Last Easter we began circulating a survey asking if you could ask God anything, what would you ask? If we were to teach some topics out of the Bible, what would you want to hear about?
After thousands of responses, Eastside has compiled a list of the top ten questions asked by those in our community that we will cover throughout this series.This is often how Jesus taught. People would approach him with a question, and He would answer.
Sex and Salvation
In his sermon, Mike said that God is pro-sex, that, in fact, sex is a good gift from God.
What do you think about the idea that God is pro-sex? Do you agree? Disagree? How does this compare with what you’ve been taught about God in the past?
Myth #1: Sex makes dating relationships better.
Our idea of the natural progression of a relationship is often: attraction > chemistry > sexual intimacy.
But the problem is that there is nothing grounding that relationship, no deep friendship, no real commitment, just hormones and emotions and feelings, and when the chemistry begins to suffer or the sex isn’t what it used to be, things begin to fall apart.
Truth #1: Sex is a great gift from God for married people.
God’s idea of the natural progression of a relationship is: attraction > chemistry > friendship > commitment > marriage > sexual intimacy.
We see throughout the Bible—from the very in Genesis to the words of Jesus in Matthew to the writings of Paul in Thessalonians—that God designed sex for the context of marriage.
Have volunteer read Matthew 19:4-6 and 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.
What do you think the natural progression of a romantic relationship should be?
Do you agree or disagree that sex is something God designed exclusively for the context of marriage?
Myth #2: Sex is strictly physical.
In our sex-ed classes in school, we learn the physics of sex, but we don’t learn what really happens during sex, that sex is about two people forming a spiritual union. That’s why, try as we might, we can’t just hook up with someone without doing damage to ourselves.
Truth #2: Sex is a mingling of souls.
Have volunteers read 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 and Genesis 2:23-25.
When two people have sex, they become attached to one another at a deep level emotionally and spiritually. That is why it is so important to engage in sex in the context of marriage and so important not to do it outside of marriage. It is something that unites people in a way that nothing else does.
Have a volunteer read Matthew 19:3-9.
Here Jesus isn’t making a threat: “Don’t get divorced, or else God will punish you!” but rather giving a warning, “Don’t get divorced because it will be like ripping off a skin graft. You’ve spiritually become one person, and trying to reverse that is going to damage everyone involved.”
What do you think about this idea that sex is not merely a physical but spiritual union as well?
This is all a nice theory, but…
What about those of us who are gay?
What about those of us who are transgender?
What about those of us who have been divorced?
What about those of us who have hurt someone sexually?
What about those of us who have been hurt by someone sexually?
What about those of us who have had more sexual partners than we can count?
What about those of us who are confused?
At Eastside we welcome people of all sexual activities, histories, proclivities, and orientations, as we believe everyone matters to God. No matter what we’ve done or thought, no matter where we’ve been or who we’ve been with, God knows, God understands, and God loves us. We’re all broken, we’re all messy, we’re all hurt, we’ve all been hurt… and we’re all priceless people who God deeply loves. And it’s that love that defines us.
God’s love for us is why He calls us to follow His plan for sex, even when it is difficult to do so. It’s not because God hates us or doesn’t want us to have any fun, it’s because God loves us, because he designed us and knows what’s best for us, and because if we will follow his plan, we will ultimately be healthier and happier. And so with grace-filled spirits we strive to live out the ethic described in the Bible, which encourages full sexual expression between a man and a woman in the context of marriage.
How would your life be different if you rooted your identity in the love that God has for you rather than your success or your relationships or your sexuality or whatever other thing you’re tempted to find your value in?
How can we as the Church begin to show the love of Jesus to the LGBTQ community that we for so long ostracized and demeaned?
There are a lot of things that are marketed as life changing, everything from the newest diet fad to the Sleep Number bed and Ultra HD televisions.
And we all know those things won’t really change our lives, although we probably have our own list of things that will change everything: getting married, buying a house, winning the lottery, having kids, and anything else that might be on your list of life goals.
And while those things will certainly impact our lives in meaningful ways, none of them, even the most significant of them, will provide ultimate meaning. If you are looking for any of those to fill a void you feel inside, none of them will do it.
Have you ever thought something would get rid of an empty feeling inside only to find out afterwards that it didn’t?
The other thing that won’t change everything, that won’t fill that empty void inside, is behavior modification. In fact, it might even make that void worse.
For people who grew up going to church, behavior modification might be the biggest temptation of all. We think if we can just do a little better, serve a little more, sin a little less, then God will be pleased with us, and we’ll get to Heaven.
We claim that we believe we are saved by grace, but in reality we believe that our salvation is dependent on us doing enough good things and avoiding enough bad things.
And because we think that we have to be perfect and the people around us often think that we have to be perfect, we put on a mask. Instead of being real about who we are, we pretend that everything is okay. We act as if we have no problems, no struggles, no pain.
And that empty feeling grows.
Are you tempted to evaluate yourself and your own worth on your efforts to “be good enough” or “do enough good”?
The only thing that will truly change everything is grace.
Have volunteers read Romans 5:6, Titus 3:4-5, Romans 10:9, 2 Corinthians 2:22, and Hebrews 11:6.
The only thing that we can do is place our faith in God’s grace, to believe that He loves us. Relying on God’s grace, trusting that He loves us and wants the best for us, trusting that Jesus died so that we could be forgiven and restored to relationship with God is the only thing that will fill that emptiness.
God is the source of all life. When we are tapped into that source, we feel and are fully alive, and when we are not, something is conspicuously absent.
How can you begin to rely more on God’s grace and less on yourself?
This was a deeply personal sermon, and each of us will need to grow in these areas in a slightly different way. You might need to begin to move towards God’s vision for sexuality. You may need to surrender some piece of your life to God so that he can fill the empty void there.
But no matter what specific act you need to take, you aren’t meant to take it alone. Part of trusting God is relying on His people to support us. God has given us this incredible resource: one another.
However specifically this message hit you, one of the best things you can do next is talk to someone else about it. Open up. Be honest about where you are and where you’re struggling. God didn’t intend for us to face things alone.
Right now, pull out your phone and text a friend. Tell them that you have something you want to talk to them about and ask if they have time to get together this week. You might even text someone else from the group.
Don’t wait until you get home to do this. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to chicken out or sweep this under the rug. Reach out to someone right now.