Sermon: Sex and the Christian Marriage
Scripture: Matthew 5:27-30
In this week’s lessons, we learn how contemporary culture approaches sex, and see how Christians are to think and act differently, as Jesus taught.
Theme: A Playboy World
The positive side of the Lord Jesus Christ’s second great example of Christian conduct is marriage—Christian marriage—and the perversion that is opposed to it is lust. Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28). According to Jesus, lust is the equivalent of adultery, just as anger is the equivalent of murder. The standard for His followers is to be, quite simply, chastity before marriage and fidelity afterwards. In this, Jesus reinforces the whole of the biblical teaching.
It is evident, of course, that this standard is opposed to the widely accepted standards of our day. For never in the history of the western world since the death of Greek and Roman paganism has fidelity in marriage been so threatened, either from within or without, or an unbridled indulgence of free sexual passions been so encouraged or so praised.
In the first place, it is threatened by the mass media, which use the lure of sex to push materialism and to glamorize the pursuit of mere pleasure. This is acute simply because the media have a scope and immediacy in this age that they have possessed in no other. Television fills our living rooms with sex-filled advertisements for toothpaste (“gives your mouth sex appeal”), shaving cream (“take it off; take it all off”), and detergent (“the stripper”). And the newspapers not only carry reports of sexual crimes that would have been omitted years ago, but also sell movies through advertisements that are both more explicit and more perverted than television. One writer has noted correctly, “Sex, as anyone who sits through an evening of television or thumbs through a magazine knows, is the cornerstone of mass persuasion and the symbol par excellence of the life of leisure and consumption.”1 Unfortunately, this sex is generally not sex as God intended it within the bounds of marriage.
The Christian ethic of faithful and monogamous marriage is also threatened in our day, perhaps even more seriously than by the mass media, by a new hedonism symbolized by the so-called “playboy philosophy.” It is the philosophy that makes pleasure the chief goal in life. It is as evident in the pursuit of the second home, the third car, and the right and proper friends, as it is in adultery and pre-marital sex experimentation. In fact, in the playboy philosophy the two go hand in hand. And thus, the pages of the magazine seem to imply that choosing the right wine or the right stereo is almost as important as finding the kind of playmate, the kind of girl whom Mort Sahl identifies as folding in two places and wearing a staple in her navel.
How does Jesus expand the meaning of adultery, just as he did of murder? Why is this expansion necessary?
In what ways does our culture use sexual themes or content? How do you observe it being used, and for what purpose?
Application: Living as we do in a highly sexualized society, is there content with which you come in contact that you can do a better job of avoiding?
1William S. Banowsky, It’s a Playboy World (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1969), 24.