How important is Sex?
It has become quite common for Christians to take the line that our business is to talk about Jesus and not about sex and sexual morality. Our obsession with sex is creating a barrier to gospel presentation.
I have to say I am pretty sympathetic to this argument. I never imagined when I began preaching the word of God that our sexual lives would play a big part in the presentation, nor that we would be engulfed in a crisis over the integrity of churches on this issue.
Well, should we stop talking about it and get on with talking about Jesus?
The trouble is, that if we take that line, it will not be the real gospel of Jesus we will be preaching.
It’s interesting isn’t it that the most extended and coherent presentation of the gospel in the New Testament, the Epistle to the Romans, starts with sex, linking sexual sin with the suppression of the knowledge of God and hence idolatry.
To say that we need to stop talking about sex and start talking about Jesus makes two big errors.
First, it undervalues the power of sexual transgression to damage us as human beings and to damage our relationship with God. Our sexual instincts are so powerful and so central to our lives that they are integral to our personal identity. When we misuse our body by abandoning God’s instructions, it helps corrupt our self-understanding. It is actually cruel.
Furthermore, when we turn away from the living God, we replace him by the worship of idols. Again, this worship is often expressed and accompanied by sexual licence. Indeed we are living at a time when sexual permissiveness is the norm and there is no fear of God.
Second, it means that we cannot adequately summons people to repentance. Without the call to repentance there is no gospel. The great sin from which we need to repent is pride – lives directed by ourselves. But this great sin exhibits itself in idolatry, and idolatry often expresses itself in sexual sin as well as the horrors of greed and injustice and lack of love.
That is why I say that there is a danger that we will be preaching a false Jesus. If the Jesus we preach does not transform human lives and does not free us from bondage to immoral sex and greed, he is not the true Jesus.
It would be so comfortable never to mention and label sexual sin in our presentation of the gospel. And it would be so wrong.