Warning: today’s text deals with sex and sexuality and, while by no means graphic, will talk about both positive and negative sexuality and may be a trigger for some people. Please read on carefully.
When I read scripture in large pieces like we’re doing, I always look for common themes, teachings, or behaviors. Sometimes by the author’s intention but always by the work of the Holy Spirit (in the author and in the reader), there always seem to be themes that teach. Today in our Old Testament reading, that theme is sexuality. All three stories today, Sarah’s promise, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Lot’s daughters, focus on different uses of sex.
For Abraham and Sarah, it is a blessing from God which brings His promises (in this case His Covenant), new life, and lifts old shames (Sarah had been barren until this time, a shameful thing in their cultural context). In the city of Sodom, sex was being used as a weapon, a means of exerting power over a stranger. And in the case of Lot’s daughters, sex was used as a selfish and devious means of fulfilling their own desires for children. Three examples that translate readily into our own world, for we can all think quickly of those who use sex as a means of receiving God’s blessing, as a weapon of power over another, and as a self-fulfilling tool.
Our society has moved beyond the “sexual revolution” to the point where an active sex life is not even questioned today. Abstinence until marriage is considered an old-fashioned standard and not realistic. It is expected that couples, for various reasons, will live together before their wedding though every study has proven again and again that this greatly increases the likelihood of divorce. Our media continues to be saturated with sexuality (two of our most popular shows, Game of Thrones and Westworld, are essentially soft-core pornography). And sexual crimes, from sex-slave trafficking to rape and incest, are a normal part of our world.
But God holds His people to a higher standard. God gave us the gift of sex not as a means of holding power over another, and not as a means of self-fulfillment. The sexuality that God gave us is about receiving His blessing of children, love, and commitment with thanksgiving. It is about the deepest intimacy two people can share, an intimacy, if you can understand it, that most closely mirrors the intimacy we have with God. Everything in this world is about our relationship with God, and something as important as sex all the more so. We cannot allow sexuality to become diluted in a culture that can’t understand its true purpose.
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