Pastor shares how Paul’s teaching on sex, intimacy is relevant in modern culture

Pastor Ben Stuart of Passion City Church preaches a sermon about human sexuality on Feb.12, 2023, Washington, D.C. | Screengrab: YouTube/Passion City Church DC

Pastor Ben Stuart of Passion City Church in Washington, D.C., reflected on the agency a Christian has when it comes to controlling their sexuality and why Paul's New Testament teachings on sex are still relevant today. 

In his Feb. 12 sermon as part of a series on "Rise —The New Sexual Revolution," Stuart referenced 1 Thessalonians 4 as a guide for understanding God's design for sexuality and its implications for modern culture.

In this passage, the Apostle Paul instructs members of the Church in Thessalonica, both male and female, to treat their bodies and the bodies of others with respect and maintain intimacy with the Lord. By following these commands, individuals will become more like Jesus Christ through sanctification.

Stuart, who has been married for 19 years, emphasized that Paul's instructions are relevant today and should guide the lives of single and married followers of Jesus. To remain sexually pure in marriage, he advised keeping the marriage bed undefiled, abstaining from sex in singleness and controlling one's sexuality. Stuart noted that this is possible by developing an intimate relationship with the Lord to guide sexual decisions.

“A relationship with God is free, by grace through faith. … Once you're in it, now we begin to move in a different way. We're a family with a trajectory. What’s the goal? … ‘You ought to walk to please God,” Stuart said in his sermon. 

Stuart contended that single or married Christians who obediently surrender their bodies to the Lord in matters of sexuality will become more like Christ. 

He emphasized that the ultimate goal of any spiritual journey with Jesus is to please God. Husbands and wives, he said, should prioritize pleasing each other sexually, while singles should show respect for their own bodies and the bodies of others by refraining from sexual activity outside of marriage as defined by the Bible.

“It's not just conformity to a standard. It's my goal to please God. And that's not oppressive. If you came to me as a husband and said, ‘Hey, Ben, your goal as a husband is to please your wife.’ I'm not like, ‘Darn.’ That's not oppression. That's freedom. … It's a progressive act. What does God want? … Your sanctification,” Stuart said. 

Stuart cited 1 Thessalonians 4:4, which reads: “Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” 

The key points made in the verse, Stuart said, can be found in the words “holy and honor,” which stand as two reasons why humans can control their own sexuality while possessing their own vessels. 

"The first one ... is ‘honor.’ … The way I handle my sexuality has implications in the way I relate to other people. And if I say that, ‘I honor you.’ What does honor mean?” Stuart said. 

“It means I respect your well-being. It means I want to communicate to you that I value you. I think you matter. I think your thoughts matter. I think how you feel matters, and I think your body matters. That's what it means to honor somebody.”   

Individuals in society often prioritize their own desires in romantic relationships which might lead to sexual activity outside of a marriage covenant. Stuart said that this behavior is due to a lack of respect for their own bodies and the bodies of their partners.

“It's so popular in our culture now to say, ‘I feel seen.’ What does that mean? You're not talking about being physically viewed. You're talking about how someone has seen or acknowledged and valued what you think and how you feel. … We instinctively want that. And here, [Paul] says we need to possess our sexuality in a way that communicates honor, value, respect to those around us,” Stuart said.  

“[Oftentimes, people say], ‘I don't care what you think. I don't care how you feel. I just want to use you; whether you're on a screen or whether you're just in my room for the night.’ To say that to somebody is to not honor them. It's to dishonor them.”  

Stuart said that just as Jesus exercised self-control and demonstrated holiness through His actions, Christians have the power to control their sexuality and become more like Jesus.

“We control our sexuality because it reflects in holiness, like those who know God. Paul [told] the Ephesians that marriage is a picture of Jesus' love for the Church. How did Jesus love us? Full commitment before intimacy,” Stuart said.  

Jesus had to commit Himself to His ultimate sacrifice before fully reconciling with humanity. Stuart further emphasized that this level of commitment is what God intends for marriage, which includes the enjoyment of intimacy between males and females.

“That's how Jesus loves us. He says, ‘I'm coming for you.’ And what did He do? ‘I want you in a relationship with me. So what am I going to do? I'm going to bring all of [myself]. … I will give every drop of my blood to purchase you. I will bring all the commitment first. And then, when you covenant with Me, I promise to love you and never let you go,’” Stuart said.

Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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