/ May 2018 -
Harmony with God’s Purpose for Our Lives
above: Joseph and Potiphar's Wife, by Guido
Reni (Italian, 1575-1642, painted around
and Potiphar's wife -
Free of Sexual Sin
Toward a spiritual
solution to a spiritual problem
by Ralph Martin
God made us sexual beings. He gave us a sexual
identity and free will, and he was pleased with
what he created. God designed men and women with
the ability to have a sexual union with each
other, with the ability to bring forth other
creatures with eternal destinies.
We are happy when we live in harmony with God's
purposes for his creation. When we don't, we run
Sex has the potential to bring us happiness or
trouble. It is a power that taps the very
creative nature of God. It is so intensely
personal that it profoundly affects our
character and outlook. Sex has the potential to
wonderfully enhance our human dignity and
identity and personality, or it can consume and
destroy us. It vies for lordship in our lives
and wants to be worshiped, wants to be followed,
wants to be obeyed, wants to rule. If we allow
it, sex will take the place of God in our lives.
What happened to God's plan for sex?
It grew hideously distorted when the first human
beings exercised their freedom wrongly. Original
sin introduced shame, guilt, accusation,
defensiveness, self-deception, and radical
selfishness. God's plan was distorted.
Selfishness took the place of self-giving;
looking out for oneself took the place of caring
for others. Our sexual powers opened up to sin.
The power of sexual union in marriage
degenerated into lust, oppression, domination
and adultery. The relationship between husband
and wife was grievously wounded. The man began
to oppress the woman; the woman began to be
dependent on the man with a frustrated desire.
The sin of our first parents, a sin we all
share, set a downward spiral in motion - the
downward spiral that leads to fear, war,
exploitation, oppression, sexual bondage,
perversion, and immorality.
This immorality starts in the mind and the
spirit, in the fundamental choices we make
regarding our relationship to God. The core
perversion that afflicts the human race is not
sex or money or power. It is rebellion -
rejection of God's authority and plan, the
refusal to submit to God and accept his truth.
Sexual bondage is a consequence of rebellion,
not a cause of it. Because he refused God's
authority, man was delivered up in his lust to
unclean practices. Men engaged in the mutual
degradation of their bodies. They perverted
God's gift of the human body, exchanging the
truth of God for a lie, and they worshiped and
served the creature rather than the creator.
“Therefore God gave them up in the
lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the
dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
because they exchanged the truth about God for
a lie and worshiped and served the creature
rather than the Creator, who is blessed for
ever! Amen” (Romans 1:24-25).
We trade the way of truth and life for a way
filled with meanness and betrayal. We trade the
path of fidelity, mercy and love for a way
filled with sexually transmitted diseases and
broken relationships and broken promises.
through Jesus Christ
Jesus restored the human race to a relationship
with God. His repair work included restoring sex
to the place God intended it to have when he
created us. We misused the freedom God gave us.
Jesus came to free us and empower us with his
Holy Spirit, so that we might be able to choose
rightly. God wants us to be fully transformed
into his image in the core of our being.
The new way of living for Christians, in the
power of the Holy Spirit, puts sex in its proper
place. Sex becomes a servant of God's purpose
and not our master. God's purpose for sex is to
bring a man and woman together in a lifelong
union that is open to the creative action of God
bringing forth children.
When sex is fulfilling this purpose, it
glorifies God. When it serves some other
purpose, we become its slave. We are
particularly vulnerable to self-deceit in the
area of sex. We rationalize and justify our
wrongdoing; we make excuses or exceptions for
ourselves. Premarital sex, extramarital sex,
adultery, homosexual acts, pornography, lustful
fantasizing, and solitary sex are all
perversions of God's purpose in creating us as
How can we be free from bondage to immorality?
How can we make sex a servant and not a master
in our lives?
Sexual bondage is a spiritual problem that needs
a spiritual solution. Jesus Christ offers us
that solution through his redemption and our
relationship with him. Here are eight steps we
can take to secure this freedom, peace, and good
order to our lives.
It's impossible for Jesus to be Lord unless we
are converted. Conversion means surrendering
ourselves to Jesus, acknowledging him as our
savior, and submitting to his lordship over us.
It is a process that happens at different stages
and in different ways.
Sometimes conversion happens all at once,
suddenly and dramatically; sometimes it occurs
in stages, more gradually. But even when it
happens all at once, it still takes time for
Jesus to become lord over all the different
areas of our lives. Conversion is a lifelong
process, again and again turning our lives over
to Jesus, more and more embracing the union we
have with him.
Accept the truth.
The next step is to squarely face and accept the
teaching of Christ regarding sex and sexuality.
"If you live according to my teaching,", Jesus
assures us, "you shall know the truth, and the
truth shall set you free" (John 8:31-32). The
truth of what God says in this area is
challenging, hard, painful, and potentially
revolutionary in our lives - but it brings
freedom. If we don't get clear in our minds what
God teaches as inappropriate and sinful in this
area and then wholeheartedly accept it, we will
never get free.
We need to concretely confess to God our
wrongdoing in this area. We need to specifically
identify those things that are not right in our
sexual behavior, those things that are sinful
offences against God, and admit them to him. We
need to clearly call sin sin and not excuse it
or rationalize it away. Then we must confess it
to God and receive his forgiveness.
Ask for God's help.
We are dealing with spiritual powers and perhaps
with lifelong habits. We may be dealing with
indoctrination from the world trying to convince
us that Christian morality is old-fashioned,
inhuman, repressive, unhealthy, or inhibitive.
We need to ask God's help and then be patient
and persevering, not becoming discouraged if it
takes time to gain freedom in different aspects
of our sexual lives.
Live a God-filled life.
The downward spiral for the human race began
with a refusal to acknowledge God and to glorify
and thank him. The key to reversing this spiral
that ends in bondage and lust is to undo this
refusal to honor and worship and obey God. As we
fill our lives with Jesus Christ and his Holy
Spirit, we'll find ourselves getting
progressively freer in this area.
The perversity didn't begin with sexual
perversity; it began with a rebellion of the
spirit and mind. It was a rebellion against
God's word and God's law that led to the first
sin. Similarly, patterns of lust often begin
with rebellion against God, against parents, and
against lawful authorities in our lives. The
whole undoing of the human race was rooted in
rebellion, and our own personal rebellion opens
us to other spirits.
Just as one man's sin and rebellion brought
death to the whole world, so one man's
obedience, the obedience of Jesus Christ, brings
salvation to the whole world (see Romans 5:18).
Getting free from sin is rooted in overcoming
rebellion and fully submitting to Christ and his
Resentment and anger may also weaken us and make
us vulnerable to lust. Dealing with resentment,
resolving difficulties in relationships, and
releasing people toward whom we hold resentment
clear the way for God's Holy Spirit to bring
healing, power, and self-control into other
areas of our lives.
Face the pain.
We shouldn't be afraid of the pain involved in
denying ourselves in this area. We won't die
from abstaining from sexual immorality! We need
food and water to live, but we don't need sex to
live. We need sex to be one with our spouses and
to bear children, but we don't need sex to live.
We don't need sex to live as fulfilled, healthy,
happy human beings, and as a productive and
joyful people. The need for sex is a lie that
Satan and this sexualized society have tried to
deceive us into believing.
In fact, immoral sex leads us into bondage and
destruction. There is a pain to saying no to sin
and denying oneself, but it is a pain that
ultimately leads to life. It may hurt like hell
to say no to sin. But better a little hurting
now than an eternity of hurting.
Establish a healthy
Many people are not able to get free in this
area because they are foolish. They say that
they want to get free of sexual sin, but they
continue to expose themselves to all kinds of
invitations, temptations and stimulation to
immorality. We need to stop going to those
places that stimulate us, stop doing things or
hanging around people who weaken our desire to
follow Christ. If we want to get free - and stay
free - of sexual sin, we can't expose ourselves
to those things that lead us right into it.
Identify those things in your life that stir up
sexual desire or lead you into temptation, and
stay away from them or eliminate them from your
activities. Find alternative forms of
entertainment and good hobbies for relaxation if
going to the movies is a source of difficulty
It can be very helpful to share how you are
doing in this area with a mature Christian in
whom you can trust and have confidence. There
are even "sexaholic anonymous" groups that are
available for people who are locked in bondage
in this area. Some of the same principles that
Alcoholics Anonymous uses, such as depending on
God and confessing sin, are applicable in this
Sex is meant to be your servant and not your
master. You can live as a freedman, not as a
slave under bondage to sin. Take the steps you
need to live out God's truth in your life. The
truth will make you free.
originally appeared in New Covenant
Magazine, Volume 18, Number 9, April
1989, © copyright Ralph Martin. Used with
Ralph Martin is
president of Renewal
Ministries, an organization devoted to
Catholic renewal and evangelization. Ralph
also hosts The Choices We Face, a widely
viewed weekly Catholic television and radio
program distributed throughout the world.
Renewal Ministries is also actively involved
in assisting the Church in more than 30
different countries through leadership
training, evangelistic conferences and
retreats, and the publication and distribution
of Catholic resources.
Ralph is the author of a number of books,
including Will Many Be Saved?, The Urgency
of the New Evangelization: Answering the
Call, What Vatican II Actually Teaches and
Its Implications for the New
Evangelization,The Fulfillment of All
Desire: A Guidebook Based on the Wisdom of
the Saints, Hungry for God, Fire on
the Earth,. He and his wife Anne have
six children and seventeen grandchildren and
reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.