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God’s ways are best

There were two headlined reports in the past couple of weeks which might at first sight appear unrelated.  Firstly on 5th February, a headline by Harry Howard writing for the Daily Mail:

The report’s authors blamed the increase on cuts to funding for sexual health services and said the rise of antibiotic-resistant Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI’s) was of ‘major concern’

“Cases of syphilis in Britain are at their highest since WWII with one patient diagnosed with an STI every 70 seconds – and London is the worst place for this. There were nearly half a million cases of STI’s in 2018, a rise of five per cent on previous year . Gonorrhoea infections has risen by 249 per cent and syphilis 165 per cent since 2009.

It may be the case the there are cuts in government funding of sexual health services.  But of course the transmission of these diseases is by the increase in the number of different sexual partners individuals have.

Around the same time another report caused a stir as the House of Bishops of the Church of England made a statement following the introduction of heterosexual civil partnerships.

Reported in the Daily Telegraph by Gabriella Swerling on 23rd January was this statement:

In the new document, entitled ‘Civil Partnerships – for same sex and opposite sex and opposite sex couples, a pastoral statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England, the Bishops say: “The Church’s teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged. For Christians, marriage – that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity.”

A quote from the introduction to “Pure Sex” published by Matthias Press in 1997 sums up the situation:

Sex—pure, unadulterated and free. Stripped of all the guilt and restrictions of a bygone age. Liberated from the boring claustrophobia of marriage. At last, the freedom to express your own sexuality in whatever way you choose.

Such was the promise of the sexual revolution that swept the Western world in the 1960’s and 70’s. It didn’t deliver. More than 30 years on, we find ourselves not in a sexual utopia, but in a sexual war zone, with broken relationships, hurt, guilt, and confusion on all sides.

There is no doubt the consequences of the so called sexual revolution are being seen in our society today and one consequence is the increase of STI’s, along with the confusion around sexuality and gender, the broken relationships and broken marriages and the increasing level of mental health problems reportedly rising rapidly amongst the younger generation.

The Bishops are right, the church’s teaching on sexual activity is straight from the Bible. Unpopular yet true!  God made us – his design for marriage and family structure for society was and is still the best.

So should we impose this message on our society and expect people to conform to this apparent straitjacket? No!

But we can say what God intended. And we can show that it is not a cruel command but a loving one, because what it produces is good relationships, strong families and loving homes

At the same time, we have a duty as Christians to present the good news of Jesus to an increasingly confused society.  What is that message?

Part of the message must be that “…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement,..”

The decisions we make now in this life have an eternal consequence.  There is a judgement day coming soon and Jesus will be the judge.  As with any court case facing a judge we need to prepare our defence statement.  The essence of the Christian message is that there is a defence for this inevitable court case which is available for all men and women and the judge has prepared it for you if only you will accept it.  The problem is that we have all failed the test of living as God intends and this means we are all guilty and the punishment for this failure was publicised back in the garden of Eden- death. That means eternal punishment – the judge Jesus, talks about that more than anything in the gospels. But He also gives us the defence for that final judgement day – it simply involves acknowledging our guilt, repenting of our failure to live by God’s laws and asking for His forgiveness.  The judge then offers eternal life to those who repent – a place in His future kingdom of perfection and beauty which we cannot even begin to imagine.  How does the judge do that – he pays the penalty Himself – in fact he has paid the penalty on the cross some 2,000 years ago when He died and then defeated death by rising on the third day.

So Paul when writing to the Christians in the city of Corinth, a hedonistic free living society if ever there was one, …. do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. 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.

The Christian message came to Corinth – the call to them, whatever their background, whatever their lifestyle had been, was one of repentance – to change direction and begin to live life as God intended.  Some did and were changed forever – some did not and they will be judged on judgement day.

Should we be worried about the consequences of the sexual revolution as it has been set out in the first report – of course. But we should be much more concerned about the eternal consequence of ignoring the God who made us and the message he sent to us via Jesus – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

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