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Sinful Pleasures, The Price Tag “HIGH”

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Self-discipline is essentially the same as self-control, one of the nine fruits of the Spirit listed by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23. The KJV translation uses the word temperance in place of “self-control” which, like self-discipline, generally refers to our ability to control or restrain ourselves from all kinds of feelings, impulses, and desires, which includes the desire for physical and material comfort. Now, even though self-control is the last of the spiritual fruits mentioned by Paul, and even though it is a term not used extensively in the Bible, self-control is clearly an indispensable attribute of the Christian life, especially as our unredeemed flesh sometimes causes us to succumb to the persistent tug of our sinful desires.

The apostle Paul calls us to “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). And in his letter to the Romans, he exhorts us to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God,” and not to be conformed to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:1-2). Yet most Christians would agree that subordinating the constant pull of these worldly desires in order to please our Lord is not always an easy thing to do. Paul discusses his own inner conflict and struggle with sin in his letter to the Romans, “What I want to do I do not do…the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing…it is sin living in me that does it” (Romans 7:15-20).

It is clear that our seemingly insatiable human appetites and needs can easily lead to sinful excesses if not controlled. Especially in affluent societies, the lack of self-discipline is rampant, as evidenced by the number of obese people and the extensive use of stimulants, depressants and over-the-counter medications. Further, the enticements of the material world have caused many to yearn for and acquire material goods far beyond their needs and their ability to pay for them. Indeed, the nations of the world have fallen into the same trap, borrowing trillions of dollars to finance bloated budgets that result from the inability to exercise self-discipline. For Christians, without self-discipline, our appetites for comforts and pleasures can easily become our master and lead us into sin or otherwise hinder us in our spiritual walk. If the spiritual does not govern the physical, we can become easy targets for Satan due to our lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:5).

Paul discusses self-discipline in his letter to the Corinthian church. As the Greeks had the Olympic games and the Isthmian games, they were very familiar with the rigors of athletic training, especially if one wanted to win the “prize” or the “crown.” Paul analogizes living a disciplined Christian life to an athlete in training: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training” (1 Corinthians 9:25). When Paul says “I beat my body and make it my slave,” he is saying that his body is under the dominion and control of his mind, not the other way around. Paul is showing us how self-control is needed to win the race that is before us and to live the life that is “holy and pleasing to God.” For Paul, the “race” was winning souls for Christ, a goal which he states four times in verses 19-22.

Simply put, the fact that there are animals that exhibit what we might call homosexual behavior does not change the fact that homosexuality is a sin for human beings. Some animals eat their young, but that doesn’t mean it is okay for humans to be cannibals. Dogs eat their own vomit (Proverbs 26:11), but that is definitely not good behavior for us to emulate. Some insects devour their partners after mating. We cannot use animal behavior as a basis for morality or to justify our chosen actions.

It is true that “homosexual” behavior has been observed in many species in the animal kingdom. Research shows these creatures having homosexual, bisexual, and non-reproductive sex, but the majority of these instances involve an Alpha male trying to dominate a weaker male to demonstrate who is in charge. It’s not about pleasure but about power and dominance. Other instances of “homosexuality” in animals can be attributed to their being misled by scent or suffering some physical abnormality. In any case, it is rare to find an animal that displays long-term homosexual behavior. Animals enacting homosexual behavior are considered deviant from the common sexual behavior of their species.

“Homosexuality” among animals in nature is not a lifestyle choice. Animals do not operate within any moral context and do not “sin.” However, human beings are not the same as animals. Men and women were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). All other creatures of creation were not. Animals are not accountable to God for their actions. Men and women are. Because animals were not made in the image of God, we cannot look at them as examples of how to live our lives.

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Pansexuality and omnisexuality are closely related. Pansexuality is sexual attraction to people with no recognition of gender. Omnisexuality is sexual attraction to people with recognition of gender. Practically speaking, there is no difference between the two. Both pansexuals and omnisexuals are sexually attracted to heterosexual men and women, homosexual men and women, bisexual men and women, transgendered men and women, gender-fluid men and women, etc., etc. The difference is that a pansexual claims to not see gender at all while an omnisexual sees gender but doesn’t care. The unofficial slogan of both seems to be “hearts not parts.”

The Bible does not specifically mention pansexuality or omnisexuality. But, since pansexuality and omnisexuality sometimes involve sex with the same gender, the biblical condemnations of homosexualitywould apply equally to those who practice pansexuality or omnisexuality (Leviticus 18:2220:13Romans 1:26–271 Corinthians 6:9). The only form of sexual activity the Bible supports is heterosexuality within the confines of marriage (Acts 15:201 Corinthians 6:13Galatians 5:19Ephesians 5:3Colossians 3:5).

The recent trend to ignore gender or even deny it entirely is absolutely unbiblical. God created man and woman and designed them to complement each other, not just physically and sexually but also emotionally and spiritually (Genesis 2). To deny male-female distinctions and embrace alternative forms of sexuality, such as pansexuality and omnisexuality, is to deny reality and, more importantly, to reject God as Creator and Designer. Simply put, to engage in pansexuality or omnisexuality is sin.

Some are under the assumption that, while the Bible condemns gay sex between men, it nowhere condemns being a lesbian/lesbianism. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 mention men having sex with other men, but say nothing of women having sex with other women. In the Sodom and Gomorrah account in Genesis 19, the men of the cities wanted to gang rape other men. First Corinthians 6:9 mentions effeminate men, very likely referring to homosexuals, but does not mention lesbians. So, does the Bible in fact condemn male homosexuality, but not lesbianism?

Romans 1:26-27 puts this invalid assumption to rest: “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” Clearly, this passage puts lesbianism on equal ground with male homosexuality. Lesbianism is described as women exchanging natural relations (with men) for unnatural relations (with women). According to the Bible, being a lesbian is just as sinful as being a homosexual male.

There’s an implication in Romans 1:26 that lesbianism is even worse than male homosexuality. Notice the phrase “even their women.” The text seems to suggest that it is more common for men to engage in sexual depravity, and when women begin to do it, that is a sign things are getting really bad. Men usually have much stronger sex drives than women, and so are more prone to sexual deviancy. When women commit unnatural sexual acts, then the degree of immorality has truly become shameful. Lesbianism is evidence of people being given over to “the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another” (Romans 1:24).

It is important to understand that self-control is a work of the Holy Spirit, not a work of the individual. After all, Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of the Christian. As we are merely the branches upon which the Vine (Christ) hangs the fruit He produces (John 15:1-8), it is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that gives Christians the power and ability to exercise self-control so that we will not be mastered by the “cravings of sinful man.” As Paul said, “God did not give us a Spirit of timidity, but a Spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Indeed, Christians are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9), who helps us in our weakness (v.26), which makes us able to say “no” to sin.

The wise King Solomon wrote many proverbs for the purpose of helping us to live a “disciplined” and prudent life (Proverbs 1:3). Certainly, we will be more victorious in our Christian walk when we exercise our Spirit-given self-control, that which helps us respond in obedience to the commands of Scripture and allows us to grow in our spiritual life.

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