Preacher – Jorg Dietzel
13 February 2011
YOU are the Love of God
(Sexual Ethics Sermon Series Part III)
“This is our temporary home.
It’s not where we belong.
Windows and rooms that we’re passin’ through.
This is just a stop, on the way to where we’re going.
I’m not afraid because I know this is our
Temporary Home. Carrie Underwood.
What does this have to do with sex, you may ask.
Hopefully, within the next 15 minutes I can answer this question.
But this is where we start:
This World is not our home. It’s just a temporary home.
We’re just passing through on the way to where we’re going.
As Christians, there was a moment when we made a decision:
To follow God.
To try and live like Jesus, hard as it may be.
And to find out God’s purpose for us on this Earth.
Because we do have a purpose – as Christians we believe that God has put us on this Earth for a reason.
And the reason is this:
Matthew 22, 37-40
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The greatest commandment, which surpasses all the laws, the 10 commandments, Leviticus and Romans:
Love your neighbour.
We’ve heard this verse a million times.
And every time we have nodded our heads: Yes, I know.
Yes, that’s what I’m doing.
But are we? Really? Really really?
What does that mean, to love God?
It means to put God first.
Before our spouse, our work, our government, our gym, our parents, our family, our money, our church, our bodies, our life. God wants to be the Number One in our lives – that’s how we express our love for God. And putting God as Number One has consequences – for the way we live our lives, do our work, handle our relationships. It means handing our lives over to God, not just for two hours on a Sunday and another three during cell. Not just ‘tipping God’ with a tiny fraction of our time, our money, our efforts. God – our first love – wants to be our first priority.
And loving our neighbour?
That has consequences too.
It means that we care about others, particularly those that are weak and suppressed.
That we speak up for them, work with them, understand them, feel with them.
It means that we speak up and work for justice, for equality, against discrimination wherever we may see it.
But it also means, maybe most importantly, that we share the biggest gift we have received, the Good News of Jesus Life and Death for our Salvation, with others. That we don’t selfishly keep it to ourselves, because it’s inconvenient, or paiseh, or because society frowns upon our sharing. How can we address the injustices of this world, care about lives and people in this world, and not give them the key to move with us to the next?
Because what is God?
1 John 4,8
God is Love.
But a sample is always better than a sermon. More relevant, more convincing. And instead of telling people that God loves them, that Jesus loves them so much that he died for them, we need to show them.
YOU are the Love of God.
It’s you, your actions and non-actions, your words – even your smile and your kiss, your touch that show people the greatness of God’s Love.
1 John 4, 19
We love, because He loved us first.
Now what does that have to do with sex?
Sex is – and should be – an expression of Love.
I love you, and be it just in this moment, that’s why I have sex with you.
And I love you, not just because your hot or cute or gorgeous –
I love you because God loves you.
Let’s look at Danny.
Danny is a Christian. He is also single, working in a well paid job in a local bank. He works out, goes clubbing once in a while. He lives on his own in a renovated HDB apartment that he is renting. One evening, after watching Glee, he grabs his handphone and switches on an application that is all too familiar to many of you here. It’s called Grindr.
Danny looks at the guys that are nearest to him, and sees one that he finds cute. He sends him a message:
You’re so close.
Yeah, block 4. U?
Frens and fun
Yup, very single
You more T or B?
Flex T, u?
Want to come to my flat?
Ok, where are you? I’m on 8.
14th floor, 14-108
Ok give me 20 mins.
Twenty minutes until touchdown. Danny washes up, gets ready. Still ten minutes to go. Where are the condoms? Ah, there. Then he remembers one thing: In church, a few Sundays ago, they presented a new framework for sexual ethics. What did it say again? He opens his laptop and goes through his emails. Arrrggghhh, so many. Oh there it is: The two on the bottom seem to be the most important; they have an ‘always’ in front of them. He wants to be a good Christian, wants to make sure he doesn’t violate them.
Always do no harm.
“Ok that’s easy. I will make sure the guy uses a condom, to protect himself and me. The guy – forgot to ask his name! – said he’s single, so there is no irate boyfriend to consider. The guy said he’s looking for fun, not a relationship, so I’m not giving him any false hope. Ok, next.”
Always Honour free will and consent.
“Free will. Free willy. Haha. Well, no intention to rape. And his profile says the guy is 27, so he should know what he is doing. No alcohol involved. Or should I open some wine? Hmm, maybe next time. Ok, check.”
The doorbell rings. Danny closes his laptop and opens the door, in anticipation of some time of fun, convinced he does nothing wrong.
Yes, there are other principles on the list: Sex should be enriching, mutual, liberating, committed, intimate, socially just, responsible, redemptive.
Even though they explained it in church, Danny is not so sure what some of these adjectives mean. Does he need to walk through life with a checklist for sex?
No, he doesn’t.
He just has to remember one thing.
That, as a Christian, he has made a commitment.
And that he is on a mission.
Which means that tonight, to the guy from the 8th floor of Block 4, Danny is the Love of God.
Which means that instead of a selfish encounter, Danny is encouraged to be selfless. Because God’s Love is selfless. God’s Love is not about Me, Me, Me, it’s about You, You, You. It’s about showing a genuine interest in The Other – from asking the name to sharing some experiences, to having a chat after sex. To graduate from a Wham-Bam-Thank-You-Man to a genuine Thank You. To an “Are you ok?”. “Did you enjoy that?”
I’m not suggesting that every sexual encounter is to be followed by evangelism – even though there may be opportunities. “You’re damn nice”; “Well, thanks, so are you. We talked about relating to others in Church, and…”
What I am suggesting is that sex, all sex, any sex, should be an expression of Love. Maybe not eternal love, but love nevertheless.
And I am advocating an awareness that as followers of Christ, to the people we encounter, sexually and socially, we ARE the love of God.
How to do this? How to remember not to be selfish? Just imagine this: In every sexual encounter that you have after today, there are in fact three people (at least): You, your partner, and Jesus. If you imagine Jesus to be right there in that moment, in that encounter, that should be a reminder to treat the other with respect and genuine love.
Let’s look at Shu-Fen.
Shu-Fen has been with Sandy for three years. Both are Christians and attend the same church. After the first year they told their parents. It took a while for them to come to grips with their daughters’ relationship, but then Sandy’s mum got very sick, so the girls decided to move into her parents’ HDB flat in Yishun, so they can better take care of the mum.
Sandy decided to only work half days so she can be home at lunchtime to cook lunch for her mum, get herbal drinks from the medical hall and sometimes just hold her hand.
Shu-Fen’s job makes her travel a lot in the region, for meetings and conferences in Beijing and Hong Kong, Jakarta and Manila.
On this trip, half her office is flying to Hong Kong to attend the regional conference, and to save cost the CFO has decided that they are to share rooms in their Kowloon hotel. So Sandy is partnered up with Anja – a pretty Malay girl who works in another department, Shu-Fen hardly knows her.
After the conference they all go to a local restaurant for some Hong Kong Food, then to Hard Rock Café for deserts. Some of the guys want to go Karaoke, but Shu-Fen is tired, and shares a taxi back to the hotel with Anja and another colleague.
In the room, they take turns in the bathroom, then Anja is talking about work while Shu-Fen tries to finish the chapter in her book, Sarah Water’s ‘Fingersmith’. Then they turn off the lights.
Are you sleeping, Shu-Fen?
Nice dinner, huh?
Yeah…Loved the strawberry cream desert.
Can I ask you a question?
Sure, what is it?
Is it true what they say?
What do they say?
That you live with another woman.
Who says that?
The girls in my department…so is it true?
Why do you want to know?
Sometimes wonder what it would be like.
What would what be like?
To kiss a woman.
So, is it true?
I mean, I admire you.
Because you can be so open about it.
Haha, not THAT open. You had to ask me 3 times.
Would you mind if….oh, never mind, forget it.
If I kissed you – just to see what it’s like?
It’s one of those moments when you lie in the dark and time seems to stand still. And in the darkness and quiet a million thoughts go through your mind. “What if? What am I supposed to say? Or do? She’s damn cute lor, but what about Sandy.”
And Shu-Fen (different from Danny) remembers the adjectives of the sexual ethics in church.
Always honour free will and consent.
“Well, I’m not forcing her to kiss me. She said she WANTS to do it. Try it. Maybe she’ll like it, maybe she won’t. ‘I kissed a girl and I liked it’ – stupid song. But wanting to try, deciding to do something for the first time, does Anja even know what she’s doing?”
Always do no harm.
“Surely, a kiss would not harm Anja – or myself? But if Sandy finds out? But how would she find out? What she doesn’t know can’t hurt her, right? But will I always remember this night, feel guilty about it every time I kiss Sandy? So maybe there is harm involved.”
So Shu-Fen says to Anja: …
Well we don’t know what she says and does, not that night or any of the following nights. We leave the two girls there, in their twin beds in a Kowloon hotel, way past midnight, in the dark and a sexually tense situation.
But if Shu-Fen had been here this morning, she would have imagined Jesus being in the room with her. She would have remembered that she is the Love of God – to Anja, but also to Sandy. And she might have told Anja, gently and lovingly, why she can’t kiss her. Because she is a Christian. Because she made a commitment.
Or she might have given in, said yes, because the desire to feel Anja’s full lips on hers was too strong. Because of the love she felt at that moment for the other girl. Because Anja did not just sound curious but lonely, in need of a loving touch and…kiss, and maybe more.
And later, when she sits down with Sandy, broken, crying, because she can’t keep the secret any more, because she can’t take the guilt a moment longer, Sandy would have remembered that she, too, is the Love of God – the unselfish, forgiving, never-ending, all-enduring Love of God – and would have understood. And forgiven.
Sex is a tricky thing.
This church has tried to place it into a framework.
But many situations, many temptations, many questions will have to remain unaddressed, open, unanswered.
So just remember this:
1. This is our temporary home. It’s not where we belong.
2. We are on a mission, to love God and our neighbour.
3. You are the Love of God. Always. Act accordingly.