The Sexual Process
All sexual activities are a part of a process that has been studied and clearly defined. The process begins with attraction. This attraction can be triggered by either a physical attraction or by a spiritual attraction. That attraction triggers a desire for a relationship and then physical contact. That attraction becomes an arousal with any initial contact between two people who are attracted to each other. This initial contact can be anything ranging from a glance to a conversation to some physical contact. When this arousal takes place, the process has already begun. As the level of comfort and trust grow, so does the intensity of the physical contact. Holding hands leads to an arm around the shoulder. An arm around the shoulder leads to an arm around the waist. An arm around the waist leads to kissing, which leads to petting, and so on. Among other lies, popular teaching today tells a teen to know when to stop, but the problem is that sexuality is a process that was never intended to stop. Trying to stop the sexual process only creates a greater desire to complete the process. This desire cannot be legitimately fulfilled outside of marriage and therefore leads to a temptation to sin, if not the sin itself. God’s plan is that the relationship be built on a solid foundation of trust and devotion that is demonstrated through the union of marriage.
But at what point has a sexual sin occurred? That really is the question, right? Since Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “…whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart…” we must conclude that the sexual sin occurs when the illegitimate desire for physical contact occurs. Clearly Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:28 applies to someone just looking at another person. If a sexual sin can occur just from looking at someone, it can also occur as a result of any physical contact. In fact, physical contact is a clear trigger for sexual desire. This is why Paul was inspired to write in 1 Corinthians 7:1 “…It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” However, just as physical contact is a trigger for sexual desire, it is also a means of fulfillment as well as an indication that the illegitimate desire is present. Paul further explains saying that every woman should have her own husband to avoid fornication. Have you ever wondered why, at a wedding, the preacher tells the groom, “You may now kiss your bride”? Paul has set the standard for us. There should be no physical contact between a dating couple before they are married.
During one summer, there were four teens in our youth group: two girls and two guys. Let’s call them Dan, Mark, Anne and Sue. Of course, these are not their real names. Both of the guys claimed to be called to preach, and demonstrated a keen ability to preach. Dan found out about a birthday gift that Sue was planning to give him – a kiss. Later that night, he asked for his birthday present and she gave it to him. A few minutes later, Anne and Dan sat in the back seat of a car watching Sue and Mark in a passionate embrace. Now several years later, three of the four have had illegitimate children, two of the four have already been married and divorced, three of the four have been heavily involved in drugs and alcohol. And one still struggles to this day with her walk with God. Was all of this the result of the one kiss? No, not completely, but the one kiss was a match dropped in a sea of gasoline that was the unrestrained emotions of four teenagers.
Another aspect of purity is a pure heart. As we saw above, Matthew 5:28 clearly shows us that purity is also a condition of the heart. Guys are especially prone to the corruption of the heart through their eyes – what they see. Matthew 5:28 deals with this directly saying “…whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Guys need to be aware of this weakness and avoid the times when they are vulnerable to being defiled, but a large portion of the blame lies with the girls. When a girl is immodestly dressed, she is tempting the guys around her to sin with her in their hearts. Leviticus 18:6-18 deals with God’s direction against inappropriate nakedness and Isaiah 47:2-3 defines nakedness as revealing the thigh:
Isaiah 47:2-3 “Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man”
There is much more to being immodest than just nakedness. Immodest dress is any kind or style of dress that either draws attention to the body or causes another person to have a sexual desire.
In this context, what exactly is perfect purity or what does it mean to be perfectly pure? There are two specific aspects to purity: a pure body and a pure heart. Again, society has defined physical purity as a simple physical attribute. But true physical purity is much more than simply being a virgin. Physical purity is a state in which you are completely free from any sexual taint. Although we have allowed Hollywood and others to convince us that some activities are ok, the truth is quite different. Any physical contact between a dating couple that is an expression of affection is sexual in nature and will likely cause feelings of desire that cannot be legitimately fulfilled outside of marriage. Because a desire that cannot be legitimately fulfilled outside of marriage (lust) may be created, that contact should be avoided. This means that a kiss between a dating couple, a hug, or even holding hands outside of marriage will stir a desire for more and should be avoided. These simple contacts, innocent as the world calls them, can be akin to a single spark. Alone, a single spark is harmless, but when the spark is near gasoline, an explosion can occur. If the simple touch is the spark, the new hormones and unfamiliar emotions of a teen in a new relationship are the gasoline.
Let’s examine how holding hands, outside of marriage can, so easily, lead to a sin. As humans, we were designed by God to show affection to one another. We were not just designed to show affection, but we were designed to show different types and degrees of affection. Just ask yourself this simple question: which do you love more – your dog or your mother? The love between a husband and a wife is different from the love between a mother and a child. Both of these types of love are different from the love between two friends. Just as there are many different kinds and degrees of affection, there are many ways to ways to show that affection ranging from simple kindness with words and gifts to overt physical expressions of love. Now, as if this is not complicated enough, the same physical acts, in different contexts, have different meanings. As an example, let’s look at a hug. Simple enough, right? Imagine, Daddy comes in the door after a long day at work. His daughter comes running up to him and wraps her little arms around him. Is this hug a sexual act? Of course not. However, let’s look at another dad. This dad is coming home after a long deployment in the military. His eyes meet with his wife’s eyes for the first time, and they run toward each other to meet to share an embrace. Is this sexual? After all, it is just a hug and a kiss, but does it have the same meaning as the daughter’s hug? Not only is the hug in the second example sexual, but it is also in its proper context. It is a prelude to things to come that are proper, appropriate, and blessed by God.
Now, when affection is expressed outside of marriage, with the emotions and passions that are typical between a dating couple, that affection is out of order. That is, they are creating, desires that cannot legitimately be fulfilled. When a young man touches a girl romantically for the first time, something happens inside of him. He wants more – he wants to touch her again. He has a desire for her touch. However, those simple touches do not satisfy him for long. As time passes, he wants more intimate contact. Society has made it acceptable for that physical relationship to continue and progress. This progression is natural, and beautiful, but it is reserved for a man and his wife within the bonds of marriage. In the wedding ceremony, there is another point where the preacher pronounces the couple to be “man and wife.” It is only after this point when he looks at the groom and makes another proclamation, “Sir, you may now kiss your bride!” Only then is the physical relationship between the bride and groom sanctioned by God and proper. Any romantic physical contact before this point is out of order.
Unfortunately, Satan has taken human sexuality and perverted it so that it can be as sinful as it is beautiful. In the right setting (marriage), sexual activities are an appropriate expression of affection. Proper sexual activities, within the context of the bonds of marriage, are also an expression of the love and sacrifice between Christ and the body of the church. The sexual relationship between a man and his wife are symbolic of the all-consuming love that Christ has shown for the church as well as the type of sacrificial love that the individual members of the church should show for Christ. However, outside of marriage, that picture of the unity of Christ and the Church is no longer present and the sexual activity no longer is a picture of something that glorifies Christ; it is merely the fulfillment of a physical desire.