The Biblical Call to Sexual Holiness
He says to them, “Flee from sexual immorality.” Flee from observing it, flee from being a part of it, flee from using your body to participate in it. Often Christians today will say, of course, I should not be using my body in that way. I should not be having sex with my boyfriend or I should not be cheating on my husband. We know that’s wrong. But we sit and watch it on TV, and we sit and read it in our books, and we say I’m strong enough to handle it. It’s totally fine. I’m not going to fantasize. But then we recommend those books and movies to other people without knowing where they are at in their walk. We’re going to talk about the connection between this kind of recommendation and these boundaries. The connection between sexuality and alcohol in a moment.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “For this as a will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” Here, we see a connection between your sanctification, your becoming in the image of Christ, and your sexuality. Your sexuality, we see this in marriage books on sex, secular and Christian. Your sexuality really begins in your mind, what you’re thinking about, what you’re consuming, what you are dwelling on shapes, how you view yourself in your own body and sexuality, and also how you view your partners if you’re married. And if you’re single, how you’re viewing other people, potential partners and their sexuality. We have to be very careful to remember God’s will is our sanctification. Am I operating in a way where that’s being made possible? Or am I resisting God’s sanctification?
Hebrews 13:4 says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all.” We often say, “Okay, well, this means don’t cheat on your spouse. Let the marriage bed be undefiled because God will judge the sexually immoral and the adulterous.” That’s the full verse. But let’s start with this first phrase, are we holding marriage in honor when we consume sexual content, online and in books, and on TV? Are we honoring marriage that way?
Psalm 119:37 says, “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things and give me life in your ways.” Worthless things are things that don’t honor God, that don’t give life in God’s ways. Lastly, Matthew 5:28, this is Jesus talking. He says, “I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” For women who are struggling with lust and pornography, whether it’s in a written erotica novel form, or whether it’s on TV, or in a movie, the lust process, the process of visual adultery if you will, is different. It’s not exactly the same as how it works for men. Where men maybe see an image and they’re aroused by the image itself. A lot of women tend to put themselves into the story. They put themselves into the character of the women and want to be desired the way she is desired.
She is the image, but they’re not actually lusting after her body per se. They’re lusting after the desirability of that woman and that’s why I believe erotic novels are such a draw. In fact, in the research for my last book on marriage, The Flirtation Experiment, I discovered that over 40% of all romance novel readers are in a relationship. I believe it’s 40% to 60%, are in a relationship, romantic relationship already and yet they consume these novels at an extremely high rate. Sometimes as many as one a week or more. It makes you ask, “Why are these women who are in a relationship drawn to these stories?” I think oftentimes it’s because we put ourselves into that character’s shoes, and we want to be desired the way she is desired, we want to be desirable like her. It makes me think of the Garden of Eden and Eve – how, when she saw the fruit, she saw that it was desirable to make her wise. It was beautiful to the eyes. I think, wow, that’s so interesting, she wanted what was beautiful, and she wanted to be wise and it’s that concept of the desirability becoming an idol and that’s what happens a lot of times with women.