I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts (Psalm 119:45).
When raising children, it is unusual, when they are young, for parents to give reasons for the their rules. What they need is to hear the command, and learn to comply. A child needs to learn to stay away from electrical sockets long before he can understand the danger of electricity. The important thing is that they hear the command from one who loves them, who therefore has their best interests at heart, and who they believe to be wise. As children grow older, it becomes increasingly appropriate to give reasons. But the foundation is trust. For there is much we don’t understand.
“You shall not commit adultery” (Exod 20:14) may well be God’s most unpopular commandment. Jesus of course only made it worse, drilling it down to the bedrock by teaching that sexual faithfulness is rooted in thought and vision: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). God’s commandments concerning sexual faithfulness are considered ridiculous in our world, and wantonly restrictive.
Of course, this is not a new problem. It is as old as the Garden of Eden. What did the serpent do but to point to the commandment of God not to eat of the tree and insinuate that God was a miser, unwilling and unable to do them good? That the command not to eat was actually keeping them from real, abundant, life? That there would be no consequences if they broke it?
But there are always consequences to breaking God’s commands. The problem with sexual license is that we often don’t see the consequences. And because we don’t, keeping that command requires trust—for the man who keenly feels the God-given desire to be joined to a woman, and the woman who yearns to be loved for who she is by a man. Sexual relations are both beautiful and powerful, and therefore have consequences—for good in marriage, and for ill apart from it.
Do not be deceived into thinking that Planned Parenthood is simply seeking to provide health care for women. They are actively and aggressively promoting sexual license, particularly among young people that often don’t know what they are getting into. And the chief way they do so is by ignoring the consequences: condoms supposedly keep one from sexually transmitted diseases, all manner of birth control is provided to prevent pregnancy (and if it doesn’t, PP will “terminate” it by abortion), and the kind of personal, emotional attachments that sex creates are ignored. All that Planned Parenthood requires is consent. They have nothing to say to the young girl that gave herself consensually and was then dumped.
Hear another commandment from the Scriptures: “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe” (Prov 5:18-19). Here, painted in beautiful strokes, is the reason for God’s concern for sexual faithfulness. Marriage is a blessing. But it is a blessing that can be undone long before we are ready to enter it, for the consequences of past sexual relationships do not cease at the altar. They are carried, painfully, into marriage.
One of the reasons that our world rejects God is because it doesn’t understand what the Psalmist quoted above knew, that keeping God’s commandments leads us to a wide place. To be a bright witness for life in our world requires one thing above else—that as God’s children we believe that God is good, and therefore so are His commandments, even when we don’t understand.
Prayer: Thank you Lord, for the gift of Your Commandments. Help people made in Your image to trust that Your Commandments are designed for our good and protection and not to rebel against them. Help us to see Your Commandments as life giving and life-sustaining, and help us to humbly walk through the consequences we face when we have rejected Your Commandments. Please stop Planned Parenthood and organizations like them that undermine the blessings and purposes of Your Commandments. In the mighty name of Jesus we pray.
This week’s reflection has been written by Anglicans for Life’s Board Member, the Rev. Dr. W. Ross Blackburn. Rev. Blackburn is the Rector of Christ the King, an Anglican Fellowship in Boone, NC.