A Tool that Provides Students With a Biblical Understanding of Sexual Sin
We live in a culture where all kinds of things that were once considered morally wrong are now acceptable and things that were considered morally acceptable are now considered wrong.
When it comes to sexual sin, it can be extremely difficult to be able to have an open discussion on what qualifies as sexually sinful without someone becoming defensive if something they practice sexually comes up in the discussion. As Christians, we also need a way of discussing sexual sin without sounding judgmental and critical of others while also being able to effectively discern what sexual sin is.
I believe the most effective way of having an open discussion on sexual sin is by knowing the purposes of God’s design for sex, and then looking at how each purpose reflects the image of God. Youth leaders are always trying to impress upon their students that all sexual sin is equally disgusting in God’s eyes, yet this is a teaching that certainly does not usually match up with our actions. I believe the best perspective to have about sexual sin is this: Sexual sin is not defined by what people consider to be weird or gross, but is simply defined by what does not reflect the image and character of God.
If Christians can look at sexual sin through this perspective, then not only will it help us speak more gracefully to others concerning their sin, but it can also have the same affect concerning our own sin when there are so many times we can heap more guilt upon ourselves to the point where we diminish the work of Jesus Christ on the cross on behalf of all our sin. The teenagers in our youth groups need to be able to understand that the 7th commandment (do not commit adultery) encompasses all sexual sin.
The four purposes of sex that we see throughout the Bible are: Pleasure, Love, Unity, and Multiplying (PLUM).
I firmly believe that if man is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), then everything He created us to do is also to reflect His image. PLUM is a tool to be able to teach our teenagers how all sexual sin is inherently sinful simply because it does not properly reflect God’s glory back to Him.
The pleasure in sex is supposed to reflect the pleasure God experiences from redeeming His people from their sin
Sex is considered to be the height of all pleasurable experiences a human being can enjoy. We can see this in that people all over the world are willing to do virtually anything for sex, such as: sex trafficking, sexual abuse, prostitution, infidelity in marriage, pornography, and so much more. The instances of sexual sin in the Bible never expresses that pleasure in sex is wrong, but rather its God-given pleasure is being abused and misused. When God created Adam and Eve and saw that it was good, that also means their bodies were correctly hardwired in where He placed all the nerve endings and “pleasure centers” on the human body. The pleasurable sensations when being touched in certain areas are exactly how God designed it!
The main question concerning pleasure in sex is: If sex is the height of all pleasurable human experiences, then how does that somehow reflect God’s image? I believe the answer to this question is by answering another question: What is the height of all pleasurable experiences for God?
There are many passages in the Bible that agree with Luke 15:10 and Psalm 149 where it is clear what brings God the most pleasure: Redeeming His people from their sin. The pleasure in sex was given to us for the purpose of reflecting the pleasure that God has in redeeming His people from their sin and restoring them to righteousness.
The love in sex is supposed to reflect God’s love for His people.
Even with all the perversion of sex in our culture, it is surprisingly still often referred to as “making love”. There are many teenagers who may not agree with being sexually active before marriage, yet would admit that if they were with someone they were truly in love with, they would be okay with having sex with that person before marriage. I think too often youth workers focus too much on the practical reasons of abstaining until marriage, such as: you will have a better sex life with your wife if you wait, you won’t be at risk for any STD’s, you won’t be emotionally scarred, and others like these. Although these practical reasons may be true, it doesn’t focus on the main reason why Christians need to abstain until marriage: To glorify God!
The main problem in our culture is that everyone has their own definition of what true love is. As a result, the love that is supposed to be evident in sex is often a polluted and distorted view of what love truly is. The love in sex is supposed to reflect God’s love for His people.
So what does God’s love look like? Romans 5:8 tells us plainly that God’s love is so unconditional for His people that while there were dead in their sins, Christ died for them. Ephesians 5:25 gives the husbands the command to love their wives just as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her. Then, of course, there is John 3:16 that God’s love for us is ultimately expressed through the giving of His one and only Son, that those who believe in Him will have eternal life.
God’s love is: eternal, sacrificial, committed, and unconditional. If sex does not reflect this kind of love, then it is not properly reflecting His image as we were created to do.
The unity in sex is supposed to reflect the unbreakable bond between God and His people.
One of the things we like to preach the most in our youth groups is how great and awesome our God is and how God will never leave us nor forsake us. It is my own personal belief that it is impossible for a true Believer in Jesus to lose their salvation in any way. I find comfort and affirmation of this in the following passages of Scripture: John 14:10-11, John 15:1-11, Romans 8:9-11, Romans 8:38-39. All of these passages are very clear that there is eternal security for those who belong to God through faith in Jesus Christ. At the same time, we see that Genesis 2:24 (two become one flesh) is repeated several times throughout the Bible (Mark 10:5-9, 1 Corinthians 6:15-16, Ephesians 5:31-32) The correlation between the unity between husband and wife compared to the eternal bond between God and His people are unrelenting!
The unity experienced in sex is supposed to reflect the unbreakable bond between God and His people. This is why fidelity is so important in God’s eyes, and why marriage is such an important commitment to have before two people have sex with one another. If the sexual union between two people does not reflect the eternal bond between God and His people, then it is not properly reflecting His image back to Him.
Multiplying in sex is supposed to reflect God’s desire to grow His kingdom.
With teen pregnancy and abortion rates both on the rise in America. One of the growing questions is: How should we feel when a teenager becomes pregnant? What does it look like to acknowledge that all children are a gift from God, yet disapprove of premarital pregnancies? There are many youth leaders who struggle with how to embrace a pregnant teen with God’s love yet at the same time trying to reconcile the fact that the child is conceived out of a sinful act.
One of the most beautiful aspects of being one that has been redeemed from my sin by God through my personal faith in Jesus Christ, is that regardless of all my faults and sin, God is still able and willing to use my life for His glory. This one of the most worshipped characteristics of our God, that He can take even the “chief of sinners” and sanctify them into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Teen pregnancy is the same thing, it should be another story of how God can take any situation and bring something beautiful out of it, regardless of the sinner. Pregnancy should never be associated with feelings of disappointment, but rather should be associated with the same feelings that God has towards His people; excitement!
Multiplying in sex is supposed to reflect God’s desire to grow His kingdom. We see this in Deuteronomy 6 where God very clearly expresses the importance of parents teaching their children about God so that they may grow up to love Him and enjoy His blessings. Before departing to heaven after His resurrection, Jesus commanded the disciples to make more disciples, baptize them, and teach them everything He commanded. Through these, we see the great desire that God has in growing His eternal kingdom. Multiplying in sex should be accompanied with the attitude of commitment of being ready and able to teach our children to know and love God. What does it say about one’s commitment to God, if they are willing to risk getting pregnant without accepting the responsibility of being prepared to raise that child up in the Lord? Just as God has preordained all those who will ultimately dwell with Him forever, we should view pregnancy with the same kind of purpose, commitment, and excitement. God is not necessarily glorified by those who have children for their own selfish purposes, but is ultimately glorified when those purposes are driven by a deeper desire of knowing Him and seeing others come to know Him as well.
What does all sexual sin have in common?
The ultimate conclusion of these four purposes of sex are found in what we see all sexual sin has in common: all sexual sin is missing at least one of the four purposes in it. Interestingly enough the opposite is true as well: it is impossible for sex to be used sinfully when all four purposes are being used together. If you are to look at every instance in the Bible where sex is used or referred to sinfully, there is one or more of the purposes of sex that are being forsaken, therefore, not properly reflecting God’s image back to Him. Let’s consider some of the most topics today when it comes to sex: pornography, homosexuality, pre-marital sex, masturbation, and sexting. Each of these are all equally disgusting in God’s eyes, not because people may consider them to be weird or gross, but simply because each of them fail to reflect God’s glory back to Him within the four purposes of sex that God has given to us.
Using PLUM in your teachings.
I hope that every youth worker is able to use PLUM as a helpful tool in their ministries when talking about sex with their teenagers, and that it results in the building up and edification of the church body. It all comes down to the basic understanding that we are to offer our bodies as living and holy sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1-2), and whatever we do we should do for the purpose of glorifying Him and properly reflecting the image of our Creator back to Him and those around us.
Corwin Wong has served in youth ministry for 12 years and is currently a youth pastor in Brentwood, CA. He is also the author and founder of PLUM: God’s Design for Sex, a seminar that is presented to all audiences that explains the theology behind God’s purposes for sex. For more information and to read his blogs, go to: plumgodsdesignforsex.com.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.