Do you love God for who he is or for what he gives you?
I am not a fan of saying that difficult times are always God's way of teaching us lessons (how morbid), but sometimes he shows us things about ourselves when we are tested to our limit. Sometimes due to circumstances where a difficult choice (or series of choices) must be made or simply dealing with the aftermath of other people's choices we have to decide: Why am I a Christian? Or, more to the point: Why do I love God?
The book of Job explores this question in the context of a story and poem involving human suffering. Does one honor God for who who he is or for what he can give you? The adversary (surprise "the satan" is not the devil!) raises this question with God about Job claiming he only really loves God because he gives Job lots of stuff. What follows are a series of horrific outcomes that leave Job with nothing. He mourns, he complains, he tells God he wishes he wasn't born, he cries injustice...etc but never curses God. In the process his friends try and convince him he must have done some horrible sin and should repent. He doesn't. In the end, God says Job is in the right but also rather than giving Job answers concerning his plight tells him of many deep mysteries he does not understand because God's wisdom is greater than his.
What I find interesting about this story is the question(s) it poses and its setting in the middle of a person who does not know why bad things are happening to him nor does he know the future outcome. He is posed over and over again implicitly or explicitly to choose between himself and God. Either he is right or God is right. If you are right then curse God! If you are wrong then repent of your sin...that you never committed. This is a false dichotomy that is only sometimes realized on the other side of our decisions.
What does this have to do with sin and specifically sexual sin? In a very real way we choose between God and ourselves every day. Maybe nothing bad happens to us but we want to do things as Christians we are not supposed to do. In this culture people find a good portion of their identity in their sexuality--well even then, more narrowly who they sleep with. For Christians, those who claim to love God, sex is only for a monogamous marriage between husband and wife. And yet, so many in their actions say "Screw you God!" and do whatever they want. Although there are many angles to explore this reality from, I think the question of the book of Job is helpful here. Why are so many willing to deny God in practice?
Perhaps the question has never been posed in this setting? "Do you love God?" is replaced with "Did God really say???" Or not addressed. There is nothing to threaten one's sense of love, morality or character--whether one is being a good or bad person.
We want relationships free of obligations and commitments to God and others. Sometimes we want a god in the sky we can conjure up when we need or want things. We want a god who will not ask tough questions or demand anything of us. We want to love "god" who has no opinions of his own and tells us what we want to hear or is a kind grandpa who looks the other way and says "no big deal" I don't really mind what you do.
In the end, is our god an item or abstract concept we project ourselves upon? Is he one who has no opinions of his own and doesn't speak? An imaginary friend? Santa Clause? A distant god who has nothing to say and never revealed himself in any in depth way throughout history?
I think that in the end, many (who claim to believe in the God of the Bible) have decided either in only a moment of weakness (mistakes happen and there is forgiveness) or as a life practice that they more care about the things they get than a relationship with God. Instant gratification takes priority over commitments and promises to the one they say they gave their life to (a relationship marriage itself symbolizes).
Of course, here I have not discussed why one ought to love God or other reasons why we should trust what he says (the two do go together). I have merely been pointing out that the choice to go against God is just that. One can't have it both ways. We all ultimately have to decide: do I love God? Those who love God and are in a relationship with him know that living life with and not against him is ultimately not living life against oneself.
“We hunger for a word that would bring a personal touch from someone other than the almighty market…We are thirsty and hungry, hoping for more. We long for a word from God.
However, when we are honest with ourselves, we also long for a word from God that conforms to our own plans and wishes. We want a word from God that endorses our own decisions and priorities. We want to be affirmed by God in what we are already doing, not confronted and called to repentance. We want God’s word, but on our own terms.” –J. Todd Billings, The Word of God for the People of God, 1.