January 31, 2024
Most Christians confess that the Bible calls us to honor God with our choices when it comes to our sexual activity, use of money and material resources, and the power we may have collectively or individually over the lives of others. Yet sadly, the behavior of some Christians in the areas of sex, money, and power has often resulted in serious spiritual and emotional injury to individuals, social groups, and the church, and has exposed the church to charges of hypocrisy.
So what do Christians believe about about sex, money, and power? And what does it mean for how we live our lives? Over the centuries, whole books have been written on these topics; let’s take an overview approach to each topic.
Jesus Christ summed up how we should live in God’s greatest commandments to us: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). Loving God, loving others, and loving ourselves is to undergird all our actions. When we handle sex, money, and power from this standpoint our activities bear good fruit.
When God created humans, he created sexual beings. He commanded the first husband and wife to “Be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:28) and “they became one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Over time, some got the idea that sex should only be for reproduction, but God encourages spouses to “drink your fill of love" (Song of Songs 5:1) and give themselves to one another with passion and joy. Our sexuality reminds us that we were made for covenant love with God: our sexual desire invites us to pursue covenant love; our sexual intimacy celebrates it; and our sexual faithfulness fulfills the promise of it. God gave us guidelines to protect us in the powerful physical, emotional, and spiritual union of becoming “one flesh” (Leviticus 18) with another person. Consequently, Christians claim a high view of sexuality, sexual desire, and behavior, which makes it all the more hurtful when someone claiming that view acts against God’s design for our sexual lives. Our culture is overrun with the willful and selfish misuse of sex. Christians are not immune. Misplaced sexual desires and actions make victims and result in betrayal, shame, and trauma, especially in families, including our church families.
When we love God and our neighbors as ourselves with our sexuality, good comes from it. God created sexual intimacy as a way for us to honor him, and by misusing this gift, we do not behave in a loving way toward God or other people in our lives. Trusting God’s good design enables us to have fulfilling and safe relationships. And if we have struggled with sexual sin, or have been the victim of someone else’s sin, we can take comfort that the same Scriptures that assure us God’s design for sexual intimacy is good also promise healing through Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9, Luke 4:16-21).
More than 2,000 verses in the Bible deal with money. Many of Jesus’ parables addressed money and how it was used. Clearly, God has a lot to say about money and our relationship with it.
Jesus urged his disciples to put their trust in God, not their wealth, which may be here today but gone tomorrow (Matthew 6:19-21). Money is merely part of God’s provision for us, a resource for us to steward. This means prioritizing God with our finances, trusting him to provide for our needs (Matthew 6:33), and using our money wisely (Matthew 25:14-30, Proverbs 21:20). Jesus taught that we cannot serve two masters: “Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). We remain free to accumulate wealth; for example, God blessed both Abraham and Job with material riches. In fact, both men lost all their wealth at one point but nevertheless put their trust firmly in God. We’re to hold loosely to our earthly wealth, stay humble, rely on God rather than money, and be ready “to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
The apostle Paul warned Timothy, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10). Like the misuse of sex, the aggressive or illicit gain or misuse of money causes enormous amounts of grief in our homes, churches, and society. When Christians steal or use money to gain power, people are injured, and the reputation of the church is degraded in the eyes of the world. Yet—as Jesus taught—when we use our money to love God and our neighbors, we can do much good.
One definition of the word power is the ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. Sociological discussions of power can become very complex, but—in general—one wields power by institutional authority, personal authority, wealth, expertise, or coercion. More than likely, it’s a combination of these.
God’s Word commands his people to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Boaz used his power of position and wealth to help the poor, but he didn’t use it selfishly to take the widow Ruth as his wife. He deferred to custom, only marrying Ruth after another man realized his family’s power would be divided if he married her (Ruth 4). Ruth and Boaz’s great-grandson, King David, held enormous power and was a man after God’s own heart, doing everything God wanted him to do (Acts 13:22). But when David used his power selfishly to seduce a woman and then to deceive and murder her husband, his abuse of power brought sorrow on him, his descendants, and Israel for generations (2 Samuel 12). Christians who abuse their position and authority in their homes, work, or churches can cause the same kind of damage. Such abuse is at the root of the concepts of #churchtoo and “church hurt”—wounds inflicted by the malicious or negligent actions of people in the church.
As with sex and money, the power we have to affect the lives of others must be exercised in submission to the Greatest Commandment: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’” and the second commandment, “‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39).
The Bible tells us that when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit lives within us, we are remade to be like Jesus, and become children of God (Ephesians 1:13-14, John 1:12-13). This truth becomes the foundation of our identity, our true personhood. In our relationships with sex, money, and power, we don’t walk alone. Christ has transformed us from who we were into new people. Until Jesus’ kingdom comes in its fullness, we will battle sinful impulses and practices involving sex, money, and power. His Spirit convicts us and guides us to repentance. Jesus Christ walks with us and empowers us to persevere in loving God and loving others as ourselves, giving thanks to God.
If you would like to explore more about Christians and sex, money, and power, check out these resources from Today and our sister programs at ReFrame Ministries:
“Earthly Treasures, Heavenly Treasure” is a series of Today devotions that reflect on both our eternal treasure and the many blessings we have here on earth.
“Cultivating a Biblical Perspective on Money, Wealth, and Possessions” is a Bible teaching series from our podcast and radio program Groundwork.
Also from Groundwork, “Sex, Food, and Faith-Informed Choices,” is a study of 1 Corinthians 7-8 and God’s vision for how we honor and glorify him through our choices.
Family Fire offers you resources to thoroughly explore the topic of sexuality from a biblical perspective.
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