, to grow in the true knowledge of God is to grow to understand what true love is.
Now, this true knowledge of God as revealed in His Word is essential if you want to grow in love. We can’t know love by looking at our society, our culture. We can only know what love looks like by studying the character of God, especially as revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ, God in human flesh. And as we study Him, we see in Matthew 23 where He lashed into the Pharisees, we may even be a bit shocked as He takes whip in hand to clear the filth from His Father’s temple. And yet our Jesus is the epitome of love. Not a clay mask that one puts on to please others, or to get what our free will desires, but a love that loves even the unlovely, that wades into the mud to pull a sinner free, or empties his own pockets so an unregenerate shyster can eat this day. The love of Christ applies itself to the person, to the situation. The need does not twist itself around to fit the requirements of our version of tough love. That’s the short-sighted love of political correctness.
It seems as though today if you criticize someone else’s doctrine or personal life, no matter how unbiblical either might be, you are not loving, you are a “hater”, and you are arrogant to be judging that person. The well-known words of Jesus, “Judge not, lest you be judged” from Matthew 7:1 are twisted out of context and misapplied. But if you keep reading, Jesus goes on to say, in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine”. And yet, how do you determine if someone is that dog or that swine if you don’t make discerning judgments? Later on in Matthew 7:15 Jesus warns us to beware of false prophets who come as wolves in sheep’s clothing. If we are discerning we see this isn’t a fellow-sheep before us whom we need to embrace, but a ravenous wolf we need to avoid!
So we see that Biblical love cannot be divorced from the true knowledge of God and from the discernment between truth and error, between right and wrong that comes from a careful knowledge of Scripture, that Biblical love is inextricably bound up with discernment, not with the judgment of men, but with God-given discernment.
I leave you with the wisdom of Philippians 1:9-11: “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
Heavenly Father, we find strength and boldness in the knowledge that You have not abandoned us to the machinations of this world, but continue to teach us through the presence of the Holy Spirit, ensuring we have the knowledge of scripture available to us with which to employ the wisdom of discernment in dealing with others, and through our knowledge of the love of Jesus Christ. Thank You, Father, that as Your own we are able to draw others to You, by the blessed and incomparable love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.