Dr. Steve Wise, Minister of Missions at First Baptist Church Spartanburg, South Carolina has had 30 years of experience working with youth and single adults. Throughout his years in ministry, he has had to address many issues concerning sexual morality, particularly in his work with those planning to get married, as well as those who have/had been married and were facing struggles.
Dr. Wise has Bachelors in English, a Masters in Counseling, a Juris Doctorate in Law, a Masters in Biblical Studies, and a Doctorate of Ministry in Pastoral Counseling. He has studied a lot and has learned a lot about relationships both as a counselor and also as an attorney.
Dr. Wise began by addressing that he knows how sexual morality is a sensitive subject and that he wishes to handle it in a sensitive manner. But above all, the most important thing about Dr. Wise is his conviction and love for God’s Word.
“I believe the Bible is true,” he said. “I believe it’s absolutely true. When I’m looking for something to base my life on—a standard to make decisions about my life, that’s the first place I go. Even when it’s a question that the Bible doesn’t answer directly, it gives us a framework to make decisions.”
While some questions are directly addressed in the Bible, other questions require that we look at the principals of the Bible to help us in making the right choices. In the general Christian life, there are several timeless principles that we can always refer back to:
1. God is Sovereign.
God is the ruler of the world. He is always in control, and He is not asleep.
2. His word is true and unchanging.
The morals of our culture change, but God’s Word never changes. As our culture’s morals change and our morals don’t, we begin to find ourselves in a difficult position between going along with culture and standing firm in God’s laws.
3. God’s rules are for our good and for His glory.
The Bible is God’s “Owner’s Manual” for our lives. He, being the manufacturer, knows His product better than anyone. God’s glory is His character. He is loving, just, perfect, all-powerful, forgiving, compassionate, full of grace, and full of truth. Everything that God does projects these attributes to the world so that everyone will know these things about Him and He has given us His rules so that we can know what He is like.
4. People who are not born of the Spirit do not understand Spiritual things.
We cannot expect people who don’t know Jesus to understand the things of the Bible. The Bible tells us that we only understand God’s truth if we know God. The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God, and the wisdom of God is foolishness to the world. Someone who is not a follower of God would think that some of the things God says are stupid. It doesn’t make sense. However, we who believe in Him know that God’s truth has never been proven to be wrong.
With these principles in mind, we can move on to some truths about God, people and sex:
1. God created us as sexual beings.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and he created man, male and female. Male and female He created them. Right from the very beginning, God created us as sexual beings. Sex is not a punishment for original sin. Sex is not bad. Sex is a wonderful gift that God designed for us from the very start.
However, all of God’s designs have guidelines, and so sex has guidelines. In God’s order of things, He gives us good gifts, and He gives us ways to enjoy those gifts. But a gift, when misused, can be bad. And we see the results of sex being misused all over our world.
So here are some of God’s guidelines concerning sex:
One of God’s biggest principles for the Christian life is to remain pure. In the sexual realm, purity includes not having sex before marriage, and once married, to only have sex with your spouse. Our hearts are full of sin, and that is why we must guard our hearts. God is a loving God and wants us to treat each other with love, respect, and purity.
Modesty is cultural. What is modest in one culture may not be modest in another culture. However, God is clear about wanting us to be modest. He does not want us walking around naked. The minute that man sinned and shame became present, the first thing God did was to clothe him.
No sex outside of marriage
In Exodus 20:14, one of the Ten Commandments is “Do not commit adultery.” God is serious about it. But not having sex outside of marriage is not just about adultery; it is also about premarital sex. Any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong. Many people then begin to question, “What is sex?” Does it refer only to sexual intercourse? Dr. Wise’s usual response is, “If it’s got the word sex in it, then it’s sex.”
Marriage is between one man and one woman, for life.
There are many ways we can mess that up, but this is God’s standard. This does not mean that anyone who has had a divorce is not a believer. God forgives all sin. There is not one sin that is worse than another. However, God’s design for marriage was and still is this: One man and one woman, for life.
2. Human sexuality has a Kingdom purpose.
Ephesians 5:22-33 is basically a job description for a husband and wife in a Biblical marriage. The wife is supposed to submit to the husband because the husband is the head as Christ is the head of the church.
The marriage relationship is an example of Christ’s relationship to the church. God intends for marriage to glorify Him. Marriage is a symbolic recreation between Christ and the church. The husband, being the head, is to love his wife the way Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her. The way a man loves his wife ought to be a reflection of how much Christ loves the church. Marriage is very important to God, and that’s why God talks so much about it in His word.
3. All people are sinful.
Genesis 6:5 says that “the very desires of our heart are only evil all the time.” Paul writes in Romans 1:21 that “although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened,” and in Romans 3:23, he says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
If we’re going to start looking at people and say that they are sinners because of their sexuality, then you have to be ready to recognize that you have sin too. Any response that we have to other human beings needs to take into account that we are no different. Only Jesus was different. He’s the only one who lived a completely sinless life. While we may be upset about other people’s decisions to engage in sexual sins, it does not give us any reason to hate them.
4. We do have a choice.
We are not ruled by our bodies or our desires. Trying to justify sexual immorality by saying “I was born this way,” or “I cannot control my desires,” is not true of a believer because we have the Holy Spirit in us and the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
It is not true that we cannot control ourselves. We are all born with sinful desires. All of us want things that we’re not supposed to have. From the time we were little babies, till now, and until the day we die, we’re going to want things that God does not want us to have. They are not good for us and they destroy His character because everything is for His good and for His glory.
5. Man questions God.
Right from the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, man has questioned God. Adam watched as Eve ate the fruit and saw that she didn’t die, and so he decided to eat it too. Eve may not have died that minute, but from that moment onward, she started dying. Sometimes, we think that something is not true because we do not understand the way that it is true. Eve needed to listen to God’s command that “You will surely die” by faith, but she listened to the serpent who said, “Surely, you will not die.”
We want to be in control. We don’t like it that God is in control and has rules and we often try to rationalize our sins to justify them. However, we need to choose between serving the devil or serving the Lord.
6. God loves.
In the process of all this, we need to remember that God loves. And God forgives. Whatever has happened in your life or in your friend’s life, God can forgive it. Whenever we’re talking to somebody or we’re trying to figure things out for ourselves, we must never forget that our God is a God of love and forgiveness.
His rules are designed to bring us back to Him. He wants you to be in a close and loving relationship with Him. However, there is one more important thing that we cannot neglect to recognize.
7. Forgiveness requires a new direction.
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This is an “if” sentence—if we confess our sins. To confess means to agree with God and to change our behavior.
To have a new direction is what repentance means—to literally turn around and go the other way. You are forgiven by God when you repent. You cannot be in the middle of wrong behavior, decide that you’re going to continue in wrong behavior, and just think, “God’s gonna forgive me.”
In response to these seven truths from God’s Word, we need to ask ourselves these questions:
What do I do?
Whatever you’ve done in the past, stop. And start obeying. If you have done things sexually that you should not have done—that were not pure, stop now and start obeying. The Bible is clear about sexual purity (Bible verses provided at the end of the article).
Trust that what God tells us through His Word is right and true and good. Trust Him.
Whether it is deciding about going on to the next step in a relationship with a person or dealing with sexual thoughts, commit it to the Lord. Pray. Commit yourself today to Biblical purity, which means no sex outside of marriage, and marriage is only between one man and one woman, forever.
4. Examine your heart.
Are you meeting God’s standards? Jesus said to His disciples: If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me (Luke 9:23). That means that there are things we are not allowed to do, and we will want to do some of them.
How should we respond to others?
Love should always be the rule. But with love comes the truth. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:15 that we are to speak the truth in love. It is not loving to not tell someone the truth.
We all sin. Sin is a part of all our lives, To think that your sin is not as bad as someone else’s sin is wrong, because your sin is bad too. Sin hurts you, and it hurts your relationship with the Lord.
Many Christians tend to speak out in very judgmental and harsh tones. That is not compassionate, that is not loving, and that is not part of the character of God. That is them putting themselves up while putting others down and thinking that they are better, and that is not what God wants from us. Our job is to present truth in a loving way and wait for the Holy Spirit to convict them.
Dr. Wise also provided a list of Bible verses that address the issue of sexual morality and Biblical purity. His comments are marked *.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
*Even a joke of a sexual nature is unpleasing to God.
You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the Lord your God to pay any vow, because the Lord your God detests them both.
Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.
If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
* The New Testament does not cancel out the commandments of the Old Testament. In fact, it says that these commandments are an expression of love.
* Treating one another disrespectfully (touching in places he/she does not want to be touched, putting your partner is a position where he/she is forced to say ‘no’) is a violation of God’s command to be pure and loving.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
*You do not need to know very much about anatomy or biology to know that human beings were created to have sex in a certain way, and that is between a man and a woman. It is a perfect design by God and it is beautiful in that way.
Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
*The Bible does speak directly against homosexuality.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Timothy 1:8-11
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
1 Tim 2:9-10
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
2 Peter 2:14
With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood!
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
* That is a long list of things that are not pure and not modest.
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