Love or Lust

“No fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.” Ephesians 5:5–7

I have had many dating and engaged couples ask me, “How far can we go in our physical relationship?” When I hear that question, it tells me the couple is trying to redefine the fireplace. And when you play with fire, you will most certainly be burned. You may call me old-fashioned on this, but this is the Word of God, and I’m going to side with Him. If you are single and dating and wondering where to place the boundary line in your physical relationship, let me suggest this: don’t do anything in private that you wouldn’t do while sitting in church. That may seem extreme to you, but remember, you are God’s temple and should be treated with decorum and respect. Honor God and honor yourself by recognizing your worth in God’s kingdom. Don’t allow nakedness and fornication to bring shame into your life that may be very hard to get rid of. Don’t do it!

Too many people today, married and unmarried, confuse lust with love. I think TV and movies have a lot to do with that. Listen, ladies, you may think the “days of our lives” were great when we were all “young and restless” and passions were “bold and beautiful.” Your life may now seem confined to “dark shadows” and your marriage seem but a ward in a “general hospital.” But life is not a soap opera, and you’ll learn nothing of value by feeding your mind with such fruitless content. It’s just one way of many to fan a sinful flame of lust by not honoring the alluring aspects of true love.

Men, the Bible warns us to never let down our guard concerning sexual purity. Job had adult children living away from home, making it likely he was a grandfather. Yet he still made a covenant with his eyes not to look lustfully after young women (Job 31:1). You and I must do the same, including fleeing from all forms of pornography.

Married men and women alike bear responsibility in dealing with their sexual passions. First Corinthians 7:5 says, “Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” Neither the man nor the woman has exclusive rights to their own bodies, nor are they to withhold from each other except by mutual consent for a specific time of prayer. Even then, they are expected to come together again so that Satan cannot exploit the alluring aspect of married love with the perversion of lust.

Another thing to remember about love and sexual intimacy in marriage is this:

What God has given as a treasure is never to be used as a tactic.

Contrary to popular opinion, human beings are not mere animals whose sexual urges are satisfied in the male conquest of the female. No, God did not create human sexuality to work like that. Men, sex is not just for you and your needs. God never intended for you to demand your rights because, after all, you are the “head of the house.” And ladies, sex is not a tactical weapon that you bestow when you’re pleased with your husband’s behavior and withhold when he has not measured up to your arbitrary standards of conduct. Sexual intimacy in marriage is designed for the pleasure and benefit of both husband and wife. It’s supposed to bring you together, not tear you apart.

Hebrews 13:4 says, “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.” Sexual intimacy was created by God, and it is good. However, that does not mean that married couples have the right to introduce sinful behavior to allegedly enhance their relationship. That is a perversion of God’s truth. In the marriage relationship, both husband and wife must look to the good of the other in the area of sexual intimacy. Men, you cannot treat your wife like garbage and then expect her to warm up to you sexually. Ladies, your body is not your own; you have a responsibility to be attentive to your husband’s needs and not to wield your sexual power as a bargaining tool. Dating couples, do not take what God has ordained for marriage as your own until that man or woman has said “I do.” The man who pressures a young woman by saying, “If you love me, you will sleep with me” will have no respect for her in the morning if she gives in. The man who loves a woman as God has commanded will protect his beloved’s reputation and will want a bride without spot or wrinkle.

Excerpt from “Happily… Even After” now available on Amazon.

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BARRY STAGNER

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