Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 3 October 2017

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.  Hebrews 12, verses 16-17.

If you were just skimming through the verses today, you might blaze past those first seven words:  “see that no one is sexually immoral.”  They jump out at you, but then most of them talks about Esau, presenting him as another example of immorality.  But did you know that the Bible says in over 25 different verses that we are to not be sexually immoral?   Most of those are in the New Testament, some of them (like Matthew 5:28) spoken directly by Jesus Himself.   Sexual behavior is something God wants us to understand in His way.

Now, I’m not here to preach to you or talk you down for your sexual sins.   You’ve got them; so have I.   For years, I put sex on a pedestal, thinking it was the thing you did if you wanted to show someone you cared for them.  That’s true, but it’s also cheap.   It’s that kind of thinking that gets you quickly in the sack, unless you were teenage me.   For years I had a low opinion of myself, and throughout school I only had one really serious relationship.   The whole “goin out” thing didn’t go for me.   Or at least the local girls didn’t.   By the time I finally did have sex, I didn’t know a thing about it, only that it felt physically great and emotionally torturous at the same time. I struggled with sexual identity, wanting to be attractive to the opposite sex but feeling that (no pun intended) I somehow didn’t measure up, that nobody would want me.  I kept sex up on that pedestal and in actuality valued it as “my right” or just something you do.   No wonder affairs resulted.

Asking for a “do-over” is usually a fool’s game.   We rarely get them in life, and I believe that’s a blessing from God.  He wants us to live in the here and now, relying on Him for our guidance in everything.   Yet if He ever asked me what do-over I’d like, I’d ask Him for a chance to re-do my attitude about sex.   I’d want the attitude the 51 year old Dave has to be the one 16 year old Dave lives by.   It’s not to be prudish:   it’s to seek God’s wisdom.   Middle-aged me looks at sex as a gift instead of just something physical or something to worship.

You know that sex is intended for marriage.   It is indeed intended to be the ultimate expression of caring for someone:   someone you’re committed to before God.   God made us as men and women to complement each other in how we live, including between the sheets.   He intended for physical union to be an expression of our relationship with each other and even with Him.  He intended it for procreation, for pleasure, for intimacy, for physicality, for love.   I know that in my own life I haven’t often asked God what He thought of my sexual life, of what I should think about sex.   If I could ask for that do-over, I’d want more of God’s input, more of His heart in how I give my heart and body to the woman He created just for me.

God wants us to value His gift of sex, to cherish how we take our pleasure from it by cherishing who we have sex with.   There is no “free love” and sex always carries emotional and even spiritual connotations.   God wants us to value those, so He commands us to steer clear from the easy morality that is, in fact, immorality.  That’s why the Bible mentions it so often.  Sex outside of marriage cheapens something that God gave us as an expression of the pleasure it is to be in union with Him.

Where yesterday we were talking about how to not be a bitter root (and thus abandon God’s peace), wouldn’t it be a thing of wonder if we all sought out God’s heart when we look at each other with more than just a passing interest?   My wife is hooked on watching shows about the Duggar and Bates families.   If you don’t know much about them, they’re very faith-based and live their lives by that faith.   One of the things these large families have taught their kids is the lost art of Godly courtship.   Of waiting for marriage to share any kind of physical pleasure, even a first kiss.   In a time and age when new TV shows like “The Deuce” seem to reach for the lowest sexual denominator, I find that refreshing.   These families live their lives in a way I wish I had.   I believe, perhaps, that I still would have chosen the wife I did because I believe she’s the woman God created specifically for me.   Yet perhaps our path to deeper intimacy wouldn’t have been as rocky or as full of heartbreak and hurt.

And on that note, tomorrow let’s talk about Esau.

For further reading:  1 Corinthians 6:18, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, Hebrews 13:4, Matthew 5:28, Ephesians 5:5, Genesis 25:29-34, Genesis 27:30-40, .

My Lord, thank You for sex.   Thank You for opening my eyes to how You view it.   Help me to cherish this gift and to share it thankfully with my spouse.  

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Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 12 April 2017

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.  Hebrews 10, verse 1.

Mamma Mia:   poke out my eyeballs, please.   My wife and I have a running thing about the movie “Mamma Mia.”   Me, being (I believe to be) the typical American male would like to never see this time-sucking waste of celluloid expense ever again.   My wife, on the other hand, loves the movie and gets peeved with me when I say that (she might get peeved after reading this today).   I suppose it’s because I don’t care for Meryl Streep, or because I have testosterone in my system, or because, well, the movie just isn’t my cup of tea (or, since it takes place in Greece, Ouzo).  But the movie was on HBO this morning while I was writing this.   After watching a few minutes of Pierce Brosnan trying to sing, I drew a parallel between the badly acted ABBA movie and Hebrews 10, verse 1.

Bad things here don’t last because there’s so much more good that’s on the way.   Bad things are illusions even when they are actual events or things.   Those things don’t define us unless we let them because we are part of the promise of greater things to come.

In “Mamma Mia”, Meryl (in her best Merylish fashion) is a single mom forced to face the consequences of her past.   Her daughter is getting married and the three men who might be said daughter’s dad all show up for the wedding.   She feels bound and imprisoned by her past choices, defined by them, committed today to a course of action determined only by them.   In reading Hebrews 10, however, I saw that this is simply foolish.   It’s also just a movie plot.

But movies are supposed to reflect real life.  How many of us are stuck on our past?   I can’t tell you how many times my own mistakes have come back to haunt me.  Even when those days are long gone, sometimes it still hurts, and sometimes I let it hurt.   I forget that Christ redeemed me once and forever.   Those things that I’ve done that were so wrong don’t matter anymore.   Even when they still play out as consequences in my life, I don’t need to bear the guilt of them anymore.

Does this ever happen to you?   I bet I know the answer.   When it does, here’s another movie song:   channel some pitch perfect Anna Kendrick and be “Bulletproof” to your past.   It doesn’t define you.   It may have defined you before but it doesn’t have to now.  The laws of God that convict us are designed to point us to our need for God, our crucial dependence on Him.  The tabernacle and the churches in which we worship today (which are derivatives in structure from those in ancient times) were given to us as representations of greater glory in heaven.   Christ sealed the promise of that glory for us, ensuring once and for all that those who believe in Him share in that promise.

You can believe this whole Christianity story is just mumbo jumbo.   You can hold that it’s myth and that it’s preposterous for one man to be either sinless or to die for everyone.   You can even insist that the archaic laws of long ago no longer matter (even if all western civilization stems from those Judeo-Christian laws and values).   In the end, those things are all just shadows, illusions that can either distract us from our journey with God or point us ahead in living life for Him.   What will you choose?

Someday I’ll regale you with the story of how my wife forcibly dragged me off an airplane and immediately took me to a movie theater to watch Mamma Mia; good times, good times.   But, like the movie, everything really does have a happy ending…especially our one-way death trip here on the Third Rock.  Mamma Mia:   next time it’s on, please pass the salt shaker so I can salt my eyeballs instead of watching it.   But before pouring the salt, next time I’ll also remember that, mamma mia:  good things are coming indeed.

For further reading:  Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 9:11, Hebrews 9:23.

Lord, thank You for the things of this life that You give us which point us to You.   And bless Meryl Streep, too.