Conscience, Authority, Sexual Immorality, And Judging Inside the Church

My heart is saddened how people seem to think that men having sex with men or women with women or sexual relations with someone else’s boyfriend or girlfriend, or someone else’s wife or husband, is considered normal and a matter of sexual freedom. Sexual immorality is no longer considered sinful behavior, though at one point in their life there was a deep conviction that it was, and instead, have chosen to ignore the warning of their conscience.  God gave us a mind and conscience and therefore all of us will ultimately be held responsible for our behavior.

CONSCIENCE

Though conscience does not have an audible voice that speaks to us, however, it does mean having the knowledge of letting us know whether our actions are good or evil.  It is a power of the mind that affirms and enforces moral obligation.  It lets us know whether we should or should not do or say something.  For instance, my conscience tells me not to drink wine in front of someone who may be struggling with alcohol.  There may have been times when our conscience has said, “Don’t do it,” only to ignore our conscience, do it anyway, and regret later the decision we have made.  How many times have we heard, “I should have known better.”

Conscience should be our guide, but on the other hand, it may not if our conscience has been seared, meaning, conscience or convictions have been desensitized. There are people whose hearts have been so hardened by ignoring their conscience by choosing to indulge in repeated sinful behavior that it can no longer speak to the person.

…that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared (1 Tim. 4:1-2).

I have always wondered if there is still hope for a person whose conscience has been seared.  Is there a time when it is too late, where there is no point of return?

With all the sexual immorality we are faced with in today’s generation (as with past generations), we have a void of conscience and no fear of God.  We can go back to the days of Noah (just as Jesus declared Matt. 24:37-39).  Even though the people were eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, God also saw the wickedness of man and that it was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually (Gen. 6:5).  The earth was so corrupt and filled with violence that God repented that he made man.  It appears these people lost all awareness of their conscience and to do what is right. But also remember this: It grieved God’s heart (Gen. 6:6).  It appears their conscience was seared to the point of no return and God destroyed them with a flood.

WHO HAS THE AUTHORITY?

Whether we are talking about the homosexual or heterosexual union, or monogamy or polyamory, we can boil down human sexuality and marriage to the foundational issue of “authority.”

Authority is 1) “power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience:  2) freedom to decide or a right to act without hindrance.” And as many people may scoff, all such authority begins with God, for there is no authority except from God (Rom. 13:1). God has created us to live under his authority.

devotionHow does God exercise authority over His creatures?  The answer is the testimony of scriptures and the innate ability to know the difference between good and evil.  However, we have the ability to choose whether to obey or disobey His authority and our conscience.

We may choose to redefine what is good or evil, but it will never change God’s mind and His definition of sexual immorality or the definition of marriage.  God created us (Gen. 2:8,19), sex (Gen. 2:24), and marriage (Gen.2:24).  God approves of sexual relations between a husband and wife and a loving sexual relationship is one of the benefits of marriage.

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge (Heb. 13:4).

Since God has the authority to define both marriage and the right use of our sexuality, the debasement of human sexually expresses a denial of God’s authority and is always to our own detriment.

GOD’S ORDER IS FOR A MALE AND FEMALE RELATIONSHIP WITHIN A SEXUAL UNION

We all know God created Adam and Eve.  God said concerning Adam:

For Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2: 20– 24)

This is the acceptable, established, and the biblical sexual relationship between male and female. Jesus himself affirms:

Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?  (Matt. 19:4-5; Mark 10:6-8)

The pattern of intimacy should always be between a male and female who have committed to each other.  The intimacy between a man and a woman is also a picture of intimacy between Christ and his followers:

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5: 22– 33)

In the following passages, Paul gives advice about marriage and the role that spirituality plays in the intimate marriage relationship between a husband and wife.

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7: 1– 5)

What About Homosexuality?

Those in favor and defend the gay lifestyle will say that the word homosexuality is not in the Bible.  True.  Though we never find the word “homosexuality” in the scriptures, there are passages that refer to homosexual acts.  In the Old Testament God specifically forbids sexual relations between men (and by implication, between women too):

You are not to lie with a man, as with a woman—that is an abomination
(Leviticus 18: 22)

If a man has sexual relations with another male, as he would with a woman, both have committed a repulsive act. They are certainly to be put to death. (Leviticus 20: 13)

In the Old Testament God said that sexual acts between men are such an abomination that it called for the death penalty.

The New Testament specifically reaffirms the position that the same-sex acts, as a whole, are not acceptable:

For this reason God gave them up to shameful passions. Even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature.  Likewise the men abandoned natural relations with women and were burning with passion toward one another—men committing shameful acts with other men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26– 27)

The word “natural” does not mean if it’s natural for you to have sex with the same gender, then it’s okay.  God defines what is natural.  The biblical word natural in the above passage means “God’s created order” (see Genesis 2: 24).   Sexual union between a husband and wife, as God intended and established it to be, is to act ‘according to nature’.  On the other hand, to have a sexual relationship with those of the same gender is to act ‘against nature’.  

God does something to those who act against nature.  He gives them over to a depraved mind:

Just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28– 32)

The scriptures are clear that there are grave sins that will keep us from receiving the gift of immortality and entering eternal life in the kingdom of God (note: this kingdom will be on the earth [Ps. 37:11; Ps. 37:29; Matt. 5:5] not in heaven as most think loved ones are floating around waiting for us).  The grave sin includes homosexuality within the list:

You know that wicked people will not inherit the kingdom of God, don’t you? Stop deceiving yourselves! Sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunks, slanderers, and robbers will not inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6: 9– 11)

Of course, we know that the Law is good if a person uses it legitimately, that is, if he understands that the Law is not intended for righteous people but for lawbreakers and rebels, for ungodly people and sinners, for those who are unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers, their mothers, or other people, for those involved in sexual immorality, for homosexuals, for kidnappers, for liars, for false witnesses, and for whatever else goes against the healthy teaching that agrees with the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.   (1 Timothy 1: 8– 11)

JUDGING THOSE INSIDE THE CHURCH?

I know what I have written so far will not be very popular with those who are involved in sexual immorality who are outside the church, nor inside the church for that matter. The word “church” does not refer to a building, but rather to people who profess to be brothers and sisters in Christ.  We have people who claim to be believers in Christ and yet live in sexual immorality and claim, “God loves everyone and that it does not matter if you have sex with the same gender because God is love.” That may be their opinion, but it is not the opinion of God the Father.  Again, it all boils down to authority and whose authority we will listen to and obey.  God gives the boundaries of proper sexual activity and that is between a man and a woman in the confines of marriage.

For believers, we are warned in scriptures:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons— not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.” (1st Cor 5:9-11).

The warning for believers not to associate with those who are sexually immoral within the church, but also with greedy, idolaters partying, drunkenness, or swindling people as well.  We are not to associate or even to share a meal with such a person who claims to be bear “the name of” a brother or sister in Christ who do these things!  But to them that are without, God will judge.  And since Jesus is head of the church, we have the format for judging and disciplining which starts in the house of God.

For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)

Do not be surprised to find certain levels of persecution from relatives, friends, co-workers, and those who call themselves Christians because you do not want to get drunk with them or live and believe in a chaste and monogamous relationship when cheating and other sinful behavior has become the norm.

For the time that has passed was sufficient for you to do what the non-Christians desire. You lived then in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, carousing, drinking bouts, and wanton idolatries. So they are astonished when you do not rush with them into the same flood of wickedness, and they vilify you. (1 Peter 4:3-4)

To vilify means to speak ill, slander or say anything to defame you because you will not participate, praise, or condone sinful behavior that could cause us to lose our life (gift of immortality),  in the kingdom to come when Jesus returns.

Remember what Jesus said:

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10–12)

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