There is no societal challenge facing the church in North America more than our culture’s sexual ethic. Believers are regularly confronted with questions and lifestyles from family, coworkers, and neighbors related to cohabitation, divorce, and homosexuality. And for many, they are nervous to give a response.
I recently read an article by Scott Sauls, senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He says Christians are tempted to respond in one of two ways: “Inner Pharisee” or “Inner Sadducee.”
…we must resist the inner Pharisee, whose instinct is to scornfully separate from a sexually damaged world. Compelled by the love of Christ, we must extend kindness and friendship to those who don’t embrace a biblical sex ethic, and we must never engage in negative posturing and caricature.
…we also need to resist the inner Sadducee, whose instinct is to follow — and even be discipled by — the world. We must honor, champion, and obey the Creator’s design, at all times in a spirit of gentleness and respect, even if we lose friends and influence fewer people.
Sauls goes on to say, “Pharisees scorn the world…Sadducees follow the world.”
In a world so divorced from the biblical sexual ethic, we must respond with both conviction and grace. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 5:9,10
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
Paul tells the church that those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior must live differently because they have been bought with a great price. Paul wants us to be people of conviction.
Paul also wants believers to be around people who do not know Jesus because to live on mission is to proclaim the Gospel to all people! After listing various sexual and non-sexual sins, Paul highlights the transforming power of the Gospel when he writes in 1 Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 6:11
And such were some of you. 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.
God’s people cannot respond like Pharisees and avoid the world, nor like Sadducees and join the world. They must respond like Jesus who honored the Creator’s design and proclaimed the Gospel in both word and deed.
For more, watch or listen to my remarks in the last 15 minutes of a sermon at Grace Polaris on March 15.