Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts, to sexual impurity, for the degrading of their bodies with one another.Romans 1:24
The wickedness at work among human beings follows a process which is identified in this passage by the thrice-repeated phrase,
God gave them over. This phrase identifies what is going on in our culture. The first mark of wickedness in a godless society is widespread sexual immorality — the degrading, or the dishonoring, of the body. Many people think this account describes all the evil things men do, and then says that God washes his hands of evil people because they are so filthy and dirty. That is not what this says. But because men run after other gods and refuse the testimony of their own hearts and do not glorify or thank the true God, God removes his restraints from society so that what is done in secret is allowed to break out into openness and acceptability. That is the mark of the wrath of God at work. The first sign of wickedness in a civilization is that sexual immorality becomes widely accepted.
You may ask,
Why is it that sex always seems to be singled out as the sign of God's judgment Many Christians have wrongly concluded that sexual sins are the worst kinds of sin. But that is not true. This passage in Romans bears it out. It begins with sexual impurity and proceeds to sexual perversity. But, the final result is not sexual sins, but sins of the spirit. Widespread animosity, hatred of the heart — these are the worst sins. There is good reason why God allows sexual practices to come to the surface. He allows it to show us what is going on in our spiritual lives. It highlights the fact that sex is linked with worship. Sex is a desire to possess another body and to be possessed by another. It is a deep-seated craving inherent in every human being.
We have all heard the statement,
Girls give sex in order to get love; boys give love in order to get sex. This is true, superficially. But what both are really after is not sex at all; they are after worship. They really want to worship and to be worshipped. They really want a sense of total fulfillment, a oneness, an identity. Only God can give that fulfillment. Only God can satisfy that deep sense of longing for complete identity and unity with another person. That is what we call worship. When we worship, we are longing to be possessed of God, and to possess him fully. That is why the highest description of the relationship with God possible to a believer is found in the words of Jesus in John 14-15,
You in me, and I in you (John 14:20). When people think that they are going to find that fulfillment in sex, God says to them,
Look, it won't work. But you won't believe that until you try it out. So he removes the restraints and allows immoral sexual practices to become widely accepted, understanding that men indulging in these things will finally find themselves just as dissatisfied, empty and hopeless as they were when they started. Thus they will learn that worshipping God is the only way by which people find fulfillment.
Father, I see how accurately these words describe our own times. Thank you that you have not forsaken this world, and that the message of truth and light is still as available as ever.
Do we react to the prevalent cultural immorality with self-righteous condemnation? Does it increase our awe and gratitude for God's grace to us, and therefore our compassionate care for others?