REDISCOVERING THE ANCIENT PATH—Week of November 7, 2021
Treasure Sexual Purity: Heb. 13:4
We are in Week 40 of our examination of Benedict of Nursia’s rules for Christian formation, which means we are in the home stretch of our study. This week we’ll look at Rule 4.64: Treasure Sexual Purity. Of course, most of us are very familiar with the arguments for why sexual purity is so vital. We’ve seen the serious consequences of sexual immorality physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We are aware of the hyper-sexualization of our society and the damaging effects pornography has had on the proper development of our children, teenagers, and young adults. But have you ever stopped to consider why sexual purity is such a big deal to God?
Like so many of these topics we’ve covered, to truly understand why sexual purity is so important, I think we have to go back to the Garden of Eden, because that’s where God instituted marriage, and that’s where God established the importance of sexual intimacy. In the Garden, Adam and Eve were the perfect image-bearers of God. But not only did they reflect the image of God individually, they reflected God’s image corporately. In the mystery of their perfect, loving, unselfish, and unashamed union with one another they reflected the mystery of the perfect, loving intimacy experienced by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in the Trinity. Their perfect, loving relationship was also a reflection of the future, when Christ is united with his bride, the Church. I believe that is why God said that it was not good for man to be alone. Though Adam was created in the image of God, he could never begin to understand the complex mystery of the love of the Trinity or Christ’s love for the Church alone. He needed a partner.
This idea of sexual intimacy pointing us to a better, more healthy view of God is evident throughout human history. Whenever communities have functioned well in communion with God and others, those communities have been built on strong family connections secured through sexual fidelity. Conversely, whenever Satan has wanted to thwart God’s plan and distort people’s view of God, he has attacked them through sexual sin. In Gen. 6, fallen angels tried to wipe out God’s plan for redemption by having relations with women. In Gen. 16, Sarah tried to take God’s promises and timing into her own hands by giving her slave to Abraham. The descendants of that union war against Sarah’s descendants to this day. In Numbers 25, Balaam led the Israelites into idolatry through sexual immorality. In fact, throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites worshipped the idols of their neighbors through sexual immorality. And it wasn’t just the sexual behavior itself that was so bad—it was that through such lewd behavior the worshippers believed they could force the god they were worshipping to do their bidding. Satan was perverting sex into something selfish and manipulative, and in so doing he was turning mankind into selfish and manipulative worshippers of their Creator.
Satan’s plan of attack remains the same, and it has become incredibly successful in this generation. We no longer have to look for sexual temptation; it is literally at our fingertips. Our culture has made purity (unselfishly relating to others as God intended) increasingly difficult. Thus, it is imperative that we don’t just value sexual purity. We must treasure it.
- Why is sexual purity so important to God?
- Think back through the Bible stories we all learned as children. How often do we see God’s people or leaders attacked through sexual temptation or immorality?
- Why might sexual temptation be such a frequent tool of Satan? What does this say about the importance of proper intimacy to God?
- Culturally, there appears to be an all-out assault on sexual purity. Why do you think that is? How do we guard our hearts and our relationships from this assault? How has this assault changed our culture’s view of God and others? How might this assault have changed the Church’s view of worship?