How can I avoid sexual immorality?

Email Received:

I’m still trying to deal with the fact that I am a divorced man. Life has been strange. I am dating someone who was a friend of mine for many years. It started out as a mutual enjoyment of an activity. We would take part in the activity. In between we would discuss religion. Eventually I ended up attending her church. It was a bit intimidating. So I convinced her to attend Resurrection one week a month. that lasted about one visit. Now we attend every weekend. I don’t understand why, but it seems like the stronger my faith becomes the better our relationship becomes. At the same time we struggle with exactly what is proper for a dating couple. I know it’s a taboo question, but I have been searching and I can’t exactly figure out what is proper for a dating couple. I know pre-marital sex is out. I did that the first time around and learned my lesson. I just can’t figure out what the term sexual immorality means. It seems like the bible has no information on dating. what are your thoughts on this? I know this is a rather intimate subject, but I refuse to make the same mistakes twice so I apologize for the nature of my questions.

My Response:

Thanks for sharing the story of your relationship. I think that it is a very real experience to grow stronger in your faith and stronger in your relationship. Faith can be a very strong binding force in relationships and in marriage. It can also be a wedge between two people if they are headed in different directions in their spiritual journey.

No need to apologize for the nature of your questions. They are real questions and I appreciate your honesty. The question that you seem to be asking is what is it that I can do to avoid sexual immorality. I would agree with your conclusion that sexual intercourse outside of a marriage relationship is not God’s intention. Beyond that there are many different ways of interpreting as a couple “how far to go.” Sexual intercourse, oral sex, mutual masturbation, touching body parts – all these are areas that you will have to talk about as a couple. I encourage you to engage your partner in this conversation. Make a decision together about how you feel comfortable together. I believe that it is very important that you do not go further than either partner is comfortable going sexually. I also believe that it is important that you set boundaries as a couple that excludes activities with which you may be comfortable, but which you recognize is not the way in which God is calling you to be in relationship.

I also encourage you to ask a question with some similarities and some distinct differences. In addition to, “How can I avoid sexual immorality?” you might also ask the question of yourself and as a couple, “How is God calling us to be in relationship?” This has many different aspects, one of which is physical. You might also talk about your spiritual journey together, future life plans and goals, your emotional connection and many other areas. This shifts the question from what to avoid to what to strive for. Does that make sense?

I would also suggest that you consider reading as a couple the book, Making Love Last a Lifetime by Adam Hamilton. It may also provide some insight on dating, relationships and preparation for marriage. You can pick it up at the bookstore before or after worship on the weekend or you can order it online here – http://thewell.cor.org/detail.aspx?ID=4.

Please feel free to ask any other questions or let me know if there is any other way that I might provide guidance or care.

What do you think?

Relationship with the Son and Holy Spirit

What is a correct relationship between the Son / Holy Spirit and me? Who can I depend on for strength in time of weakness?

I believe that it is faithful to consider yourself a child of God the Father, a sister or brother of God the Son and as one living with God the Holy Spirit alive within you.

Can I depend on God the Father or God the Son or God the Holy Spirit in time of weakness? I believe the answer to this is yes. We may find ourselves in different times of crisis relating to God in different ways, but I believe that all persons of Trinity are in relationship with us and offer strength in the times of weakness or crisis.

I encourage you to chose a few passages below and reflect on your relationship with God. What are your thoughts? How do you most often relate to God?

Child of God the Father

  • Luke 20:27-39
  • John 1:1-13
  • Romans 8:1-28
  • Galatians 3:23-4:7
  • Hebrews 12:4-13
  • 1 John 3:1-10
  • 1 John 5:1-12
  • Revelation 21:1-8

Sister or brother of God

  • Jesus interaction with his family
    • Matthew 12:46-50
    • Mark 3:20-34
    • Luke 8:19-21
  • Jesus urge to the women to tell his brothers the news of the resurrection
    • Matthew 28:1-10
    • John 20:1-18
  • Hebrews 2:5-14

God the Holy Spirit living within you

  • Romans 8:1-17
  • 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:6
  • 1 Peter 2:4-9

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?”

Equality of the Three Persons

Is the Holy Spirit equal to the Father and the Son or is it a go-between? Diagrams…

This question included a drawing of my description of a way of Visualizing the Trinity that Thomas Weinandy’s thesis might suggest. I think that this question points out a possible weakness in this way of thinking about the relationships between the persons. It does seem to put a lower importance on the person of the Holy Spirit.

In answer to your question – I believe that the Holy Spirit is no less than the Father and the Son a person of the Trinity. I recognize my own tendency to assign the Holy Spirit a lesser role as I am less familiar with talking and thinking about the Holy Spirit – as a result of my background in the United Methodist Church vs a background that may put more emphasis on the Holy Spirit (i.e. a more charismatic tradition).

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?”

Belief in the Trinity

Do you think it is important to God that we believe we understand the Holy Trinity or do you think He wants us to constantly be trying to understand?

I think that it is important that we have faith that seeks understanding of the Trinity and many other theological concepts – atonement, salvation, forgiveness. Some of these we experience, some of these we seek to understand, and for many of them we do both. In regard to the Trinity, I believe that it is more important to seek a relationship and experience interaction than to think about or try to understand.

I do not think that it is a faithful response to say that we fully understand the Trinity. I think that there is a balance between knowing / understanding and fully understand the Trinity. Our journey at Resurrection is one of knowing, loving and serving God and this is a journey that will likely not be complete in this life.

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?”