The Sex Talk: Paul’s Advice
Do you remember when you first heard the “sex talk”? I had the “sex talk” with both of my boys. Each responded in the same way. They interrupted me and said, “Dad, it’s okay. I know what you are trying to do, but I really don’t want to talk about this. Can we just skip it?” I persevered. I gave “the talk.” I survived. And so did they.
God our creator designed us as sexual beings. He knows how perfect, profound and powerful sex is supposed to be. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, shows us God’s beautiful plan and purpose for sex.
Paul gave the “sex talk” to Christians in Corinth. Corinth was the most pagan place on the planet. We often assume that cultures thousands of years ago were far more morally conservative than we, but that was not true of the Roman world, and especially not Corinth. Romans had a very casual attitude toward sex and sexuality. Men and women bathed together and went to the bathroom without stalls together. Human nudity was commonplace. For guys, sex with your wife was about having children, but sex for pleasure was visiting local prostitutes, having sex with your slaves, or attending Roman orgies.
Prostitution was as normal as eating out at a restaurant is for us. In fact, it was a regular part of their religion. The large temples in Corinth housed hundreds of temple prostitutes, and the more religious you were, the more you visited them. It wasn’t a religious scandal in that city to visit a prostitute. Instead, you were considered unspiritual if you did not regularly have sex with them.
So, new converts in Corinth all came out of a morally corrupt lifestyle and background. When Paul was pastor, his teaching of Christ’s view of sexuality made sense, but after he left, beliefs about sexual purity degenerated. Sex became casual, and having sex with someone who was not your wife was no big deal. Going to see prostitutes was so normal, that as people came to know Christ, they had a hard time understanding why that would be a problem.
Also, Corinthian Christians were confused about Gnosticism, a blend of Greek philosophy and Christianity. Gnostics taught that our soul is what is eternal and spiritually significant, and that our bodies are not eternal and therefore not spiritually significant.
According to the Gnostics, we need to be careful with our souls, but our bodies don’t matter. Whatever we do with our bodies has nothing to do with our Christianity. Why not allow our bodies to express sexuality anytime? Why would that be a big deal?”
For us, the question about a Bible view of sex is a little different. We also live in a culture that has a very casual view of sex, but for us, we have a hookup culture and consenting adults who want to have sex outside of marriage is fine.
If two consenting adults want to hook up and have sex for fun, with no expectations outside of that encounter, who are they hurting? Why would it be a big deal? Or, if two consenting adults who are dating each other and have developed a relationship, if they want to have sex before the marriage commitment, then why would that be an issue? They aren’t hurting anybody, so no harm, no foul.
Paul doesn’t mince words in 1 Corinthians 6:18a:
Flee from sexual immorality.
Flee sexual immorality! Run away, like you would run from an angry grizzly bear or from an approaching tsunami. He doesn’t just say stay away, but run away. Run for your lives!
Sexual immorality is simply sex outside of God’s plan. God created sex, and He let us know from the very beginning in Genesis that sex is designed to be expressed in a life-long, committed marriage relationship between a man and a woman. Anything outside that marriage relationship can be called “sexual immorality.”
“…All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”
All sin is sin, but sexual sin is unique in one big way. With sexual sin,
Most of us don’t want to hurt ourselves. But Paul says that when you sin sexually, you self-mutilate. You harm yourself. You sin against your own body. How? That’s what he has just talked about in the verses before. Look at verse 16:
You harm yourself.
“Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’”
Most people, both then and now, just saw sex as a simple, casual, fun act. Paul lets us know that God designed sex to be far more profound. God designed sex to be a powerful connector between two people, not just connecting their bodies but their souls, the process of fusing two people to become one. The Greek word Paul uses for unite is the Greek word for glue. Like super glue. Every time I have used super glue, I have glued at least two of my fingers together. I also wished for a product that dissolves the super glue between my fingers so I don’t have to rip my skin apart. As far as I know, super glue remover doesn’t exist. That’s a painful reality.
Sex is designed by God to be a powerful soul connection between two people. It’s not just about two bodies having some fun and moving on. You don’t move on. You connect on a deeper level, which implies that there is no such thing as casual sex.
“People talk about safe sex, but you can’t put a condom on your soul.”
God designed sex to be a powerful super glue to unite two souls together, which is why Paul quotes from Genesis, where sex is part of two people becoming one in the context of this permanent, committed relationship called marriage. You unite your soul with someone who loves you, is committed to you, and is going to be with your for life.
God is the one who designed sex. He wants it to be great. People think he’s anti-sex. He’s not. He’s just been kind enough to give us the instruction manual, to let us know that sex is not just a body connection, but a soul connection. Therefore, we will do a lot of damage to ourselves if we violate His design.
Paul’s second premise is that when you get involved in sexual sin:
You dishonor Christ.
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
When I was in seventh grade, my Sunday School teacher once said, “Remember, angels are around everywhere and they can see everything you do. So, when you are on a date, and you are tempted to do something you shouldn’t, you aren’t alone. You are with a bunch of invisible angels, and they can see you.” How creepy is that! It made me not even want to go to the bathroom without asking angels to look the other way.
Paul says when you and I have sex with someone, we bring Jesus with us, because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Since Jesus dwells in us, we take Jesus with us. Think about that. That’s why Paul says, “So, do you really want to drag Jesus with you down to that prostitute and unite with her?”
As Christ-followers, we can’t leave Jesus behind. We take him with us. In marriage, this spiritual part of the sexual bond is part of God’s design and that is a bond that honors him. It is part of this mystical blending of two souls into one that happens in marriage. But a sexual bond outside of marriage is one that dishonors Christ in ways deeper than we can understand. So, Paul’s punch line for this whole conversation is at the very end.
Your body is not temporary. It will be resurrected when Jesus returns and united to your spirit for all eternity. When Jesus returns, your body will be raptured from the grave and united to your soul. Since Christ dwells in you through the presence of the Holy Spirit, when you and I bond with another person, you take Jesus with you. You bring Jesus into that bond.
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Jesus gave his life for you. As a Christ-follower, everything you have, including your body, belongs to him. Even if you don’t understand why you should be pure, you still say, “I’m still going to honor Jesus. I’m going to obey him and honor him with my whole life.”
Sex is designed to be powerful soul glue, uniting two people in an exquisite, permanent bond of marriage. If we break that bond, two things happen.
First, you harm yourself. You only hurt yourself, because every time you bond with somebody sexually, you bond souls, not just bodies. As with super glue, you leave parts of your soul behind and cause damage every single time, not only to you but to the other person as well.
Second, you dishonor Jesus. As a Christian, when you go outside of God’s design for sex, you dishonor Jesus in a way that is more profound than you can understand. Why would you want to do that? He gave His life for you! You belong to him.
Finally, honor God with your sexuality.
If single, then commit to a very different perspective about sex that says, “I don’t want to hurt myself, and I don’t want to dishonor Christ either. What is in the past is in the past, and I’ll open up my life for God to not only forgive that but to heal that, to redeem that. But from here on, I’m going to honor God with my sexuality and wait until I get married so that it can be part of that marriage bond. I am no longer going to treat sex cheaply.”
In 1 Corinthians 7: 3-5, Paul teaches that meeting your spouse’s sexual needs is a deep expression of His love. Enjoy intimacy. Work to make your marriage great, giving yourself completely and unselfishly to your partner.
Commit right now to do sex differently, to honor God with your body.