Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Matthew 19:9-12 -- On Avoiding and Repenting of Sexual Sin

"And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."
Matthew 19:9-12

This is a challenging passage, and I find it interesting that even God notes that "all men cannot receive this saying."  Obviously in our society, and even in the church, we allow frequent exceptions to this interpretation of adultery.  The verses after this are also intriguing.  The disciples say, basically, wow.  If this is how strict things are, maybe it is better not to get married at all.  And Christ says, well in some cases that is true, and then explains some of the cases.  The last one is the most interesting in terms of the comparison to adultery... I am not sure whether the change referred to here was only physical, or whether he was also speaking symbolically, but it probably applies also to people who have chosen celibacy for the kingdom of God, without a related physical change.

I think for me what these verses emphasize is how important virtue and purity are to God, and by the same token, to us.  God never gives us commandments that are not spiritual, and I think we can see the spiritual damage that sexual promiscuity and unbridled passion have on individuals, and on our society.  God commands us not to fornicate or commit adultery, or *anything* similar to either of those things, not just because he likes ordering us around, but because we harm ourselves and others when we take that part of life so lightly.  It's not an inherently bad thing... it is an inherently good thing, but the way we treat it is like we took our most precious possession, doused it in enough perfume to choke a whale, and then fed it to an alligator... and figured that what was left over after that would be just as good.

In no way am I saying that it is impossible to repent of these types of sin.  It is definitely possible, and God pleads with us to do so, and will help us through every step.  But, oh, how painful... and so many consequences that we can't just brush off.  God never wants us to suffer that much.  Today, let's consider how God thinks about these types of sin, and how much he wants to protect us from harm.  Let's take this seriously, realizing that God really does sometimes ask people to live without, for all their lives, rather than sinning.  It *is* that important.  Our desires and urges don't give us a free pass, and love should not be used or proven in this way... outside of God's influence and approval.  Let's do things God's way, and trust him that we will be happier, and much better off if we avoid (and repent of) sexual sin.

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