Recently, my family had the chance to visit a working ranch. Part of the trip to the ranch included a short jaunt “inside the gate” where we could pet a few choice animals. My 6 year old son, Josh, charged right into the pen, past the pig, and face to face with a big sheep named Edward. Soon it became apparent that Edward was an angry sheep. (EDITORS NOTE: We found out that Edward was a girl. It seems obvious to me why Edward was angry. Sort of like the boy named Sue.)
Anyway, we knew Edward was angry not because he had a scowl on her face, but because she was a bit aggressive toward those in her pen. She raised her foot in protest and tried to block the path of anyone leaving her area. Oh yeah . . . and Edward kept trying to eat Joshua’s hat.
Visiting the ranch prompted our family to dress in western attire, and Josh was decked out in a straw hat to complement his cowboy gear. The irony of the situation is that Edward was in a pen filled with hay . . . the choice food of this sheep . . . but Edward wanted that dirty, chemically processed hat instead.
When we hear of Edward’s choice, we cut her some slack. After all, she is an animal without enough intellect to make determinations on which things are best to eat. Edward needs a shepherd to point her in the direction of the right things to eat. Her carnal instincts can betray her into eating a hat when she needs to eat hay.
I was thinking about this experience this past week as I reflected on 1 Corinthians 6:13b. In these verses, the Apostle Paul says, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” At first glance, this passage may sound like the Lord is not for people having sex. This is not true. God created sex . . . and God made it fun. God is not against sex, just against sexual immorality. That is to say that God does not want His people to engage in any sexual behavior beyond that which takes place between a husband and a wife. In saying that the Lord is for the body and the body is for the Lord, Paul is arguing that we are created for MORE than just fulfilling our physical desires (including our sexual desires). God wants to live in relationship with us and shepherd us into focusing our sexual desires in the best place . . . in a committed relationship between a husband and a wife.
In a real way, God comes along to His people and shepherds them toward the hay (sex inside marriage) and not the hat (everything else.) He does this because sex between husbands and wives is constructive, while sex outside of marriage carries many problems. Warren Wiersbe says it this way,
“Sex outside of marriage is like a man robbing a bank: he gets something, but it is not his and he will one day pay for it. Sex within marriage can be like a person putting money into a bank: there is safety, security, and he will collect dividends. Sex within marriage can build a relationship that brings joys in the future; but sex apart from marriage has a way of weakening future relationships, as every Christian marriage counselor will tell you.”
So, the next time you are tempted to watch something you should not watch, sleep with someone who is not your spouse (even if they are just not YET your spouse), etc., take a moment and think about Edward. Save yourself . . . and eat the hay, not the hat.