Sin, Sex, Lust, and Adultery: H.C. Lord’s Day 41

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 41

Q 108. What does the seventh commandment teach us?
A 108. That God condemns all unchastity, and that therefore we should thoroughly detest it and live decent and chaste lives, within or outside of the holy state of marriage.

Q 109. Does God, in this commandment, forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery?
A 108. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul, and God wants both to be kept clean and holy. That is why God forbids all unchaste actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires, and whatever may incite someone to them.
 
 
Reflecting once again on the events and news stories of this week, I am at the same time both surprised and disgusted at how timely this Lord’s Day is. To be clear: it is a horrible tragedy that anyone would have to be the victim of sexual violence of any sort for a point about the sin and evil in our hearts to be made. I am incredibly saddened for the many women who were victims of Harvey Weinstein’s many years of preying on young actresses.
 
I also recognize that, throughout the world, this is just a minor blip on the radar of the incredible perverse things that happen day in and day out. Whether it be the prevalence of pornography in the lives of everyday people, the use of sexually suggestive imagery in order to sell products, the sexual abuse of females of all ages by friends and family alike, or the stark reality of human sex trafficking which is abundantly prevalent in societies all over the world (even if we don’t want to see it), all highlight the depravity of our world and our desperate need for a Savior. I can only imagine that the Lord looks down on His creation and weeps bitterly at the absolutely horrid things we do to those who bear His image.
 
For me, all of this points out the relevance of the Heidelberg Catechism and its teaching once again. Many of those who experienced church as a child, especially in
protestant circles, had to go to a catechism class. It was more than likely boring, something that made you wish you never encountered it again. Yet here we are, staring down another national “wall-to-wall” news story of a great person mired in the scandal of sexual sin and we see that, despite social movements to promote equality and rights, the sin described here is still very much alive in the hearts and minds of many.
 
The point that this Lord’s Day is after, is the complete teaching of the seventh commandment. “Do not commit Adultery” is just the tip of the iceberg as it were. Moses elaborates on this, and all of the other commandments throughout the first 5 books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, and Jesus teaches about it in His earthly ministry as well. It isn’t just about cheating on your spouse, it is once again about the heart of the matter: sin.

Matthew 5:27-30

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
It isn’t enough to just not divorce your spouse, though if we look at our culture today we seem to have forgotten about that as well, it’s about the sin of lust and selfishness that is involved in all of this.
 
Sin is disordered love.  All of the commandments in the Bible are summed up in properly placed love:  Love God and love your neighbor.  When the love in our life is aligned well, we see flourishing in our relationship with God and those around us.  Yet when our love is misplaced, whether it be loving yourself and our desires, loving something else more than God, our spouse, our neighbors, etc., we see sin take hold of our lives.  Scripture teaches us how to have rightly ordered love.  It is important for us to heed these teachings.  For us, this is less about rules and more about the results of a life transformed by God’s love.
 
There are two things that I think need to be said in addition to this.
 
First, this commandment has long been used to keep people in relationships that are abusive and toxic.  While I am certainly not an expert on Scriptural interpretation, I know enough about the intent of God for His people and their lives that I can say with a high degree of confidence that this commandment was never designed to victimize or in any other way trap people in abusive or dangerous relationships.  The Bible describes a God that is very near to those who are low, downtrodden, and cast out; I believe this would include those who are trapped in cycles of abuse, neglect, and any other form of danger in relationships.  Those who have interpreted this commandment in such a way as to empower the abuser and blame the victim have completely missed the point, the intent, and the deep meaning of this commandment.
 
Second, at the 2017 Reformed Church in America General Synod, a motion was made and passed to clarify the meaning of this Lord’s Day teaching to also include same-sex sexual activity and marriage between persons of the same gender/sex.  While I believe that the Bible labels such activity as sinful, and clearly defines marriage in the Christian sense as being between a biological man and a biological woman (as those determinations were made at birth), it was the spirit of the debate which was of great disappointment to many.  It would seem that Homosexuality has become just the latest sin that some are using as the test of “good Christians” vs. “bad Christians.”  This is not right or at all in the spirit of unity that the Bible calls for in God’s people.
 
A proper and full understanding of the meaning and intent of the 7th commandment is certainly a good thing.  But elevating one sin above all the rest is certainly not.  Sin is sin.  Like we talked about last week, it is important that we understand that the core of the issue isn’t sex, or guns, or wealth, or anything else, the core of the issue is sin.  The Law is designed to point out sin and in doing so also point us to the need of a Savior: Jesus Christ.  When we turn to Him and put our faith and trust in Him, we find, as Scripture says, no condemnation… only grace.  It is the Holy Spirit’s job, then, to do the work of transformation through the testimony of God’s Word in the hearts and minds if His people.  Rightly ordered love does not look like us going to each person and pointing out their sins and condemning them.  Rightly ordered love looks to those created in God’s image and calls us to love them as God loves them, recognizing that God isn’t finished with them, or with us, and won’t be until we stand together in His presence on that great and glorious day when Jesus returns and makes all things right.


Day 195: Song of Solomon 1-4; Love Song of Love Songs

I can honestly say that I do not remember learning about this book in Sunday School.  I’m sure most Sunday school attendees don’t.  I don’t believe I have ever heard it used as the topic for a sermon either.  Many times, though, I have been told to avoid this book, that it is the X rated part of the Bible that talks about all that dirty sex stuff.  Some people have even questioned the reason for having this particular book in the Bible.  What is the point?  Why is it here?  There is very little talk about God, and a whole slew of sexual references… clearly this doesn’t belong in the Bible…

Photo Credit: www.intelmin.org

Photo Credit: www.intelmin.org

That’s what some have said, I would beg to differ, largely due to the fact that the book is there, part of the Biblical Cannon, and therefore it is as Scripture says in 2 Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  I also think, that in a culture that is grossly over sexualized and the church disturbingly comfortable (or perhaps silent) in regards to the amount of sexual imagery and promiscuity that is present even within its walls, Song of Solomon (also know as Song of Songs) stands as a testimony not only to appropriate Love and Sex, but to God’s will for it as well.

Song of Solomon Photo Credit: www.religion.lilithezine.com

Song of Solomon
Photo Credit: www.religion.lilithezine.com

Solomon and his wife take turns complimenting and describing each other using metaphors that we most likely won’t understand without the socio-cultural context of the day.  It is enough to say that as they are describing each other they are using the most beautiful, strong, and meaningful words that they can think of, ones that do honor to the other.  Sometimes I think we tend to avoid this.  Our culture is overflowing with words that seek to objectify and even dehumanize the other for the sake of their sexual features.  It is not wrong to be attracted to someone, certainly we are designed for that, but the way that is modeled for us here in Song of Solomon is that of description that is motivated by LOVE, not lust.  Solomon and his bride to be are not saying these things to just any person on the street, they are committed to each other, they love each other, and in that they are free to express their love in the best ways that they know how.

We’ll talk more about this tomorrow including the relationship between a husband and a wife and how Christ’s love for the church is exhibited in this.  For now though, there is one repeated phrase that we read today that I think was very interesting:

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
    until it pleases.

The word “adjure” means to put a person on oath.  I think this phrase is interesting especially in the context of our culture today.  Maybe its because I’m getting older (I’m 29), but it seems like children getting involved in sexual things, even dating are getting younger and younger.  I guess I’ve noticed this in young girls especially, wearing more and more revealing, provocative clothing, going after older guys, feeling like they are’t complete unless they have some boy chasing after them.  My fiancee and I had this discussion just last weekend as we were walking the peer on lake Michigan and I observed that the girls that were running around out there didn’t look older than 15 (that might have been generous too) and were wearing some of the smallest, most revealing bathing suits I think I have ever seen.  But I wonder if this too isn’t a cultural thing, with more and more kids shows on The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon having a high level of sexual innuendos and having a great deal to do with dating.  As technology and access to everything increases, more and more our children are being taught the ‘normal’ way to live by the media rather than their parents (who seem to be increasingly absent as well).  Solomon’s wife-to-be here charges the women of Jerusalem to not do this.  I have to imagine that, in this day and age, she would charge our daughters to avoid these things, to find their true meaning in Christ and not the attention of a boy.

Maybe I’m just old fashioned… I hope not…