Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, brought a message during the final afternoon of the 2016 Florida Baptist Pastors Conference on Monday to encourage the church to stand firm against sexual immorality.
Speaking out of the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 6:15-7:5, Moore wondered what message today’s church has for a culture that has embraced a sexuality that is counterfeit to what God created it to be.
In the passage, Paul reminded the Corinthian church, who were confronted with temples of pagan prostitution all around them, that their bodies were not only members of Christ Himself but not their own as they were bought with a price. Moore said that Paul’s message was less about the sexual immorality going on in the world around them and more about what would happen if they embraced those ways.
“Paul says what is most dangerous for you is not what is happening on the outside in a world of sexual chaos but you conforming yourself to it,” Moore said. “The danger is the church becoming the same as the outside world.”
Moore said as humans we cannot deny the power of sexual attraction because it was created by God to be powerful enough to cause us to leave our mothers and fathers and cleave together as husband and wife. It is Satan who redirects that powerful pull into something destructive.
The church is not immune to the lure of adultery, with Moore calling it a danger for all people. To ignore or refuse to admit that we as believers are not above the struggle and temptation of sexual immorality leaves us open to vulnerability.
“That’s why the Scripture continually warns the people of God about sexual immorality and reminds them what God’s purposes are for sexuality,” Moore said. “If we are not equipping ourselves and guarding against immorality and preparing our congregations to withstand that pull toward it, we will see destruction.”
It’s not sexy people that have affairs but hurting, vulnerable, spiritually depleted people, he explained.
Trust between husband and wife and the understanding that the marriage bed is a place of spiritual warfare can help couples stand firm in the midst of weakness and temptation, according to Moore.
Moore said it’s easy for us today to distance ourselves from the church at Corinth and the depth of its sexual immorality because we do not have temples of pagan prostitution today. Yet Moore contends that we have our own version in the form of internet pornography.
Moore said the “weaponizing of pornography” came about when the industry went digital and gave people the illusion of anonymity. From that place of perceived safety people can delude themselves into thinking they accidentally ended up on a pornographic website.
The pervasiveness of pornography in the church will be stopped, Moore said, when people will stop being afraid to talk about the problem and seek true repentance.
So what is the message Moore believes the church can send to our culture?
“There’s an outside world given over to sexual anarchy and revolution and when the refugees from the revolution recognize that sexual freedom doesn’t give what it promises, they will be asking, ‘Where can I go?’” he said. “Our response to sexuality immorality is not just morality—it is the mercy that comes from the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ, who is not only able to create a temple for His own dwelling but is able to wash it.”