“… and from sexual immorality”
There is a very interesting link between our three readings today. The early church has a crisis meeting to decide whether the new Gentile converts should be expected to keep the Law of Moses. Leaders including Paul, Barnabas, Peter and James participate in, what we would call today, a high level conference in Jerusalem.
The end result of this Conference is that a letter is compiled to be sent to all the churches telling them that it is not required that they should keep that Law, but it did add that they should
“abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols … and from sexual immorality” (Acts 15:29)
Deuteronomy 22 has a section headed ‘Laws concerning sexual immorality’ (verses 13-30) in which rules are laid down that the people must abide by an upright moral code and that a woman should preserve her virginity until marriage and if she is found not to have done so she is to be put to death
“because she has done an outrageous thing … so you shall purge evil from your midst” (verse 21).
There is no evidence that such punishment ever happened amongst the followers of Christ. Baptism into Christ blotted out all past sins. However we read in Hebrews,
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord … that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy …” (12:14-16).
Our other reading today was in the Song of Solomon which is an allegorical story of true love and how a bride adores her beloved.
“My beloved is mine, and I am his” (2:16);
this is interpreted as illustrating Christ’s love for his church.
“Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … that she might be holy and true and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25,27).
All those who aim to be true members of the body of Christ should have these words very much in mind, may that include all those who are reading this.