ADVERTISING
 
Thursday, September 21   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
Nature
Is creation care seen as a priority in your church?




SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Michael Gowen
 

Reuben – Forgotten sin

The Bible is not like our Western society. It does not glorify sex. But it certainly does not avoid it.

FAITHFUL UNDER PRESSURE AUTHOR Michael Gowen 17 DECEMBER 2016 10:33 h GMT+1
mountains Photo: Nathan Anderson (Unsplash, CC)

If you have been following my articles about characters from the book of Genesis, when you read this you might ask, “Surely not another one about sex? Are you obsessed with it?” I hope not.



A study from 2014 found that men thought about sex on average 34 times a day – that’s around twice every waking hour. Based on that (if indeed it is true!), I think I am probably below the average. No, it’s just that in Genesis, and in the Bible as a whole, there is quite a lot about sex. Even after the history of Reuben and his father’s concubine in chapter 35, there are still at least two more histories where sex pays a big part: Judah and Tamar (a whole chapter), and Joseph and Potiphar’s wife in Egypt.



I remember the pastor of the first church where my wife and I worshipped after being married, 40 years ago. He was a gracious, conservative man in his 60s working with a very conservative eldership. I remember him preaching a series on the book of Leviticus and coming to the part on sexual prohibitions in chapter 18. He stood in the pulpit and gently said, “You may ask me, ‘How open will you be in referring to sexual matters?’ I will reply, ‘I will be as open as the Bible.’” And then, almost with a twinkle in his eye, he added, “And that will be too open for some of you.”



In our Western world we are bombarded by sexual images, yet many of our churches steadfastly refuse to talk openly about sex – and if they do, it tends to be negatively, about what you must not do. There seems to be relatively little work being done on developing a theology of the human body or of healthy human sexuality.



The Bible is not at all like this. It does not glorify sex. But it certainly does not avoid it. In fact, it celebrates healthy human sex: the Song of Songs – which is a Hebrew way of saying ‘the most amazing song ever written’ - is a celebration of human sexual love – which we can understand literally or we can allegorise, just as we choose. At the same time, the Bible does not hesitate to warn sternly against illicit sexual activity and its consequences. Which brings us to Reuben.



Reuben was the first-born son of Jacob, which gave him a special place in the culture of the day. He ranked next to his father, higher than all his brothers and sisters, and he would inherit twice as much as them. However, it seems that this privilege may have gone to his head, for we read in Genesis 35:22: While Israel (that is, Jacob) was living in that region, Reuben went in and lay with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it.



No sensationalism, no unnecessary details, just the bare facts. We don't know whether Reuben had lusted after her for a long time and finally had an opportunity to indulge himself, whether he made an impulsive decision on the spur of the moment, or whether Bilhah had been coming on to him, like Potiphar’s wife did to Joseph. What we do know is that Reuben had sex with a woman who was considered as the wife of his father. And that was a serious insult both to God and to his father.



One can imagine that relations between Jacob and Reuben were rather cool for a time after this. No doubt Reuben thought that it would all blow over in due course; and apparently it did. There were no particular consequences – that is, until decades later, when the family was in Egypt and Jacob was about to die. He gathered his 12 sons round him to give them all a blessing, and it was only then that the awful truth dawned on Reuben: his sexual sin had not been forgotten, neither by his father nor by God.



For Jacob, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, says, “Reuben, you’re my firstborn, my strength, first proof of my manhood, at the top in honour and at the top in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will be at the top no more, because you climbed into your father's marriage bed, mounting that couch, and you defiled it” (Genesis 49:3-4). All those years the guilt had been hanging over Reuben, and he did not know it. Now the sentence falls: he loses his privilege as the firstborn, his descendants become one of the minor tribes of Israel, and they are one of the first to be deported to Assyria (1 Chronicles 5:26).



Be sure that your sin will find you out, the Bible warns (Numbers 32:23). In a recent article I spoke about Colin Howell, the Northern Irish Christian leader who murdered his wife and his lover’s husband and kept the secret for almost 20 years. But finally guilt forced him into a confession, and he was duly punished by the law. If you find that you are carrying guilt, it is probably nowhere near as dramatic as his; but it is still very damaging.



King David knew a lot about guilt and he tells us, When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up (Psalm 32:3-4).



But here is the good news: David knew what to do about it: Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone – my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared (Psalm 32:5). If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all wrongdoing (1 John 1:9). How wonderful that purity is!


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Reuben – Forgotten sin
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

 
Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch

Author and international speaker Dr Pablo Martínez discusses the main challenges in Europe nowadays and hopes Evangelical Focus will be a useful tool to help build bridges between churches and society.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
I am not on sale I am not on sale

Young Christians gathered at Madrid’s central square Sol to denounce human trafficking. A flashmob highlighted the work of three evangelical NGOs which support women who escape sexual slavery in Spain.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country ‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country

Bilbao hosted the Spanish Evangelical Alliance's annual meeting (assembly). Politicians, professors and evangelical representatives shared views on social reconciliation. The theme was also analysed from a theological perspective and in workshops. 

 
WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues

A selection of pictures of World Press Photo 2017.

 
The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi spoke about how the biblical worldview shaped the West. 300 professionals attended annual GBG meeting on faith and work in Cullera (Spain). Photos: J.P. Serrano, S. Vera.

 
Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016 Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016

Around 1,000 young Christian leaders from 150 countries are participating in the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, to reflect on global mission.

 
“Spain, we pray for you” “Spain, we pray for you”

Hundreds of evangelical Christians from many denominations marched in Madrid (Spain) to pray for their city, the authorities and asking God to bring hope to its society. Many gathered in other cities on June, 11.

 
VIDEO Video
 
“It is inconsistent to say we love the Creator while we destroy His creation” “It is inconsistent to say we love the Creator while we destroy His creation”

In creation care, “we need more people who lead by example”, says well-known Brazilian politician and activist Marina Silva. 

 
Human traffickers recruit girls and boys online Human traffickers recruit girls and boys online

The new video of the European Freedom Network addresses the dangers of social media. 

 
“Remember you are dust” “Remember you are dust”

Vaughan Roberts speaks from 25 years of ministry experience to share four lessons on staying the course as a Christian, despite ongoing battles with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

 
Walk Walk

A two-minute video on the meaning of Jude 24.

 
Playmobil animation on Luther’s life Playmobil animation on Luther’s life

British video platform GoChatter uses 4,000 individual photos to create stop motion video on Martin Luther's life.

 
Individualism: from the Protestant Reformation to 21st century capitalism Individualism: from the Protestant Reformation to 21st century capitalism

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi on how the Protestant Reformation underlined individualism as a means to please God, and how secular Europe corrupted it.

 
Students in Europe: “We are present” Students in Europe: “We are present”

A summary video of the IFES Europe conference which brought together 1,700 students from many countries in Aschaffenburg (Germany) to reflect on God's mission in society.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.