Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Sexual Immorality from Ancient Rome to Bangkok or Las Vegas

In his book, A Fellowship of Differents, Dr. Scot McKnight describes an eye-opening walk he once took down the Roman roads of ancient Pompeii. The volcano that erupted there in 79 A.D. preserved a vivid snapshot of Roman culture in the century when the church was born. "It is not an exaggeration to say the city was swamped with erotic images," writes McKnight. Explicit pornography was everywhere. "The sexual reality across the Empire, of which Pompeii was a typical example, was a total lack of sexual inhibition."

The normal order of things in the first century was for most men (and some women) to have procreational sex with their spouses and recreational sex with others. Those others often included young boys and slave girls. Pederasty (or the practice of sex with children) was widespread and accepted. Lesbianism was well known, but nowhere near as common as recreational same-sex liaisons between men, many of whom were still married to women. And relations with paid sex-workers formed such a major and enduring industry that Rome's most famous orator, Cicero, asked: "When was such a thing not done?"

Las Vegas or Bangkok has nothing on first century Roman society. This was the world in which the church was born and into which it introduced a more constrained sexual ethic.

Possible Preaching Angles: Dan Meyer adds, "Whatever your personal sexual ethics are or your view of the issues of our times, it's helpful to be reminded of the belief-system out of which people like the Apostle Paul were functioning. It may also help to explain why it might be unfair to criticize anyone who raises questions about sexual mores today. Things didn't end well for Rome and there are legitimate questions about whether we in America maybe be heading for a similar fate too."

Related Sermon Illustrations

Celibacy Is a Choice; Singleness Is Our Destiny

Christopher Yuan, a transformed believer whose past includes gay prostitution, says that celibacy is a choice, but singleness is each person's origin and destiny. "[Some] people are ...

[Read More]

Author Ponders the Cost of Our Sexual 'Progress'

Damon Linker, a writer for The Week, claims that our culture is waging a battle over "two competing, largely incompatible visions of the proper place of sex in a good human life." ...

[Read More]