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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 9

Passion

James 5:17. “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.”

It is evident from this reference by the Apostle James that God is encouraging us to have faith in spite of our carnal natures. He is letting us know that the great prophet Elijah, who did many exploits through faith, was a man of normal passions like we are.

We are using the word passion as a title for our subject here because it is so commonly used today to denote sexual desire or sexual intensity. The word occurs only once in the Bible (Acts 1:3) and it has reference to Christ’s sufferings on the cross.

However, the word passions is used twice (Acts 14:15, James 5:17) and it has reference to man’s carnal (fleshly) desires or emotions which are the results of the nature he is born with. It simply applies to the nature of man which manifests itself through his emotions. It could be anger, love, hate, enthusiasm or strong desire for anything. This also includes sex.

The use of the word today is often applied to sex. When someone is said to be passionate, it means they have an ardent desire or intense sexual capacity. When the Bible refers to men as being of like passions it is simply speaking of the various manifestations of their nature including sexual desire.

COMMON TO ALL

This is a common bond all men share regardless of their faith or spirituality. This applied to the Apostles and the Prophets, according to Acts 14:15 and James 5:17, as well as all other men. There is a great need that we understand this because of the legalistic concept that sexual desire is wicked. Many poor souls are intimidated and brought into great bondage as a result of such reasoning. Wrong interpretation of the scriptures is used by legalistic teachers to intimidate and condemn many that God hasn’t condemned. Although the Lord would have us to know how to possess our vessel in sanctification and honor (I Thess. 4:3-4), we are, nevertheless, subject to like passions as all other men.

Recently I was talking to a man who confided to me that he was greatly tempted by the opposite sex. This man, who was divorced and not welcome in many of the churches, was in a state of condemnation because he couldn’t measure up to their legalistic teaching.

LAW CONDEMNS MAN

Such scriptures as Matt. 5:28, where Jesus said, “... whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” was used to condemn this man. Because of his divorced status he was considered undesirable for church membership and an adulterer if he ever married again.

Imposition of any aspect of the law condemns man. It makes manifest that he is a sinner by nature and practice. He learns what Paul meant in Rom. 7:18-21, “For I know that in me (that is my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”

CHRIST REDEEMS

All men are transgressors of the law because they are sinners. Sin is transgression of the law. This is why it was absolutely necessary for our sins to be placed upon Christ and for him to bear the wrath of the law on the cross. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” Galatians 3:13.

Until we see that sin has been condemned in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ on the cross, Satan will use the law to condemn us. Rom. 8:3. It was on the cross that Jesus became sin for us. II Cor. 5:21, I Peter 2:24.

It was the cross that destroyed the power of the law to condemn man. Col. 2:14-15 says, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

Romans 10:4 says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”

It is not a matter of law but Christ. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18.

ALL FLESH ALIKE

Having faith and being in Christ does not change our flesh. We still have the same adamic nature with its inherent weaknesses and are subject to like passions as all other men. The idea that Christians should never be tempted nor have an evil thought is very desirable but also very misleading. I believe all true Christians delight in the law of God after the inward man, but like Paul, they often find that when they would do good, evil is present with them. Rom. 7:21.

The weakness of our flesh is a reality we cannot escape from until we learn that “...by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight....” Rom. 3:20. Measuring ourselves by the law can only bring condemnation.

This is also why Jesus imposed the law in all its severity upon the Scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20, 27-28), who made their boast in the law. This is why he spoke as he did in Matt. 5:28. Jesus was not teaching the law as a means of justification but simply exposing the self-righteous condition of the Pharisees who professed to be keepers of the law. In their deluded condition they felt no need of a saviour and indeed rejected their only hope of salvation in the person of Jesus Christ.

It is because of our inability to keep the law that Christ died for our sins. This is why Paul said, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Gal. 2:21.

FAITH ONLY

Our reason for expounding this great truth is not to condone sin but to show the believer that his standing before God is not the result of keeping the law or resisting temptation but faith in Christ. We are saved by faith, we walk by faith and we live by faith. Rom. 5:1, Eph. 2:8-9, II Cor. 5:7, Heb. 10:38-39. In fact without faith it is impossible to please God. Heb. 11:6. This is the only righteousness we have. Rom. 4:3-8 and 10:4.

God was fully aware of the weakness of the flesh in desiring the opposite sex. If desiring the opposite sex consigns us to hell, then most of us will certainly go there. Although we do not condone nor approve of sexual infidelity, the possibility of fornication or illicit sex is very real. This is why Paul said “...to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” I Cor. 7:2.

This was written to Christians, not unbelievers. In verse nine of this same chapter the apostle says, “But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” It is very evident from other translations that the apostle had reference to burning with sexual desire.

Let’s note some other translations:

“For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.” RSV.

“I think it is far better for them to be married than to be tortured by unsatisfied desire.” Phillips.

“For it better to marry than to burn with passionate desire.” Norlie.

This same principle is brought out in verse 36. “But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let him marry.”

From an examination of several other translations it is obvious this verse also has reference to the time when sexual desire becomes such a great temptation until the man can no longer behave himself properly toward his female spiritual partner. The idea is brought out in the James Moffatt and New English Bible translations that the woman is a spiritual bride or a partner in celibacy.

Although this verse of scripture is to some degree obscure, there are two outstanding thoughts worth mentioning here. It is obvious that a spiritual relationship or union between the man and the woman already existed. The woman is likened to a spiritual bride or partner. Their relationship, though spiritual in its beginning, reaches the place where sexual desire becomes such a problem the recommendation of the apostle is that they marry.

GOD UNDERSTANDS

Our purpose in bringing these things out is to show that God himself understands what manner of men we are. Luke 9:55. We also desire to give hope to those who are condemned and intimidated by the carnal nature that they were born with. It is good to know that, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” Psalms 103:13-14.

Manifestation of the sex drive has always been a fact of life among all mankind including God’s people. From kings to peasants, all have been affected. David, a man after God’s own heart and Israel’s greatest king, was as weak as other men when it came to sex.

Although he had many wives and concubines, he took another man’s wife and she became pregnant by him. When his cleverly contrived plan failed to hide his sin, he had the woman’s husband sent to the battlefront and killed. For this great sin David had to reap all the days of his life. II Sam.12:10.

David’s great sin was not because of another woman or sex. Under the practice and culture of the Old Testament God not only permitted a plurality of wives but also concubines. In verse 8 of II Samuel 12, the Lord said he would have given him even more. His great sin lay in the fact that he took another man’s wife and had her husband killed.

Solomon’s unfettered desire for the opposite sex, likewise, was a great source of trouble to him and Israel. The scriptures declare that he loved many strange women. I Kings 11:11. Once again it wasn’t the seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines that Solomon had. His sin was in going after strange women (foreign women) whom God had forbidden Israel to marry. These women turned Solomon’s heart to their many heathen gods. It is for this very reason the New Testament forbids a believer to marry an unbeliever. I Cor. 7:39, II Cor 6:14-16.

POLYGYNY

Sex has been a great factor in shaping the history of man, including God’s people. By reason of their creation, the sex drive has always been more of a factor and problem to men than women. This no doubt was one of the main reasons for the origin of polygyny or the practice of having more than one wife. More popularly called polygamy today, it can be traced to most people of archaic civilization. Beyond doubt the ancient Hebrews were simply a part of the culture that believed in and practiced polygyny. This, of course, is why this practice was continued as a part of the culture of God’s people during Old Testament times.

Although monogamy (one wife) was always practiced by many among the Hebrews, a man could, in many circumstances, have a plurality of wives and there was no difference in the legal status of different wives, nor was there any limit to the number of wives a man might take.

Polygyny has been found even in Christian Europe. In the middle of the 6th century Diarmait, king of Ireland, had two queens and two concubines. Charlemagne had two wives and many concubines; and one of his laws seems to imply that polygyny was not unknown even among priests.

In later times, Philip of Hesse and Fredrick William II of Prussia contracted bigamous marriages with the sanction of the Lutheran clergy. In 1650, soon after the peace of Westphalia, when the population had been greatly reduced by the Thirty Years War, the Frankish Kreistag at Nurenberg passed the resolution that thenceforth every man should be allowed to marry two women. The Anabaptists and the Mormons have advocated polygyny with much religious fervor. (Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 18, pages 186-187.)

History records that polygyny has often been practiced when there was a surplus of marriageable women. One of the great causes of this is depletion of the male population during times of war. Very often religious groups find themselves with a surplus of marriageable women due to the lack of male converts and their strict teaching against marrying outsiders.

TIME OF CHRIST

Although monogamy (one wife) seems to be the general practice of the Jews at the time of Christ, it is my belief that polygyny was still believed in, if not so widely practiced. At least there is no scriptural evidence in the Old or New Testament where the practice was done away with or forbidden. However, in the case of Elders, the scriptures specifically say they are to be “...the husband of one wife...” I Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:6.

These scriptures are misinterpreted by legalistic teachers as having reference to all marriages past and present. They consider a person to be living in adultery if they have been married more than once and their former mate is still living. They do not understand the great truth that we are dead to the law by the body of Christ. Rom. 7:4. This includes former marriages which were governed by and a part of the same Mosaic law. If Christ’s death on the cross doesn’t cancel out transgression of the law through broken marriages then we would have no reason to believe any other transgression was blotted out. There would certainly be no hope for such sinners as are described in I Cor. 6:9-11.

ALL THINGS NEW

They do not understand the great truth that “...old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” II Cor. 5:17. All of our past is blotted out. This includes marriage failures and every other thing done in unbelief. The way God calls us and saves us is the way we are to stay or abide. I Cor. 7:20 & 24.

It is my conviction that when Paul said the Elders were to be the husband of one wife, he had reference to their present marital status and not marriages of the past. This in itself would strongly suggest that polygyny was still practiced by some.

Even though most of the Jews practiced monogamy (one wife) the practice of polygyny (more than one wife) was still part of the culture of many nations where the gospel was to be preached. Let’s not forget also that Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. Romans 11:13, II Tim. 1:11.

Fact is this has been a problem even in modern times in some places where missionaries have gone. There have been many instances where men having more than one wife have heard the gospel and been converted. When this happens the family unit, often including numerous children by the various wives, is allowed to stay together. Generally they are not allowed to be an Elder or take more wives.

GOD’S BEST

With the revelation of the kingdom of God and the urgency of the proclamation of the gospel, the Apostle actually says it would be best if both men and women could remain single and serve the Lord without distraction. When they cannot contain themselves (sexually) the Apostle recommends that they marry. To avoid fornication the man is to have his own wife and the woman her own husband. I Cor. 7:1-2, 8 & 9. From Paul’s teachings here and other epistles I would say that monogamy, or one wife to a man, was God’s best for his people during the Church age. However, there is no specific teaching favoring either except in the case of Elders.

GOD, THE TRUE JUDGE

The weakness of the flesh and the power of the sex drive make this one of man’s most vulnerable weaknesses. Men and women may be strong in other areas of life and yet very weak when it comes to sex. Even in sex not all are alike. Some are very passionate while others are not. What would overcome one would not overcome another.

Not understanding this, it is easy for one who hasn’t been overcome by a particular weakness to judge another who has. And yet that same person may be far more guilty of something else than the one he would condemn. Only God knows man’s true state and is able to judge aright. I Sam. 16:7 says, “...for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

An example of this is the woman taken in the act of adultery who was brought to Jesus by the Scribes and Pharisees. Their spirit was to condemn this woman, using the law of Moses which said that such should be stoned to death. John 8:3-11, Lev. 20:10, Deut. 22:22. Isn’t it strange the Scribes and Pharisees didn’t bring the man who was involved? They wanted to minister death through the law but Jesus ministered life through grace and truth. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17.

Until recent years, and in some cases even today, society imposes a double standard when it comes to sex. Men are more or less expected to give vent to their sexual desire with little or no reproach. But women guilty of the same are often branded for life with a stigma of reproach.

Thank God for the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ. Some of the Lord’s most devout followers have been fallen women redeemed by his marvelous grace. Another example of this is the woman who washed Jesus’ feet. Simon the Pharisee thought that if Jesus was indeed a prophet he wouldn’t let such a vile woman (unchaste) touch him. But Jesus gladly received her attention and worship, commending her for loving him very much. Luke 7:36-50.

Jesus’ rapport with the publicans and sinners was a source of great indignation to the self-righteous Pharisees who made their boast in the law and felt no need of repentance. This is also why Jesus said, “...verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you:” Matt. 21:31.

HUMAN NATURE

Surely we need to understand that passion or sexual desire is simply part of the nature we are born with. With rare exceptions both men and women are born with sexual desire. It doesn’t take boys or girls long to discover the fascination and desire for the opposite sex.

When sexual desire has been aroused in a person they long for gratification. In those too young to marry they may resort to masturbation. This is more true of boys than girls. For the most part man in the natural will gratify his sexual desire through some means. It may be masturbation, fornication, adultery, or marriage.

A human being goaded by sexual desire can become desperate in his or her desire for gratification. This accounts for so much illicit sex and also sexual perversion. Pretending that sex isn’t a factor or that sexual desire is evil is denial of the very nature that man was created with. Refusal to honestly and frankly deal with the subject is hypocritical and foolish. Such an attitude is the cause of great ignorance and much harm, physically, mentally and spiritually.

DIFFERENCE IN INTENSITY

Although we have already touched on this elsewhere, there is need for further emphasis due to the great ignorance in this area. The difference between the man and the woman in their sexual intensity or ability to respond to the opposite sex must be made plain. Usually the woman is far less aggressive and slower in preparation for intercourse than the man.

Being a type of the Church, the woman is more timid and fearful than the man. And, as a whole, sex is more intimate and sacred to the woman than it is to the man. Consequently she is far more subject to mental intimidation or hang-ups than the man. Lack of proper attitude by the man, privacy or other fears can completely hinder the woman. I might add that men also vary in their sexual intensity and some are adversely affected by conditions.

However, as head of the woman (I Cor. 11:3) and a type of Christ the head of the Church, it is the responsibility of the man to lovingly and patiently prepare his wife for sexual union. She cannot fully enter in or cooperate until she is prepared. It is true some are more quickly prepared than others and some few respond as quickly as the man. But generally this is not true of most women. And in some cases it is the man that is slow to be sexually aroused.

Sex in the normal sense can be likened to a normal healthy appetite for food. This, no doubt, is the general rule of thumb for most people. But you do have the two extremes. Some have a sexual appetite that goes beyond the normal. For this reason the husband and the wife should be considerate of each other’s sexual need.

Although the Apostle exhorts the husband and wife not to defraud the other (I Cor. 7:5), any demanding or unyielding attitude is wrong. There will be times when each will have to yield or abstain in consideration of the other. Where there is a difference in sexual desire or intensity, this gulf of difference can be greatly reduced or eliminated by mutual understanding and cooperation.

ONENESS

It is my conviction that with a proper attitude and patient cooperation, sexual harmony will be achieved in process of time. This is a divine principle or law that is set in motion by God himself who ordained that man and woman become one flesh in the marriage union. But spiritual or psychological oneness has to first be operating in a couple before they can indeed become one flesh.

In the same sense that Christ is made one in the Spirit because the people are willing, pliable and teachable, a man and woman become one in marriage. This oneness or unity of the Spirit is the key to many of our problems, both spiritual and physical. This is the reason Jesus prayed that we might “...be made perfect in one....” John 17:23.

Paul also understood the great need for “...the unity of the spirit....” Eph. 4:3. Man cannot be blessed or accomplish anything until he gets his thinking straightened out and comes to one mind and purpose. This is true of the natural realm as well as the spiritual. This also applies to marriage and sex. Let me repeat again that sex is, for the most part, psychological.

Psalms 133:1-3 says, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” This Psalm beautifully expresses the consequent blessings that come as a result of unity. Although this prefigures spiritual blessings that come upon God’s people as a result of unity, it applies to natural things also, including sex. Natural things are types of spiritual or eternal things.

Until sexual harmony is achieved man as the head is more responsible than the woman. As the God-ordained head of the woman he has been endowed with ability to lead his wife into a harmonious marriage and sexual union. This does not relieve the woman of her responsibility to cooperate but it does place the greater responsibility on the man where it belongs. I Peter 3:7.

GREATEST HINDRANCE

The greatest hindrance to achieving harmonious sexual relations is ignorance and impatience on the part of the man. The man must realize that, in most cases, the woman is not sexually aroused as quickly as he is. Not aware of this fact, many husbands quickly gratify their own desire before their wife is sexually aroused, much less satisfied.

The marriage of one couple who belonged to a church I pastored almost went on the rocks because of this very reason. It was a continual habit of the man to enter into relations with his wife when he had the urge for sex. Time and again he would reach a climax and gratify his own desire just as his wife was being aroused and prepared. Being left in this condition, she would get up and walk the floor, tortured with unsatisfied desire while her husband went to sleep.

As a human being cannot receive Christ nor respond to his love without preparation, neither can a woman receive the man nor respond to him sexually without preparation. God purposed that sexual union be the intimate climax of human love.

Therefore patient and tender love making should precede and be present during sex relations. Because of the psychological influence on the mind, the man and the woman should be at their very best physically. Lack of cleanliness, physical charm or proper mental attitude can greatly hinder sex relations.

The man should always have a positive attitude in encouraging his wife to have confidence in herself. She must believe in her ability to perform sexually. Even in sex people must have faith. The man not only must encourage his wife during sex relations but must also patiently give her sufficient time to be sexually aroused and have a climax. Many virile young husbands find this a very difficult thing to do because their sexual passion is far more easily aroused and they are more quickly brought to a climax than their wife.

Even during sex relations preceded by preparation, the man will often find it necessary to hold back until his wife is fully aroused and reaches the very threshold of climax. In the process of doing this a couple must not anxiously strive nor work too hard to get results. Learning to relax and take their time with each patiently waiting upon the other is very necessary.

Another great essential is not just to seek sexual gratification but to actually enjoy the intimate physical closeness of the one you love. This gives honor to your relationship and results in a fuller and richer sexual experience as you share this most intimate of all earthly relationships.

Properly prepared and aroused the woman is as passionate or even more so, than the man. Although it might be considered ideal for a couple to reach a climax at the same time, the man must lovingly and patiently work with his wife until she is sexually satisfied. The God of all truth who created sex and made the man and the woman different says, “Defraud ye not one the other....” I Cor. 7:5.

In order to do this each must understand the sexual need of the other and seek the gratification of their mate as well as their own. Although sexual passion is part of our nature and as real as life itself, it varies from person to person. Because of this it takes wisdom, patience and love to achieve a harmonious sex life, which is a giant step toward a successful marriage.

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