If you’ve grown up in the evangelical world at all, then you’ve heard the following advice: “flee from sexual immorality”. I remember reading this in 1st Corinthians 6 back when I was a teenager and always referring back to it. It was of course easiest to agree with when I wasn’t dating anyone. Haha.
This is actually an important idea, even if we can sometimes become legalistic about it or use it to beat up on people. But at it’s core it is right. Paul himself writes that sexual immorality is to be fled from because all other sins are outside the body while this has to do with not just the physical and doesn’t just hurt someone else, but against your own body, which should be a temple for God.
But if we are going to understand this idea we need to realize what this really looks like. And to do that we need to define some ideas.
To begin with, we need to define what sexual immorality actually is. I mean if we are going to flee from something it might be a good idea to know what it is we are fleeing from. There are of course a lot of ways to look at this question. Some people will point out that in the bible the term usually refers to sex, prostitution, and the like. In other words, they would say, the bible is silent about oral sex, masturbation etc.
Other people leave the physical all together and jump to what Jesus said about lust in Matthew 5. They would argue that having feelings of lust in any way or context is sexual immorality. I’ve already discussed this verse here.
In reality we have to look at the bible as a whole in the contexts of the writers and then ask what would count in our society now as sexually immoral. But for a simple definition for today let’s say this: Sexual immorality is the fulfillment of sexual desire outside of a heterosexual marriage relationship.
Assuming that definition the question becomes how do we flee from that. This is where I think we mess up.
We need to actually be committed to it. This is why our definition of sexual immorality is so important. Am I just committed to not having sex (which is easy if I’m not dating someone) or am I committed to avoiding all sexual immorality? This is why this is not only a single person question but for everyone.
Secondly we need to get into our heads that flee means just that. Paul doesn’t say to endure sexual immorality, or work through your sexual immorality, or even to overcome sexual immorality. He says basically, get the hell away from it. So what does that look like?
Flee means avoid the situation to begin with. Now I get how this can be taken to the extreme. Never be alone with the opposite sex or don’t go dancing are examples. I’m not suggesting that. I mean I guess almost anything can lead to immorality if we let it. But I think there are some common sense things here that we can do.
Fleeing is not, let’s get naked and then not have sex. It’s not having a secret life online that no one knows about. It’s not traveling alone and having a girl over to your hotel room. It’s not drinking a lot and then hoping nothing bad happens. We could go on and on, and create a nice comfortable list.
These are indeed important to flee from. We can set ourselves up by having people who know what we are doing when dating someone, setting up online accountability, and generally not having a secret life. We should live in the light, not in the dark.
But the number one way to flee sexual immorality? Don’t date the wrong people. Now again that always sounds easy when we aren’t dating anyone. And yet so many of date the wrong people over and over.
Here’s the kicker you need to flee from it early on. I think that guys fall into sexual immorality most of the time through their eyes. Women fall into it through their emotions. I understand that these are general truths, but I think it’s pretty fair.
Here’s what I mean, guys chase the hot girl, and women give in to the guy that gives them the butterflies so to speak. This puts us in the position to give in. Once we are in we start tossing all of our qualifiers out the window.
You need to flee early. I’ve seen it again and again over the years (and I’ve done it). It starts out with “She’s hot but not really that deep spiritually. She’s exploring it though”. “We’re not dating, he’s not a Christian. We’re just friends” (followed by smile). This soon turns into, “I know I shouldn’t be with him, but I can’t help what I feel.” This is followed by sexual immorality.
The longer you go down the road with someone you “shouldn’t be with”, the harder it is to turn around. Once you are emotionally invested it gets harder to leave. Instead we rationalize and justify more. If we “feel attraction” to someone we know isn’t right, then fleeing sexual immorality means not dating them – not just hoping we don’t sleep with them.
Fleeing is a choice and while we always have the chance to flee, the earlier we make it the better chance we have of following through. Fleeing means getting out early, not running up to the line and then trying to stop last second.
What does it mean to you to flee from sexual immorality? Do you flee early or late?