Beginning last Thursday night, a member of my family got sick with the stomach flu each night. Cyrus was first, then Zeke, Breena, Eisley, and finally me. But now the sickies are gone, and there is much rejoicing in the Holt household.

As a way of celebrating my recovery, I bought myself a book: Run with the Horses by Eugene Peterson. The book title is taken from a passage in Jeremiah that absolutely rocked my world earlier this year. If you haven’t read Peterson, I highly recommend him to you. His book, Under the Unpredictable Plant, was given to me at a major crossroads in my life, and his words greatly helped me to take the best road. I hope that, in this season of life, his words will be of equal encouragement to me.

Peterson’s words at the end of the first chapter absolutely sliced me in half. Read this:

It is easier to define oneself minimally (“a featherless biped”) and live securely within that definition than to be defined maximally (“little less than God”) and live adventurously in that reality.

I know, right?! It’s so much easier (and safer) to set expectations for myself so low that, regardless of what happens, I will always meet those expectations. It’s easier to see myself as a featherless biped, a mere cosmic accident, then to define myself as “little less than God”, created by him in his image, and being remade by him into the image of his son, Jesus Christ. The former definition offers safety, but the latter definition offers adventure. The former will be worn out walking with men, but the latter will outrun the horses, or die trying.

How are you defining yourself? Do you define yourself minimally, as though you were nothing more than a featherless biped? Or do you dare to define yourself maximally, as the Bible defines you, being “little less than God”, created in his image and being remade into his likeness? Your self-perception has no relevance on reality, because the truth about you is that you are made to live adventurously in the reality that you have been created in God’s image.

I just read an article over at the Jesus Creed that outlines the ways in which sex traffickers target sporting events for prostitution. This isn’t news to me because, through our young adults ministry, we’ve been getting involved in the issues of human trafficking and, thanks to Dan Clark and doma, we’ve been educated on the issue. Every time I hear about human trafficking, particularly the sex trafficking of minors, I become murderous with rage. My first reaction is to go buy a gun and seek out and destroy as many pimps and traffickers as I can.

That’s probably not the healthiest reaction. So I’ve been trying to channel those energies into different directions, and I’m beginning to understand how I can be an abolitionist without killing the slave-traders. When we hosted a Human Trafficking 101 course at Heritage, Dan told us that the most important thing we can do to stop sex trafficking is to become sexually whole people who are aware of their sexual brokenness, and who are inviting God to heal them.

Sexually whole people don’t have sex with prostitutes, and especially under-age prostitutes. Sexually whole people don’t engage with pornography and supply money to the sex industry. Sexually whole people don’t sexually abuse children. Sexually whole people don’t create demand for these “services”.

While I might find some dark joy in the deaths of pimps and traffickers, I know that new pimps and traffickers would arise to take their place. The only way to end sex trafficking and prostitution is to make it go out of business. The only way to make it go out of business is for me and you to become sexually whole people. The only way for us to become sexually whole people is to experience God’s deep, transforming presence in the darkest places of our souls where our sexual brokenness lies hidden beneath layers of rationalization and disregard.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important message in the world not because it’s the only way for us to get to heaven when we die, but because it’s the only message that carries with it the power to transform us from the inside out. The deep, transforming, presence of God, to which we have access through the blood of Jesus, is the answer to all of the evil on earth and to all of the evil within you.

Let’s be clear: Human trafficking exists because there is a demand for it. The only way to shrink that demand is for humans, especially men, to encounter God in the deep places of their soul, and to be made new in the power of Christ. What can you do to help drive the sex trafficking industry out of business?

For the past several days I’ve been posting excerpts from my sermon on sex, based on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. In this text we see there are two cultural myths about sex: 1) I can do whatever I want with my body; and 2) Sex is just an appetite. There are also two biblical messages to counter those myths: 1) Your body is not your own. God bought it and moved in; and 2) Sex is the donation of your full humanity to another.

But, so what? What am I supposed to do about it? In this final post you’ll find some thoughts on how to apply this passage to your life.

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So what does all this mean? Well, let’s go back to the last sentence of our passage: Therefore honor God with your bodies.

This is the answer to all of your questions about sex: Does it honor God? Are you honoring God with your body?

When you have sex before marriage, you are disregarding God’s design for sex. You are not honoring him with your body. Does oral sex honor God? The answer is no, in case you were curious. Does masturbation honor God? No. Does any kind of sexual touching honor God? No. You are not your own. You were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

But being a Christian is about so much more than not having sex before marriage. We talked about how sex is the donation of your full humanity to another. Well, there is a spiritual corollary to sex, something that is not a physical consummation with another human being, but a spiritual consummation with God. That act is worship.

Listen to Paul again. But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. We unite ourselves with Jesus in worship, and when we do, we not only give our full humanity to him, but we also give him our full hope for the future, hope for eternal life, for resurrection, and for heaven.

Uniting yourself with Jesus in spirit means giving him everything you are now and everything you hope to become in the future. It means not just giving your full humanity, but becoming fully human. Jesus was the only one of us whoever got this humanity thing right. He’s the only one who never screwed up. He’s the only one who never sinned. He is fully human. And guess what, despite what the DaVinci Code or the Gnostic Gospels would like to tell you, he never had sex.

You don’t have to have sex to be fully human. You don’t have to ever have sex to live a happy and fulfilled life. If that’s what you choose, you won’t be treated well, because our culture will not understand you. Even if that’s what you choose for a time, to not have sex until you get married—and I urge you to make that choice because it’s the only sexual choice you can make right now that you will never regret—but if you choose to not have sex until you get married you won’t be treated well. You know this. Our culture doesn’t understand that choice. Your abstinence will make others feel guilty and afraid. But I urge you to honor God with your bodies; and rather than becoming one flesh with someone else right now, become one spirit with Jesus.

When we read 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, we see two cultural myths about sex: 1) I can do whatever I want with my body; and 2) Sex is just an appetite. The biblical message that counters the second myth is: Sex is the donation of your full humanity to another. Now let’s look at how Paul debunks the first myth.

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Sex is not just an appetite, it is the donation of your full humanity to another. Now let’s debunk that first myth: I can do whatever I want with my body. Look back at our passage again. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

As it turns out, when you become a Christian, your body doesn’t belong to you anymore. It belongs to God, and he has turned you into a house where he lives by his Holy Spirit. Your body is not your own. God bought it and moved in.

The implications of this reality are overwhelming, but let me just give you one: If you are a Christian, whenever you do anything, including sex of any kind, God is there. Now that might totally creep you out or freak you out, but understand this about God: God designed sex, but he is not sexual. God is what’s called supersexual, he is beyond sexuality.

You see, all the gods and goddesses of all the other ancient cultures were extremely sexual. They were dripping unhindered sexuality. Then the Israelites come along talking about this god called YHWH, and they never talked about him in sexual terms. He is beyond sexuality, yet he has given us this gift to be enjoyed according to his design, and not however we want. The bottom line is this: Christian, your body is not your own. God bought it with the blood and life of his son, and then he moved in in the person of the Holy Spirit.

I’ve been sharing excerpts from my sermon for high school students about sex, some of which was influenced by a sermon from Tim Keller. Using 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 as my text, I’ve written about the two cultural myths about sex: 1) I can do whatever I want with my body; and 2) Sex is just an appetite. This post will lay out the biblical message that counters the second myth.

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Sex is not just an appetite. That is such a low, degrading view of sex. Look at this passage again. Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”

Don’t get caught up by the word prostitute. In those days you were either married or you were a prostitute. Christianity was the first social movement, religion, or institution to ever say, “It’s okay to be single.”

But Paul is quoting the book of Genesis here, and he’s saying whenever you have sex with someone, you become one flesh with them. Well, what does that mean? Perhaps you’ve heard of the phrase “the beast with two backs”? Well, that’s not what it means. The word “flesh” can mean a couple of different things, and in this instance what it means is “embodied personhood”. It means “full humanity expressed in your body”.

Sex is not about becoming one body with your sexual partner, it’s about giving your full humanity to another. Sex is the donation of your full humanity to another. This is the biblical message that counters the cultural myth “sex is just an appetite.”

God designed sex to be the consummation of a host of commitments that you make to your spouse. It’s the last commitment, the one in which you physically live and embody all of those commitments—the social, the legal, the relational, the responsibility, the mental, the spiritual, and the emotional.

There is no such thing as casual sex. There is no such thing as sex with no strings. That’s the fantasy of a screenwriter. Sex without those commitments is dehumanizing. Casual sex makes you less human; it turns you into an object of another person’s lust. It is not embodied humanity, it is embodied pornography. It is false.