With Room- "Extra Hot"
How do we live with room for integrity?
Pastor Terry Inman
WITH ROOM is about leaving space. If it’s coffee, it’s enough room to add a little half & half. For me it takes the acidic edge off and makes the rest of the cup go down smoother. Coffee snobs may disagree. I don’t add sugar. I don’t need hyperglycemia--I’m already over caffeinated!
I was relieved to learn last week that new research touts the medical benefits of coffee. Apparently it makes our bodies more efficient and less susceptible to disease. Three cups a day keeps heart disease away! It lowers our risk by 21%.
With only four or more cups a day us guys can lower our risk of prostate cancer by 59%. I probably shouldn’t go there but that much liquid of any kind should keep us going! Here’s the claim that’s incredible. Down four cups a day and your 16% less likely to die from any cause. That almost sounds like eternal life!
Seriously coffee can help us lose weight, stay alert, calm headaches and even reduce diabetes. But don’t leave room for sugar! I like my brew “extra hot” but I have to be careful that I don’t get burned.
The last three weeks we talked about room for spiritually—making time and space for our connection to God. We talked about room for humanity, the occasion and compassion to care for others. Last week it was room for generosity—being content with consuming less and contributing more.
Today I want to talk about ROOM for integrity—Living with moral room. How can we set limits between temptation and us? How do we establish healthy boundaries on our behavior or the behavior of others?
Not all of us grow up with good emotional and sexual boundaries. Some of us have been violated and we have had to learn to set moral margins.
Early bonding with Parents helps with healthy boundaries. The bible says, A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become oneflesh. Gen. 2.24 NIV King James
When we have a healthy emotional bond with our parents we are more likely to have a healthy bond with our partner.
Initial bonding happens when we are born. We look into our Parent’s eyes
and make a strong emotional attachment. That’s why the nurses wait a few minutes before they put that salve in a newborn’s eyes.
Separation can impair our bonding experiences. Also if our boundaries have been invaded in childhood, we can develop poor boundaries. We go though life attempting to bond with each new encounter. This is often labeled an attachment disorder. It can also contribute to sexual addiction.
Some people can make sexual connections but struggle to bond emotionally. This explains but doesn’t excuse sexual indiscretion. So what does it mean to have moral room in my life? Do I have safe limits?
I don't know anyone who sets out to fail morally. No one has a plan to blow-up their marriage. It’s common when sexual tragedy strikes to say,
"I never thought it would happen to me.” So why does it happen?
James says we take the bait and get hooked. “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away (lured) by their own evil desire and enticed.
Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15 NIV
The Greek word for "entice" can be to entrap, to allure, or to hook. One of the hip slang words for sex is “hook up”. That’s what it is--a trap.
Everyone is tempted…no one is above it. Our desires flow out of the condition of our heart, and they are what they are. We don’t experience a change in our desires without a change in our heart. We can’t fix our own heart. That’s God’s work.
If we make ROOM for God when the hook is cast out then we won't desire the bait...but if there isn't enough ROOM we can be easily hooked. So how do we make room? How do we establish healthy boundaries? Paul had some advice for his sexualized culture…
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Cor. 6:18-20 NIV
Sexual sin is different from other sins. Sure, all sin is the same in that it separates us from God, but the consequence can be vastly different. The Greek word for “flee” is to escape, to seek safety in flight. In short “make room” create some distance on temptation.
The Corinthian culture was highly sexual. Prostitution was so prevalent. It was even part of the pagan temple rituals. Young men and women were expected to serve in the sex trade. Like today it was a big business!
Most converts in the Corinthian church were from this pagan background; they had to make room for new behaviors. The culture of prostitution around the temple of Aphrodite was a constant temptation. Paul warned them to keep their distance.
"Other vices may be conquered in fight, this only by flight."
The phrase “Do you not know?” appears six times here in 1 Cor. 6. Paul is not reprimanding them for their past behavior; he is reminding them of who they are in Christ.
Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.1Cor. 6.16-17 NIV
How do we put distance between sexual sin and us? The answer--
One World. We safeguard one spiritual, emotional, and physical bond.
This healthy attachment is described in Paul’s instructions on marriage.
“Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.
Eph. 5.25-28 Message
God’s design is for two to become one. When we love each other we really love ourselves. This is one World. What happens to me should happen to my spouse, what I experience my partner should experience.
Anytime we create or perpetuate a world that doesn’t include our spouse, we lessen (decrease) the ROOM we have between temptation and us.
Are we cultivating a separate world at work that doesn’t include positive conversations about our spouse and family?
Are we cultivating a separate world on Facebook or Twitter, reminiscing about old times that don’t include our spouse?
Are we cultivating a separate world through text messages, sharing things we wouldn’t say if we knew our partner would read them?
Are we cultivating a separate and secret world in our minds, through pornography and fantasizing about sex?
This creates space between us and makes room for intrusion. We close the gap between the hook and ourselves. So when the hook is cast out, it’s too close. We crave the bait and we’re hooked.
Out of ignorance, independence, arrogance or even anger, some of us leave our marriage unprotected—out in the open—exposed to strange elements, vulnerable, unguarded, and unsafe.
Some people find the idea (of keeping boundaries with the opposite sex) socially backward and constricting. You can have all sorts of security devices installed in your home but unless you lock your front door, these devices are useless. We have to make room for integrity.
Thinking that “love is enough“, that “we trust each other and can never be unfaithful“, that “a little flirting is harmless” is an open door.
A great marriage comes from great discipline. It comes from doing the uncomfortable, the counter-cultural and the counter-flesh. We must work to protect what matters to us. We must make room for integrity!
We are not as strong as we think we are. Temptation and sin often feel harmless at the beginning. All of us have common sense but it can be dulled by lack of use. We need to know and respect our vulnerabilities.
Here are seven habits that can be helpful in keeping our boundaries.
1. Don’t go out and spend time alone with a person of the opposite sex. Don’t give them rides if you are alone in the car.
2. Talk about your spouse often when talking with others.
It’s a great adultery repellant! Make sure its positive!
3. Involve your spouse – Keep each other in the loop on email messages, talk about your day mentioning who you talked with, share passwords and Facebook friends.
4. Don’t flirt with anyone other than your spouse.
5. Cultivate same couple friendships. Even this needs to be careful not to cross physical and emotional boundaries.
6. Don’t counsel someone of the opposite sex alone. Bring your spouse along or refer the person or do couple to couple counseling. If you must counsel or hold meetings with them, do it within sight of others.
7. If you see or feel temptation flee--don’t try to rationalize or patronize it. Run from it. We need to know who we are attracted to.
Here’s and acrostic for FLEE…
Fix you heart and head on faithfulness. Don’t leave room for temptation.
Learn what makes you venerable and set appropriate boundaries.
Engage your partner is discussions about your needs and struggles.
Employ the Holy Spirit to help you make room for integrity.
Life in our culture can be extra hot. Don’t get burned. Stay bonded and keep strong boundaries.