Jul 152014
 

#2 Does Jesus Understand Our Sexual StrugglesJesus showed us by example that the sexual thoughts and feelings we all have are not sinful!

How do I know? Because if Jesus had sexual thoughts and feelings and yet was “without sin,” then how can those be sin?  It’s an impossible equation! No, it’s what we choose to do with those sexual thoughts and feelings that makes all the difference between holiness (the pursuit of God’s pleasure) and hedonism (the pursuit of our own pleasure).

In addition to being a living, breathing example of sexual integrity, Jesus also had a few interesting things to say about sexual sin, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount, where He makes the following strong statements:

  • “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.” (Matthew 5:27-28) 
  • “So if your eye-even your good eye-causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand –even your stronger hand — causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”  (Matthew 5:29-30) 
  • “You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32) 

These passages can sound like bitter pills to swallow.  After all, most of us would be walking around blind and castrated if we took these passages literally!  In fact, I was shocked and disheartened to learn of a woman who, as a result of her misinterpreting these passages, gouged out her own eye.  How sad that she didn’t believe God’s grace to be sufficient, or His mercies to be new to her every morning as He promises (see 2 Corinthians 12:9, Lamentations 3:22-23).

I’m not saying that Jesus wasn’t being serious in these verses; I’m simply saying that He was using extreme language to convey just how seriously He wants us to treat the sanctity of not just our bodies, but also our hearts and minds, as well as our marriage relationships.  To loosely paraphrase using the SEV (the Shannon Ethridge version), these passages might be interpreted accordingly:

  • When you notice a beautiful person, give credit to the Creator, not the creation.  Don’t go out of your way to try to make that person yours if they (or you) belong to someone else.   Show some respect, both for the other person and for yourself.  Take your mental and emotional integrity as seriously as you take your sexual integrity. 
  • Never assume that until you have sex with another person, there’s no harm in looking and leering.  Those inappropriately obsessive thoughts and sexually-stirring stares will lead you exactly where you know you shouldn’t go, so guard your eyes, heart, and mind just as vigilantly as you guard your body.  
  • Divorce isn’t the answer for every marital woe.  Husband and wife belong to one another forever, so take your wedding vows seriously and be faithful to each other.  Don’t just hop from one marriage relationship to another.  Instead, figure out how to make it work and make love last!

Did you miss part of the series? Read them here!  

Part 1

 

Excerpted from 

 by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2013.  All Rights Reserved. Published by W Publishing Group, and imprint of Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.  

Jul 112014
 

#1 Does Jesus Understand Our Sexual Struggles (1)I usually give the audience several minutes to discuss this question, and then I ask  for folks to shout out their conclusions.  On occasion someone will respond, “No. Jesus wasn’t tempted sexually because He was God.”  And then I’ll see lots of heads turning from side to side, responding negatively as if they do not agree. Of course, they aren’t denying that Jesus was God.  It’s just that they also know that Jesus was both fully God and fully man.  In John 1:14 we read, “So the Word [God] became human and made his home among us.” Or, as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”

But more often the response I receive to the question about whether Jesus was ever tempted sexually is a wholehearted, “Yes! Jesus did have sexual thoughts and feelings!”  And many are even able to back their theory up with the following passage of Scripture:“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Did you catch that?  He faced all of our same testings.  There is no asterisk with a disclaimer at the bottom of the page that says, “Except sexually. Jesus wasn’t that kind of guy.”  No, in fact Jesus was tempted in every wayknown to man (and woman), yet He showed us by example that we don’t have to give in to those feelings and live outside of God’s perfect will for our lives and relationships.

Something that has really stood out to me as I’ve pondered this passage is thatJesus didn’t avoid sin because He wasn’t tempted at all-He avoided sinalthough He was tempted!  This is a very important distinction to make.  There is a big difference between not sinning when you are tempted, and not sinning because you aren’t tempted at all.  For example, it doesn’t take much for me to avoid alcohol because I simply don’t like the taste.  But my husband enjoys a nice cold beer when we go to certain restaurants, so for him to exercise self-control after one beer is a lot more impressive than me exercising self-control under the same scenario. (I do, however, know the temporary intoxication of toxic relationships. Funny how those two words,intoxication and toxic, are so similar! So that’s where my self-control is occasionally tested.

Perhaps you are thinking, “What’s that got to do with Jesus?  I don’t think Jesus was tempted by that kind of stuff!”

Really? You don’t think He enjoyed the exquisite taste of that ordinary water He turned into the finest wine?

So now you may be thinking, Well, okay, it was impressive that Jesus always knew when to stop drinking.  But surely Jesus wasn’t tempted by inappropriate relationships! 

Again, really? 

Think about it.  Jesus had beautiful women following Him from town to town, spending their own money to care for His personal needs, washing His feet with their tears and drying them with their long silky hair, anointing His body with expensive perfumes, etc., etc.  I’m sure that many of these women were enamored with Jesus’ strength of character, authority, compassion, and verbal talents (talk about meeting a woman’s emotional needs!), not to mention His amazing miracles of healing and restoration.  Let’s not be naïve!  Jesus could have easily used one of these women for a little ego stroke of His own, and no one would have even noticed.  But Jesus kept His ego very much in check.  Even as the Son of God (which was far more impressive in crowds than being Elvis or the Beatles when you think about it), Jesus wasn’t interested in what He could get for Himself while on this earth, but rather, what He could give to us. And one of the greatest things He gave to us, besides eternal salvation through the personal sacrifice He made on the cross, was an amazing example of what it looks like to be “tempted in every way, yet without sin.”

 by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2013.  All Rights Reserved. Published by W Publishing Group, and imprint of Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.