Praying through the Psalms

Praying through the Psalms

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sexual Integrity

Psalm 54
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil[b] of David. When the Ziphites had gone to Saul and said, “Is not David hiding among us?”

1 Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.
3 Arrogant foes are attacking me;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
people without regard for God.
4 Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.
5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
in your faithfulness destroy them.
6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
I will praise your name, LORD, for it is good.
7 You have delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.

Leviticus 18:6-19:11

6 “‘No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the LORD. 7 “‘Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.8 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father. 9 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere. 10 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter; that would dishonor you. 11 “‘Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father; she is your sister. 12 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative. 13 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, because she is your mother’s close relative. 14 “‘Do not dishonor your father’s brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt. 15 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; do not have relations with her. 16 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother. 17 “‘Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness. 18 “‘Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living. 19 “‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period. 20 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her. 21 “‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD. 22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. 23 “‘Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion. 24 “‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the foreigners residing among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 28 And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you. 29 “‘Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. 30 Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the LORD your God.’”

Mark 6:14-29
John the Baptist Beheaded

14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”15 Others said, “He is Elijah.”And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.” 16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. 21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” “The head of John the Baptist,” she answered. 25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Reflections:
David, the psalmist, continues to testify to God’s goodness, when all his enemies (including King Saul) were after him. He trusts in God for ultimate vindication. As a result of His trust in God and God’s goodness, resolves to offer a freewill offering (not required by the law) as a evidence of his thanksgiving toward God.

Leviticus 18 recounts all the different kinds of sexual immorality that the Israelites were forbidden to be a part of. As one commentator said the sexual immorality came from having sex with those who were too alike (incestuous relationships or relationships with relatives) or too different (sex with animals, bestiality). Interestingly this is the same offense John the Baptist rebukes King Herod for (having sexual relations with his brother’s wife). This makes Herodias (his co-adulterer) very mad. Whenever we confront someone in sexual immorality they are likely to get very mad. For some reason this particular sin has lots of emotionality around it and people don’t like being called on it and feel entitled to express themselves sexually however they like. Probably because the sexual act itself it is very emotional act which is designed only for two people (a man and a woman)who have committed themselves to life in front of God and their community.

And as in the case with all sin, we see the mass of destruction that happens in families and relationship when we don’t listen to God’s commandments in this area (i.e cheating on a spouse). Of course like any sin there is restoration and forgiveness and healing. It is particularly important because this is an area of lot of shame that we handle it sensitively and offer healing and forgiveness ministry to those who are truly sorry, yet at the same time be clear on God’s will and commands in this area. We see in our society that this is a value that is under assault by the media and almost every TV show that is on the air promotes sex outside of marriage without guile. It will be important for parents to take back sex education in the home based on biblical principles.

The righteous are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. Psalm 1:3

You will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:16


Dear God, in this time of spring when the earth shows new growth, help us to grow in love and witness to you in the world around us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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