On the other hand, I have appreciated several tasteful touches of humor sent my way. One of my favorites went something like this:
The preacher stood before the church and said, "I'm going to let you help me preach the sermon today. When I say a word, I want you to sing the appropriate song."
The preach then says, "Grace!" and the congregation begins to sing "Amazing Grace."
Then he calls out, "Cross!" and the congregation sings "The Old Rugged Cross."
He then says, "Power!" and the church sings, "There is Power in the Blood of the Lamb."
Finally, he says, "Sex!" For a long time there is a nervous silence that envelopes the sanctuary. Then, after several minutes, an 87 year old lady on the next to last pew stands up and begins to sing, "Precious Memories."
I will try to share some gentle touches of humor, not to be cute or flippant, but to help us ease our tension and also to help us better remember some of the important principles. For example, the previous joke assumes an important point: you had a group of God's people talking about sexual intimacy in church. The reality is, this seldom happens, and when it does, it is usually to talk about what is wrong.
What the Bible teaches about sexual intimacy often surprises people: God invented sex; he gave to husbands and wives to share their love, joy, passion, emotion, and union with each other. Unfortunately, many have never been taught the truth about sexual intimacy as a joyful and holy gift to be celebrated in their churches. The understanding of many people is based on the negative characterizations of the media to describe what the Bible and Bible believing churches teach.
Robert Oglesby says, "The church has a laryngitis problem when it comes to the subject of sex!" This silence has left behind serious misperceptions. Even worse, it has left many of our young people uninformed about God's plan for bringing delight and joy into their lives through sexual intimacy in marriage. Most are not aware that several studies have revealed that those who share a commitment to faith and to each other actually have more frequent and more fulfilling sex lives. I encourage you to listen to Robert's words on this subject in the following short video:
While most recognize that God provided the gift of sexual intimacy for the purpose of having children (Genesis 1:22), far fewer know that the Bible gives another primary reason God gave men and women this gift of intimacy. He wanted to bless them with delight, joy, intimacy, fulfillment, connection, passion, and shared excitement.
The Bible talks about this gift as "becoming one flesh" (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31) and intimately "knowing" each other (Genesis 4:1; 1 Samuel 1:19). This gift was given before the Fall, so sexual intimacy was a gift in the garden when the man and woman were "naked and unashamed" (Genesis 2:25) and part of the creation God called "very good" (Genesis 1:31). This gift to a husband wife were part of God's original and beautiful plan for creation. In other words, our sexual passion is "spiritually primal" — something that God created into us as spiritual beings, something that animal species do not have.
The Bible talks about this good gift in beautiful ways in the Song of Solomon (also called the Song of Songs). In other words, the Bible has a whole book devoted to the subject, using metaphor to describe the verbal and physical elements of love-making between a husband and wife. The following is just a sample of the beautiful love poems found in this book — in fact, I encourage all Christian married couples to read this whole book together, in private. Here's a short, less "racy" selection, but even this gives you some ideas about some creativity and infatuation with each other in their love-making:
How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.
How handsome you are, my beloved!
Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant.
The beams of our house are cedars;
our rafters are firs.(Song of Solomon 1:15-17 NIV)
We are called to "flee" (1 Corinthians 6:13-18) and "stay far away from" or "avoid" (1 Thessalonians 4:3) sexual immorality — Sexual immorality is defined as any sexual relationship other than a husband and wife being intimate in marriage. The first word, "flee", reminds us of Joseph running from the temptation posed by Potiphar's wife trying to seduce him (Genesis 39:11-12). The second, "stay away from," is a nautical phrase that was used by ships passing in port — rather than pass as closely as they could to danger, they were to "stay far away from" or "give a wide berth to" each other.
Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations. But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.
The husband should fulfill his wife's sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband's needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.
Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won't be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:1-5 NLT).
Paul is reminding us that knowing what is right and refusing to do what is wrong is not enough: we must pursue what is good and godly, especially in matters of sexual passions (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22)). God has called us to be a holy people who control our bodies in holiness and honor (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). This means learning to find sexual fulfillment in our marriage partner (Proverbs 5:15-19) while focusing on bringing them joy, pleasure, and fulfillment (1 Corinthians 7:2-3; Ephesians 5:21). Sexual intimacy is a God-ordained gift, and we should recognize it as a way of glorifying God (1 Corinthians 6:18-20) and reverencing Christ as Lord (Ephesians 5:21). In this way, we can celebrate the gift of sexual intimacy that God has given to husbands and wives, as we are joyously fused into one emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually (Matthew 19:4-6).
Here's a video review of last week's message done with a touch of humor.