“Everything that has been created by God is good”

Posted May 26, 2022

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Daily Scripture

1 Timothy 4:3-6

3 They will prohibit marriage and eating foods that God created—and he intended them to be accepted with thanksgiving by those who are faithful and have come to know the truth. 4 Everything that has been created by God is good, and nothing that is received with thanksgiving should be rejected. 5 These things are made holy by God’s word and prayer. 6 If you point these things out to the believers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus who has been trained by the words of faith and the good teaching that you’ve carefully followed.

Reflection Questions

Reacting to the wide-spread immorality in the Greek and Roman world, ascetic philosophies like Stoicism arose which forbade all sex (as well as many other joys). Some early Christians adopted those philosophies as a shield from impurity. The idea that unmarried, celibate Christians are necessarily “holier” has persisted through the centuries. Not so, Paul warned his younger protégé Timothy. Marriage is a good gift from God, one to honor, celebrate and enjoy.

• As Timothy led the church in the city of Ephesus (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3), he had to meet false teachers who forbade marriage and insisted on rigid food rules. Paul’s answer did not say “everything is good,” but “everything God created is good.” How can you distinguish good things God created from lifestyles or opinions that claim to be “spiritual” but reflect human brokenness and desire to control others, not God’s loving purposes?

• Scholar William Barclay wrote, “The essence of Gnosticism was that spirit is altogether good and matter altogether evil....This was an ever-recurring heresy; in every generation [people] arose who tried to be stricter than God.” * Which is usually more of a struggle for you: being too strict, or not being strict enough? How can gratitude for God’s gifts, and a commitment to live by the values you learn as you prayerfully study the Bible, help you grow past either struggle?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, as I seek to live out, and to share, the beauty of your way of life, preserve me from the urge to become “stricter” than you. You blended all your wisdom with grace; help me do the same. Amen.

* William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, p. 93.

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Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

Note: If you are an adult reading this with younger children, I encourage you to read this in its entirety quietly and consider if it is appropriate.

As the great philosophers of the late 1900s, Salt-N-Pepa, once said, “Let’s talk about sex.” It’s great to belong to a church that is willing to talk about sexual intimacy in a helpful and healthy way. That hasn’t always been my experience with churches and ministries.

When I was in college in the mid to late nineties, I belonged to a campus ministry. It was during this time that a movement against dating was rising within the evangelical church. The book I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris was released and teachings that encouraged “courtship” rather than dating became the gold standard for “romantic” relationships if you were a “real Christian.” We were taught that we were to “guard our hearts” against secular and sexual desires. This meant that you did not express your feelings physically until you shared your first kiss at your wedding. Those who were so daring as to not follow these strict rules were looked down upon in shame.

Premarital physical expression of anything outside of holding hands was essentially a moral failure. This was deeply driven into us. Years later, even after being married, I had friends whose sexual life was terribly scarred by the shame previously associated with having sex. They spent years believing sex was evil, an act against God. It was difficult for them to flip the switch on sex once they were married from “send you to hell” to “beautiful and meaningful.”

I’m glad that the Christian church has taken a step back from those strict teachings. Even the author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye has since apologized for the harm caused by the book. Unfortunately, I think he learned this lesson when he kissed his 21-year marriage goodbye. As it turns out, his methods were not fail-proof (Surprise! Surprise!).

Please hear me in that I’m not speaking loosely about sex outside of marriage, but I am speaking confidently that the Christian church should not vilify sex or sensuality. To have sexual desires does not make you evil; it makes you human. God designed our bodies with hormones that would cause us to want to be intimate with another. He guides us in the ways to do so that will not harm ourselves and others. Sex can be harmful and hurtful if we’re cheating on our spouse, taking advantage of others, or if it’s used nonchalantly. But that’s not what sex is intended for. We’re meant to experience sex with a sense of joy and authentic connection. The church should be the first to acknowledge and celebrate that. We should be equipping parents to have age-appropriate conversations with their children so that sex isn’t simply associated with words like “dirty,” “naughty,” or “raunchy.” We should be teaching about physical intimacy of any kind with specific language around consent, caring for yourself and the other person, and understanding God’s plans, guidance, and boundaries on how sexual intimacy should be treated with care as it is ultimately a joyful expression of love. I’m grateful that our church is willing to do just that.

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