Finding Identity in sexual union vs union with Christ

Sexual sin- pornography, fornication, same sex encounters, and debilitating shame because of sexual sin- is perhaps the primary sin issue I encounter discipling men on campus. Overcoming this sin is further complicated by a culture so obsessed with sex, that many students define themselves by their sexuality. This includes their sexual preference and their sexual experience.

 

When a person seeks identity in sexual relationship, every goal and pursuit will be to find fulfillment in another person. Thus, when a person experiences a break up or rejection, they may go through a period of depression and are unable to function.

Some feel they are not truly a man until they’ve had sex.

If they are denied the opportunity to express their sexuality, they feel repressed and resentful. Some may feel they are denied their ability to be fully human because they cannot act on their urges.

 

Others have been marred by sexual encounters. Because of something they did or something done to them, they are overwhelmed by shame. They feel powerless to overcome temptation.

 

Throughout history we see people defined by their relationships. Even Scripture introduces characters as someone’s child or one’s wife or husband.

We still define ourselves often by relationships, as can be seen on a facebook profile.

This lends to reason why many want same-sex marriages legalized – it gives a sense of identity.

Further, because sex is associated with love, one may feel we can not experience love apart from sexual encounter.

 

We were created, with specific design, by God, so He defines us.

Unfortunately, in Adam we have all sinned and as a result every part of us is distorted by the fall – Our bodies and emotions were affected, and thus our sexuality.

 

Sexual encounter is a special union of body.These relationships do shape and form a part of our identity.  

We needed our identity to be restored. As we place our faith in Christ, we are no longer in Adam, we are united in Christ. This Union with Christ now defines us. Understanding this doctrine is foundational to overcoming sexual sin.

 

Wayne Grudem1 states four aspects to our union with Christ as

  1. We are in Christ.
  2. Christ is in us.
  3. We are like Christ.
  4. We are with Christ.

 

Dealing with sexual sin, we apply:

  1. We are with Christ –  Relationship does define us, but it is not sexual relationship, it is the most meaningful and most loving relationship we can experience- relationship with God.
  2. We are in Christ. No longer do we need to be marred in shame because of past sexual sin. For Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us. We are not seen by what we did or what was done to us, but what Christ did.
  3. Furthermore Christ is in us, empowering us to overcome sexual sin. We are not slaves to our desires, nor to our past.
  4. We are to be like Christ – thus we look to Him and follow His example.

 

I Thessalonians 4 states God’s will for our lives is our sanctification(be like Christ). Immediately afterwards Paul urges them to flee sexual immorality. God restores everything broken by sin, including our sexuality.

The false conclusion is to say one must exchange an immoral relationship for a moral relationship. Rather, we should seek identity in our union with Christ, becoming like Him. The single person does not need to find identity in marriage. The person with homosexual inclinations does not need to become heterosexual. God’s desire is to make us holy.

 

Jesus was fully human, He was not part human, part God. He lived on earth with a fully human body and human emotions. He experienced sadness, loneliness, rejection. The Bible explicitly tells us that He experienced hunger, tiredness, feelings of rejection, emotional and physical pain, and temptation. Hebrews tells us He encountered every temptation, yet without sin. Thus, He lived the way God intended our lives to be more than any other person in human history. Though He never married and never engaged in sexual activity, He was able to experience love, joy and the fullness of life or be human.

 

He can relate to us – every feeling and every temptation we face, including the area of sex.

We can come to Him with our pain and problems and He can empathize.

He gives hope we can be fully human and pursue holiness.

Jesus was never married, never had sex. Yet, He lived with purpose and joy and experienced intimacy in relationships.

We can look to Jesus example in the midst of temptation and follow in His footsteps and find encouragement in Him.

Our sexuality is not what defines us. Expressing sexual urges doesn’t satisfy. Sexual relationships will not gives us meaning.  Union with Christ is what we long for and what we need.

 

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Footnotes

  1. Grudem, Wayne Systematic Theology Ch 43 pages 840-841
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The one with Hope for Muncie

A couple years ago, our good friends the Holowells announced they were leaving staff with Cru to plant a church in Muncie.
Though they left staff earlier than we thought, we were glad to know they were staying in town. But it left us torn as well.
We love the Holowells, but we love our church here at Ball State. The Gospel is preached every week. The teaching is great, the liturgy edifying and the doctrine sound (even though i don’t agree with everything they hold to).There is a good mix of young and old, contemporary worship and old hymns.
The community is solid. And our kids love it. A big part were the Holowell kids who are the same age and bestest of friends, but they were developing other friends…

Then they said they were going to plant a multi-cultural church, and that made it EASY – we would not be going with them.

Multi-cultural churches are hard to get going and even harder to maintain. There would be awkwardness and difficulty. Worship styles, teaching styles, personalities… too much work, too inconvenient, too uncomfortable…

But as we continued to hear about it and pray about it, the more Lord laid it on our heart to go.
It was a vision on my heart when i initially joined staff. God in making me Indian and making my wife korean, has given us plartform to connect with people; There are less barriers for us than many others face; we are given more grace. And we have experience working in other culturals – America being one of them, as well as living overseas and working with internationals.

We have bought into the Vision- Hope for Muncie.
In some ways it feels like there is a church on every corner- why another church?
But a multi-cultural church? One that is trying to bring people together from different social, economic, cultural backgrounds?
We are excited to be part of a dream that is an extension of a dream we celebrate today on MLK.
Surely there are many good churches in the area that are effective in reaching out to the community. We are not opposed to them or in competition with them. We want to work alongside them, and create attention for Christ in a community that has mostly forgotten Him.

We don’t all of a sudden think it will be easy.
People in churches where people are very much alike have conflicts- how about one where the people are very different?

But we are not choosing the easiest thing for us, but the best for us- the best for God’s Kingdom purposes.
We will have to leave a comfortable environment, a familiar one – to help plant a church and make a difference in a community.
Church is a place to worship, but also to serve. A Community that provides an environment for others to worship – not by taking people from other churches, but gathering families that are not worshipping, or not worshipping fully.

And by being part of a multi-cultural church, we are committing not just to a comfortable community, but to the kingdom. God’s kingdom is about all peoples. People who are not like us. Bringing together people who are not naturally friends- and making them family!

In Ephesians, Paul writes that Christ has done thru His flesh what nothing else could- He has broken down the dividing wall of hostility. HE Unites Jews and Gentiles. HE is our peace who makes us one.  He brings the far near.
HE reconciles us all – to God, and to each other!
And James tells us that God shows no partiality – be it rich or poor.
Heaven will be a beautiful place of many colors.

They don’t let kids sing this anymore – but – Jesus loves the little children- all the children of the world: Red, Yellow, (Brown), Black, White – they are precious in His sight!

We feel by taking this step of faith, we will see God’s heart, see God’s power, and our faith will be stretched. We will gain a greater vision for eternity. We will be blessed beyond measure as we gain new friends, and exposed to the beauty of diversity.
And we trust God will take care of us along the way.
Yet, ultimately, it is not about us- but the Glory of God.

As we consider our involvement, we are now praying about moving into downtown Muncie.
Downtown Muncie may not be like downtown Chicago or downtown LA, but it is not the suburbs either. At first I thoght it doesn’t matter.
But, there is crime, there are drugs. Muncie may be the highest producers of meth in the country. There are certain risks.
And because of that. Lord-willing, I want to move there.
Soo grew up in an environment like that- and she is walking with Jesus now.
But if it is dark place, well then it needs light, it needs hope.
We want to be there to provide it.

Long ago, i went to Chicago on a Spring Break trip. They gave us “With Justice for all” by John Perkins, and shared his model for ministry. If we want change for communities, we need to go there and live there. We need people to live in these communities to be the light, to show the love, to be like Christ and go live among them.
Reading Tim Keller’s Generous Justice concreted that in my mind.
The goal isn’t just a church, but restoration.

We’ve committed to going (Lord-willing of course), we would love for you to join us and bring hope for Muncie.

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ,alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken downin his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself onenew man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,[d] but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by[e] the Spirit.

The thing about a blogging community

What is Xanga? You may have never heard of it, but i certainly miss it.
Xanga recently shut down, and this blog was created to save all those old xanga posts.
There are a lot of fun memories in here!

i have long wanted to resurrect my writing aspirations and perhaps this reboot will spur it on… but i have tried several times before, but it lasts 2-3 posts before i stop… and every post just seems to be about me wanting to start blogging again.
How can i make this a reality?

Blogging was such a healthy outlet for me. It was fun, it was refeshing, it was refining. I got some thoughts out there- which could edify and build up the body, as well as myself.
And though my staff team made fun of me, it was a great way of creating community and building relationships. It really did give staff something to talk about when they saw each other at conferences. It gave talking points with friends you just didn’t get to see that often.

We had a great blogging community… and then slowly everyone started getting married, having kids, leaving the country, leaving staff, or just facebook took over.

i miss xanga. i miss the laughter. i miss the debates. i miss the thought-provoking thoughts. i miss the rants, the rambles, the refining. i miss the community

 

And i think that – community-  is what is needed to get me to really write again. i need others to join with me. If we had 10 of us blogging again, maybe just 5-6… maybe we could get it going again.
If there were others blogging too, maybe i would keep going.
Will anyone join me?

The old Xanga community provided motivation to write. i need a group to motivate me to start up again.

Community is vital in growth, in change, in steps forward. We need others to fight with us, to come along side us, to give accountability, to encourage, to affirm, for feedback.
Not only in matters of blogging, but in the areas we want to grow. We have inspiration, motive, time, ability- but we need others in it with us.
If there is an area you want to grow or change, inviting others to join you and be part of it with you will be vital.

And so i ask, who wants to do this with me?