The pastor at my local church has been preaching a series that talks about gender and marriage, and how modern culture has distorted God’s image of these two topics.

I’ve found these past few Sundays at church very interesting and his sermons very different from what I’ve heard preached before. You can find his sermon here , it’s worth a listen. It’s satisfying to hear what needs to be said, to feel in touch with other believers, and to know that Christians have not forgotten to stand up for biblical teachings even as we live in this convoluted culture.

This week I wanted to share the lessons I’ve learned from this particular sermon. I’m no stranger to having difficulty in relationships just for being the "Christian one" and always refusing to compromise my “radical” beliefs. The lessons to take away from this series on relationships are endless and each leads me to ask other questions and search for more answers in the Bible. But here are a few points to note and they may help young Christians live in this world when biblical teachings are definitely not popular:

1. Sex isn’t casual.

What stops a hookup? No consent. It’s great that society has placed such a high value on both partners verbally consenting however, consent is the only boundary recognized. Culture demands society to do what makes you feel good but only if you both say yes.

That’s what society says but, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6: 12, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything.” Then Paul continues in verses 18-20, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Even Paul lived in an immoral culture. Even he had to present this message to them. As humans, we have the right to make our own decisions and decide what we want to do with our bodies, but not everything is right in God’s eyes. Our bodies are compared to “temples” because the Holy Spirit lives within our hearts. We shouldn’t live as the ungodly do. God declared sex before marriage immoral, it’s just society that has deemed casual sex acceptable.

2. The Bible only recognizes two relationship statuses, married and single.

The culture during the time period in which the Bible was written differs from modern day, dating didn’t exist yet then, so the Bible wouldn’t mention this phrase at all. That doesn’t mean dating is bad, but there is no direct guidance from the scriptures in dealing with this thing we call “dating.”

Despite this, here’s what my pastor says, if you aren’t married, don’t do things that married people do. He says, “Don’t do permanent things with temporary people” because when we do, things get very complicated.

3. Marriage reflects our union with God.

“For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” Ephesians 5:31-32. Divorce wasn’t meant to happen. Yet it has and now we live in a time when marriage isn’t valued as highly as it should be. In marriage and in consummation, you become one body, one person. You are a unit.

God explicitly outlines His image of marriage and gender roles. Don’t let the world confuse you. Being a young Christian in modern culture presents a challenge. Dating is hard when people you come across don’t share your nonconforming beliefs but don’t give in to temptation. Trust that He will direct your path, and lead you to someone who shares your beliefs and values. Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”