1 Thessalonians 4; Isaiah 20-22; Psalm 115
Harvey Weinstein. Hollywood. Yep, I just used those codewords to trigger you into anger even before you started reading this thought. Let’s face it though, how many of us were really surprised by the revelations about that director? In fact, how many of us are surprised more that we don’t hear more stories like that about what happens in Hollywood? Oh, we hear stories about the “casting couch” that’s been around long before the current villain who was outed by the undercover report. Most of us would say that we believe that he’s not the only one doing this. Even though this one person has been publicly disclosed as a predator, others still prey in the dark because of the fear that speaking out will lead to being blackballed by the powers that be in Hollywood.
So much of sexual predation is a power thing. Yet, society knows that sex sells and many ads focus on our inner sexual desires – knowing that using this product will enhance our natural abilities. As Christians, though, we should have a different outlook on questions related to sexual behavior. Paul reminded us of this attitude as he wrote to the Thessalonians. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6)
It should be astounding that Paul would have to issue such a statement to followers of Christ, yet, this seemed to be a common plea to those in the early church. At the Jerusalem Conference recorded in Acts 15 one of the obligations for Gentiles who converted to Christ was to abstain from sexual immorality. Ancient Rome was a sex obsessed culture. Jews, a monogamous people, and then Christians stood out in stark contrast to a society where you got married for political purposes and then found other sexual partners on the side to indulge in for pleasure. While those who followed Christ received forgiveness for their sins, Paul reminded them that God’s will was that they be sanctified and live sexually pure lives. Christians were called to control their bodies and not live in passionate lust like the pagans – who at least had the excuse that they didn’t know God. Perhaps most important in this section is the reminder that when these dalliances occur, people are taking advantage of brothers and sisters in Christ. Think about those implications.
Lest we sit back in our modern, Christian respectability, we not only live in a society saturated with sex, we participate in it too easily. Don’t believe me? How many prostitution stings end up with Christian leaders caught in the snare? How many of those stings end up freeing children who have been forced into these performances? Too extreme? Dare we take a poll of our churches, and yes, it would have to be anonymous, to find out how many have strayed from the model commanded in the Bible? In terms that most people would recognize, this thought has gone from preaching to meddling. Yet, Paul’s message, while difficult to implement, is simple: avoid sexual immorality, control our own bodies, and don’t take advantage of others. In short, we need to learn to respect God’s ways, respect ourselves, and respect others. We can’t respect others if we’re using them to further our own purposes. We need to find ways to help others achieve. When we don’t respect others, or ourselves, how can we respect the God who created us all? God’s ways are ingenious in bringing out the best in people. Let’s follow them.
Lord God, so many people are hurting because of abuse. Remind us that Your ways lead to the joy of life.