The Times: Are They Really Changing?
About the Guest
The 1960s were a time of unbridled sexual liberation. Old sexual values were questioned, criticized and discarded, and the grand experiment of free love begun. Now, 50 years later, the results of that "grand experiment" are in, and the report is devastating. The experiment is a failure, and we're left with a gigantic mess. Bob Lepine says that mess is so big, so overwhelming that there is only source to whom we can turn for the cleanup.
Bob LepineBob Lepine is the Lead Pastor at Redeemer Community Church in Little Rock, Arkansas which he helped plant in 2008. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Great Commission Collective, a church planting ministry connecting more than 150 churches world wide. Bob also hosts Mornings on Family Radio, a network of more than 70 radio stations in the US. He is also well known to radio and podcast listeners as the long-time co-host of FamilyLife Today® and as the on-air announcer for Truth...more
Bob Lepine says there is only one source to whom we can turn to for the cleanup.
The Times: Are They Really Changing?
Bob: It used to be that love came first; then, marriage; then, sex. Today, we’re not sure that those three words necessarily belong in the same sentence.
[“Man in the Street” Interviews]
Interviewer: So, is there any link, in your mind, between sex and God?
Female: Not in my mind.
Male: Well, that assumes there is a god.
Female: What’s the question?
Interviewer: Yes. Could sex exist to glorify God and reflect His character?
Female: I don’t know if I want to think about God like that.
Interviewer: And so-called “traditional standards”—where are they?
Female: Like what?
Interviewer: Heterosexual marriage?
Female: That’s just a convention.
Interviewer: Is sex reserved for just a married man and woman?
Female: That’s kind of legal; isn’t it? Like didn’t they pass laws about it or something?
Female: What’s the question? [Laughter]
Interviewer: Could sex exist to glorify God and reflect His character?
Female: Wow! I have never thought of it that way—never related the two.
Male: What is this about?
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 20th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. The Bible offers clarity, in a culture of confusion, around human sexuality. We’ll see if we can get some clarity today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I’ll tell you what—if you want to get a lively discussion going, in the culture today, just bring up the subject of: “What do you think about the issue of human sexuality?” There are a lot of folks who have a lot of opinions.
Dennis: Or of same-sex marriage.
Dennis: Those are hot topics—as we certainly found, a few months ago, when we aired a broadcast—where I just talked about my response to the Supreme Court’s decision and the DOMA ruling—and talked about how we, as believers, need to be found guilty of loving, and caring, and being kind, and being winsome—but of still standing for the truth. They are going to hear both—standing for the truth and a lot of humility and admission of brokenness— in the message that we’re about to hear today.
It’s given by Bob Lepine at Redeemer Church, here in Little Rock, Arkansas. We thought it was so good—we wanted you, as a listener, to hear it. I think it’s going to give you courage to stand for truth in a loving, kind, gracious, winsome way that invites people out of their broken lives and into the grace of Jesus Christ. What a great privilege we have in doing that!
Bob: This is Part Two of a message that’s called “Do Christians Have It Wrong on Human Sexuality?”
[Previously Recorded Message]
Bob: Now, the culture says there are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who are uptight and repressed about their sexuality; and there are those who are liberated and free, with regard to their sexuality; right? And, “You should be liberated and free. Who wants to be uptight and repressed?”
Well, the Bible says there are not two groups of people—there is one group. And the one group is the broken people—sexually. Our experience of sex is not what it was supposed to be. Our desire for sex, our lack of interest in sex, or our lack of commitment to sex in our marriage—whatever it looks like, whatever your sexual sin—did you catch that? Did you catch how your indifference toward sex in marriage is as much sexual sin as sex outside of marriage is?
The husband or the wife who says, “I’m not really interested”—well, wait, wait, wait! God said, “Do it.” So, when you say, “I’m not interested,” it’s a rebellion against God. “Huh?” Yes, you see—our sexual brokenness can happen in all kinds of ways—all kinds of manifestations. So, what happens is that our brokenness and our rebellion—our soul is longing for what God created us to long for—the rightness of that sexual experience—your soul craves that. We’re intended for intimacy. Our soul longs for it, but we settle for cheap substitutes for the real thing—things that let us down. The song says, “We look for love in all the wrong places.” We think, “Maybe, if I do this…." or, “Maybe, if I do that….” or, “If I try this technique….” or, “If I do this, maybe, then, I’ll get what my soul is longing for will happen.”
We’re always disappointed when we pursue the sexual substitutes—always—whether it’s a single person, a married person—whether it is solo sex—whatever it is, you’re always disappointed because it always falls short of what God intended. You’ve got to be rightly-related to God, and you’ve got to understand His design and intention for sexuality in order for it to be what your soul longs for it to be.
Here’s what I want you to hear. It’s not about technique. It’s not about the right setting. It’s not about the right mood. It’s not about how much chocolate was involved; okay? It is about being in a right relationship with God—where He satisfies the longing of your soul—and He provides the sanctifying grace that you need in order to experience His gift as it was intended to be experienced within the parameters He created for it in the first place.
Before sin came into the world—get this—Genesis 2, there was no lust. Adam never lusted. There was no adultery. There was no fornication. There was no pornography. There was no homosexuality, no sexual perversion of any kind. But when sin came into the world, sex broke. The brokenness can be as subtle as sexual selfishness, where sex is used as a way to control or manipulate somebody else. It can be the sinful desire to watch movies, or television, or shows that will stir up lustful, sexual passion inside of you. That’s a part of your sexual brokenness. That’s a part of engaging in arousal, outside of the bonds of marriage, where God designed for it to happen. Or your sexual brokenness can show up in a variety of sexual addictions, or anonymous sex, or other activities that reveal just how deeply broken people can be in this area of our lives.
But here’s what’s happening in the culture today. We still have a pretty universal consensus that pedophilia and rape are terrible things. I cannot guarantee you that, 20 years from now, the culture will feel that way about those things because if you took me back, 20 years ago, and said, “One day, homosexuality will be seen as legitimate, viable, and gay marriage will be accepted,” I’d have gone, “No, that’s a little—that’s crazy!” So, when we sit and think, “The legitimization of pedophilia—that’s crazy!” Well, guess what? Crazy is happening.
I was born in 1956. So, between the time I was born and the time I became a teen, America had experienced a Cultural Revolution—a huge cultural revolution. That Cultural Revolution affected fashion. It affected hairstyles. It affected the music we were listening to. A big part of it was the sexual revolution that took place.
In the ‘60’s, if there was a sure way to know if something was right or wrong, here’s how you determined it. If your parents were for it, it was wrong. That was our belief. Time®Magazine—1967—declared the “Man of the Year for 1966” was people 25 and under. Young people were the “Man of the Year” because we had a whole new view. We saw life differently. In fact, my generation believed that we knew better about life than our parents ever did. So, poets of our generation wrote things like: “Come mothers and fathers, throughout the land, and don’t criticize what you can’t understand. Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command. Your old world is rapidly aging. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand for the times—they are a-changin’.”
Now, can I just say, parenthetically here, that the Prophet Jeremiah had a little poetry answer-back to Bob Dylan? He said, in Jeremiah 6:16, “Thus, said the Lord, ‘Stand by the roads and look and ask for the ancient paths where the good way is and walk in it and find rest for your souls;’ but they say, ‘We will not walk in it.’” Here’s the new generation saying: “We know how to do it better than you’ve ever done it. In fact, we’re going to try some things societies never tried before.” Well, I want to suggest to you that the legacy of the generation of the ‘60’s—that tried things that society had never tried before—is not a positive legacy.
Sexual sin was not new in the ‘60’s; but here’s what was new—all of a sudden, we didn’t call it sin anymore. All of a sudden, there were no taboos. All of a sudden, the idea that sex before marriage or sex outside of marriage was wrong started to evaporate. Sex anytime was groovy. It was natural. In fact, in the ‘60’s, people started to wonder: “Maybe, marriage, itself, is the problem. Who needs a piece of paper anyway?” right? I mean, all you need to do is: “Just as long as you are in love….” People started saying their vows—not “…as long as the two shall live,” but, “…as long as the two shall love.” We started writing songs like: “Being shackled by the ink stains that have dried upon some lines.” We talked about: “If you can’t be with the one you love”—what?—“Love the one….” (You were there, too; weren’t you?) [Laughter] “Free love!” is the cry. “You need to get rid of your hang ups about sex, Man!”
What happened in the ‘60’s is—we uncoupled sex from marriage—pardon the pun—we uncoupled it. I would suggest, to you, that the results of that uncoupling today—the sexual liberation—has been devastating. We don’t have time to go through the whole legacy of it—but I would say 50 million abortions—the disintegration of families. Used to be that the normal path somebody would follow in a relationship is—you would start to date; and then, you’d get engaged; and then, you’d get married; and then, you’d have sex; and then, you’d move in together, and have sex, and have kids.
Today, here’s what most kids do—date, have sex, move in together, have kids, get engaged, get married—41 percent of all babies, born in our country this year—born to single parents. Then, if you take the babies born to single parents and you take the babies born to cohabiting unmarried couples—most babies are not born to a mom and dad who are married. Has the sexual revolution brought on good fruit or bitter fruit?
Well, here’s how it’s affecting you. You may say, “Well, I don’t—you know, I’m following the old ways.” Okay, but we live in a culture where sexual sin is now celebrated. It’s normalized. It’s made to look attractive and glamorous in our culture. You can’t help but be influenced by that. The temptation to sexual sin is more intense than it’s ever been. It is more constant. It’s more accessible than ever. Your friends tell you that your attitude about sex is judgmental or self-righteous. All around you are people—even Christians—who are disregarding God’s design for sexual purity. It looks like they are doing fine. In fact, in some cases, you look and you go: “I think they look happy.” You start to think—well, maybe—“Why should I live this way?”
Well, here’s why—because the God who created you, and designed—and designed sex knows that it is a good gift. It’s a blessing from Him. It’s given to you if you live it out the way He intended for you to do it and practice it. You will not do the damage to your soul that will come if you take it outside the bounds. See, that’s why God says: “Don’t do except for here because, when you do it out there, it’s going to degrade you. It’s going to cheapen you. It’s going to wound you. It’s going to rob you of a sense of who you are.” The question always comes up, “Okay, well”—you know, single people say: “Well, okay, what can you do? Is sex, outside of marriage, really wrong? Where does it say that in the Bible?”
Let me just give you five passages you can take home and you can look up on your own; okay? The first one is First Corinthians, Chapter 6, verses 9-20. That section lays it out pretty clearly. The second one is First Thessalonians, Chapter 4, verses 3-8. Then, read Ephesians, Chapter 5, verses 3-17. If you still aren’t convinced, read Colossians 3, 5, and 6—read Galatians 5:19-21. If you need me to give you those verses later, I’ll do that; okay?
But we’ve focused on sexual sin, in general, so far in this message—but I want us to take a little bit of time—and I want us to zero in on where the point of the spear is, right now, in our culture. This is one particular area of sexual brokenness—one particular disordered desire. It’s the area of same-sex attraction and homosexuality. All we’re going to have time for this morning is for me to give you some broad statements that I think we, as people who battle with our own sexual brokenness, need to keep in mind as homosexuality moves more into the mainstream in our culture.
Here are my seven. Here is my first one: Acting on homosexual desire is clearly seen, in Scripture, as rebellion against God and His creative design. If you wonder where that is—it’s in the second half of Romans, Chapter 1; and it’s in First Corinthians, Chapter 6. I only give you those two verses because, a lot of times, if you are in dialogue with people on this subject, they want to take you to Leviticus. They want to say: “Oh, so, Leviticus says you should stone homosexuals. So, do you think you should stone homosexuals? What about disobedient children? What about eating shell fish? What about mixing fabrics?” You get into this whole thing with people who don’t understand the difference between the Old Covenant—and what it pointed to—and the New Covenant, after Christ came. So, I’m giving you two passages, after Jesus came, that deal with homosexuality so that you can say: “You know what? Forget Leviticus. Let’s just talk about Romans 1 and First Corinthians 6.”
Here’s a second thing: In addition to what God says about homosexuality, the way He designed the human bodies to fit together in the sex act is evidence that God’s design is for heterosexuality not homosexuality. Natural law is what we called this. You want to take the Bible out of it and just say: “Bodies don’t fit together if it’s a man and a man or a woman and a woman. They were—we were designed to fit together.”
Here’s the third thing: The fact that Jesus does not anywhere specifically condemn homosexuality does not mean that it’s now pleasing to God. People say, “Well, Jesus never said anything against homosexuality.” In fact, He did in Matthew, Chapter 19, when He talks about “From the beginning…”—they are asking about adultery. He says—He says, “Sexual sin”—He says: “From the beginning, it was not so. Have you not read, ‘He created them male and female, and the man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife’?”
So, He takes them back to the design of God. He doesn’t address homosexuality, specifically; but in the context of sexual sin, He points them to what sexual righteousness is supposed to look like. So, anything that is outside of sexual righteousness is sexual sin.
Number four: God’s grace toward us, in spite of our sexual brokenness, should make us humble, and compassionate, and gracious toward others who are dealing with their own sexual brokenness. Here’s the trap we fall into. You come to somebody who is experiencing same-sex attraction. You think that they are fundamentally different than you. The truth is that their sexual brokenness is just a different flavor than yours. They’re broken in a different way; but it’s not they’re broken, and you’re not.
Number five: In the same way that we would agree that there is a different degree of sinfulness between heterosexual lust and fornication, or heterosexual lust and adultery—you’d agree; right?—that if somebody lusts after somebody else, that’s one degree of sinfulness; but if somebody is in adultery, we’ve gone to a new degree. Would you agree with that? You think it’s the same? I would suggest to you that there are levels of sinfulness, in terms of how that’s lived out. That if I have anger—all sin is equal, before God, in terms of culpability but not in terms of severity. That’s what I am suggesting here. So that, if I have anger toward you, it is a different degree of sinfulness than if I murder you. That’s my presupposition here. We can have the discussion afterwards if you want to; okay?
But I would say, because there is a degree of difference there, we should also agree that there is a difference between homosexual desire and homosexual behavior. They are both broken; but they are broken at a different degree of brokenness. Just as someone who resists the desire to look at pornography ought to be commended and affirmed—and they should. If somebody said: “Man! I’m battling this, and I was tempted, and I resisted,” we should cheer that brother on. Well, in the same way, if somebody, who is a follower of Jesus, who experiences same-sex attraction and who does not give in to the temptation to act on his same-sex attraction, is a person who is demonstrating admirable self-control and should be commended. We should have respect and compassion for that brother or sister in Christ.
And number seven: If you are here this morning and you’re experiencing same-sex attraction, for whatever reason, you need to know that you’re experiencing a desire to do something that God forbids; and you need to know you are welcome here. Okay? You are among friends. We all do battle, daily, with our own sexual brokenness. Welcome to the church of the sexually-broken. You’re here with other sexually-broken people. We want to be your ally as you continue to do battle against sexual temptation—however it manifests in you—and we need you to be our ally as we battle our own sexual temptation.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to Part Two of a message on the subject of where the culture and the Bible collide around human sexuality.
Dennis: And what was there unclear about what you just said there?
Bob: Well, there are some people who object to the idea of talking about our behavior in terms of brokenness because I think they think it takes away responsibility. You know, if I say, “I’m broken in this area; then, I’m not responsible.” That wasn’t what I was trying to communicate. I hope folks understand: Yes, we are all broken; but we got that way because of our rebellion.
Dennis: I think Paul said it in Romans best. He said, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We’re all broken people, who were made in God’s image—but as a result of our own selfishness, our own pride, our own tendency to tell God, “You go your way, I’m going mine,”—we are broken people. I think the problem with those of us—who have come to know Jesus Christ, and redemption, and forgiveness of sin—is, sometimes, we can forget what it’s like to be in a state of brokenness, without hope. So, now, we experience this brokenness with hope. We collide with other people who don’t believe as we believe or don’t behave as we behave. We begin to pick up the stones to throw stones at them.
It is why, I think, the Christian community has earned a good bit of its reputation for being a finger-pointing, judgmental group of people, who can look down on sinners. I think what you are trying to do, in your message, that you did extremely well, and what we try to do, here on FamilyLife Today, is say to folks: “We are all in need of a Savior. We just would like you to find Him, too. We don’t want to say or do anything here that would discourage you from finding Him; but we want you to know the Bible has spoken on certain issues of life. We want to represent those issues in the most non-bashful way.”
Dennis: I want to be bold, but I don’t want to poke people in the eye with it.
Bob: You want to speak the truth in love.
Dennis: I really do. And I think our listeners get that. We’ve heard from hundreds of listeners who have said: “You know what? You gave us courage to speak the truth in love in some situations in our family,”—because they may have some people who are dealing with sexual brokenness in their own extended family or, maybe, some of their own adult children.
We do want to equip you to be able to take on these tough issues—where life and truth collide, and where we all have to live out our lives—and hopefully, leave the aroma of Christ in the room—both when we enter and when we leave.
Bob: You remember back, at the end of July, when we had David White and Ellen Dycas on FamilyLife Today? We talked about how distorted this issue of sexuality has become in our culture. David has written a book called Sexual Sanity for Men and Ellen has written a book called Sexual Sanity for Women. We’ve got both of those books in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. I think our listeners would find them helpful as they deal with what may be struggles in their own lives or trying to help others who are struggling in this area, in this culture. As we said today, “We’re all broken when it comes to human sexuality.” So, let me encourage you to get a copy of both of these books.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order online. Again, the website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Ask about the books about sexual sanity when you call. Again, the number is 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
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With that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us. Hope you can join us back on Monday. Lydia Brownback is going to join us. We’re going to talk about what the book of Proverbs has to say to us—especially, what it has to say to women. We’ll talk about that Monday. Hope you can tune in.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. See you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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