Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Sermon the Mount: Radical Purity

Well, I have been at Westbury now for nearly a year. Everyone has been great. We've made so many good friends, seen so many great things happen...and it's only beginning. But now, this Sunday, I'll get to see how much you all really like me as your pastor. Now, I dive into dark, dangerous and controversial waters. This Sunday, we'll be talking about sex, lust, marriage and divorce...places where angels fear to tread. Fortunately, I have the words of Jesus Himself on the subject, from Matthew 5:27-32, and I will stick as closely as possible to what He said, not trying to give my own opinion. Still, I know how people feel about the bearer of bad news. So this Sunday, think of my children. They're cute and sweet and adorable, aren't they? You wouldn't want anything bad to happen to their daddy, would you?

I jest, of course. Although the things we'll be talking about Sunday will be uncomfortable for us to hear, and some might disagree with my interpretations in this place or that, I know this congregation well enough by now to know I won't be taken out and stoned (right?). At any rate, this won't be a sermon that will leave its listeners struggling to stay awake.

I am approaching this passage with a belief that the lust issue and the divorce issue are linked. In both cases, Jesus was talking about His original vision in creation for sexual relationships. When we vary from that purpose, massive destruction is the result. On the other hand, the response of the Church for much of history--a repressive, prudish judgmentalism, has done more harm than good in restoring sex to its proper place. So how would God have His children behave? That's the topic of the entire Sermon on the Mount. We'll see specifically how that applies to sexual purity.


Laine said...

Mike and I are looking forward to listening online. We will ready the spare room in case you need to flee. We're expecting highs in the 70's next week. Good fugitive weather.

Jeff Berger said...

Thanks, Laine! It's good to know I've got a safe place to which to flee. :)

Anonymous said...

This is well after the sermon. Your treatment of the subject was excellent and helped my understanding of that difficult passage. I now understand the plucking out the eye, cutting off the hand. Thanks as always.


The Scott said...

Challenging youth to wait until they are an adult before having sexual activity is one thing. Scaring the heck out of them, and telling them a condom is a provision for sin is irresponsible. Did you know the Lovers in the Song of Solomon have sex in Chapter 2, but don't get married until Chapter 3? The kind of ignorance Church leaders have about this sort of in-your-face premarital sex in the Bible has gone on too long. If you want to know more, go to my website. It's cheaper than a Purity Ring and a lot more fun than abstinence.

-The Scott

Jeff Berger said...

The Scott,

Thanks for your comment. I wonder if you actually read or listened to my sermon, or if you just assumed I am "scaring the heck out of" teenagers, as you say. Just curious.

I checked your website. Although you've clearly put a lot of thought and work into this, I didn't find it convincing. I don't really have time to debate this with you, but one thought: If indeed the Bible teaches that sex between consenting adults is perfectly fine, and that the Evangelical view of extramarital sex is due only to Bible translators pandering to right-wing mores, then why did the early church stress abstinence? Why were they not more libertarian in their sexual views?