Love and Sex in Light of the Cross

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Follow God’s example and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

Ephesians 5:1-3

In yesterday's reflection, I noted that the transition in Ephesians 5:1-3 from love in the cross of Christ to the prohibition of sexual immorality can seem like thematic whiplash. What connection can there be between God's love, seen supremely in Christ's death on the cross, and sexual activity?

I noted yesterday that the embodiment of God's love in Jesus and the offering of this body on the cross suggests a strong connection between love and embodied life, which surely includes sexuality. Thus, it's not so strange that Paul might move thematically from focusing on the cross to talking about sex.

But there is another connection here we mustn't miss. In Ephesians 5:1, we are told to imitate God by walking in the way of love. The example of such divine love is the self-giving sacrifice of Christ (5:2). Then we come to verse 3: "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality." This juxtaposition suggests that walking in the way of love is inconsistent with engaging in impure sexual behavior. If you love someone, you will not engage in sexual immorality with that person.

Why is this so? Surely, one of the essential characteristics of sexual immorality is the consuming focus on one's own desires and pleasures. Sex becomes primarily a means for one's own gratification rather than a way to love another person in a self-giving, sacrificial way. If I use another person sexually for my own pleasure, then I am not walking in the way of Christ-like love. This is true whether I act on my desires or merely look at another person lustfully, something Jesus calls "committing adultery in one's heart" (Matt. 5:27-28).

Thus, the call to walk in the way of love gets down into the nitty-gritty of everyday life, including sexuality. Everything we do, every purpose to which we put our bodies, should reflect God's amazing love, which we see most clearly in the self-giving sacrifice of Christ.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How might focusing on God's love help us to live sexually pure lives? What is our answer to the claim that sex is just not a big deal, that we are making too much out of it?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for your all-surpassing love. Thank you for loving us and helping us to see your love through the life and especially the death of Christ.

Thank you, Lord, for calling me to walk in love, to love as you have loved. Help me to do so in all of my relationships and in every part of life. In particular, I ask that your love guide and mold me when it comes to my sexuality. May my desires and behaviors be a reflection and expression of your love. Amen.


How to Share Your Faith at Work

Let’s admit it: It can be awkward to share our faith at work. The fear of damaging relationships and making the workplace that much more difficult (we do, after all, have to deal with these people on a daily basis). The fear of repercussions from those we work for. The fear of coming across as, well, just weird. In the stories found in the series, How to Share Your Faith at Work, we find practical ways to naturally share with people the thing that is most precious in our lives – our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Image above by Sean McGrath. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.

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