Sex and self-mutilation

Sometimes people accuse us Christians of being obsessed with sex, of talking too much about what people should and shouldn’t do with their bodies (mostly shouldn’t). “Our bedrooms are none of your business,” they say. “Go help the poor or feed the hungry, but lay off all the ‘fornication’ talk.”

Perhaps that’s true of some Christians if they seem to think that Christianity is defined almost completely by not committing any of the big, bad, sex sins.

On the other hand, a world in which “twerking” has become a verb and viewing internet pornography is considered normal needs to hear a clear message about sexuality. After all, Jesus addressed it directly, and quite frankly. What he said remains incredibly relevant:

You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell (Matthew 5:27-30).

It’s possible to over-apply these verses—some believers in Christian history have gone to the extreme of self-mutilation.

But I don’t think over-application is our problem now. The next time I counsel a young man who’s taken an axe to his hand after reading these verses will be my first.

We’re pretty good at under-applying it, though. “Well, of course Jesus didn’t mean that we’re supposed to cut off a hand or tear out an eye,” we say.

And then we move to the next verse.

And yet I hear stories more often than you’d think of Christians who are consumed with pornography. Young men in Christian colleges. Preachers. Married people of all ages.

Teenagers who are doing things you wouldn’t believe. Marriages ruined by adultery and Christian influence devastated by sexual sin.

Of course Jesus knew all that—the Internet didn’t invent lust. And so he spoke to the problem in an unforgettable way: Go to drastic measures to keep sexual sin from ruining your life and condemning your soul.

See a counselor. Get rid of the smartphone. Put a filter on your computer. Cancel the movie package on your satellite subscription.

Do what you’ve got to do, but don’t play around with sex.

I’m sure there are some folks out there who are preaching too loudly about sexual sin, but most of us aren’t saying enough. And most of us aren’t doing enough to keep it from hurting our spirituality.

1 thought on “Sex and self-mutilation”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *