A PG-13 sermon? Yep. Why? Because the subject matter in this passage is such. I wonder how often churches have avoided this issue just because it was deemed too graphic for a congregation? Unfortunately, the "virgin" ears that people suppose are present in the worship center are more often than not hearing the alternative to God's take on this issue everywhere else - school, work, television, songs, movies, etc.
I think back to the music I used to listen to as a junior high student. Wow! Good think my parents never really listened to the lyrics of Prince's songs.
This message focuses on a church in the ancient city of Corinth, yet it sounds as if it's written to us today relating to our culture.
I have been asked for the transcript for yesterday's message. Therefore, I'll post it here. Many of the statistics I gleaned from Mark Driscoll's messages on the subjects and other demographic sites.
Corinth was a very perverted, sexually diverse, alternative lifestyle type of city. It was a city that boasted of their tolerance and freedom – when it came to sexuality, especially. In fact, the city was known to be prideful in relation to sexual activity. Corinth carried a tradition and history of being a sexually active, perverted city. It was defined as a place with massive gender confusion and accepted sexual perversion.
Within this city there were shrines dedicated to Apollo, Hermes, Heracles, Athena and Poseidon. There were temples dedicated to Asclepius, the god of healing and his daughter Hygieia. However, the most significant cult in the ancient city was dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite. The worship of Aphrodite had flourished in old Corinth before its destruction in 146 BC and revived in Roman Corinth. Some evidence suggests that worship to the goddess Aphrodite of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation involved over one thousand temple prostitutes.
The attitude of sexual perversion and promiscuity wrapped in the politically correct terms of “tolerance”, “pride” and even “celebration” flourished in the city. This was a city of free thinkers as it related to sexuality. There was acceptance and approval of sexual relations before marriage, outside of marriage, with multiple partners and partners of the same gender.
Corinth had a reputation. The reputation was so bad that in the world of the day to be identified as a sexual pervert would elicit the label “Corinthian”.
The city’s convention bureau even came up with this marketing strategy. . . “What happens in Corinth, stays in Corinth.” OK, not really, but you get the point.
Many of you have seen the musical and the new film adaptation of Les Miserables. You’ll remember when Fontaine is fired from her job and ends up turning to prostitution to make money to care for her daughter Cosette. It is a filthy scene, designed to disgust the audience and bring you to an understanding of the hopelessness within this lifestyle.
In the film, the sailors come into port and find “lovely ladies” to spend some time with. In Corinth, a port city, prostitution was rampant. Not just the prostitution associated with the worship of the false goddess Aphrodite, but also as an evil, immoral way to make a buck. Along with the widespread promiscuity and prostitution, the preeminence of sexually transmitted diseases became widespread.
Since at this time the medical advances and medications were not available to those suffering from such diseases, they would build shrines totally devoted to such diseases and infected body parts. Every sexual deviation you can think of that happens in our world today was happening in Corinth.
What a great city to plant a church.
Thank God we have progressed beyond this type of living. Right.
Americans spend more money each year on pornography than on country music, rock music, jazz music, classical music, Broadway plays and ballets combined. The pornography industry has larger revenues than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple and Netflix combined. In 2006 the revenues globally from pornography rose to more than $97 billion. It’s a huge business.
- Every second - $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography.
- Every second – 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography.
- Every second – 372 internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines.
- Every 39 minutes – a new pornographic video is being created in the United States.
- These are statistics from about six years ago. They have grown exponentially since.
These are just the numbers related to the internet. These do not include the magazine sales, adult store, brothels, lingerie shows, gentlemen’s clubs, prostitution rings, and other related issues.
The porn industry says that 30 percent – almost a third – of all video rentals on the East and West Coast are adult in nature. The top words searched for on the net in the various search engines is sex, with porn, nude, Playboy, erotic stories, also in the top 20. 70 percent, however, of porn traffic occurs between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., while you’re sitting at your desk at work not doing your job. Additionally, the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity estimates that between 6 and 8 percent of Americans are full-blown sex addicts, which is between 16 and 21 ½ million people.
There are more than 2,400 strip clubs in America. Some of them make upwards of $8 million a year in revenue and have as many as 200 dancers working at them. And it starts very, very early; 61 percent of all high school seniors have had sexual intercourse. About half are sexually active currently, and 21 percent of high school seniors have had four or more partners. Adolescents have the highest sexually transmitted disease rates.
Approximately ¼ of sexually active adolescents become infected with an STD every year; there are 3 million cases. And people under the age of 25 account for 2/3 of all sexually transmitted diseases in the country. By graduation time, the average high school senior will have spent 15,000 hours watching television and 12,000 hours in the classroom. So the preponderance of their education comes from television and not from instruction in the classroom. They will see 14,000 sexual references a year on television.
Out of the 14,000 references a year, 165 – 165 – have anything negative to say about sex outside of marriage, whatsoever.
Welcome to Corinth!
Since it’s obvious we will be addressing the subject of sexual immorality, we must first define what is meant by that term. Remember, this is not a legalistic, hate based, intolerant definition. Some would classify it as such, but that does not make it so.
Here’s the simple take as based on the Bible. This is not opinion. This is God’s design, as given to us in love.
According to the Bible, a man (born a male) and a woman (born a female) get married. They go on their honeymoon and are with each other intimately. Then, from that moment on, they will be intimate together, just the two of them, over and again until death do they part.
Anything outside of that simple story, when it relates to sexual activity is immoral.
One man. One woman. One flesh. One lifetime. One God.
That means that the following is immoral. . .
- Sex before marriage
- Sex outside of marriage
- Bringing others into the marriage bed
- Watching others on a screen
- Sex with others of the same gender
In a tolerant society, this seems so very old fashioned. That’s what sin does. It makes that which is right seem dated and irrelevant.
The next question to answer, if this is the biblical mandate, is how should the church respond? Protests? (Those always work, right?) Boycotts – another great idea. What about when those within the church are so influenced by the non-Christ-centered culture that they justify these actions and beliefs?
What happens when Christ-followers are no longer discernible from those who are far from God?
That’s what Paul was addressing here.
1 Corinthians 5:1-2(ESV)
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you,
and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his
And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
Someone in the church has contacted Paul with a grievance. Apparently, there is sexual immorality within the church. This is no surprise. The surprise is that it is so over the top that even those in pagan Corinth, those who approve of just about every deviance are shocked. It’s incestuous (a man and his stepmother) and immoral. This type of behavior is prohibited in the Old Testament and even in the modern Roman law of the day. The insinuation here is that the man having the affair claims to be a Christian.
In verse 2, Paul lets it come out. He is speaking to the church. He is so very frustrated that the church, the supposed salt and light to a sinful world, the light to the darkness, the church plant in sin city for a reason, has done nothing.
In fact, under their incomplete and false definition of grace and with a mindset that parallels many liberal denominations and churches of our day, basically just ignored the sin and most likely became arrogant and prideful in their ability to show “Christian love” to one who was “struggling with sin.”
This man and his stepmother flaunted their relationship. . .and the church let them because, well, you know, they’re consenting adults and their relationship is okay in the eyes of God because God is a God of love, and God doesn’t judge anyone. God is tolerant. God wants us to be happy.
Lost people act like lost people. Who would ever expect a lost person to understand what sexual morality looks like? Lost people swim in the wide channel known as cultural acceptance.
Lost people do not know any better. The admonition is not even against the woman in this story? Why? Because she’s lost. She’s committed sin too, but she is so deep in her separation from God, this sin of sexual immorality is just one of many that keeps her far from God.
The man. The man claims to know Christ! He is a member of the church. He says he loves Jesus. He says he believes the Bible. He says he desires to be holy.
He didn’t just make a mistake. He didn’t fall away and repent. No. He willingly and intentionally entered into a sinful relationship and proudly stayed there.
AND YOU ARE ARROGANT! OUGHT YOU NOT RATHER TO MOURN?
The church is arrogant! The church should be horrified that sin is acceptable. The grieving of the church should have occurred.
The church has to respond here - Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
What? Kick someone out of the church? That doesn’t sound like something God would do. God is a loving God. He is caring. He is accepting. God is a holy God. He will not be mocked.
He is a God of freedom (Galatians 5) and that freedom is available, but freedom to do and live and experience life as we choose is not truly freedom. It’s slavery. Slavery to sin and to cultural acceptance. True freedom is found in Christ and as the old saying goes, “God loves you just as you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay the way you are.”
Tolerance is not always good. When? When you, or we, tolerate that which God does not. When you do this, you are declaring God to be evil.
Churches strive to be open and affirming. We are open. Everyone can come. I want those far from God to feel welcome. I spoke of this on Christmas Eve. We are open. . .but not always affirming. The church is not to affirm that which is opposed to God and His design.
So, people who “struggle” with sexual sin, whether it be pornography, homosexuality, pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, etc. cannot be affirmed in these actions.
We have always said “Hate the sin. Love the sinner” but we now have churches and believers who “Love the sinner and . . .justify the sin.”
This is under the banner of “If you love me, you’ll accept me.”
No . If I love you I will compel you toward change and obedience and holiness and godliness and a loving God.
This is not about acceptance. It’s about God.
Not about me. Not about you. About God.
Sin is deadly – it results in separation from God. It always has. It always will.
In Paul’s writing he moves to the second point – if a Christ-follower, one who claims to be a Christian, lives a habitual life of unrepentant sin, the must be disciplined by the church.
The church cannot sit idly by.
The sad reality is that most churches do not know how to discipline. Some know how to punish. Some know how to hate. Few know how to discipline. Discipline is love. Always.
The goal in this story, and in our stories, is to move the unrepentant one to repentance. It’s not to destroy the person, but to rescue them.
Paul calls the church to holiness. The apostle says this -
1 Corinthians 5:3(ESV)
For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.
Sounds legalistic to some (mostly those who live in the world of tolerance and affirmation) but it’s not. It’s a word from God’s apostle, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The church cannot see the sin due to their relationship with their friend. They’re too close. They say “But, uh. . .” and God uses Paul to lay it out – “This man’s actions are sinful. No excuses. No ifs, ands, or buts.”
Right answer is repentance.
It’s about God and He’s calling us to holiness.