So often, our impurity grows out of our impatience. At the simplest level we give pieces of ourselves away because we want to be affirmed and desire to feel seen and known and wanted. But, at a deeper level, many times we give of ourselves sexually because we genuinely long for that abiding connectedness with someone we deeply care about. Promiscuity is a layered struggle. But sexual sin in a committed relationship is a different and unique type of challenge, because it often grows out of what seems like a pure, albeit premature, place. It often grows out of a word that sexual sin steals and twists to justify our desires—love.
God designed sex for the very purpose of uniting two people at the most intimate and connected level—so know, first and foremost, that our desires to experience that union and intimacy are ingrained. It is what God wrote into our DNA to bind us to the spouse we take. It is beautiful, natural, and holy in so many ways.
But God also designated appropriate timing and covenantal qualifications surrounding who we would give our lives and our bodies to in that way, and in our eagerness to know that nearness to someone we care deeply for, we stumble from impatience into impurity. Then we try to justify it by stealing and confusing the definition of love—another God-defined truth we warped somewhere along the way.
We use the word love rather loosely these days. We love Jesus. We love that girl’s hairstyle. We love our parents. We love the idea of a trip to the beach. We love our boyfriend. We love the new Netflix series we’re watching. We love to play soccer. We love that paint color.
We seem to love everything. But what does love mean?
Do I love Jesus the same way I love that Sherwin Williams Revere Pewter paint swatch? Probably not. (Although talk about a versatile gray!)
Do you love your boyfriend as reverently as you love God Almighty? I’m assuming no.
So what power have we lost in throwing that word around so flippantly?
What is love, really?
If you want to find that definition, Google Dictionary isn’t the best place to look. In its attempt at wrapping words around the magnitude of love, it literally lists “have a crush on” and “idolize/worship” as synonyms, side by side. A bit broad there, don’t you think? Our culture marches to the anthem of “love is love!” but leaves love without a sourced understanding. We have made love a relative term—open to anyone’s definition. Our culture has stripped love of any absolute truth and, as a result, opened Pandora’s Box in an attempt for anyone and everyone to fittingly describe it.
But, in truth, love was never ours to define. Humanity’s attempt at defining love has been a long and incompetent effort to wrap insufficient words and wide-sweeping descriptions around a God-sized invention better displayed by actions than words. Enter Jesus. Welcome the cross. It’s there, in the life of Jesus and the accounts of scripture, that we actually see love defined. In an absolute, all-inclusive, history-shifting capacity love was outlined when Jesus laid down his life for us. When the judge took on the punishment of the criminal and set the captive free.
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as a sacrifice to take away our sins . . . God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. (1 John 4:10, 16–17)
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Cor. 13:4–7)
God is love. God is Jesus. And Jesus is the picture of self-sacrifice for the world. So what is love if not self-sacrifice? Do we truly love another if we aren’t helping to guard their heart, their body, and their spirit in purity and in obedience to God? Furthermore, do we truly love God if we aren’t willing to love another by his definition and if we aren’t willing to sacrifice our wants for his will?
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Rom. 12:9–10 ESV)
So many invested in long-term relationships profess their love for their partner, but their actions and sexual sin within their relationship contradict the very words that leave their lips. That was my story. I professed to love Jeremiah, but all the while I played a massive part in leading him into sin. I professed to love God with all of my heart—I was standing on stages speaking to crowds about laying down their lives to follow Christ, for goodness’ sake—but I was a hypocrite behind closed doors, praising him with my words but choosing my wants against his wisdom in that area of my life.
But the Word calls us to more. The Word calls us to complete surrender. If we are true followers of Christ, then until we actually repent of our sin struggles, turn from our choices, and receive forgiveness, the tension caused by that counterfeit love will crush us. And that relationship will never be able to truly honor God until we make a scripture-demanded decision.
Cover image by Jez Timms.
Taken from Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot by Mo Isom Copyright © 2018. Used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. www.bakerpublishinggroup.com.