Sexuality is one of the most potent aspects of human existence. There is very little middle ground in sexuality. It is either tender and loving or violent and oppressive. It is either welcomed or utterly invasive. It is either holy or it is profane. In fact, this is so embedded in the human experience that the DSM–IV (the manual for diagnosing mental dysfunction/disease/illness in the
One of the most profound assertions of our ability to remain pure and holy in this way is found in Rav Shaul’s letter to the Romans:
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Messiah Yeshua. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. —Romans 6:11–13,
On the surface, it may not seem true that those of us who are members of the body of Messiah Yeshua are uniquely empowered to overcome sexual impurity. However, it would be unwise to undermine or pass over Rav Shaul’s assertion that we are dead to sin. What if the awareness of our freedom from sin is the key? Strict cognitive psychologists would tell you that with one’s mind one can overcome almost anything. Is this so unlike the Besorah? After all, in Romans 12:2, we are encouraged to have our minds renewed. The focus on belief and creed is not at the expense of doing the right thing; rather it is there to enable us to live with renewed minds. Our minds are the source of our actions. A renewed mind leads to a renewed life.
We are not only required to remain sexually pure, we are empowered to do so. So what does sexual purity (separation) mean according to Rav Shaul? It means having control over one’s passions and using sexuality in a way that sanctifies creation. After all, sexual union is one of the acts where we partner with God’s creativity. In sexuality, we can become partners with God in the renewing of creation in a way that sanctifies relationships and families.
When we refrain from sexual behavior until it is sanctified through the ordinance of marriage in a union declared good by God, renewing the creation He called “good” from the beginning, we demonstrate our freedom from the power of sin to control our lives. May we all orient ourselves to the boundaries God has set for one of the noblest gifts He has given us.