Passion and Purity in Marriage
1 Corinthians 6:9-7:8
Communion devotional from Colossians 2
The subject of passion and purity in marriage is one that is often not talked about in church, simply because it is kind of a private thing to talk about. When we talk about intimate passion, we are careful to not be inappropriate in mixed company and with younger minds listening. So I will attempt that today.
When we were young and first married, being passionate, being romantic, or even intimate was not an issue. Then along came the children, then busy careers, and then older age . . . when some of those faculties no long work like they used to when we were young. Our passion, romance, and intimacy changes over time because of many different reasons.
But the Bible has much to say about the romantic love that a married couple should show to one another. I would encourage you to read the Song of Solomon with your spouse sometime and you will see that God certainly designed us to have pleasure and enjoyment of each other in a marriage relationship. It is a part of that one flesh covenant relationship we have with our spouse.
Outside of the marriage relationship, sexual intimacy between a man and a woman is called sexual immorality, fornication, adultery, or simply put, it is sin. Many passages of Scripture warn against the lusts of the flesh that draw us into sexually immoral acts.
But in the context of marriage, sexual intimacy is beautiful, pleasurable, satisfying, and a wonder of God’s creation for us to enjoy . . . in the context of marriage.
Passion’s Design (Proverbs 5:15-19)
Proverbs 5 is a chapter of warning against adultery. The first part of the chapter talks about the “forbidden woman.” It is a warning about going into a sexual relationship with a woman outside of marriage, whether it is with another person that is not your spouse while you are married, or with another person before you are married. This passage uses the metaphor of drinking from a well or fountain in reference to the sexual relationship between a man and a woman. The idea is that of drinking in the pleasure and intimacy of a sexual relationship.
15 Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, 19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.
You see, the best way to keep yourself from being drawn away into an illicit relationship is to have a passionate relationship with your spouse. Intoxicated has the idea that you are drunken with her love. The love of your spouse makes you stagger . . . in a good way. You say, “Come on now Pastor Mike, our bodies are no longer capable of sexual intimacy.” It doesn’t matter if you can any longer do the things you did as a younger person. What matters is the passion you express in other ways.
I think you know what I mean. A loving, intimate, passionate relationship is not just about having intimacy in the bedroom. The loving touches, the thoughtful expressions, romantic chats on your pillows, etc. all are a part of the passion we have with our spouse.
Have you ever thought about why God designed us this way? He wants us enjoy the one we are married to, bring pleasure and satisfaction to each other. Sexual and romantic intimacy is all part of the one flesh relationship He designed for us in marriage.
However, we are often we find ourselves losing that passion for our spouse and we look for fulfillment in other people in our lives. We are led to believe that we will have more enjoyment and fulfillment with someone else. But we forget that the Lord is watching and in the moment of an illicit passion we forget what the results will be.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? 21 For a man's ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths. 22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. 23 He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.
You see, we are to be intoxicated with the love of a spouse, but when we are intoxicated with the love a forbidden woman (or it could be a forbidden man) it is an ensnaring, binding sin that holds fast to us. It is folly and we are led astray by Satan’s deception that it is somehow okay. All this happens because we lack a discipline of our impulses of passion.
What I get from this passage in Proverbs is that God designed us to have intoxicating love for our spouse, but outside of God’s design of marriage, the pleasure of passion becomes an addiction for sin. God designed us to enjoy this kind of relationship with our spouse and it is a beautiful thing, a wonderful thing, and certainly pleasurable. But outside of marriage . . . we may have some pleasure, but the cords of sin will lead us astray because of our lack of discipline. Our lack of something to restrain us.
Passion with Guardrails
Illustration of guardrails in Colorado
You see, in every area of our lives where there is physical desire, and we need guardrails, but in the area of our desire for physical and sexual intimacy, we need reinforced steel when it comes to guardrails. And the reason is this. Because unlike any other area of your life and any other area of my life, we can fully recover from just about any other kind of disaster, but a sexual disaster is almost impossible to fully recover from in a marriage relationship.
Sex is not just a physical action of enjoyment. It’s way deeper than that. Our culture tries to convince us that sex is simply a physical interaction of enjoyment between two people, but we know that this goes much deeper than that. In fact, it is not even just about the sexual act, it is about all that we put into our heart and mind that is immoral. But we will talk a bit more about that later.
Turn to 1 Corinthians 6. Page 955There is a whole section on marriage and singleness that begins in 6:9 and goes all the way through chapter 7. I encourage you to meditate through this whole section as I am just going to give you an overview and focus on a couple of verses.
Paul is dealing with the sanctity of the Body of Christ . . . Christians. The growing and becoming holy in our lives as we live for God. Part of that is marriage. Marriage should have a sanctifying effect on us too.
Now, verses 9-12 of chapter 6 talks about Christians being holy. He tells us that we need to realize that unbelievers do unrighteous and immoral things, but they will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Believers, on the other hand, are washed of their sin and look forward to an eternity in heaven. So, we should live different from the world because of what Christ has done in us and through us. Thus, we should not practice those same sinful and immoral things.
Verses 13-20 tell us that because of what Christ did for us we are no longer our own person. We are the Lord’s because He bought us from the slavery of sin with His precious blood. Then all of this is applied to marriage and singleness in chapter 7. The husband and wife who belong to the Lord because of their faith in Him and also they belong to each other in their sexual relationship with one another. I find chapter 7 fascinating how it shows us this.
Flee Immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18a)
I want to focus on verses 18-20 of chapter 6 which is sandwiched right in the middle of all this. Look at verse 18 of 1 Corinthians 6.
Flee from sexual immorality.
Flee. Not “be careful,” not “watch out,” not “get as close to the line as you possibly can and peer over the edge.” Flee is a decisive act of running the other direction. When it comes to sexual immorality, what could be any more clear than this? Flee. Now, if you’re married, this is what you want your husband to do, isn’t it? Men, this is what you want your wife to do. In fact, this is what you want your children to do. This is what you want your best friend to do. This is what you want everyone you care about to do.
You’re just not so sure you want you to do this, right? But when it comes to you and me, we don’t flee. We flirt, don’t we? Our culture baits us to the edge of disaster and then mocks us when we step over. In no other area in our culture is this more illustrated than the area of sexual immorality or the desire for physical or sexual intimacy.
Everywhere we turn in our culture, we are being baited, baited, baited to the edge. Whether it is commercials on television, posters in malls, advertised clothing for our young women that would have only be worn by prostitutes 50 years ago, or any number of visuals that bring us to the edge.
I would assume that this statement is true for women, but I know without a doubt it is true for men, every moment we live in our culture it is a battle for our mind. The things of this world pull our thoughts to that edge of contemplation where imagination of sexual immorality takes place. When we allow ourselves to contemplate those immoral thoughts, we are flirting with the idea, we are peering over the edge, sort of speak. We somehow justify it by saying, “Yea, but I don’t ever act on it.” But the fact that we entertained it in our mind is already over the edge past the guardrail.
Honestly, I believe most of us would never allow ourselves to become sexually immoral with another person outside of our marriage relationship. I guess I don’t know that for sure, but I would hope that is a true statement for everyone in this room.
However, pornography is sexual immorality. In fact, the Greek word translated sexual immorality here is porneia, where we get our term pornography. Viewing porn is the mental consumption of sinful immorality. I have read many different articles concerning those who view porn. They say around 70% of all men view porn on a regular basis and almost 40% of women. They say that even for Christians, these percentages are almost the same.
Listen, if we are looking at porn, we are not just at the edge of the guardrail looking over into the other side, we are over the edge. When we consume pornographic images that fill our minds, we are committing sexual immorality. We are told to flee porneia. We need guardrails and determine we are not going there. Why? Because of God’s presence.
Glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:18b-20)
1 Corinthians 6:18b-20
18b Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
When you became a Christian, putting your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit came to live inside of you. Your body is very, very, very special. Your body doesn’t just belong to you, because God moved into your body when you put your trust and faith in Him.
When Christ came into this world and died for your sins, He purchased you. You have been purchased from sin. You are no longer a slave to sin. You don’t have to do what your desires tell you to do. You don’t have to do what your appetites tell you to do. You discipline your body, because your body is now under the authority of another master. So, consequently, he says, you are not your own. You have been purchased, and specifically, purchased from the power of sin.
So, we are to glorify God with our bodies, not flirt with sin. And the context for this whole discussion is sexual—the whole thing. Flee sexual immorality. Don’t you know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you know that God resides in your body? You are not your own. You have been purchased, and what was the price? The death of your Savior, Jesus Christ—that was the price that God paid for your body.
So he says, here’s what I want you to do with your body . . . glorify God. If you have any questions, this is the litmus test: Honor God with your body. Honor God with your body. If it’s dishonoring to God, don’t do it with your body. If it’s dishonoring to God, don’t take your body there. If it’s dishonoring to God, don’t look at it. If it’s dishonoring to God, don’t think about it. You don’t entertain those thoughts.
Decide every morning, “God, my body belongs to you. It’s a temple. I want to live this life, and I want to live this day in such a way that everything I do with this body honors you.” And God says, “Well, if that’s the case, then when it comes to sexual immorality and your desire for physical intimacy outside of marriage, you must flee, flee, flee, flee. Not flirt, flirt, flirt, flirt.”
You’ve got to flee sexual immorality, which means practically speaking, you’ve got to establish some guardrails, because if you live on the edge and you step over the edge, it’ll be a catastrophe. But if you have guardrails and you bump into your guardrails, even though your conscience lights up, there are, generally speaking, no consequences.
Listen, if we are practicing something with our bodies or taking in with our eyes things that we would hope our spouse, our children, or grandchildren would never do, then we need to stop practicing it as well. If you would be utterly ashamed with Jesus standing there watching you, doing what you are doing, then you are not glorifying God with your body.
There is so much more that can be said, but I think you get the idea. God designed us with the beauty and pleasure of passionate intimacy, no matter what level you are physically capable of doing that. But we twist His design into sinful immorality when marriage is not a man and a woman, when the sexual intimacy is outside the covenant of marriage, and even when we allow our thoughts to be led astray through the images that we put into our minds.
We will have moments when something triggers an immoral thought, . . . in our culture, just go to town and you will be bombarded by those moments. But we must choose to discipline our minds to not entertain those thoughts, but rather cast them out with verses of Scripture you have memorized. Don’t let the deceiver of this world lead you astray into thinking it is okay to just think about it. You must flee, don’t flirt with sexual immorality.
Instead, spend time enjoying the passion you and your spouse have to offer each other. Give of yourself to your spouse.