Something I’ve been pondering over for a while in the run up to this mornings sermon I’m teaching. The text is 1 Corinthians 5.
Corinth had become famous for it’s sin lifestyle. In the city there was a temple dedicated to Aphrodite where 1,000 prostitutes every evening would leave the temple and enter the streets to sell themselves as worship to Aphrodite. Corinth was the kind of city where alternative lifestyles was celebrated and it was common place for the rich to throw banquets where every guest would receive their very own prostitute for the night. Imagine that! Well we don’t have to imagine too hard because there really wasn’t anything that we have in today’s society that wasn’t in Corinth. In fact, Corinth became so synonymous with immorality that to call someone a Corinthian means that they were a pervert and prostitutes throughout the Roman empire were known as “Corinthian girls”.
Something that goes hand in hand with sexual promiscuity is sexually transmitted disease. This was also widespread in the 1st century city of Corinth but instead of health clinics like we have today, they had shrines where they would visit in the hope they would be healed.
It’s no wonder that Paul wrote Romans 1 while in Corinth, because Romans 1 outlines the breakdown of mans morality. There Paul gives three consequences of man rejecting God and the first he gives is uncleanness, which specifically refers to physical impurity that comes about by lustful living. Paul says that the result of rejecting God is sexual immorality.
The first sign, that a nation or society has rejected God is widespread sexual sin
It’s interesting that whenever the bible singles out sex as a sin, it does so in the context of the rejection of God:
- Sodom & Gomorrah – what was the sign that was pointed to as being the result of its rejection of God? Sexual immorality
- Babylon (as described in Revelation 18) is described as a city that has rejected God and as a result of that rejection it traded in the bodies & souls of men – specifically talking about the sexual affections of man.
- Through the OT whenever Israel turned from God to idolatry you find the phrase “they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.”
Throughout the bible sexual immorality is given as the first sign of a God rejecting people. But why? Why is that the case?
Many Christians have wrongly concluded that sexual sins are the worst kinds of sin. But that is not true. Sexual sins are not the worst kind of sins. Take a look at Romans chapter 1 as it lists 3 consequences of man rejecting Go. The final result, before they get to a place where the people are reprobate isn’t sexual sin, it’s spiritual sin. It’s the sin of the heart: hatred, bitterness, animosity.
The first result is sexual sin, and the reason for that is to make public what is going on in our spiritual lives. Because sex has a spiritual connection. We know that sex has multiple meanings:
- It has a biological meaning via means of reproduction
- It has an emotional meaning via means of love and trust
- It also has a spiritual meaning of that otherworldly connection between two individuals
It is this last meaning that Paul is exploring – that of the otherworldly connection between two individuals. Paul’s argument is that sex is linked to fulfillment through spirituality. He says in verse 24 that those who fall into uncleanness – sexuality immorality … exchange the truth of God for a lie and worship the created rather than the creator. They exchange the truth of God for a lie – that’s the first thing to happen. The lie that Paul refers to is the lie that was told to Eve in the Garden of Eden when Satan said to Eve, in the day you eat you shall not die but you shall be as god. He is making the point that if mankind worships God there exists then an otherworldly connection, but when mankind fell, he still needed that otherworldly connection and since sex is the desire to possess another body and to be possessed by another this is the closest thing to the otherworldly connection with God that we desire. What people crave is not sex but a spiritual connection because the connection is the longing to be possessed of God and the closest we can get to that (without Christ) is sex. That’s why often times the worship of a god or godness was accompanied by prostitution, but the Bible declares that only God can give that kind of fulfillment. Only God can satisfy that deep sense of longing for complete identity and unity with another person. That is why the highest description of the relationship possible to a believer is found in the words of Jesus in John 15, “You in me, and I in you,”. For an unbeliever the next best thing … the next best thing to making a spiritual connection is the vain hope of getting there through sex.
The world is full of people trying to make a spiritual connection but the best way it knows how is through sex and so the world is full of sex. Everywhere you go adverts, news headlines, even family shows are making sexual links. The average television watcher will witness, either verbally or visually, 14,000 sexual references a year, only 165 of those 14,000 are in the context of health, information or abstinence.
Some of the statistics on pornography are horrifying:
- 12% of total websites are pornographic (420 million pages)
- 72 million visitors to pornography a month
- 25% of total search engine requests are for porn
- 8% of total emails are porn
- 34% of internet users receive unwanted exposure to porn
- 116,000 searches every day for child porn
- Internet pornography alone brings in $4.9 billion sales per year
- 70% of all traffic occurs between 9am and 5pm
If we think this just applies to the internet we would be very much mistaken
- 1/3 of all dvd rentals are adult films
- Every second – $US3,075.64 is being spent on pornography
- Every 39 minutes: a new pornographic video is being created in the United States alone
- Every year 11,000 films are made – which is 20 times more than Hollywood
- The pornography industry is larger than the revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink COMBINED
- In 2006 China turned over $27.40B in pornography revenue
- South Korea turned over $25.73 M
- Japan turned over $19.98 B
- US turned over $13.33 B
- Australia turned over $2.00 B
- UK turned over $1.97 B = UK is 8th biggest producer of porn in the world
And if we think that this has nothing to do with this church:
Two points … Paul is writing to a church! and 47% of Christians said pornography is a major problem in their home.
It is as if God is pulling back the covers in order to show us how empty our hearts are without him. By turning to sex, instead of fulfilling our destiny with Christ we only expose the emptiness within. What’s the answer? Well, a number I think:
- Turn to Christ to fulfill your desire for spiritual connection
- Reckon the “old man” dead to sin
- Get some internet privacy software like NetNanny