Study Guide: Immoral TOHU wa BOHU

Sunday November 25, 2012 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

TOHU wa BOHU is the term the Old Testaments writers used to describe the formless, empty and chaotic world before creation. In this sermon, Greg talks about how sexual immorality is outside of God’s plan for creation, and it leads us back to TOHU wa BOHU.

Extended Summary:

We’re back to Colossians! As we see in Colossians 3, we’ve just finished reading about our identity in Christ, and Paul now turns to ask the Christians in Colossae to now live out that identity. He starts by saying that they should put to death our earthly nature. He cites sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed. Paul understood that sexual immorality was, in essence, greed because greed is simply craving more than the natural boundary. That is, it’s greedy to eat more than you need, greedy to buy more than you need, and greedy to have sex outside of the boundaries God put on it.

God puts boundaries on things to help them perform their function. In the beginning, the earth was formless and void (TOHU wa BOHU). This was a chaotic and negative scene. In the ancient world, it was the type of land that was desolate and could not have order. God steps in and creates order. He separates the water from the land and the light from the dark. God is all about setting up boundaries so that the world did not fall back into TOHU wa BOHU.

The flood narrative shows this. When the world was so corrupt that angels were living with the humans after giving up their authority, God allows the water to once again consume the world. He stops the boundary of holding chaos at bay, and we see that the flood enveloped the chaos of the world because the flood represented TOHU wa BOHU. When the boundaries are over-stepped, chaos begins to seep in and corrupt the world. The world becomes more TOHU wa BOHU as we do less and less of the natural boundaries that God set up.

God is not a kill-joy. He put boundaries on sex so that it could be enjoyed and perform its natural function. He wanted to keep corruption and chaos out of the bedroom. It is anything but arbitrary. We have an impulse, however, to overstep this boundary. In this culture, we are conditioned to want and have sex with whomever and whenever we want, and this is a massive assault on God’s design.

Sex, in this culture, does not say that it is only for marriage. In fact, sex is a tool for marketers and advertising. But this is only part of a deeper cultural understanding. In this culture of individualism and consumerism, we get what we want when we want it. We can’t get away from this draw either. Whether it’s TV, magazines, advertising, or simply the way people around us live lives, we are bombarded by sexual images.

We are made in a way that we commit to people through our biology when we have sex. It’s not merely a choice. There are three main neurochemicals that are involved with sex: Dopamine, Oxytocin, and Vasopressin. Dopamine is a gender-neutral feel-good chemical. Oxytocin and Vasopressin are the chemicals in males and females that allow us to bond to others. When we have sex, Dopamine and Oxytocin/Vasopressin are released. This is a good thing when we are having sex with a spouse who we are supposed to bond with. But when we have sex with people outside of marriage, we are bonding and tearing ourselves from that person when we break up. And when that happens, our body begins to have a harder and harder time bonding to new people through sex. It’s TOHU wa BOHU on all of us.

God designed sex inside of marriage, and for some very good reasons. He wanted to keep TOHU wa BOHU out of the bedroom. He wanted sex to be between only two people so that those people could bond in the way that marriage intended. He didn’t want the ill effects of STD’s and porn to infiltrate this world. This is why Paul, in Colossians, wanted us to die to this old earthly way of doing things. Now that we are in Christ, we shouldn’t act in ways that bring about TOHU wa BOHU.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. Do you agree or disagree with Greg’s thoughts on sexual immorality? Why or why not?
  3. God is not a kill-joy when it comes to sex. How have you thought of God’s boundaries for sex? Has your thinking changed as time went on?
  4. Do you have any past regrets when it comes to sex?
  5. Earlier in Colossians, we found that our true selves were hidden in Christ in Heaven. How does that help you deal with the regrets you may have about sex? How does the new life Jesus gives you affect you?