Absolute Sex – Why Jesus is the source of the best things in life.

A talk given during the Sydney University EU 2002 series Absolute God. The audio has not been located.


1. The source and goal of sex

2. Lies, Damned Lies

3. The Absolutes in Sex

4. Hope for the Hopeless

5. Fresh Start

Prayer of Repentance and Forgiveness


I’m glad that you’ve come to this series on ‘Absolutes’ and I’m glad that the organizers have organized it for us. The whole series has been challenging us about our relationship with God. For some, this is a very far and distant relationship in fact, an unsatisfactory relationship in fact, a non-relationship. It’s not there. We are not his friends, not his children. Basically, we’ve ignored him and when we do think of what he wants, it’s only to reject and rebel against the very idea of living his way. So, the whole series has been about challenging us, challenging us to get right with God, challenging us to become his children, challenging us to turn back from our present course of life.

I’m glad you’ve come to this particular talk, not because I’m the particular speaker at this one, but because it’s a topic which is so important to our society, but more, it’s a topic so important to us. I’m going to finish this talk, I hope, by challenging you about how you can come into a relationship with God and offer you the opportunity to do that right now, today or to find out more and contact us further on the subject.

This subject that I’m speaking about today is one that is affecting many people. I have lived and worked among university students long enough; I’ve raised three children who have passed through university and these days I’m the grand old figure or grandfather of several grandchildren. I’ve been around students all my life. I know that there would be people in this room and in the overflow room,  who will be hurting on this subject personally. So, after the meeting, I’ll be hanging around for those who would like to talk to me personally.

Ever since the ’60s, baby boomers put into effect the sexual revolution, that had been building up for a hundred or so years beforehand, our society has been struggling with questions of sexuality. I’m not inviting us to go back to the 1950s with the white picket fence. The 1950s replaced God with the family and the family could not sustain the weight of playing God. The 1960s replaced God with the sexual revolution and sexual gratification has not been able to succeed any more than the 1980s, when we used greed and money as an alternative to God and that also failed. I won’t invite us to go back to the ‘50s. You can just look at the royal family in Britain to see the shift that has taken place from one generation to the other and the chaos of trying to set a family as the ultimate in life and reality. To turn a family into an absolute is as much a failure as to turn sex into the absolute, but it’s the sex I’ve been asked to talk about.

1. The source and goal of sex

Our sexual behaviour can be seen and viewed as a random reproductive activity of biological organisms, and no different to the sexual behaviour of animals or insects, except in the detail. It can be viewed as a human activity with morals and ethics and codes of behaviour and purpose and intention by which morals and ethics can be evaluated.

Recent horrific rape cases, and the 55-year jail sentence of one man, declares that our society does not believe that sex is just a random biological activity. We think that it is a human activity that should be expressed in an appropriate fashion and should be restrained in circumstances and relationships. You can’t oppose paedophilia and live on the motto of ‘If it Feels Good Do It’. ‘If it Feels Good Do It’ was the kind of ‘60s and ‘70s motto, but of course, the people involved in this sexual revolution, such as the ‘60s French intellectuals; Sartre, Beauvoir and Derrida all came out in support of paedophilia. I doubt whether thirty years later many people would want to follow their example.

Now we have come to a period where there are absolutes in sex and we’ve come to the view rightly that paedophilia is never right. The question now is not so much ‘Are there absolutes?’ the question now is ‘What are the absolutes?’ And more importantly ‘Where do they come from? Who established them? How do we establish them? What is the basis of such absolutes?’

Just as the holocaust stands as a permanent ‘No’ to the modern relatives of our society, to the post-modern thinkers, so also does rape and paedophilia stand as a permanent negation of the sexual relativists of our society. Unless you are willing to go down the lane of saying that rape and paedophilia are perfectly alright; unless you are willing to go down that way, you cannot state there are no values. If you’re going to really accept that anybody can do anything they want, then you’ve also got to accept the unacceptable.

On the outline for this talk, there are two quotations from the New Testament. Firstly, Jesus is speaking as recorded in the gospel of Mark, where he is answering questions about divorce and remarriage. He looked to the source and goal of sexuality, of sexual behaviour, to see the inappropriateness of trading partners. His opponents the Pharisees were hypocritically giving marriage and divorce papers as they passed from one partner to the next and in the crude form of serialized adultery, like today’s crude adultery by de facto relationships. Jesus says in verse six of this passage:

“But at the beginning of creation God `made them male and female’.

‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one.

Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Mark 10:6-9

Sex is not just a part of our biological reproductive mechanism. It was also a fundamental part of our relationships. We are male and female, but we are made to be united physically in a relationship that would take precedence, even over our relationship with our parents. A union that was designed to be indissoluble. A joining together by God that Man should not separate.

Notice carefully what he says of the positive attitude of the Bible to the sexual act; it is created by God. It is created for our pleasure and our benefit. Not just for reproduction, but also for a union of two persons and personalities, as a means of establishing the most important human relationship that we can enjoy, as a way of uniting society by uniting the basic unit of society.

That is, sexual gratification is not an evil thing, it is a good and proper and right thing. But it is not an end in itself either. It is for the purpose of uniting people and developing and deepening our relationships as humanity. It is highly pleasurable, but it is not just there for pleasure. It is there for another reason. Of course, always the problem with pleasure is that the pursuit of pleasure never arrives. Pleasure comes as a by-product of the pursuit of other things, and relationship is far more important than sexuality. The sex is there to help the relationship.

Last night I was surfing the channels and I saw an interview on Rove with the British actor and now author Ethan Hawke, who has just published his novel called At Wednesday. It was an interesting interview in light of today’s topic because he talked about his life and his children. He talked about his career as an actor and now as an author he was under absolutely no apprehension that given the choice of his children or his career, his children came first. In fact, he made it perfectly clear that his wife made acting and being an author worthwhile and that everything in life was just that much more enjoyable because he had someone with whom to share it. His relationship was first and foremost, because out of that relationship came the other pleasures of life that he enjoyed.

Which is more important, the sexual gratification or the relationship in which it occurs? The Bible is perfectly clear on the matter. Sex is there for the relationship. This is not to decry the sexual activity in the slightest, in fact, it encourages it. It is in its place in the right framework, it has real and lasting and hugely beneficial satisfaction for us. One of the unforeseen and unintended consequences of the sexual revolution has been to show us the inadequacy of sexual gratification alone, of sexual gratification outside the context of relation building.

At the popular level you see it in the humorous sitcoms that have been exploring the angst of the thirty-something-year-old people, the singles, be it the unpleasant people who inhabited New York of Seinfield or the pathetic characters of Ally McBeal.

At the counselling level, we see it in the writings of some of Sydney’s leading sex educators. For example, Dr Rosie King was the great educator on sex to the post-graduate medical world. Her emphasis is on the importance of good relationships leading to sexual satisfaction. Sex outside of relationships is damaging and devastating, but sex inside relationships finds satisfaction. And the conversion experience of the psychologist Betina Arndt who shifted her whole message from the detailed physiological performances and techniques that she used to give answers to on her radio talkback shows to the value and significance of relationships deep, meaningful, long-lasting relationships.

At the governmental level, we can see it in 1998 when the report came out from the House of Representatives standing comities on legal and constitutional affairs, To Have and To Hold: The Strategies and Strength of Marriage and Relationships. The government investigated the cause of our relationship failures because they started to notice the costs of the breakdown of relationships – they are economic rationalists after all! They discovered that it cost the Australian community more than $3 billion a year in direct costs. The estimate for indirect costs, as best they could work out, was twice as much again. The cost was not just the family court (a wonderful piece of spin doctoring for a court that dissolves families), it was the whole consequence of lost work time, lost activity, lost motivation, sickness and illness that comes in our society. So, they gathered together scientific reports in the communities asking for any submissions from anyone involved in family life and they gathered together the resources and the surveys of the last 25 years across the world in this very useful compendium of what actually our social scientists are now telling us.

There has been a dramatic rise in children born out of wedlock. From 1800 to 1965 there were never more than 4-5% of the community born outside of wedlock. These are British figures. From 1965 to 1995 it rose from 5- 35%. In Australia, the rise has been from 4% in 1945 up to 26% in 1995. Half of that is people being born into de facto relationships, but more on that in a moment. However, what we have come to see is that children born outside of marriage are people who suffer. They suffer psychologically, they suffer in health, lower educational standards, and greater unemployment. There is not one statistic where they achieve at a higher level in community work and life over those who are born inside a marriage and a long-term stable relationship.

We’re talking statistically here friends. Your mum may have raised you by herself and I am thankful to God for the great job she’s done, but you have a four times greater chance of getting into university if you had mum and dad together, rather than being raised by mum alone. Just statistically it’s like that.

Anecdotally one person may have done very well against the statistical norms, but if you are setting up a pattern for making a happy society, and the welfare of the children of the next generation, you will not go for single parenting. You would not go in for parenting in cohabitation. All the books have been telling us, all the journals, all the magazines, the Dollys and the Cosmopolitans, how important it is to live with your partner before you tie the knot. The statistics are all against it. In fact, you have a much greater chance of divorce if you cohabit before marriage than if you don’t cohabit before marriage. Cohabitation is not only something that is shown to us as statistically unstable but has increased amounts of violence and abuse for women and has very significantly increased the levels of abuse for children.

Most paedophilia within families, most of the killings happen from stepfathers. They are the greatest menace to the safety and well-being of women and their children in our community. Cohabiting has been a disaster and each survey in Australia and around the world has demonstrated its disastrous effects. But I guarantee that if you go up to the bookstore or to the newsagent and buy a Cosmopolitan, or whatever magazine, there will be an article telling you that it is the best way to go. We know it is disastrous, behind the statistics are people, individuals, and students, like yourselves, with whom I’ve spent the better part of my life listening to their pain and their unhappiness and their hurts, because of what’s been done to them and because of what they have been involved in themselves. There are those who are hurt because they are users and those who are hurt because they have been used; there are those, even worse, who are the abusers, and the abused. It is a dreadful personal pain.

Suicide of course is much higher among those who cohabitate, those who divorce, and amongst those whose parents cohabitate or whose parents are divorced. Suicide is one of our big problems in society and there is a direct connection between our sexual behaviour and with the sexual behaviour of our parents.

On the intellectual level, you see the failure of the sexual revolution. When you look at the basis of the sexual revolution intellectually you see a series of key figures in the late 19th and early 20th century. Figures like Bertrand Russell in philosophy, Margaret Mead in anthropology, Sigmund Freud in Psychiatry, Alfred Kinsey in sexology and Havelock Ellis in psychology. Each in their own way has been discredited and discarded in their particular field of expertise, though most of them were speaking outside of their area of expertise on the subject of sex. Each of them seriously fudged the evidence that was before them and some of them like Margaret Mede have been wholesale discredited on her evidence on sexual studies in the South Pacific. Each of them was biased and corrupted by their own sexual dysfunctionality. Most were concealed from their contemporaries, though now freely admitted by their biographies, now that they are dead and the sexual revolution has happened. The sexual practices, malpractices and perversion of Margaret Mead and Alfred Kinsey are appalling. If you want to know more about that we wrote a book about this some time ago Pure Sex, which has a chapter on the history of the intellectual movements that lay behind the sexual revolution of the sixties. You can get Pure Sex from Mathias Media.

There are key groups of course, like the Bloomsbury set in the UK at the turn of the century, or the Sydney ‘Push’ here at the University of Sydney in the 1940s 50’s and 60’s. They hung around the university and the pubs back in those days, openly and horrifically immoral, decadent users and abusers of each other. Notice for example the awful interchange that took place a week or so ago when Mrs. Blair, the wife of the prime minister of Britain, had a miscarriage, only to be met with the advice of the ex-Sydney, ‘Push’ revolutionary Germaine Greer who told her that Tony should be leaving her alone, that he should get off her. The idea that people of their age might still enjoy sex, the idea that heterosexual sex might be an enjoyable thing for the married couple, the idea that a woman of her age might actually want sex or maybe that she initiated with Tony was all too much for Miss Greer. The basis for all these people was not just gross immorality, but deep and abominable dislike of God and the Bible. Look at the New Testament and see what it says. Look at the other passage there on the outline, 1 Corinthians chapter 6:9-11

 ‘Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the LORD Jesus Christ and by the spirit of God.’

Notice first that we are warned not to be deceived. ‘Do not be deceived’ it says in verse 9.

2. Lies, Damned Lies

‘Do not be deceived.’ For much that is given as sexual advice is lies, damned lies and you know what follows. It is an important warning because deception in this area is the story of the sexual revolution. They were all telling us lies. Kinsey’s work was a fraud, Margaret Mede’s work was a fraud, and Bertrand Russell was a profound degenerate liar. It was all wrong. It promises freedom but causes bondage. It promises happiness but has brought us heartache. It promises better sex and bought sexual anxiety. The experts fudged their results in the experiments and hid their own real agenda of their work and even now people here are suffering the consequences of it. Beware of the lies.

3. The Absolutes in Sex

The big lie of course is about the absolutes in sex.

The big lie is that there is no judgment, that we can do what we like and that it will make no difference. It’s not true in this lifetime. There are terrible consequences of pleasing ourselves, socially and relationally. For the sake of our family, our children, our parents, for the sake of the other person and ourselves to say nothing of the sexually transmitted diseases that are in very large proportions in our community. This passage of the Bible is warning us of another judgment. It’s judgment in the age to come. Notice there in verse 9 and repeated in verse 9 ‘will not inherit the kingdom of God’, ‘will not inherit the kingdom of God.’

You cannot be in a relationship with God as king and at the same time live in rebellion against him. You cannot be one of God’s people and reject the way he wants you to live. You cannot be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven and purposely ignore the king. There is a great difference between being ignorant and ignoring. If I don’t say hello to you, because I don’t know you, then that’s alright, but if I do know you and don’t say hello to you, that’s rude. To reject God, to turn your back on God is not just rude, it’s ignoring him.

Do not be deceived, you cannot be in the kingdom of God and ignore God at the same time. Notice the passage spells out some of the deceptive ways that people ignore God and rebel against him.

Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Notice that four things:

  1. It’s not exhaustive, these are just some of the things.
  2. Sexual immorality is there prominently.
  3. Sexual immorality is not the only thing there. It’s no worse, it’s no better than greed or drunkenness or slander, it’s all much of the same because…
  4. There is no hierarchy. Each is a symptom of the same disease our rebellion against God, our ignoring God, our rejection of God, what the Bible calls sin.

We tend to think that it’s just important that I’m better than my neighbour because that’s all I have to be. I don’t have to know everything to get through university, I just have to know more than the person beside me, because that’s how it’s marked, or so we’re told. You need to hear the warning; sexual immorality and adultery will exclude you from the kingdom of God.

Some may say that if that’s the message you’ve brought, you’ve come too late for me, because of what I’ve already done and where I’ve already been. But it is you in particular that I want to talk to.

4. Hope for the Hopeless

In this passage, there is hope for the hopeless. Look at verse 11.

and that is what some of you were, but you were, washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the LORD Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God.

Having failed does not exclude you forever. The Christians for whom this was written had failed, notice the beginning of verse 11

‘and that is what some of you were’

They had done these things and yet they had not been excluded from the kingdom of God. To do these things excludes you from the kingdom of God. They had done them, and they were not excluded from the kingdom of God. For the gospel of Jesus is not like the Law of Moses. It surely upholds the Law of Moses, but it’s not the same. Though the adulterer will not inherit the kingdom of God, there is hope for the adulterer, ‘that is what some of you were’.

There is hope because it is possible to change. You can’t necessarily do it for yourself, but God can. Let me tell you about this, we can change so that we are not slaves to our passions and our urges, we can change so that we don’t have to stay locked into addictive anti-social behaviour. We can change and many have and bear testimonies of that change that has taken place in their lives. Look at the end of the passage, there is a little word there that I love, ‘but’. In the Greek, it occurs three times, but to translate it that way would be a bit of an over-translation. Yet I’m going to read it that way to help you see the impact, the feeling that all of us who have been changed have.

 ‘but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the LORD Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God.’

They were something, but that word ‘but’ is the real change; that is the hope for the hopeless; it is the strange little word of changing completely the direction. It’s the logical reverse word. I was doing this, but I am no longer. It is the turn-back word, and it is wonderful in this regard: ‘you were washed, sanctified, justified’ washed clean. How often I have sat listening to the tears of people as they’ve described feeling dirty, feeling grubby, feeling unwashed and unclean. How often I’ve heard the abused telling me about how they stayed in the shower for hours and hours trying to wash themselves. How wonderful would it be to step out of a shower (I hope you have it every morning) where you feel revived, fresh and ready to start again? How can I wash my heart, how can I wash my inner being? How can that ever be washed clean again? Sanctified? Made holy, special, distinctive, set aside for God? How can I be holy again, I can barely look in the mirror, I can’t even tell mum and dad what I’ve done, how can I face God? How can I being corrupt, be holy?

Justified is a word that means declared right with the judge of all the earth; to be in good standing with the divine court of justice. But how can the judge who judges justly, how can the judge who knows all secrets of darkness and has seen everything I have done and all my thoughts make me justified in the divine courtroom? How can I ever be right with the judge who judges on the basis of truth? Well, the answer is there in verse 11

‘That is how some of you were, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the LORD Jesus Christ and the spirit of our God.’

How? By Jesus dying for us, paying the penalty, paying for our rebelliousness against God, paying for all our sin, including all our sexual sins. And by rising again to life, pouring his spirit out on us to set us aside for God, to make us holy, to make us his, to change us and transform us. And to give us the power by which we can change that which we have never been able to change before. That is how we are washed, that is how we are justified, that is how we are sanctified. Christian people are not perfect. If they were, all the Christian people would meet in a telephone box and there would still be room, because there wouldn’t be anybody there.

5. Fresh Start

Christian people are not perfect, Christian people are those who have a fresh start. Christians are those who have been changed, those who were guilty who have been declared justified. They are those who were outside of God and his family and have been set aside for God. Those who were dirty and have been washed clean. That’s why it’s the hope for the hopeless.

God does not accept us by giving up on the Law of Moses. It’s not that God has said ‘Well I tried the Law of Moses and that didn’t work, so I’ll say you can come anyway. I won’t worry about adultery.’ That is not the option. The words are clear here; don’t be deceived, those who commit sexual immorality cannot enter the kingdom of God. There is no complexity in understanding. It is straightforward. Those who are sexually immoral cannot and will not inherit the kingdom of God.

God is implacably opposed to us abusing the good gift that he has given to us for our sexual gratification in our relationship with our partner for life. You abuse that and you are rejected by God because you rejected God in your abuse. You weren’t thinking about God when you did it, but that was the point, you weren’t thinking about God when you did it. Therefore, do not let Margaret Mead deceive you. Do not let Bertrand Russell deceive you. Do not let Havelock Ellis deceive you. Do not let Dolly and Cosmopolitan and all those magazines deceive you. Do not let Ally McBeal deceive you. Do not be deceived.

There is right and wrong. If you’re going to say there is no right and wrong then I really don’t want to live in the same society as you and our society doesn’t want you either, because rape and paedophilia are wrong. If you’re going to say there is a right and there is a wrong, then where did it come from and why? The rights and wrongs of sex have to do with the purpose of sex and the source of sex. Sex has to do with us building a relationship, and the more we use it for that purpose, the more enjoyable the relationship. What we are now discovering, the better the relationship, the more we enjoy sexuality as well. Those who move from sexual partner to sexual partner have a decreasing sexual satisfaction. Those who develop their relationship with their partner have an increasing sexual satisfaction that goes on for years.

So much of sexual dysfunctionality is not physiological, it is not psychological, it is social, and it is relational. That’s where so much of the problem occurs and so our counselling industry is moving much more into relationship counselling when we want to help people with their sexuality because sex and relationship are built together, they are meant for each other. But surprise surprise, the things that we are now discovering, the things that the government is now spending millions of dollars trying to uphold, because they see the cost of not following the advice, is all there in the Bible. God gave us this in the first place. The one who made our bodies made them for a specific purpose and the very nature of the creation of our bodies was to be used to unite us so that we may enjoy each other in a relationship that grows and develops. In this lifetime you can turn your back on that advice, and you will suffer the consequences. You and your children, your society around you, your family, your grandparents, your grandchildren and on and on. You could ignore the advice and suffer the whirlwind of social collapse that we are experiencing now.

That is nothing, if you ignore the advice, it is because you are ignoring God and if you ignore God you can have no part in his kingdom, but Christianity is not about our exclusion, it’s about our inclusion, we who are guilty. It is about our inclusion since God sent his son for us. To die to pay for our failures and rise again and pour his spirit out onto us to turn us around; to put the ‘but’ into effect, to change us in this lifetime in our relationship with God. Not only that but to change us in this lifetime so that we will live with the power of the spirit to be changed into the way of living that God has created us to live.

There are these absolutes, absolutes can exclude us from the kingdom of God, absolutes about our sexual behaviour, but these absolutes can be overcome by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is the kind of prayer you need to pray to become a Christian. It’s in three paragraphs, so let me just point it out to you.

Dear God

I know I’m not worthy to be accepted by you. I don’t deserve your gift of eternal life. I’m guilty of rebelling against you and ignoring you. I need your forgiveness.

Thank you for sending your son to die that I may be forgiven. Thank you that you’ve raised Jesus to give me new life.

Please forgive me and change me, that I may live with Jesus as my LORD. Amen.

The first paragraph acknowledges your need for forgiveness, it acknowledges why we are not worthy to stand before God because of our rebellion against him and our guilt before him. You’ll never solve your problem unless you face up to your problem. That is the first step of it. You have to acknowledge where you’re at. As long as you think you can cover up you will not solve your problems, you will be in the Clinton category of life, just digging yourself deeper and deeper into the hole.

The second paragraph, thanks God for sending his son to die for us so that we may be forgiven.  and raising Jesus to give us new life. It is by the death and resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ that we can be washed clean, that we can be sanctified, that we can be justified. That is the thing that has brought about the change and made it possible.

The third paragraph is actually the prayer of the prayer, asking for forgiveness. I can be forgiven and will be forgiven because Jesus has paid the price for me. ‘Please forgive me and change me that I may live with Jesus as my ruler.’ Because of his death, I can be forgiven and because of his resurrection, I can be so changed.

This is the kind of prayer that you’d need to pray to become a Christian. I’m going to lead us in that prayer so that you can say it in your own heart quietly before God. I am also praying so that you can see what to pray, so that when you go home tonight and think about this meeting you may pull this piece of paper out and pray it for yourself.

Let us pray.

‘Dear God

I know I’m not worthy to be accepted by you. I don’t deserve your gift of eternal life. I’m guilty of rebelling against you and ignoring you. I need your forgiveness.

Thank you for sending your son to die that I may be forgiven. Thank you that you’ve raised Jesus to give me new life.

Please forgive me and change me, that I may live with Jesus as my LORD. Amen.

You may feel good after saying that prayer, you may not, and feelings have little to do with reality. If this is your prayer then you are forgiven, because Jesus has paid the penalty to bring this about. If this is your prayer you will be changed because Jesus is risen from the dead to change us. If you couldn’t pray that prayer because you think you don’t know enough about Christianity, then ask for more information so we can tell you more. Don’t be an intellectual copout that is a rejection.

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