Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sex, Love and Wholeness

We are doing a Sermon on the Mount worship series at Peace with various members writing devotions each week.  So, of course, I wanted to write something -  that was until I was assigned Matthew 5:27-32, which includes this nugget - "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."  Well, that's some serious shit.  I was given a couple of resources on the theme of looking, loving or lusting, but I found them to be kind of weak when compared to this text.  I finally opted for what I think is a more direct approach.

Day 1 - Adultery & Divorce
Read Matthew 5:27-32. What is your gut reaction to this text? For me, it starts with guilt because my focus immediately goes to the "divorce" section. I'm divorced. What does this mean for me? I find there are generally not many words of comfort for the divorced in the Bible. My next reaction is anger because as a female I don't like reading this patriarchal language where husbands seem to have all the rights. Did you also feel some strong emotional reactions to this text? Why do you think Jesus uses such strong language and disturbing imagery around the subject of adultery & divorce?

Day 2 - Betrayal
Sex is the ultimate intimate act with another. As such, it can also reveal our most vulnerable selves to another. When one experiences betrayal and/or abuse associated with this act, gut wrenching emotions, spiritual and possibly physical damage will surely follow. I think this must be why Jesus treats this subject so harshly. The consequences of heading down the path of adultery and unfaithfulness are destructive to all involved. Read Lamentations 1. Have you ever been betrayed? What did it feel like? What lasting effects did it have on your life?

Day 3 - Evil
It doesn't seem like any rational person would argue with the concept that faithfulness is good and betrayal is bad. So how come our actions are often in conflict with our reason? This is where evil enters the picture. Evil is not rational. Read Mark 7:1-23. Jesus reminds the teachers, the crowd and his disciples that evil resides in everyone. We cannot blame outside influences for the existence of this evil. What outside influences can do is make it very hard for us to overcome our resident evil. Consider how the values of our culture and the portrayal of sex and love in the media might influence your resident evil.

Day 4 - Love
Many people spend their lives "looking for love in all the wrong places". With so many false ideas and images about sex and love out in the world, how are we to recognize the real thing? In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul does a beautiful job of describing what love is.
"Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
Read the rest of 1 Corinthians 13. How is this kind of love possible? Have you seen or experienced this kind of love in the world?

Day 5 - Wholeness
Read Matthew 5:27-32 again. I wonder if Jesus uses such explicit language about losing body parts not only to capture our attention, but also to indicate how it is our thoughts of betrayal that begin the damage within us. Maybe it is not really the act itself that gets us in the end, but the way we let our hearts become twisted and broken with thoughts of adultery, indecency, envy and pride. Read Romans 8:31-39. Paul's words remind us that nothing can separate us from the love of God and that is where we need to turn to find forgiveness, reconciliation and a path to wholeness.

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