Sexual immorality is by far the most controversial sin that has ever affected the church community. Newspapers are no stranger to stories of pastors and other church leaders being caught up in adultery and paedophilia. Honestly, I believe the distinction between sexual immorality and sexual purity isn’t as clear as we all think because certain terms have not been accurately defined and certain principles have not been taught with sound reasoning.
To make a clear distinction between sexual purity and immorality we need to first define accurately the words love and lust. Lust is not attraction. Lust is not desire. However, lust is a result of acting on those things.
Lust is the act of entertaining sexual thoughts about someone else for our own pleasure.
Love is not a feeling. It’s not the butterflies you feel in your stomach whenever you see that person you are in love with. That is actually desire mixed with a bit of nervousness because you want them to like you back.
Love is the act of giving of yourself to/for someone else for the other person’s benefit.
Sex motivated by lust only is immoral while sex motivated by love is beautiful. Sex motivated by lust is driven by pride, a desire to prove oneself worthy or capable, while sex motivated by love is driven by a desire to make the other person feel valued and treasured.
All sexual immorality begins with lust
In Matthew chapter 5, verses 27 – 28 (NLT), Jesus says “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery. But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
There are multiple cases in the Gospels where Jesus zones in on the motive vs the action. I will write of those other instances in future articles. The point Jesus is making here in the statement above is that sexual immorality begins in the heart and mind, and that is where it needs to end as well. There is nothing wrong with looking at a woman and being attracted to what you see. I mean how else would we men be motivated to pursue women?
The sin occurs when you take the mental image of a person in your mind and make it the object of your sexual pleasure. What follows is a desire to have sex with this person even though you have not committed yourself nor do you have intentions of committing yourself to this person. Lifelong commitment is the only context within which sex is pure, safe and healthy.
A relationship with someone motivated by lust will lead to the objectification of that person. It will lead to a commodified relationship where the person has to meet your sexual desires. If they don’t, you may be tempted to find someone else who will. This is fornication.
It will deeply damage the heart of the person who has given his/herself and has trusted you, his/her partner, to be loyal. The damage is also done to you the offender who now has an appetite for lustful sexual pleasure. So commitment to one person for life seems like something you can’t handle when that was originally God’s intention for us all.
This is why Jesus encourages us in the verses that follow that if even our good eye causes us to lust, we should gouge it out and throw it away, because you cannot lust for a person you cannot see. Lust is where all sexual immorality starts. If not checked, it will ruin your marriage or any marriage you are seeking to start because nobody wants to be made to feel like they are an object, a play thing or that they are not good enough for their spouses loyalty.
Sexual purity is driven by love
Going by the definition of love I gave above, sex motivated by love is beautiful. Let me be clear, the love I speak of is not a feelings-based love, but it is a decision and commitment to always put the other person before ourselves.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” (Philippians chapter 2, verse 3 (NKJV))
“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.” (Romans chapter 13, verse 8 (NLT))
Our closest neighbour is our spouse. The act of sex is most pleasurable when the two involved are in a committed marriage where trust and protection are unhindered. They are both giving to each other, not taking from each other. Sex is often referred to as “making love” and that is what it should always be. Let us not try to enforce our sexual desires but allow our spouse the freedom to meet our need as best as they can.
Love in sex is also expressed through patience, waiting for your partner to be ready. Waiting for marriage is an act of love that lets your spouse feel respected and valued. Sex is not love, but healthy sex needs to be influenced by love. So that both involved can feel adored, treasured, precious, powerful and safe.
Darren Salmon is a 28 year old young man from Kingston, Jamaica where he read for his Bachelor of Science degree in BioTechnology at the University of West Indies. He became a follower of Jesus when he was 10 and has since developed a ministry of Christian Poetry for which he has gained a godly reputation. Darren is husband to the lovely Mrs. Kimberley Salmon (previously Morgan), another talented young writer with Christian Today. Darren is a joint 1st place recipient of the Tronson award for international young writers with Christian Today for the year 2019. To read Darren’s previous articles, visit his weebly site at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/darren-salmon.html