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Sex and Idols

Sex and Idols

The intricate relationship between sexual immorality and idolatry seen in Romans 1, invites deeper thought into the dynamics of faith, belief, and who we choose to elevate in our lives. This concept might initially seem abstract or confined to seminary training, but it profoundly impacts our everyday choices, values, and the very essence of who we worship or prioritize.

Allegiance and obedience are at the heart of this notion. We know that our actions and decisions reflect our deepest beliefs and convictions--at least in the moment. When those moments reveal alignment with God, we recognize Him as the ultimate source of guidance and salvation. This is a testament to faith in God. However, when life and pain intersect, this allegiance is tested.

That’s where the concept of a "functional savior" comes into play. A functional savior is anything that momentarily replaces God as our source of trust and security. It is whatever gives you peace in the place of God. Where do you go when you feel pain or are worried or tense? Pornography, food, sex, work, binge-watching a show? What do you lean on when you are sad or lonely? Functional saviors can be as diverse as wealth, power, relationships, or even seen in our passions and desires. When faced with adversity or temptation, shifting our trust from God to these more tangible, immediate sources of comfort or escape is not uncommon. This shift, subtle as it may be, is at the core of what the biblical text refers to as idolatry.

Idolatry, in this context, isn't just the worship of graven images or pagan gods, as one might traditionally think. It's about where we place our ultimate trust and what governs our most critical decisions. When desires or entities other than God take precedence in dictating our actions, especially in areas as integral as our sexuality, it mirrors within the heart the ancient act of idol worship in a modern, personal context.

The enemy of humanity, aka Satan, isn’t looking for more work to do, but rather to use our weakness to pursue that which is not of God and therefore idolatry. In the Bible, we saw Satan disguised as a serpent with Adam and Eve where he played the role of the tempter. He introduced doubt to lead Adam and Eve astray from God’s truth. Anytime people engage with this doubt and allow it to influence their beliefs and actions, they fall prey to what the biblical passage warns against as idolatry.

Sexuality is a profound and integral part of the human experience and therefore, is particularly susceptible to this form of idolatry. When sexual desires and practices are governed by impulses detached from God, they become an expression of idol worship, elevating personal gratification or societal norms above God’s design.

The consequences of such idolatry are not just spiritual or abstract. Paul wrote that they manifest in tangible ways, altering behaviors, preferences, and even societal structures. Romans 1 is a call to introspection for believers, prompting them to consider the guiding forces in their lives, especially in areas as personal and defining as sexuality.

So, let’s review Romans 1, Paul wrote:

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, But they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

They could see God’s decrees, but they decided to do what they wanted anyway. 

  • Verse 22-23

Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
And exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling
mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.  

People worshiped animal-like gods. You can see this in places like India, or in Greek mythology, where they had creatures that were half-human and half-animal.  

  • Verses 24-25

Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity,

To the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,  

Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,
who is blessed forever! Amen.  

Paul listed the consequences of Adam and Eve’s bad decision. It can happen to us, too. If we worship the serpent instead of God, God will give us up to the consequences of our choice.  

  • Verses 26-27

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged  natural relations for those that are contrary to nature  

And the men likewise gave up natural relations with women
and were consumed with passion for one another,  

Men committing shameless acts with men
and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 


Paul gets specific about some consequences God allowed: people turned to homosexuality.  

A gay friend of mine tried to give me a different explanation of those last verses. Don said that it is unnatural for him to like women, so trying to have a heterosexual relationship is  “going against his nature” and how he is made.

I told Don that he was doing what most people do when they twist the Bible to conform to their lives as opposed to conforming their lives to the Bible. And to be fair, this isn’t just what the LGBTQIA+ community does. It’s what all of us do when we take on God’s Design as a great suggestion as opposed to something more immovable like gravity or the effects of fire. 

The reason for this is that when you try to defy gravity, you fall to your death. Immediately. When you play with fire, you get burned. Instantly. When you have sex outside of God’s design, it feels like nothing happens. But there is always damage. Sometimes it’s spiritual and sometimes it’s emotional. Sometimes it is physical. And just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t damaging. We’ll discuss this more in the following blogs.

In conclusion, the discussion around sex and idolatry in Romans 1 is not just a theological caution but an in-depth exploration of human nature, allegiance, and God’s perfect design & purpose for our lives. I want to challenge you to consider your allegiances and what you may be idolizing in your life. What’s your functional savior? What are you putting on the throne in place of God? How have you traded God’s design and purpose for Satan’s tempting schemes? Faith in God and aligning your actions and decisions with His will not only changes the immediate and tangible but also offers eternal freedom & eternal life with God.

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