Thursday, May 12, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex (some more)

Here’s a principle that holds true 98% of the time: What you think your future will be like determines how you act in the present.

Looking at it positively

You think nice guys wins, so you are kind to the people around you.

You think that God will make everything right in the end, so you are able to let go of making people pay for their mistakes.

Looking at it negatively

You think everyone always takes advantage of everyone else (and always will), so you beat them at their own game and take advantage of them first.

People won’t change unless you remind them of their failures, so you never let up on the people in your life about the mistakes they’ve made.

The principle applies to marriage and relationships too. If your marriage is primarily about you and your happiness, your odds of abandoning it when you are no longer happy go way up (and that day will come). Consider that the rise of no-fault divorce in our country is a natural outgrowth of the idea that marriage is for personal happiness. But if you think your marriage is about something larger than you, you stay in it and work on it precisely because its not about you.

Here’s a quick recap of last week’s message on marriage and sex: The Kisses of Your Mouth. You can listen here.

We talked about how marriage is for the purpose of sanctification

God is more interested in you being holy than happy (and surprisingly, happiness comes as a byproduct). Marriage is an incredible tool for sanctification. Sanctification, by the way, is a word that literally means "to make holy."

We did a bit of Marriage counseling

Song of Solomon chapter 2 talks in metaphorical language about the little foxes will destroy the vineyard of your marriage:

  • Like not agreeing on what you are building together
  • Like not agreeing on how you’ll organize your home (your way isn’t the RIGHT way. You need the way you’ll do it together)
  • Like not sharing your schedules or having an agreed on budget
  • Like having destructive attitudes (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling)
  • Like not working through past pain so that it really is in your past

We talked about some practical advice (from Song of Solomon chapter 1) for making love come alive in your marriage

  • Like brushing your teeth & showering (the fundamentals never go out of style)
  • Like making your spouse your standard of beauty (ignore the magazines in the check-out line. Industry secret: every model is air-brushed to look flawless)
  • Like being a good steward of your body and making an effort to be attractive to your spouse (hint:let them dress you--and give-away the things they hate)
  • Kiss each other. It's fun and burns 2 calories (and can lead to more if you do it right). Three cheers for calorie burning exercise!
  • Husbands: tell her she’s beautiful. She’s verbal.
  • Wives: let him see the beauty he appreciates--all of it. He’s visual.

This weekend

We’ll be going into the heart of the brokenness of our culture with regard to sexuality: pornography and addiction. We aren’t going to shame, badger or beat anyone up. Grace is the way we do everything.

We're talking about it because porn addiction is epidemic in our culture. And contrary to the way it's talked about in public, it’s not the casual, funny, normal thing it's made to seem. Experts agree: it's destructive. One stat: a recent survey of lawyers found that 58% of divorces were due to one spouse spending excessive amounts of time with porn. We want anyone stuck in it to be free. So we’ll be offering hope and a way out. Grace always helps.

A caution: we’ll be talking honestly about it, so please think through having young children present. We won’t be vulgar, but we won’t mince words either. We’ve given the message a strong rating of MA-14. Consider this, the largest user of online porn is boys ages 12-17, so having boys there that age is actually very fitting.

If you think porn isn't that big of deal and we shouldn't be making an issue of it, read this article. Be forewarned, it’s on a Christian website, but it pulls no punches.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex

There is a reason sex sells.

· It’s exciting because it raises our temperature (literally) and feels good to just think about (“feel-good” chemicals are released into our bloodstream when we think about it).

· It’s intriguing, to say the least, to think about another person’s body.

· It’s enjoyable (again, the whole feel good theme—this time physically)

· It’s bonding. It touches our deepest human need to be needed and wanted. To think that someone actually wants us is the stuff of wonderment.

Put those four things together in any way and people will always respond. Always.

In the Bible, sexual expression in marriage is a gift meant to contain the excitement, intrigue, pleasure and bonding sex is meant to bring. Marriage is meant (though sometimes falls short) to stoke the fires, not put them out. Sex in marriage is meant to be a roaring fire that lights up and heats the whole room.

In the redemptive framework of the Bible, outside that covenant, the fire always ends up burning rather than giving warmth and light. And it only takes a little observation to see that our culture is littered with burned people.

Burned by men.

Burned by women.

Burned by abuse (sometimes from a spouse).

Burned by cheating.

Burned by jealousy.

Burned by affairs.

Burned by rejection.

Burned by pornography and addiction.

Burned by differing levels of desire.

Burned by baggage of past relationships.

Burned by mistrust.

The scars are everywhere.

For that reason, we are talking about God, Love and Sex as we look at the Song of Solomon in the month of May. We want to show how good sex is and how to think about it and act on it like a follower of Jesus does.

I’ll be recapping what we talk about each week and giving you a heads up about the week to come, so feel free to check back here each week (we’ll also post the link through Facebook and Twitter and you can listen to the podcast as well.

Recap (you can listen here)

We’re doing this series because the Bible teaches about sex and our culture is confused about sex. So we want to bring the truth the Bible teaches to the confusion the culture feels.

We covered 3 points.

#1 Sex is a god in our culture. Whatever gets the majority of your money and becomes the way you get your identity is your real God, even if you say you follow Jesus.

#2 In over-reaction, often Christians treat sex like it’s gross. Our mode of operation has been to not talk about it, avoid it, and then hope that people figure it out when they get married. Honestly, that’s a little like hoping your flat tire will fix itself if you’ll just keep driving on it long enough.

#3 The Bible’s picture of sex is that it is a gift. It’s context is marriage, and in marriage it is pure gift to be received and enjoyed (as often as possible). As with any great gift, you take care of it and use it according to its own parameters (you wouldn’t drop-kick a great gift someone gave you).

Plus, we gave a challenge.

>>If you are single and having sex, stop for the entire month of May to listen to what the Bible teaches about sexual expression.

>>If you are married, agree on an average you have sex weekly and for one week, double it. So if you aren’t currently having sex, you’d have sex 1x, etc.

Coming up this week

We’ve rated the messages loosely using the TV rating system (a system that frankly needs to be reassessed).

The video we showed this past week probably put this last week at the TV-MA rating and-- so you can compare if you have kids and are gauging what you feel is appropriate for them--is as “mature” as we’ll be getting during the series. In other words, there won’t be anything more pointed than that video. I know that was a challenge for some of you, so FYI. We probably missed the rating this last week with the video.

Sunday, we’ll looking at what makes for a great marriage—looking at what Song of Solomon calls “little foxes that destroy the vineyard of marriage.” As a bonus, every person gets a little something special on the way in.

Single? This is great to help you think through how you can support your married friends and to help you plan for your own marriage.

Plus, a video from our very own Joe Strayhorn to kick-off the message.

For those of you struggling with this series

Here’s what I know from personal experience: For a long time, this wasn’t something you talked about in polite company, much less something you talked about in church! Some of that is completely founded. We want to keep children innocent, don’t want to cause people undue embarrassment, etc. Let’s not be party to exposing kids to things they don’t need to know about yet. As the Dad of 3 small kids, I’m right there.

And if you grew up in the church, you grew up, in some senses, under a protective covering (and that’s not a bad thing). As a result, the darkness about sexuality is confusing and hurtful, maybe embarrassing to even think about. I get that.

So here’s what I’m asking you to think about. Sexuality is quite literally killing people in our culture—destroying relationships and hearts. The stats simply don’t lie. They are staggering and overwhelming. The way people talk about it, think about it, and practice it is, in a word, confused. We want to talk to people who didn’t grow up under that protective covering, which means that in order for them to hear the comfort of the gospel, those of us who grew up hearing the gospel will have to be uncomfortable. That’s why we are doing this series—to offer God’s hope to people. Thanks for thinking about that.