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Tuesday, June 19, 2012 | Comments (9)

by John MacArthur

It’s no surprise the world thinks the biblical view of sexuality is outdated. Society tells you that you need to advance your thinking beyond the Dark Ages, open your mind to new perspectives, and get with the times. In a word, the world says you need to be more modern.

But there’s nothing modern, enlightened, or new about how sexuality has saturated and defined our culture. Our society isn’t the first to celebrate promiscuity and promote all kinds of lascivious, perverse behavior.

As wicked and perverse as society is today, it’s always been this bad—possibly worse. We sometimes think the sexual promiscuity that goes on in our culture is something new. That we’ve reached a new all-time low, and that the world is more sinful than it’s ever been. It isn’t.

Just look at the world of the New Testament. Specifically, look at the Corinthian church. Paul introduces us to the congregation at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

Welcome to the First Church of Corinth! Paul’s congregation was full of ex-fornicators, ex-idolaters, ex-adulterers, and ex-homosexuals. Sexual sin was so rampant in Paul’s time that it was part of everyone’s past.

Perversion was commonplace and widespread. It was tolerated and accepted—it was even advocated and encouraged. The early church was founded in the midst of an anything-goes, no-shame culture.

Over the last several decades, we’ve seen a cultural shift back to that no-shame mentality. The sexual revolution of the 1960s and '70s, and the homosexual revolution beginning in the '80s have made sexual perversion commonplace again. Our culture is dominated and driven by all kinds of sexual deviance. And it’s not discreet or disguised; it’s celebrated.

In fact the only shame these days is to not tolerate other people’s shameless behavior.

And the widespread sexual perversion isn’t limited to secular society. Popular pastors speak endlessly on how to improve and expand your sex life. Christian college campuses are being confronted and influenced by underground homosexual student groups. And adultery and promiscuity run rampant throughout congregations all over the country and around the world.

The church doesn’t need to be more modern when it comes to sexuality—in terms of destructive sexual deviance and perversion, we’re already far too much like modern society as it is.

We're essentially back in the days of Corinth. And to help us know how to navigate a culture so given over to sexual perversion and prurience, we need to look at the instructions Paul gave to the early church.

The church at Thessalonica wasn’t far from the Corinthian church. Believers there would have been confronted by the same perverse culture that permeated the world of the early church. In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul gave them clear commands and instructions to live holy, pure lives in spite of their sinful surroundings.

And that’s where we’ll pick it up next time.


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#1  Posted by Joseph Wade  |  Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 7:54 PM

I agree with your article. Thank you for your wisdom. I do have a question? Is it possible for sexual immorality to be more widespread and viewed a lot more because of the internet? I have also noticed a lot more promotion of homosexuality thru television and our government. I agree 100% that we are in a Romans 1 judgement like you've preached. Thank you for your sermons and giving the gospel rightly.

#2  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 9:22 AM


You raise an interesting question. I think it's hard to say with certainty that immorality is more widespread today than it has been in the past.

However, I think you could safely say that opportunities for immorality are more widespread today because of the Internet. People have instantaneous access to any and every kind of immoral content they want, and temptation is only ever as far as the nearest computer. You could say it's easier than ever for that temptation to take hold.

We can't afford to open ourselves up to that kind of temptation. That's why vigilance and accountability are so important. And why John's series on purity is so timely.

#3  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Well, I would like to put some numbers in here. This is from an on-line poll today on the main liberal Christian website in my country, to show the state of the Church here.

What happened to shame?

Is society's focus on sex harmful to young people?

Yes 71%

No 23%

Don't know 6%

(1888 voted)

Is it a human right to define your own gender?

Yes 38%

No 54%

Don't know 8%

(1334 voted)

Should the parliament adopt a law banning sex with animals?

Yes 73%

No 21%

Don't know 6%

(1236 voted)

Is it okay to buy sex?

Yes 56%

No 38%

Don't know 6%

(1927 voted)

Should staff at settlements for the disabled help facilitate contact with a prostitute?

Yes 54%

No 38%

Don't know 8%

(2654 voted)

Nobody seems to bother about what the Bible have to say, but they can all agree on one thing; fundamentalist Christians are harmful to a humanistic free society.

#4  Posted by Harry Shainian  |  Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 12:34 PM

I am so very thankful that my wife and I did not live together nor did we consummate what we believed should be reserved for marriage before we were married. It only makes our relationship all the more special because we committed to being obedient to doing things the Lord's way. It was only my joy to have been able to lead my wife in this way and it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't had the Lord get a hold of me in a workplace Bible study in 1988. I am thankful for workplace Bible studies where people can be exposed to the Bible (and the Gospel) in the workplace environment. Thank you Dr. MacArthur for teaching us what the Lord's will is for our lives - purity.

#5  Posted by Woei Shyong Kek  |  Friday, June 22, 2012 at 10:07 AM

"The sexual revolution of the 1960s and '70s, and the homosexual revolution beginning in the '80s have made sexual perversion commonplace again."

Dear Pastor John, from the statement I assume that there was a time when sexual perversion was not as common or rampant. May I know what contributed to that?

Thank you.

#6  Posted by Warren Pearson  |  Friday, June 22, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Dear Woei,

That’s an interesting question and there are many reasons that various cultures express their sin to varying degrees at various times.

At a spiritual level God exercises a restraining influence on evil and Satan’s influence. 2 Thess 2:6, Job 1:12. Christians have influence for good in society Matthew 5:13. In the Old Testament the Lord repeatedly used various judgments, often the defeat of Israel in war by surrounding nations, to purge evil from the nation (Judges 6:1-6 and many many more references).

However, I think taking this comment thread down a track of exploring the past to study and ponder the ebb and flow of wickedness is not the main focus of this post: our current culture is defiled with immorality and God’s Word speaks directly to our condition (2 Tim 3:16) calling us to pure living.

#7  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Friday, June 22, 2012 at 12:00 PM

#5 Woei

Actually sin have moved from the secrets of the heart to open rebellion against God.

The sinners looks at each other for an excuse to do his hearts desires. And people naming themselves as Christians, who should know better, do not teach the truth, that we are bought with a price, to glorify God with our bodys.

#8  Posted by Anderson Esteban  |  Friday, June 22, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Awesome!! accurate !!

This is a brief but precise post. Thanks

#9  Posted by Joseph Kangola  |  Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Very much on point. We are caught up at the temptation of fulfilling the desires of the flesh as we strive to please God...a crisis.

God bless you.