The Display of Sexual Immorality1
The Display of Immorality
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.” (Ephesians 5:1–12 ESV)
I can remember watching the movie “Far and Away” with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Great movie. It is set in the late 1890’s in America. Nicole and Tom are Irish immigrants come to find a new life in the new world. They find it difficult to survive, so Tom takes to fighting for money, Nicole to dancing in a saloon in a kind of burlesque show. I can still remember when Tom finds Nicole dancing on stage. He was shocked and stunned that Nicole would lift her full length skirt revealing her full length leg coverings!!! Oh my!! Tom rushes the stage and pulls Nicole down. I can remember thinking, “What is Tom all upset about? She really wasn’t showing anything, not even a bit of skin.” But my reaction reveals just how far we have fallen in our convictions on sexual purity.
A definition: Porno - graphy.
According to the Greek dictionary, pornography is easy to define. It comes from the combination of two Greek words porneia and grapho. Porneia means sexual immorality. Grapho, means “to write, inscribe, record or paint.” So pornography is the display of sexual immorality. Porneia appears twice in the above quotation of Ephesians 5. Biblically, sexual immorality is any behavior that is not consistent with God’s design and intention for the expression of human sexuality. Sexual immorality is using God’s gift of sexuality in a way that is not pleasing to Him. Of course there have been those who have attempted to reinterpret the Biblical standards to justify their behavior, but such cultural, linguistic, and hermeneutical gymnastics never hold water. So, now many churches have simply stopped trying to do so, they either chain the Bible’s teaching to first century culture, or distort the clarity of the Bible using the lens of love.
Culturally, sexual immorality is much more difficult to define. Historically in western culture, we have watched the line blur, then move, then leap from what were largely agreed upon sexual standards, informed by the Bible, to total confusion, to near complete freedom of expression. For example, the recent escapade by Miley Cyrus on the MTV video music awards drew criticism from parents, but accolades from those who embrace her lyrics, “...it’s my mouth I can say what I want to, it’s my body I can love who I want to.” 50 years ago what young Cyrus did in public would have been unthinkable, it would have been labeled pornographic. But let’s not forget, 50 years ago, our culture embraced her lyrics as a private, personal motto. Ideas, once embraced, will find expression, first in private, then eventually in public.
And even prior to our dismal days, private pornography was on the rise. Of course, sexual sins like prostitution, fornication and adultery have been a horrible reality since sin entered the world. But it was hidden, shameful, wrong. In earlier generations, men had discreet ways of looking at scantily clad women, small decks of playing cards, tiny tubes with a lens on one end and a picture on the other. Today, what was once hidden, shameful and considered pornographic is displayed for public consumption in the grocery store for all to see!
Perhaps we are now coming full circle, from total freedom, to limiting some access. Recently, the European Parliament has considered banning internet pornography because of the obvious negative affect it has on the culture, not to mention its complete degradation of women! Pornography is a massive topic. It is epidemic, not only in the culture but in the church. In future posts I will discuss not only what is wrong with pornography, but I will offer help and hope to those who are consumed by the darkness. The quotation above points the way. God’s loving sacrifice of His Son, given to liberate us from darkness and to enable us to walk in love and walk in the light.