In Steve Gallagher’s book, “At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry” he describes four motives for why people engage in sexual sin and sensuality. The first motive that Steve describes is “The forbidden” or what I like to say is the “things we cannot have”. In our modern self-indulgent Christian world and culture, we have seem to have forgotten that Scripture does tell us that we cannot have everything that we set our eyes upon or desire in our hearts.
In the Ten Commandments the tenth commandment is “you shall not covet”. In the Exodus 20 narrative of the Ten Commandments we see that coveting your neighbors house was communicated first and then coveting your neighbors wife is second. (Ex 20:17) Then in the Deuteronomy 5 narrative of the Ten Commandments, God straight out says “You shall not covet your neighbors wife, and then He moves to the house, servants and animals. (Deut 5:21) I wonder if this is because 40 years had passed and Moses is now reiterating the Law to those going into the Promised Land and Moses had the experience of the sinfulness of sexual immorality in God’s people which destroyed them. (1Cor 10:8)
And what is covetousness? According to Colossians 3:5 it is idolatry. To put it simply it is, “having a great desire for something or someone which has not been given to you by the Lord and where you are willing to sin in thought or deed to have or experience it”. All things which we have comes from God… every perfect gift comes down from your Father in heaven” (James 1:17) and so what you do not have, God has not given to you; yet.
So how does this tie together with a motive for sexual sin? It ties together because every time you lust, every time you view pornography, every time you masturbate or commit adultery and/or fornication, you are sinfully trying to get someone who belongs to someone else. They either belong to another person in some way shape or form, but ultimately they belong to God, and He has not given them to you. So then you become guilty of covetousness which is idolatry and you are putting yourself and your desires above God in that moment.
God has not given you that person you are fantasizing about. God has not given you that person you are committing adultery with. God has not given you that person that you are masturbating to in front of their image or in your gallery of images in your mind. Sexual sin is a discontent with what God has given to you. And when you are discontent with what God has given to you, in any area of life, you then begin to covet what has not been given to you, and covetousness is idolatry.
How many Christians are worshiping idol’s instead of the living God? How many Christian men and women are discontent with what their Father has given to them, and begin to sinfully try to fulfill their own desires and cravings? The Christian heart in American and the western cultures are filled with covetousness, we want more, expect more, desire more and we have the preachers telling us we deserve more and more. We have become self indulgent and self fulfilling, even to the point where we begin to rationalize and justify our sin. If we don’t want to stay married, we divorce in order to find someone else who we desire. Rarely in the counseling of couples going through divorce do I hear that if they divorce they are willing to remain single for the rest of their life. Usually I hear, “I deserve someone better, someone nicer, someone more exciting…”
There are things which God says you cannot have, and in context to sexual sin, that means anyone to who you are not married. If you are coveting someone God has not given to you, to be married to and live until death do you part, then you must repent of covetousness. In Mark 7:18-23 Jesus tells us it is the things which are in our hearts which brings defilement to our lives. Confess your covetous heart before the Lord, confess you discontentment with what He has given to you; whether your spouse or your singleness and celibacy. Confess your idolatry where you have put the worship of other people above Him. Confess you self indulgent and self serving heart and ask Him to give you a new heart.
I know that if you go before the Lord with a true heart of understanding and brokenness that He will forgive you and He will uproot covetousness from your heart and you will experience a new freedom to resist the temptation of sexual sin. And He will give you a contented heart for what He has given your life, and you will be a better steward of the things He has given you.