Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Sexual and Liturgical Sins of Evangelical Churches

Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” (1 Samuel 2:22-25)

The sin here is sexual sin, and Eli says that sexual sins are sins against the Lord! (v. 25). In other words, sexual sins are unique in that they are against the Lord. But how so?

1 Corinthians 6:13 says, "The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." And verse 18 goes on to says, "Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body."

The human body created as male and female uniquely images God in his tri-unity. The sexual union of the man and woman images the communion of the trinity, even producing a third person when the Lord is present to create. In other words, the human body, especially as male and female, tells us about the mystery of God's loving, triune nature. Therefore, sexual sin is particularly heinous because it is against the Lord, i.e., it distorts the truth of God's tri-unity.

The other sin Eli's sons were involved in were sins of worship: liturgical sins. Specifically, they took away the meat for the offerings. Worship meant eating in the presence of the Lord, but the priests were taking away the meat for the offerings and treating the offerings with contempt by not giving the fat of the offerings to the Lord.

The sexual union, besides picturing God, is also a picture of worship. In fact, one of the older Christian wedding liturgies contained these words in the wedding vows: "With my body I thee worship." For surely Christian worship is primarily about communion with the Lord. And, if this is the case, how absurd it is to not partake of communion weekly! Sadly, in our day, our leaders have taken away the one act that most pictures what worship is, namely, communion. If Eli's sons were guilty of liturgical sins by tampering with the fellowship offerings, aren't Christian leaders today also guilty of the worse sin of removing the very Supper that best pictures and brings about the church's communion with her Lord!

We live in an era, where Christian churches rarely even consider what the Lord commands in worship, which is teaching and a meal, thinking we are free to do whatever we want. And, at the same time, we minimize sexual immorality, which the Bible views as an attack against the triune God himself. May the Lord have mercy on us and the church in our day. And may our leaders once again do what our Lord commands, when he said:
"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household [the church], to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes" (Matthew 24:45-46).

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