Well, it looks like the Bible messed up my game plan once again.
Let me explain. I have a daughter. Some day she is going to be older and, unless I act fast, some boy is going to try to sweep her off her feet and romance her. I know teenage boys - I once was one. So I don’t like this scenario at all.
My plan (at least up until now) has been to attach one of those castle towers to our house and lock her up there until she is somewhere around the age of 35. I figure that’ll be my only recourse once the government takes my shotgun away (that I don't own). Of course, I’m being just a little silly. But what I am not kidding about is my passion for my daughter’s purity. And I figure that the best way to keep her pure is to avoid the topic altogether, right?
The Bible, unfortunately, disagrees with my plan. Consider these verses:
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:3-4 ESV)
In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul paints a beautiful picture of what God has done, and is doing, in redeeming a broken people and a broken world. Then, in the next three chapters he helps us to see what it means to live out of redemption, instead of rebellion. And he does this by following a pattern. Numerous times in those last three chapters, Paul follows a formula: 'Don’t do this. Instead, do this because of this.' Ephesians 5 is no exception.
What I find interesting, though, is what Paul uses as the antidote to sexual immorality, whether in the form of words or actions. He says, “...but instead let there be thanksgiving.” I’d have thought we’d see another word there — maybe a word like purity or holiness. Or maybe that he’d have borrowed from the Proverbs and admonished us to “enjoy the wife of our youth.” But he doesn’t. He said, "Let there be thanksgiving.”
So how in the world is thanksgiving the antidote to sexual immorality?
Consider, for a moment, what is happening when we fall into sexual immorality. Such a thing is always a selfish choice. Sex is meant to be a self-giving act. But any form of sexual immorality—when we choose our way over God’s way—is fundamentally self-centered. Though it mayseem to be rooted in pleasure and love, it is destructive not only to ourselves, but also our partner because anything which isn’t pleasing to God cannot further our joy.
This is why, I believe, Paul links sexual immorality with covetousness. Sexual immorality happens when we are not satisfied in God. We believe in that moment that disobedience will be more pleasurable than obedience. There is something we want and we will have it no matter the cost. So it isn’t shocking, then, that gratitude will sever the root of sexual immorality. Gratitude does just the opposite. It is an expression of our satisfaction in God. When we are thankful for what we do have, the lure of the forbidden loses its luster.
All of this means that the way to help my daughter pursue purity isn’t to lock her up in a castle. Instead, it is to help her walk in the freedom of the gospel. It is to cultivate a heart of gratitude. When she is satisfied in God, she will have what it takes to say no to the fleeting pleasure of sin. She’ll believe that God’s way is better.
It seems I need to start tearing down my castle and start working overtime to cultivate a heart of gratitude in my little girl.
This post originally appeared at Mike's blog - Borrowed Light.