Sex On the Brain
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints . . . everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Ephesians 5:3-5
I grew up in a Christian faith which imparted certain rules regarding sexual morality. I was taught that sex had a place, but it belonged inside a marriage. I grew up understanding that certain behaviors were sinful. What happened in my mind though, wasn’t really a behavior, It was just a thought, and as such, wasn’t technically “against the rules”. I felt that as long as I wasn’t out there having sex, it didn’t matter what went on in my brain.
In today’s passage however, Paul indicated that what happens in our minds does matter. In the passage, he insisted that those who follow Christ must abandon sexual immorality. He went on though, to include coveting in his list of forbidden behaviors. He didn’t just say that we cannot commit certain behaviors, he said that we shouldn’t even indulge in the thoughts of them.
Paul went on to say that whoever indulged in such behavior or thoughts, wouldn’t inherit the kingdom of God. This doesn’t mean that anyone who’s ever had a sexually immoral thought cannot be a Christian. We’d all be lost. What he said was that while we’re engaged in this kind of behavior or thinking, we cannot be filled with God. If we want to know the life, joy, and peace of life with him, we must abandon sexual immorality, even in our minds.
This will seem draconian, ridiculous, and puritanical to some. We can cause tremendous injury to our marriage though, without ever stepping out and having an actual affair. There are two common ways we do this. The first is with pornography. When one partner in a marriage continually finds sexual gratification through thoughts of sex with someone else, it is tremendously damaging to the relationship. We may think we’re hurting no one, but with pornography, we betray the one we’re supposed to love the most.
The other common way we commit sexual sin is something that Paul specifically mentioned in the passage – coveting. When one person in a relationship continually wants what others have, instead of what they have, they cheat on their spouse, though only in the mind. This, Paul taught, can be as destructive as an affair.
It may seem terribly out of date, but what we allow in our minds is important. If we want the life and marriages for which we were made, then we must guard not only our behaviors, but our thoughts as well. Our sexual thoughts matter.