Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT) “18This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 20As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: 23‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’’ 24When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.”
In reviewing Mosaic Law pertaining to sexuality yesterday I created four bullet points that I feel sum up God’s intentions for sexuality, as they appear in Leviticus:
- Obedience to God in our sexual lives
- Sexuality that does not imitate the sexual immorality of a local culture
- Sexual practices that are safe and are unlikely to result in damage to our health
- Sexual relationships that support a cohesive family and social structure
I believe the sexuality surrounding the birth of Jesus exemplifies these points and can help us understand God’s plan for sexuality for those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
Obedience to God in our sexual lives
Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a moment. You are engaged to a girl, you are trying to stay ‘kosher’ in the bedroom until the wedding day, and all of a sudden you find out she’s pregnant. And while culture says the right thing to do in this situation is to break things off (which you plan to do quietly because you are a nice Jewish boy), God tells you to buck tradition and marry her anyway. I’ll assume for argument’s sake that Joseph was also told not to sleep with Mary so that her virginity, and thus the miracle of Jesus’ birth, could not be questioned. God asked for and expected Joseph’s obedience in this situation, and he got it. Joseph’s reward: He got to call Immanuel ‘my son’.
Sexuality that does not imitate the sexual immorality of a local culture
I confess that this point doesn’t seem to apply…unless you consider that the Jewish interpretation of Mosaic Law at the time of Jesus’ birth had reached the point where religious people believed the Law, and not the Creator, granted a person forgiveness of sins. In this regard you might consider that the Jews of 1st century Palestine treated the Law as an idol and would thus have been immoral.
Sexual practices that are safe and are unlikely to result in damage to our health
The birth of Jesus certainly did not violate this intent.
Sexual relationships that support a cohesive family and social structure
The Father wanted His son raised in a healthy, cohesive family unit, in a way that did not cause strife within the social setting. Had Joseph broken off the relationship Mary might have had to raise Jesus on her own, likely bearing significant social stigma; there may have been hurt feelings and discord between the two families and within the community as well.
Do you have any thoughts about God’s will for our sexuality, in light of the story of the birth of Jesus?