Let’s talk about sex!
Oh, don’t shudder, or salivate, depending upon how the word — and the concept — affect you. Sex is a gift God gave us, and we’ve obviously used it, given the 7 billion of us wandering around on the planet.
Like any good thing, sex can be, and is, misused. To say that all sex, any way we want it, is fine, just fine, and that the Apostle Paul, when he talks about sexual immorality, is really talking about something else, is denial.
You’ll notice that I successfully manage to avoid specifics: I don’t want a firestorm descending upon my head, not so much because I dislike confrontation (although I do dislike it, actually) but because this article really isn’t about sex.
It’s about money.
Slapping People around with 1 Corinthians 6:9
Through the week, I read a good many Christian blogs that span the gamut from truly excellent to the wretchedly atrocious, and I know that at least once in a week, I will run across this verse from 1 Corinthians 6:9:
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
It’s a given that the verse will be aimed, straight at the heart, to people participating in numbers 1, 4, and 5 in the list of activities (out of 10, incidentally), and generally the tone is one of hostility and confrontation, which, as any highly paid business consultant instructs the crowded room of seminar participants, is not the best way to get people to listen to your message.
But let’s drop numbers 1, 4, and 5 for now and look at number 7, which is easy to eclipse because it’s mixed in the muddle, and more importantly, because it’s something that many of us in highly materialistic countries like mine, the United States, don’t necessarily see as a problem, much less a sin:
Greed. It’s right there, in the same list and the same room, with the big H-word, and that’s not the only place where the two snuggle up together. Ephesians 5:3 admonishes believers to exhibit not even a hint of “sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed,” and Colossians 3: 5 tells us to put to death “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
If you’re into classifying sins (which is a dreadful habit, really), you’d have to say that Greed is worse than Sexual Immorality because violates Exodus 20: 3-4 — and 17 — much longer passages than Exodus 20:14 (I’m using the New International Version).
Parsing sin, however, is a fruitless mental activity — with repercussions that lead to pointing the finger at others while we assiduously refrain from looking at our own activities. We can, and many of us do, say,
“I don’t go into brothels,” but very, very few of us announce,
“I don’t desire more than having my needs met. I don’t take more cake at the table than I could possibly eat. I don’t think about God far, far less than I do about a brand new car.”
It’s so much harder to see, which makes it more insidious, actually, because we can practice greed — idolatry — without anyone really seeing or noticing. And if they do, they’ll praise us for our acumen, cleverness, and cunning — words which imply deceit more than they do hard work and perseverance. This is not the way God wants us to be.
Something on the List for All of Us
Go back to 1 Corinthians 6: 9: it is a list of sins that God wants us to stop. For some of us, some of these will be easy to stop because we never started them in the first place: it’s pretty hard to call any woman a male prostitute.
But because there are 10 items, all of us can find at least one that applies — numbers 2, 7, and 9 look pretty universal — and before we use selective aspects as a whip on another person’s back, we might stop and be grateful that God works with us, patiently, when we push aside the person just in front of us so that we can grab the last loss-leader electronic device at the Black Friday sale.
“(God) is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3: 9)
If that is God’s goal, we can make it ours as well.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I explore the challenges of living as a Christian — with grace, mercy, love, compassion, firmness, and righteousness — in a world that, rightly or wrongly, considers us a bunch of doofuses.
If we are going to be doofuses (or is it, “doofai”?), let it be for the right reasons — that we follow the wisdom of God which is foolishness to man — as opposed to being foolish ourselves, arrogant, proud, unyielding, and harsh.
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What Unconditional Love Looks Like (at my companion blog, This Woman Writes)