The Marriage Covenant

Lillies Of The ValleyOur pastor is finishing up an almost year-long series preaching through the book of Genesis. Sunday, he told us that after we have completed the last chapter, he is going to start a short series (three weeks or so) on marriage and the problems associated with it that are so rampant in the church. Scripture tells us that covenant marriage between a godly man and woman is a “type and shadow” of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His bride, the Church. Is this what we are seeing in the relationships and marriages of the Church at large today?

A couple of days ago, a Facebook friend posted the following blog post from “Grateful For Grace.” While this is a subject that is much discussed in our culture, it makes many in the church squirm with discomfort. I have written generally about this subject in the past (here and here), but never quite as straight-forward as this post is written. I trust this will resonate with you as it did with me. It is a subject that desperately needs to be addressed in the Church as there seems to be very little difference between many Christian relationships/marriages today and their non-Christian counterparts. I whole-heartedly agree with Mindy–we must live our lives “set apart” as Christians. We are commanded to live and measure our lives against a different standard–and that Standard is Jesus Christ.

Christians Dating And SexWedding Rings by Petr Kratochvil

I keep seeing something in the outer circles of my circles. When you help run summer camps, one of the blessings is getting to be around college age people.

I love seeing young adults finding their strengths and growing in maturity. It’s a delight to be able to invest in them. A strange thing I’ve noticed is that they get younger and younger looking every year. Weird.

Ok, kidding aside… I have noticed something regarding Christians and sex. It breaks my heart, confuses me, and even angers me all at the same time.

I remember being a young Christian and sorting out behaviors. I also remember truly not understanding some things, Biblically. I even remember hearing some people teach anti-Biblical things and being confused.

So… let me be clear about something:

Christians should not have sex outside of marriage. Yup, seriously. No, I’m not kidding. And no, that idea is not just for Biblical times. It’s for today.

We may think this is just for dating teens, but it’s not. I am actually more concerned about the young adults who are deceived into thinking their sexual activity isn’t a big deal.

I know that our culture is immersed in sex. I know that dating without sex is difficult. I know that just about everybody is doing it.

None of those excuse sex before marriage.

Not even if two people are in love.

Not even if two people are grown adults.

Not even if two people are marrying each other soon.

Sex is for marriage. Period.

It is counter cultural, I know that. Living a life for Christ is counter-cultural.

I have a dear friend who is in her thirties and unmarried. She has never had sex. Why? Because she is a Christian. She loves the LORD and so she honors His ways.

She went to the doctor once and the nurse practitioner didn’t believe her when she said she had never had sex and was not sexually active, that she was saving herself for marriage. The nurse was shocked.

She practically insisted my friend take the birth control offered. She just about said aloud that my friend was lying. Even when told that her faith called her to abstinence, the nurse refused to believe.

I’ve seen the shock too. As you know, I did not save sex for marriage. Once I gave my life to the LORD, it didn’t take too long for me to understand that sex was no longer an activity on the approved list. I became what was called a secondary virgin.

Paul and I didn’t have sex together before we married (though we were not honoring, which is another topic and post).

Fast forward to us being engaged: After I bought my wedding dress, I would go to the bridal shop every few days. I’d put on my beloved dress and sashay around in it. True story.

During one sashay visit, somehow the fact came out that Paul and I were going to enjoy a true wedding night (first time sex together, though maybe a true wedding night would best describe two virgins). I remember jaws dropping. None of the women, young and old, could believe that we had dated for almost three years and hadn’t had sex.

That’s when I experienced seeing shock the first time. At least it was at a secular store. When I saw it in church, I was a bit perturbed.

I started visiting churches right after becoming a Christian. As I was a junior in college, I went to the young adults class. One day, they were discussing premarital sex.

Actually, it was like they were deciding what the answer was. Those fifteen people were making the call. And they decided that the instructions for sex only inside a marital covenant didn’t apply to the 1990s. When I raised my hand and asked, “Have you all just decided that the Bible is outdated?” Shocked faces, but silence.

I know that some young women really do believe this lie, since they might even be hearing it at church!

There are many passages that address the truth that sex outside of covenant is sexual immorality.

Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1;6:13,18;10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude

I find it interesting that several of these passages call the Christian to be unlike the pagans. We are called to be different, for Him.

As a Christian, we should view sex the way God views it.

It is natural for us to want to rationalize or justify our behavior, even our sin. We do it all the time, sadly. I know that we are not perfect. We are made perfect in Christ. What a delight grace is!

Romans 6:1-2 addresses this grace and call to holiness.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

I pray that if you are sinning in this area, that you talk to The God of Grace. Ask for forgiveness. Walk in repentance. Seek the grace to stand firm in honoring God with your body in this area.

Be set apart, Christians!

By Mindy Brouse
“Grateful For Grace”
Used with permission.

Original Content: Copyright © 2013 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved