According to the Bible, there is a sin, not characterized as the "unforgivable sin" that has its own distinct category. A sin that when committed, affects the perpetrator differently than any other. It is a specific sin that is uniquely executed against our own individual bodies. It's a sin that has been widely characterized by those locked into its clutches as the most difficult sin to gain mastery over. In 1 Corinthians 6, the categorization seems clear:
"Escape from sexual immorality. Every sin that a man commits is outside the body. But he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are not your own? You were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:18-20).
"Sexual immorality"—this classification has proved somewhat of a conundrum within some Christian circles. What exactly is sexual immorality, how is it "a sin against our own body" and why is it considered different than any other sin? Does this cataloging actually mean it should be considered the worst sin?
Well, first of all, to understand what "sexual immorality" embodies, we will need to take a look at what appropriate "moral sexuality" is according to the Bible, as anything else would ostensibly comprise a perversion. It seems clear in Scripture that God created the sexual expression to be for one woman and one man for procreation and joining these two marriage partners as "one flesh." And any sexual activity outside this biblical arrangement is a perversion or immoral and condemned by God. So with that designation being our premise, how does contrary or "immoral" sexual behavior affect our bodies in such a way that it can be evaluated as a sin like no other? And why would it be characterized as a sin that is so different that has its own classification?
Well, as believers in God's precise design, let's think through a few of the issues regarding sexual immorality and how our bodies are inhospitably affected by it.
1. Much of the immoral sexual behavior taking place has been triggered by the superfluity of pornographic material seemingly at every juncture. The effortless availability of viewing virtually any sexual fantasy known to mankind, at any time and in rapid fire succession, has provided a supernormal stimulus that is unparalleled in human history. We are hard-wired to be interested in the human body, but under "normal" circumstances we are not exposed to endless numbers of people willing to take their clothes off and perform sex acts ad nauseam in front of us the moment we meet. This is unnatural or super-normal stimulus. It creates an artificial chemical insatiability in us that tends to cause Gods original concept to seem monotonous and is exceptionally difficult to recover from.
2. There is brain research I have seen most recently depicted in The Conquer Series (a superb video series from KingdomWorks Studios) that has analyzed brain scans of those categorized as "sexually compulsive". This research graphically illustrates the impact to the physical brain of someone who consistently utilizes pornography, allowing this to be an assertive factor regarding the input their brains receive. The visual "holes" in regions of their brains are consistent with a cocaine addict's brain. The damage is astonishingly similar. Based on the various research I have seen regarding this type of perversion, it seems clear that this is one of the preeminent harmful non-pharmacological adaptations to our brains brought on by behavior.
3. As Christians, the tremendous angst experienced within our bodies produced by "double- minded" improper sexual activities is especially traumatizing to our physicality. We recognize what we are doing is wrong so there is a traumatizing affect created within ourselves that no other sin equally produces. And as extreme stress has been linked to all manner of preventable diseases, these diseases can be much more likely as we live this type of trauma/stress lifestyle. The chemical reactions we biologically experience from such incessant internal distress will eventually wreak some level of havoc on our bodies.
4. Involvement with sexual sin creates a desensitization and perversion of our moral compass or conscience. After ingesting so much sexual distortion over time, it can become to one degree or another nearly impossible to control our thought life and even, in some cases, our actions. For example, consider a man in this type of scenario; when he sees a woman who is attractive, he will impulsively see a collection of body parts and be wired to focus on aspects of her as "porn worthy." That then becomes an object of his desire, and he can actually feel incapable of thinking any other way. At that point it is no longer simply a moral decision he needs to make; it seemingly "takes control." He becomes rewired contradictory to how he was originally created. Something impactful I read years ago and hence memorized succinctly addresses this organic reality,
"Every time you repeat a thought or an action, you strengthen neurological pathways in your brain, causing those patterns of thought to become subconscious and programmed into your mind. Those neurological pathways program your thought life and your actions so they become second nature: Neurons that fire together, wire together."
In other words, once your brain is programmed to think/respond in a specific manner, that becomes the overwhelming magnetic pull, and it is very difficult to respond/act in some other way. We can actually force feed our brains in such a way that they become immorally rewired.
So as you can see, even if we simply approached this as a rational exercise, it appears obvious that sexual immorality negatively affects aspects of our bodies in a variety of ways. This "sin" can create bodily distresses throughout. As some of this can cause irreversible damage, we are in fact, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually negatively affecting who we are as well as the bodies we are housed in.
God is so practical in his mandates for optimal living: He understands how we were scrupulously fashioned to best function by living according to his calculated precepts. Anything other than that type of lifestyle is not simply characterized as "sin," but is holistic disregard for and debilitating to His holy temple.
Steve Hunt lives in Clovis, California, and is involved in a number of men's ministries, including leading weekly groups for men struggling with marriage, relationship and sexual issues. He can be contacted at email@example.com
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