Episode 1. Girls and Guys
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Contentment is something that we’d all like to have. It comes in many different shapes and sizes I guess. One of the areas we go looking for contentment in is the whole boy/girl, man/woman …
Contentment is something that we’d all like to have. It comes in many different shapes and sizes, I guess. One of the areas we go looking for contentment in is the whole boy/girl, man/woman relationship thing. Problem is, a whole bunch of people go looking in the wrong places with disastrous consequences.
Back in the days when I was studying at Bible College – a good many years ago now – the principal of the College was a man by the name of Barry Chant. And I remember quite distinctly one morning, he came down to the common area where we all gathered before lectures and announced that “today” was exactly 50 years since he’d started following Jesus.
Fifty years! And the more I came to know him, as a teacher, a colleague ultimately and as a trusted counsellor and friend, I realised how much his life had been impacted by 50 years of walking with the Lord. The man has a maturity and wisdom that is quite remarkable.
I say that as a preface – because I’m about to share with you something today that he shared with me all those years ago. We were studying, in our various streams of academia, to become ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I recall one lecture, where he talked about the three things that generally bring ministers unstuck.
They’re really easy to remember, because they all start with “g”. Would you like to know what they are? Girls, Gold and Glory. Pretty simple. Pretty powerful. And the more I think about it, those are the very same things that bring us unstuck in our search for contentment.
Girls – or in the case of women, guys – Gold and Glory.
Want to kick off with the first one of those today – because unless we get the girls/guys thing under control, then we’re not going to be content. And the whole subject of the boy/girl, man/woman relationships and intimacy thing … isn’t an easy one to talk about in this day and age, without sounding a bit anachronistic. Because attitudes and lifestyles have changed.
These days, intimacy before marriage and indeed outside of marriage is pretty much accepted in most societies as a fact of life. I think the current term is friends with benefits – where people engage in casual sex to meet their physical needs, without the emotional entanglement of an exclusive boy/girl relationship. And most couples who get married today, have slept together before getting married.
I heard a statistic the other day that fully 30% of married Australian men have visited a prostitute. Not to mention the office affairs, unfaithfulness and marriage breakdowns arising out of those extra–marital affairs.
And as the world around us becomes more and more accepting of promiscuity as purely a lifestyle choice … I start to find myself wondering, Hang on a minute, is it ME that’s going crazy here? Am I the one who’s out of touch by believing that physical and sexual intimacy belongs in a marriage – in the completely exclusive, life–long relationship between one man and one woman?
Is the biblical position on this still tenable in this day and age?
Then I pinch myself and realise that what Jesus has to say is always as applicable today as it was back 2000 years ago, because truth – His Truth – is timeless. And this is what Jesus said, when the religious leaders of the day came to ask Him about divorce:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. ’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 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. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. ’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:27–32)
That seems pretty harsh doesn’t it. Pretty tough – rigid. If Jesus were alive today, they’d probably call Him an extreme conservative; a fundamentalist. But there’s a reason that Jesus takes this apparently hard line. And that reason is that God created us male and female, in order that those who so choose, can live in a life–long intimate marriage as husband and wife. Plain and simple. Again – here is what He said, quoting this time the first book in the Bible, the book of Creation – Genesis:
Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” He said to them, “It was because you were so hard- hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:3–9)
The point is that we’re created to be husband and wife, and when we try to mess with that, when we try to break that – it doesn’t work. Our physiological drive to reproduce is a very strong one. Stronger in some than in others to be sure – but a strong one nevertheless. It’s a gift from God. And it’s a gift that is satisfied completely in the context of marriage as God had planned. You can’t be content chasing girls (or … guys as the case may be) outside marriage. It may seem fun and exciting and alluring at the time – but in the end, it leads to emptiness.
Sex without love is always empty. For me, there is no one, there can never be anyone, as beautiful as my wife. She’s mine and I’m hers – exclusively, no exceptions – and in that my friend there is such great contentment. So if you find your eye … or your heart wandering, remember this, if you wander, you will never ever, ever be content. Ever.
I know … I know – that completely flies in the face of contemporary beliefs and contemporary practice. It makes me look like a prude saying that sex outside marriage – in all its different forms – is wrong. Well it ain’t me – so please don’t shoot the messenger. It’s God.
God wants you and me to be content. Did you realise that? He places a high value indeed on contentment. On us being satisfied and fulfilled. 1 Tim 6:6 the Apostle Paul writes:
Of course there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment.
And therein lies the secret of God’s wisdom. Contentment and godliness go hand in glove. You can’t have the one without the other. God created us. He knows us better than we know ourselves and through Jesus, through His Word, He’s telling us how to be content, when it comes to our need to fulfil our male, female relationship. Now a little later in the week on the program I’m going to talk about singleness because not everyone gets married. And singleness isn’t a disease – it’s a place where many, many people find contentment.
But the one place that none of us will ever find contentment is chasing gratification out there, in a place where it will never satisfy. God knows what He’s talking about. Really He does. And we step over that line at our peril. He loves us – He loves you and He loves me and as any loving father would, He’s telling us this to protect us from ourselves.