Moral Crisis in the Church
This could be considered an unpleasant article, and I suppose that in some ways it is. But it is based on the plain truth of the Word of God, a part of the Word that is all too often neglected and overlooked.
I suppose we have Mr. Gallup to thank for this. He has told us that the church is morally in a mess, and because of him we can no longer deny the reality.
. . . we have failed
to hold high
of righteous living.
And it has been all too easy for us to find “the guilty” in society and take pot shots against them. But, believe me my friend when I tell you, it is not the homosexual, the fornicator, the adulterer in the world about whom we need to be concerned. We have bigger problems than that in our own back yard. The church is not in a mess because the world is in a mess. No, the world is in a mess because the church is, and we have failed to hold high God’s standards of righteous living.
Far too many Christians are living immoral lives. That is beyond dispute. So, now that we know the problem, what is the solution? How can we help them? Let’s look to the Word of God.
The first thing we need to do is to tell them the truth. Sex outside of the one-man one-woman lifelong covenant of marriage is sin. When is the last time you heard that stated clearly, boldly, and without apology from the pulpit? I am afraid that most of our preaching is on
- how to have a better life,
- how to be real (or authentic. Some even think it is more important to be “real” than to be moral!),
- and how to get healed.
And I am sure that each of those is an important message. But what about how to live according to the eternal principles of the Word of God? What about basic Christian ethics? What about the dangers and consequences of sin? When is the last time the church heard the plain truth about sexual sin?
The Terrible Truth about the Sexual Sins
of Fornication and Adultery
Acts 15: 19 – 20 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. (KJV)
Romans 1:28-33 The scripture most often used to address homosexuality also mentions fornication.
1 Corinthians 6: 9 – 10 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6: 13 – 20 (NKJV) 13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Every time a Believer commits fornication, they sin against their own body, and they sin against the Body of Christ. The professing Christian is taking the rest of the Body of Christ with them into the bed of sin. This is serious stuff!
2 Corinthians 10:6-12 (NKJV) 6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
Galatians 5:19-22 (NKJV) 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Ephesians 5: 1 – 7 (NKJV) 1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.
Colossians 3: 1 – 7 (NKJV) 1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
1 Thessalonians 4: 1- 7 (NKJV) 1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; 2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
Hebrews 12: 12-17 (NKJV) 12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. 14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.
1 Timothy 1: 8 – 11 8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
After we have told them the truth, fornicators have a clear decision to make. Either continue wilfully in sexual sin, or repent. There is no third option. Sexual sin is totally incompatible with Christianity. Those who continue in sexual sin not only sell their birthright for a pot of porridge, they forfeit their place in the Kingdom of God.
And what if they do not repent? What is the church to do? What is the church to do if people who call themselves Christian continue to have sex outside the bounds of Holy Matrimony?
Well, like it or not, the Word of God is clear on this as well.
1 Corinthians 5 (NKJV) 1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
It is a simple fact that sexual sin among Believers is like a very serious infection that will permeate the whole body. Paul compares it to yeast. Yeast, when put in a lump of bread dough, quickly spreads throughout the whole lump. Turn a blind eye to one common-law couple in the church and you will have another, and another, and another. Is this soul damning sin something we want prevalent in the Church of Jesus Christ? I think not.
Immorality Must Be Judged
9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”
St. Paul’s instructions are clear. If a person continues in sexual sin we are to:
- judge that person
- when the church is gathered together, deliver them up to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,
- therefore their discipline is to be known by those in the church
- remember, the sinning one is not saved, and needs to be
- protect the church from this sin, because unchecked, it will spread throughout the whole body, and it too will be defiled.
- separate from the person; do not keep company with them, and do not even eat with them
- put the evil person away from you and the church.
The goal here is to protect the church, and to save the erring soul.
Do we have a better way to handle this than that given in the Word of God? I think not. We need to obey what God says to do, for our own sake, and everyone else’s as well.
The Sanctity of Sex
But just what is it that makes sexual sin such a serious thing? Why does God make such a fuss over it?
Is it because, as some of our Victorian ancestors believed, it is an awful, horrible, beastly disgusting animalistic act, an expression of our degraded lower nature and fallen state before God? Ha! No indeed. In fact it is just the opposite. It is not because sex between a man and a woman is such a horrible thing, but simply because it is so holy. Sex is holy, sanctified, pure and undefiled before God.
The act of union between a husband and a wife is sacramental. That means God is present in a very real way in the physical act. Sexual pleasure and release is not just human, natural, and physical; it is spiritual. And no, I am not just referring to the “spiritual” side of it; I mean that the physical act itself, with all of its many enjoyments and benefits is, just like Communion, spiritual and holy. It is a gift from God meant for our pleasure and, when young, procreation.
Hebrews 13:3 (NIV) “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
There are some divine mysteries, and coitus is one of them, that are so holy that we are simply forbidden to enter into them unauthorized. If it were just a human physical act, comparable to any other bodily function, it might be different. But it is not. And God has decreed that interpersonal sexual expression and enjoyment can only take place between a man and a woman who have entered into the life-long never-to-be-broken permanent-until-death covenant of marriage, before Him and recognized by society. Nothing less will do. Nothing.
Intimacy with God
And to make this point even more clearly, the Lord has chosen to describe His relationship with His Church in terms of marital intimacy between a husband and his wife. Christ is the groom, we are His bride, and the act of ultimate intimacy in a marriage is the perfect picture of our eternity long union with Him.