We could go in numerous directions with the sixth commandment, but I want to focus our attention this morning on the connection between our duty to honor life and human sexuality.
Solomon pleads with his son to listen to his instructions so that his life may be blessed (Pr. 4:10). This reminds us of the fifth commandment, but suggests that the fifth and sixth commandments are actually closely related. When a father teaches and leads his children, he is giving his children the gift of life (Pr. 4:11-13). The father who fails to instruct his children is sinning in a way that amounts to murder (Pr. 19:18). This means warning children about where the dangers and pitfalls of life are (Pr. 4:14-15) and recognizing the religious dedication the wicked have for their way of life (Pr. 4:16-17). In the Old Covenant law a homeowner could be held liable for the death of someone who fell off his roof/balcony if there was no railing (Dt. 22:8). Keeping the sixth commandment means putting up guard rails and watching out for our children and one another. The difference between the righteous and the wicked is startling and clear: it is the difference between day and night, light and darkness (Pr. 4:18-19). The wicked stumble in their darkness and can’t ever figure out where they got their bruises (Pr. 4:19). The words of a faithful father are life and health to children (Pr. 4:20-22), and this extends to the depths of our souls and difficult matters (Pr. 4:23). This is why our mouths need to be guarded against perverse jokes and lies (Pr. 4:24), and we need to pay close attention to what we are looking at and where we are walking (Pr. 4:25-27). The key to this is listening to our fathers (Pr. 5:1-2), and one of the most deadly dangers is the immoral woman (Pr. 5:3). She is an assassin leading her victims to hell (Pr. 5:4-6).
Sex and Death, Sex and Life
It’s no accident that the next great moment in covenant history after the flood is the covenant with Abraham, and a central part of that new covenant is the blood shed in circumcision (Gen. 9:4-6 and 17:10-11). In other words, God points at the man’s sexual organ and insists that this is a central part of understanding the difference between life and death. And this is underlined even further in the law for both men and women. The ceremonial laws required God’s people to pay close attention to menstrual blood and semen, dead bodies and God’s life-giving presence. This is because sex is always either an act of love and life giving or it is an act of idolatry that amounts to violence and murder. While the sin of Onan isn’t the sin of using birth control per se, it is the sin of selfish sex, a Cain-like desire for the death of his brother – so God killed him (Gen.38:9-10). So let’s look at some practical questions relating to life and death and sexuality. We want to be a life-honoring, life-giving people by the power of the Spirit.
How Many Children Should We Have?
This is a decision between your spouse and you and Jesus, but there are several biblical principles that must be observed: God loves babies and commanded Adam to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28, Ps. 127:3). God is sovereign over the womb (Gen. 21:1-2, 29:31, 30:17, 30:22,1 Sam. 1:6, 19-20, Mt. 1:18), and this means that there are no “accidents,” and all our “planning” is secondary. If you are having sex, then in some sense you are “trying.” God does not forbid the use of birth control or medical intervention to prevent conception, therefore neither should we. But we live in a God-hating, child-hating, death-loving culture which means that we cannot just do whatever the magazine, St. Google, or your doctor/midwife says (sometimes even when he/she is a professing Christian). Christians should be aware that some forms of “birth control” may intentionally or unintentionally cause abortions. So keep your priorities straight: it is more important to protect life than to avoid inconvenience. Men, you must lead and protect your wives in this. Seek counsel and wisdom, but do not allow the world, other families, or popular books or blogs to become your standard for obedience. Whatever is not from faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). Love kids, love your wife, love Jesus and His people, and seek wise, fatherly counsel and then prayerfully and confidently make your decisions before the face of God, remembering that we will all give an account to God (Rom. 14:6-12). If someone asks your opinion, of course you are free to give it, but be careful about offering your opinion when you haven’t been asked (Rom. 14:13, 16-19).
Loving Life Now
In one sense, we are all godparents and bear responsibility for loving and protecting the young life all around us (e.g. Is. 56:3-8). We are also all godchildren, called to care for our parents and grandparents at the end of life as well (Pr. 16:31, 20:29, Lev. 19:32). Young men in particular must be preparing to be fathers. There’s a godly adventurous spirit in young men that is hungry for glory: discovering, inventing, performing, creating, etc. which can all be life-loving. But there’s a difference between using God-given talents for the glory of Jesus and the good of His people and hoping that your garage band is going to make it in the big time. Video gaming, movie making, rock bands, blogging, and Facebook are all popular hobbies that have high likelihoods of wasting time and energy. Honor the marriage bed now, love life now by not fornicating before marriage either with pictures or friends or strangers (Heb. 13:4). Casual sex is like casual bombing runs; casual sex is selfish sex, sexual terrorism. The biblical name for cohabitating is having a concubine. Ladies, you are beloved daughters of the King and worthy of great honor. Practice loving life now, practice guarding life now.
As young people choose vocations, and we talk to our children about their callings in the future, we need to be talking to them about the fact that as our culture grows increasingly hostile to biblical Christianity, various occupations become more and more hazardous. While it is not immoral per se to join the military, it is frequently an extremely difficult place to serve as a follower of Jesus. Just focusing on the “big E” challenges: the same folks who can’t tell the difference between a blob of tissue and a human being are in charge of ordering missile strikes. If you go into the armed forces, Christians need to be prepared to lose their job on the first day (Lk. 3:14). The medical industry has some similar challenges: will you get your license revoked for refusing certain services? Are you willing to lose your job, your livelihood for the sake of Jesus (1 Pet. 4:12-17)? Seek counsel; get wisdom; love life.
The sixth commandment requires us to love and protect life, and this means seeking wisdom and fleeing from all sexual selfishness. Since the root of all murder is found in every descendent of Adam, we must seek the complete destruction of that flesh through the cross of Christ (Col. 3:1-5). This first means knowing your sin and failure and the forgiveness found in His blood and the peace of His Spirit. Then, rejoicing in that peace, we gladly embrace the way of wisdom found in the cross of Jesus, the way of sacrifice and life.