Sex and power (Ephesians 5:1–5)

How you love tells us how you use power.

Language expresses culture. Abusive language rises in a culture of abuse. “F. you” is so common that we no longer hear it as a curse, wishing sexual abuse on someone.

Four-letter words are the language of power and humiliation — a graphic verbal image of the powerful forcing themselves on the humiliated. It’s a snapshot of what’s wrong with the world, the culture of injustice.

There’s a world of difference between genuine love and screwing people over.

There is another way to live. The most powerful person in the universe modelled it in the way he responded to our resistance to his authority, our culture of injustice against each other. God did not use his power to humiliate the world, to bring it to its knees. God entered the world of injustice to suffer humiliation, crucifixion at the hands of those in power.

Ephesians 5:1-5 (compare NIV)
1 Become mimics of God, like children who are loved. 2 Live in love, the way God’s anointed loved us and handed himself over for our sake as an offering and life-gift, an aroma pleasing to God.
3 Among you, the holy people, there should be no accusation of sexual immorality, no uncleanness or greed, 4 no obscenity in foolish or smutty wit that doesn’t reflect who you are; only grateful speech. 5 You must know that everyone who is immoral, unclean or greedy (devoted to idols) has no inheritance in the kingdom of God and his anointed.

God’s people cannot live the way the nations do (4:17). The rulers of this world gain power by dominating their opponents. God’s anointed rescued us from this evil through powerlessness, selfless love, giving himself for us (5:2).

That’s why God’s people have a different sexual ethic. It’s not about seeking pleasure, but giving pleasure. It’s not about dominating, but giving mutual support. It’s not about using and discarding partners, but faithfully loving one through good and bad times (5:21-33). In short, it’s not about f’ing people, but self-giving devotion.

Christ’s kingdom has a different love language because it rests on a different power. Grace and gratitude are the language of a culture that honours serving each other the way our king served us. Smutty sex and revenge stories have no place; they belong to the culture of exploitation.

Where will you live? In the old world, the kingdom of the idols (money, sex, and power)? Or in the world that inherits what God intends: God’s pure, devoted, self-giving reign in Christ?

Live intentionally: you must know these cultures are incompatible.


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Author: Allen Browne

Seeking to understand Jesus in the terms he chose to describe himself: son of man (his identity), and kingdom of God (his mission). Riverview Church, Perth, Western Australia

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