My family recently purchased a new stove for our kitchen. The user’s manual started with 12 pages of safety warnings. Among those printed in bold font are:
- Don’t enter the oven. [???!!!]
- Don’t use your appliance for warming or heating the room.
- Don’t store flammable materials in the oven or near the surface units.
- Don’t touch the heating elements or interior surface of the oven.
- Don’t touch the cooktop elements.
- Don’t stand on top of the appliance.
- Don’t heat un-opened containers.
- “During use, the appliance becomes hot”. [Duh!]
As self-evident as these foolish dangers are, I’m sure the warnings are there because someone has done these things and been hurt by them.
Are the manufacturer’s warnings unreasonable, or trying to interfere with me using my own stove as I see fit? Or are they trying to protect me, and help me get the best use out of the product? Who knows best how the product works, the manufacturer or the end user?
The Manufacturer’s Instructions
There is a stark contrast in our society today. On one hand, there is God’s — the Manufacturer’s — design for sex as an expression of a relationship that is intimate in many other ways as well. On the other hand, there have been 50-60 years of steadily-increasing disregard for His warnings against misuse of that gift. We are seeing the results all around us in the form of lives tragically “burned”.
God’s design and directions are really quite simple. He built two models, male and female, with complementary strengths and weaknesses (Genesis 1:27, 2:18). One individual of each model is to join permanently with one of the other model, forming a new “whole” that is a strong synergy of what each brings to the relationship (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:3-5). The physical joining to form “one flesh” is a vivid picture of the full-person joining of two lives (Matthew 19:6-12). This unshakeable intimacy is such a powerful symbol of relationship that God uses it to illustrate His love as the “husband” of His people (Isaiah 54:5), His “bride“.
Heeding the Warnings
When people live within God’s boundaries, good things happen.
- Both men and women can express themselves to their fullest, with emotional safety.
- Both have a loving sounding board who can offer comfort and protection.
- Both have the insight of their spouse’s differing perspective to provide balance in dealing with any issue that they encounter.
- The children they raise together have the benefit of both role models, as well as the model of a healthy relationship 1.
- Meanwhile, the parents have someone to share in the difficult task of giving each child the love and education they need in order to become well-rounded adults.
Ignoring the Warnings
When people disregard God’s warnings and defiantly live outside His boundaries, bad things happen.
- Men and women are jaded by temporary relationships, or hurt by past betrayals.
- That causes them to have trouble trusting and committing themselves to a fulfilling lifetime partnership.
- Single parents are left to deal with both earning a living and raising children alone, an exhausting task.
- Or, in an attempt to avoid facing that task, parents turn to abortion…ending their child’s life and still facing physical and emotional repercussions for decades afterward. 2
- Children of divorce (or never-married parents) doubt their own worth. Growing up without sufficiently involved role models of both genders, they turn to other sources of validation 3.
- We see this in gangs, with their drugs and violence, giving young people the sense of belonging that they are missing at home.
- We also see it in the current phase of LGBT and transgender activism, as either:
- A bid for attention not received in healthier ways, or
- An inability to accept themselves as the beautiful, much-loved male or female that God created them to be.
Love the Sinner; Hate only the Sin
God loves every single person He created. All are equally valuable to Him. However, that doesn’t stop every single person from being a sinner, a rebel against God, and responsible to Him for the choices they make. Those who express that rebellion sexually are no worse that those who express it in any other way. However, such actions are still sin, and are not something worthy of pride or affirmation. The people are; the actions and lifestyles are not.
Note: Any Christian who hates or denigrates another person created in God’s image because of that person’s sexual behavior (or any other behavior, for that matter) is not acting as Christ does. He hates the sin because it causes separation from Him, but He loves the sinner.
I know that unkindness, hatred, and insults sometimes happen, and I apologize on behalf of myself and my fellow sinners. Remember, Christians are only sinners who have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice. That doesn’t make us instantly become non-sinners.
Natural vs. Healthy
There are those who say “This is just the way I am naturally. I can’t help it.” They are correct: We are all naturally sinners. It is natural for me to shove people out of my way when I want to the front of the line. It is natural for me to yell at friends and family when I don’t get my way. It is natural for me to take what I want regardless of anyone else’s needs or desires.
It is also wrong for me to act on any of those natural inclinations. Being “natural” doesn’t change the Manufacturer’s instructions for how our sexuality is meant to be enjoyed.
- Two genders, male and female.
- Sexual activity only between one man and one woman who are committed to one another for their entire lives.
- Nothing else (Exodus 20:14/Deuteronomy 5:18, Leviticus 20:10-21).
It’s Hard…But there is Help Available
I realize that this standard seems strict and impossible. Those with same-sex attractions, as well as those with opposite-sex attractions other than their spouse, are to refrain from acting on those attractions. They are to control their actions in this area the same way that they avoid pushing to the front of the line or yelling to get their own way. They are not to give power to such thoughts or give in to the immediate at the expense of the future.
Many people have fallen short of the standard, for many reasons. That doesn’t make God love them any less. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that He knows best, He is the ultimate authority, and His instructions give the best chance at the fullest life that He intends.
That best life in relationship with Him is what God wants for each person. He stands ready to forgive the past, give strength for today, and give hope for the future to all sinners, no matter how they have expressed that sin. Jesus came, died, and rose again to make that possible for anyone who will accept His gift.
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:15-16
Footnotes and Scripture References
- For more information and assistance, check out these resources: Abortion Changes You, Focus on the Family, If Not For Grace
- To learn more about the fallout from fatherlessness, see https://fathers.com/statistics-and-research/the-consequences-of-fatherlessness/,