The first conviction is simple. Sexuality matters, because what you do with your body sexually can determine your destiny eternally. Certain sexual practices can shut you out of the kingdom of God. This is the startling truth Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand
For many people today, sex is seen as no big thing—a recreational activity that consenting adults choose to enjoy, something of little or no consequence or even significance, sort of like watching a movie together (or as some might say today, “Let’s Netflix and chill”). The Bible sees sexuality differently. I like the way author Kevin DeYoung puts it: “It cannot be overstated how seriously the Bible treats the sin of sexual immorality.” Precisely. Scripture says sexual practice matters forever.
Following this is the second conviction. There are two ways to express our sexuality as Christians: mere sexuality or sexual immorality. There is the way God designed our sexuality to function, and then there is every other way that is disordered and deviates from God’s good intentions. Paul f lags several sinful practices that shut one out of the kingdom of God. Topping the list is a Greek word (pornoi) that serves as an umbrella term for lots of things and refers in this context to those who practice any kind of sexual immorality. Note that adultery and homosexual practice are but two expressions of this immorality; there are also others that fall outside mere sexuality and can exclude one from the kingdom. The point is that there are not just shades of gray but a stark moral clarity. For the Christian who wants to live faithfully in this world, there are only two options: sexual immorality or mere sexuality.
A third conviction brings some balance to these first two. We need to remember that sexual sins aren’t the only serious sins. Sometimes Christians are criticized for seeming to be overly obsessed with sexual sin. Critics sometimes wonder if our concerns are just a bad hangover from our Puritan past. And those who make this criticism do have a point. Christians can fall into the trap of making a big deal of, say, adultery or homosexuality, yet show little concern for the other vices mentioned in these verses, like greed and idolatry. And how does this strike outsiders to the Christian faith? They see it as hypocrisy. In <1 Corinthians 6:9-11>, we see that all of these sins are put on a level playing field at least in this one respect: they are equally damning if they become a pattern of behavior in our lives. Biblical integrity calls us to take sin seriously, not to fixate on the sins we dislike while accommodating others. As Kevin DeYoung writes, “The church should not overlook its other sins just to make homosexual sin seem worse.”
I need to mention one last conviction that is at the heart of this passage and the message of this book. Although we are all sexually broken, we can all become sexually whole through Jesus. This is the glorious good news about Jesus at the end of these verses. “And that is what some of you were,” Paul said to the Corinthians. He’s not pointing fingers; he’s reminding them of the moral and spiritual pit from which they came. Wouldn’t you have loved to see the look on their faces when they heard this! Perhaps they felt a bit embarrassed to have the past brought up? No, not at all. Not in light of what Paul goes on to say: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
There is cleansing and healing and forgiveness in Jesus—for all of our sexual brokenness. And if you don’t think you are sexually broken, you may be very broken indeed. Sin is pervasive, affecting all of who we are, including our sexuality. And the healing for our sin is found not in ourselves, but in the blood of Jesus.
— Todd A. Wilson, Mere Sexuality: Rediscovering the Christian Vision of Sexuality
How to Use This Book
Consider having your pastors and teachers read through Mere Sexuality, and adding copies to your church library. It’s “a must-read for scholars, pastors, and others who want solid guidance on the issues,” writes Richard J. Mouw. It will help you:
- Rediscover the beauty and coherence of the historical Christian vision of sexuality
- Assess the recent, stunning shift of opinion on issues of sexuality in the evangelical church
- Understand how this break with the historical church is problematic for the future of Christianity
What Others Are Saying
- “Thoughtful, sensitive, and, above all, deeply Christian.” -Robert P. George
- “A compelling argument for God’s ideal for human sexuality.” -Karen Swallow
- “Faithfully biblical, helpfully practical, and immensely thoughtful.” -Glenn T. Stanton
- “Relevant, timely, and theologically rich. Strongly recommended!” -Timothy George
- “Brings Christian clarity and charity to the confusion, reminding the church of what it has known for nearly two thousand years but recently forgotten.” -Kevin J. Vanhoozer