Pastors, Bible Study Leaders, Educators:
Would you give me a few minutes of your reading time?
Briefly explore a sample lesson of a new Christ-centered, Bible study, The Life of Christ. This 54 week study will enrich the spiritual life of your congregation. It offers a wide variety of great resources and visual aids from the Internet. Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.
Blessings to you this day.
Ed Markquart, Author of this website.
View sample lessons
Bible, Birds and Bees: Sex, Adultery and Divorce
to you and peace from God our Father,
from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
those in grades 5-9 who are taking notes on today’s sermon, the
title of the sermon is BIBLE, BIRDS AND BEES.
The text for the sermon is Matthew 5:27-32.
find in the passage for today in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has
taken his disciples and gone halfway up the mountain, halfway up on
sprawling large hills above the Sea of Galilee. As Moses went up
onto the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, the moral law for
the Jews in the Old Testament, so Jesus went up his mountain and
gave his disciples the new moral guidelines, the new moral codes for
Christians. That is, the moral laws given for the Jews in the Old
Testament for sex, marriage and divorce were no longer adequate for
New Testament Christians. Jesus gave his disciples, a new moral
guideline for a fundamental issue of life: sex and marriage.
what are the issues today regarding sex and marriage? For
generations in the church, we couldn’t talk about sex but now we
can. What are the issues about sex and marriage that people in our
society are facing? What are the changes that we are seeing in our
society from forty years ago? A generation is forty years. What are
some changes in sexual and marital behaviors from forty years ago?
change from forty years ago is the number of reported cases of
sexual abuse, rape, and molestation. We often hear of teachers and
coaches being indicted for sexual abuse and we didn’t hear about
that forty years ago.
is the whole issue of living together before marriage, or maybe not
even intending to get married. This is common practice today,
whereas forty years ago, it was rarely heard of.
we face the issue of teenage pregnancy. We face the giving out of
condoms in the school system. That was unheard of years ago.
relates to the issue of Aids and other kinds of sexually transmitted
diseases. There is a tremendous epidemic of Aids and STDs that we
have to deal with today.
issue that we struggle with is the whole issue of homosexuality and
gay marriages. We discover that our social scientists say that
approximately ten percent of our population has a “same sex”
orientation. We are now reading about gay marriages on the front
pages of newspapers.
is the issue of extra marital affairs. We know that happens even
within the church and among Christians. Extra marital affairs cause
so much pain and devastation for families.
We know that Playboy and all the similar magazines are easily
available in magazine racks. But now pornography has gone into video
so a person rents pornographic videos from video stores and these
can be obtained over the Internet.
that business of sex in the media is a horrendous problem today. TV
shows are rampant with immoral sexuality. It is also in music and
basic change in our society is having children outside of wedlock.
Many years ago, when a person would be prematurely pregnant and not
married, they would put that new born baby up for adoption. But now,
increasingly we find that children are being raised by a single
is that whole issue of child molestation and sex predators. A while
ago, we received a note over at Star Lake Elementary School, right
in our neighborhood, stating there was a white car with three young
men in it parked right next to the school playground. These
young men were offering the children candy, enticing the
children to come to their car. This is right in our own back yard
and it is a serious problem.
There have been enormous changes in sexual and marriage patterns
from forty years ago. So in this real world with so much temptation
and so much craziness, how does Jesus want us to live out our
Christian faith in terms of sex and marriage in this crazy mixed up
world of ours?
One thing that we as Christian parents are concerned about is how to
raise our children with responsible sexual values. Where our
children know the appropriate sexual boundaries and are willing to
draw those appropriate sexual boundaries for their own lives. We as
Christian parents are very concerned about raising our children so
that they have responsible sexual morality.
know that God created us with healthy sexual drives. That is the way
that God created us. God created sex as something beautiful and
sacred and good and holy. Write that down kids: God created sex and
marriage as something beautiful, good and holy.
question for me as I look on what has happened in our world, what
has happened to this beautiful gift? What have we done to it? What
has come of this whole issue of sexuality?
Adultery. Adulterated. We need to understand the meaning of thee
word, adulterated. Sex and marriage, which are sacred, beautiful,
loving, have become adulterated. Sex and marriage have become
disfigured, impure, corrupted, corroded, contaminated.
I would like to share an illustration with you. One time I
visited Rome and the Vatican. There
in the Vatican, as you walk in the door, on your immediate right, is
one of the most beautiful sculptures in the world. It is the Pieta,
by Michelangelo. It is about nine feet tall and it is a sculpture of
Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary, who is sitting there. She is
holding Jesus, her crucified Son, whose body has just come off the
cross. She is holding her dead son, draped over the lap of her body.
It is the most gorgeous marble sculpture in the whole world. When
you see it, your breath is taken away. It is breathtaking,
beautiful, gorgeous. Well, years ago, someone came into the Vatican
with acid and they threw the acid onto this Pieta. O no. How
tragic!!! They scarred it; they disfigured it; they adulterated it. Those of us who had seen the Pieta were so upset
that they had disfigured something so beautiful. Similarly, sex and
marriage between a man and a woman is intended to be something so
beautiful, so breathtaking, so good. We feel the tragedy when sex
and marriage are disfigured, when they are adulterated, when they
are spoiled from the way that God intended them to be.
carry that illustration forward. What about a young person coming in
and seeing that beautiful sculpture by Michelangelo and it was
scarred and disfigured. What if that young person had never seen it
before, so they look at it and say, “This is the way it has always
been. This is the way it is supposed to be.” But they have never
seen it in its original beauty, so they have no ideal what it was
intended to be.
same with sex. The same with marriage. They have no idea of what it
was intended to be. They think the disfigured
image of sex and marriage is the model that God intended and
it is not. … But, artists did restore the Pieta. Those artists
came in and restored the disfigured Pieta, and if you went into the
Vatican today, you will see the Pieta in all of its beauty. And it
is gorgeous. It is beautiful. It will take your breath away. The
scars are still there. There are still scars. But it is absolutely
beautiful. It has been restored.
we think of restoration, do you think it is possible here in the
church that we could restore the gift of our sexuality and marriage
to the beauty and goodness that God originally intended? Do you
think we can do that? Do you think we can restore our sexual
relationships and marriage relationships to the beauty that God
yes, yes, yes, yes. You see it all the time. The purpose of Christ
is to restore sexual relationships to the original beauty. The purpose of Christ is to restore marriages which have
become disfigured. That is the purpose of God. That is the purpose
of Christ. That is the purpose of the church. John, we do that all
the time. It is part of your job and mine. We see these young
couples come into the church and they are ready to be married and we
help them. We help them to have good marriages. We have older people
in our church. We think of all those people in our parish who have
loved each other for more than fifty years and these people in their
great marriages are great models for us. They are great models of
living and loving each other through the good times and the bad.
way I see these verses, Ed, is that these texts are to help us learn
to have healthier sexual relationships. That is why Jesus gave us
these Bible verses. To help us to learn to have those healthy sexual
relationships and how to go about that. The kind of relationships
that God wants for you and me.
in the text for today, as we look at the teachings in the Sermon on
the Mount, we realize that Jesus taught that the Old Testament law
was not enough. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is giving a new
morality for new Christians. The first thing that Jesus teaches is
that all people sin sexually. All people. That is a reality. There
are no perfect people sexually in this room. There are not sinless
people in this room. There is no one here in this room who dares
throw a stone at another individual or family. No one. We have all
we are all in need of God’s forgiveness. There is no room for
condemnation. That is not what any of us should be doing. There is
no condemnation. We are all guilty before God in terms of sexuality
and we stand on the same level ground. We are all in need of God’s
You see the problem in the New Testament is that the Jews and the
Pharisees thought that they were better because they could keep the
law. They would say, “I am better. I am married. And my sexual
sins are not as bad as your sexual sins. I stand on a little higher
ground than you and I will look down my nose at you and say, ‘How
terrible you have been.’” Jesus eliminates all of that. Jesus
says that we are all sinners.
like what the Apostle says when he writes, “We have all sinned and
fallen short of the glory of God. We are therefore justified by
God’s grace as a gift.” We all sin and fall short of the glory
of God. As a result of this, we are more gracious to each other. We
are not condemning towards each other. We are more gracious, as
fellow sinners, who stand in the need of God’s forgiveness. We are
all in that same place.
is wise to be less condemning. That is, you are a grandfather or
grandmother and you finally discover that your grandson is a
homosexual. Previously, you were so condemning about homosexuality.
Or, you are a good solid married couple who has been married to
several decades and you discover that your son is living with
another person or that your daughter has had an abortion.
All I know is that when I look across this parish and I have
been here for a long, long time, for more than thirty years, there
is not one family who would dare throw one stone at another family.
There is no room for stone throwing in this congregation. We are all
we have to realize that Jesus is talking about deep feelings of the
heart and not just the actions. He is talking about deep feelings of
the heart. Lust. That is what Jesus is talking about. These are
feelings that go behind the actions. God wants to heal our hearts of
sexual impurities. The sixth graders and I are studying the Ten
Commandments on Wednesday nights during Lent, I really like what
Martin Luther says in his Small Catechism about the sixth
commandment, which says, “You shall not commit adultery.” Here
is what Luther says. It is a wonderful, clear, concise statement.
“In matters of sex, our words and our conduct are to be pure and
honorable.” That says it all for me.
is saying the very same thing in the text for today. The way Jesus
says it, “If your eye sins, pluck it out. If you hand sins, cut it
off.” That is the Aramaic way of saying what Martin Luther say.
That in matters of sex, may your conduct and actions be pure and
honorable. Cut out the evil in your life. Cut out the unhealthy
sexual habits in your life. That is what Jesus is inviting his
disciples to be and do. … Well, if that is what the text says
today, and you and I deal with this issue all the time (sex,
sexuality, marriage, divorce) as part of our professional lives, so
what is some practical advice that we would like to share with our
fellow Christians that has to do with the restoring of the beauty
and sacredness to sexuality and marriage? What are some advice that
we would give? Write those words down, kids. Advice about sexuality.
Write the number, 5, behind it. We are going to give you five pieces
1) Here is the first point. Don’t put yourself into situations
full of temptation. One issue that I think is very important is the
issue of temptation and vulnerability. For me, the two go very close
together, hand in hand. Temptation and vulnerability. Let me give
you an example. Take a person who struggles with alcohol, who is a
recovering alcoholic, the last place that person should go to is a
bar or tavern. The temptation is too great. Another example. You
young people, when you are dating, the last place that you want to
end up is in either of your homes or your friends’ homes when the
parents aren’t there. The temptation is too great. You don’t put
yourself in those situations. You don’t make yourself
A second point is making intelligent decisions about your choice of
friends. We make intelligent decisions every day of our lives. Lets
make some intelligent decisions about the kinds of movies that you
watch, the TV programs you watch, the kind of music that you listen
to. Be smart about the
kinds of books and magazines that you read. As the saying goes,
“Garbage in, garbage out.” That is very true. Maybe even more
important than that is to be smart in our choice of friends. That is
true if you are a teenager, a young
adult, a middle age young adult or older adult. Who do we chose as
our friends. We need to be intelligent about choosing our friends
and choose those friends who have a positive impact on you and share
your Christian values. These are the kinds of friends you want to
have. People who have good Christian values about sex and marriage.
A third point of advice. For adults who are married, take care of
your marriage relationship. Both Pastor Markquart and myself have
said time and time again is that you need to take good care of your
marriage relationship. For those of you who are married, take good
care of your marriage. Make sure that you are taking care of each
other’s needs and have a high level of satisfaction in your
marriage. It is when you are dissatisfied in your marriage, when
there is pain and hurt in your marriage, that is when a person
starts to look elsewhere for some of those needs. When there is
unrest, that is often when marital affairs occur.
But not necessarily occur. Point number four: Not everyone is doing
it. Write that down, kids. It was interesting for me that in the
recent issue of TIME magazine, there was an interesting article
which surveyed life in America and reported on sexual patterns here
in America. The article was really broadcasting the following
statement: “One out of three men have affairs!!! One our of four
women have had affairs. It is rampant. It is everywhere.” I
thought to myself, “O, two out of three men don’t have affairs.
Three out of four married women don’t have affairs. That isn’t
the way they solve their problems.” But to read TIME magazine, you
would think that everyone was having an affair.
course, if you are into the soaps and the movies, everybody is doing
it. The movies and the soaps are kind of a distorted view of what
reality is. Having an affair is a way to solve problems.
is not kind of
distorted. It is distorted. When you watch the movies and the soaps,
you get a distorted view of sexuality. In fact, when John and I did
our opening dialogue with each other, we catalogued that we saw
going on in the USA that people were struggling with sexually. It
was a negative view. What we need to be aware of, is that which is
not publicized, is that there are an awfully lot of people who are
not doing these things. Remember that two out of three men are not
having affairs. Remember that three out of four women are not having
affairs. Remember that there is a high percentage of people out
there who remain virgins. You don’t hear that in the media at all.
A lot of people say that if you have been sexually involved, it is
impossible to go back. You can’t go back, right? Well, there is an
interesting concept that people are talking about today, especially
younger people, and they are calling it “secondary virginity.” I
like that concept. This is point number five, kids: “secondary
virginity.” It is basically saying that if you
have been involved in some kind of sexual immorality, you can
stop and you can make a decision not to continue. If you have been
sexually active in impure ways, you can stop with God’s help, with
prayer, and you can begin to experience a much more healthy
sexuality for yourself.
see that God wants us to restore our God given sexuality to its
original intention but also our marriage. John and I work with a
large number of people in preparation for their marriage. Among
these, there are a large number of young couples who are living
together. We say to those couples that we don’t think that is
right. We have yet to talk with such young people and they say what
they are doing is right. No one says, “God is really pleased with
us and our living together.” None of them say that. What we do
find is that a lot of people who living together want to have a good
solid Christian marriage. When these young couples come to us, they
are looking for their relationship to become a healthier and God
pleasing relationship and have a marriage relationship which is
blessed by God.
are eager to do that. It is a great joy for us to do that. We are
excited to do that.
do that all the time. It is at the very heart of our work. And so in
conclusion, I think we could say what we know sure about sex
know for sure
that sex and marriage is a very important part of our lives.
know for sure
that God created sex and marriage to be good, beautiful, loving and
know for sure
that Jesus Christ wanted his first disciples on the mountain above
the Sea of Galilee to understand what God intended for them in sex
know for sure
that you, as
contemporary disciples, want to understand and follow the teachings
of Jesus regarding sex and marriage.
know for sure that
you, as contemporary
disciples, want to live in a way that is pleasing to Jesus, both
sexually and in your marriages.
so we both say,
Ed and John