You know you’ve been sold a lie, right? The lie says that you, as a red-blooded American guy, are the most important thing on the planet. You are informed of your glorious place in the center of the universe every minute, and your daily consumption encourages this personal glory. Are your pants tight enough? Cell phone cool enough? How many people liked your last status update? Enough people watch your YouTube stunt? You’re being sold the cultural ethos of “rabid consumption for the betterment of self.”
But here’s the dangerous extension: if everything is about you, then you are not responsible for anything beyond yourself.
Sure, if you’re single and are paying your bills on time (which usually implies you’re holding down a job), you don’t have a whole lot of responsibility to anyone or anything and you can afford to spend a considerable fraction of the day watching old Arrested Development
seasons on Netflix instant play.
Sex as Hedonism
But most of you who are single are also sleeping around, and treating sex as if it’s one more thing that’s ultimately only about how it makes you feel. If it feels good, do it. If you like it, go for it. Enjoy the moment with whoever is around you; pretend it exists only as a moment. Pretend like no one gets attached, and no one ever gets hurt, because you’re a modern guy who’s sleeping with a modern gal and you can have detached sex.
Who cares that 14 million children in the U.S. go to bed without a father in the house tonight. Forget that a third of all babies conceived in this country are being put to death. As far as you know, you never got a woman pregnant, right? Or maybe you did, but then she got an abortion, either with your explicit or tacit encouragement. Or maybe she didn’t even tell you (maybe she didn’t know how to get in touch with you), and just quietly went ahead and aborted the child you fathered. Or maybe someone’s heart got broken (yours or hers, I don’t know), but, hey, that type of thing happens every day all around the world. You’ve got some new material for your song-writing.
But enough with the irony. You need to look at this lie head-on.
What has been sold to you as your right to self-centeredness is just selfishness with a manufactured façade. When it comes to sex, this attitude has a profoundly detrimental affect on our society. From lack of coherent role models to the horrible return of the ’80s, the choices you make about how important your life is affect us all. Moreover, sex isn’t just another pleasure, but an inherently deeper act with more profound effects than anything else you can engage or indulge in with another person. We have so much and we often expect so little from each other, especially when it comes to sex and relationships.
Sex as Glorious
Jesus tells us in Luke 12, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more,” and believe it, you have been given much, especially when it comes to sex.
God has given us sex, and it is a great and glorious thing. Seriously great and glorious. God created it knowing full well its potential for pleasure, but like everything else in this created world, it has good or bad impacts each time we encounter it. And it is a pleasure, but it’s not just some thing to entertain us: it’s something we’re entrusted with. Sex, as it was designed, is not bad, never! But it was designed for marriage, and our actions have proven time and time again that sex outside of a committed, loving, selfless marriage will end badly and in hurt.
Sex is like fire: great in the fireplace, seriously great. It provides heat and is a ton of fun to play with. Outside of the fireplace, it’s trouble. Sure, it may be nice and maintainable for a while, but at some point, some ember gets spit out of the hearth and catches something, and something or someone gets burned or the house burns down.
God knew the potential of what his creation could do with sex, and so he also created the fireplace of marriage. It was all established in the beginning: “”http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Genesis+2">Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ … Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."
In marriage, sex is great; outside of marriage, it’s trouble.
Inside of a covenanted relationship, it grows and burns brighter. Outside of marriage, sex ends up burning you, damaging the house, getting out of control and ultimately leaving a pile of ashes to pick up, or worse yet to carry around.
Even if it feels good now, it will hurt more later on. The reckless use of sex outside of marriage creates ties in relationships that, when broken, leave us marked for life, whether they be physical, financial or emotional. The legacy of these relationships lives on not only the the two people involved, but extended family, friends and children. Just two consenting adults having a good time, it doesn’t hurt anyone right?
This will destroy you.
Without godly intention, living for yourself will leave a legacy of death and devastation. Without thinking, we will consume people and resources for our own small glory, complain about the world and the people in it, and then leave things worse than we found it. And this isn’t about recycling and a carbon footprint. Often times, when we check out, we leave our relationships and the people we’ve known more hurt and broken.
Just because you are able do something, in this case have sex with whoever will have it with you, does not make it a good thing.
In the classic line from 1st Corinthians 10:23 Paul states it clearly, “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.”
This is your legacy.
Consider this: what good things do you want to bring into the world? What do you want to build up? What you really think a good thing is for yourself? Write it down, get it in words, flesh it out. Once you know that you are not the center of the universe and you have zero inherent glory, you start to care for and have compassion on those around you.
Once you realize that it’s not about you, you will realize the legacy you are leaving. Because you are leaving a legacy–good or bad–whether you intend to or not.
I live the legacy my father left to me, not of my own choosing or volition, but because I lived under him and inevitably follow in his footsteps. My children will live in the legacy I leave. If I have an identity in Christ and a conviction in the Gospel, if I have a belief in scripture, if I believe that God and people matter more than I do, then I will instill His legacy.
Your legacy can be a continuation of yourself and your self-idolization. Or it can be a legacy of a life lived for those around you and for those who come after you. As men and fathers, we have far more to live for than the next football game, the next Apple product, or another night of PBR. There is a woman out there whom we can marry and love and serve forever. There are children we can have with her whom we lead, provide for, and raise to love Jesus and follow Him. There are churches and communities we can serve and build up.
You were bought with a price.
Jesus came and forgave every sin, including all the ridiculous sexual choices you have made, to cleanse all the houses we have burned down and provide redemption to the legacy we will leave. He lived a life investing in people and serving them, but he never used them. He never did anything for his glory, but for the glory of his father’s legacy. He died for that legacy. He’s our example.
So here are your steps:
- Meet Jesus.
- Get a job.
- Meet a gal and get married.
- Live Ephesians 5*
- Get it on.
- Live with intention and leave a legacy that strengthens people’s love, not for yourself, but for God.
*Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Anthony Ianniciello is a deacon at the Ballard campus and the director of Mars Hill’s Media & Communications department. You can follow him on Twitter here.
Blog team volunteer Kim M. contributed the graphics.
“All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”
Jaywalking – that’s out here.Sex – that’s a little more intimate.
“So you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” that God dwells in you if you are a Christian, “who is in you, whom you have received from God.You are not your own.” You belong to Jesus.
“You were bought with a price.”What price?The sinless life, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection of Jesus, who came as our eternal God in body to be tempted like we are, but never sinned as we do.Died to purchase us, to claim us as his own.
–Pastor Mark, 2006