What does God say about sex?
The topic of sex has carried a lot of shame and guilt with it in the Church. But is this what God wants for us and our sex lives?
Designed for love
Over the next three messages, we are going to talk openly about the goodness, the splendor, and the beauty of sex.
Historically, the conversation on sex hasn’t got a lot of play in church. It has been a taboo subject as such. The reality is that the church in large has been pretty hesitant maybe even a bit embarrassed when it comes to the topic. However, the world does not share our hindrance toward the subject and as such modern media has defined so much of what we understand about sex.
And my question is this: has our culture’s radical emphasis on sex made life better or more complicated?
Just a few questions. After the thrill and adventure of sexual indulgence wears out - and the shame, the guilt and the realization that you’re just an object for someone else moves in, is that making your life better? The illusion of perfection that romance novels & movies create is that helping you find a mate, is that making your marriage better? Does looking at porn, always sneaking around, keeping opposite hours, covering your tracks, fearing that skeleton is going to fall out of the closet - is that making your life better? The way our culture approaches sex, the way we market it, the way we use it to sell—Are we better off or have we bought into a lie, and now paying a high price?
Sex is an amazingly powerful thing, and when we don’t engage in it rightly, it’s like dumping an oil tanker on a camp fire, and before we know it, the whole forest is in ashes. This series is really about seeing sex the way God intended it to be.
Now, admittedly, when it comes to sex, God gets a bit of a bad rap. When it comes to sex, if we are honest, many view God as the cosmic killjoy. The reason for that is if you were to go search for the word “sex” in the Bible, it almost always occurs in the context of sexual immorality. After reading the sex passages in the Bible, you might conclude that the Bible does not have much to teach us about sex, and that when it does address sexuality, it does so only in negative, prohibitory, prudish ways.
And yet here is the gigantic secret of the Bible when it comes to sex: Sex is good because the God who created sex is good.
The reason sex is such a big deal to us is because of the God who created it. The more sex is enjoyed in ways that reflect its Creator, the better sex is for all involved.
Listen to the way God speaks through Hosea (2:14-17) to describe the restoration of his relationship with faithless Israel:
“Behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ . . . And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.”
It is virtually impossible to read this and then honestly say that knowing God, as God intends to be known by his people simply means mental awareness or understanding or acquaintance with God.
Allure, speak tenderly, my husband, betrothed.
This is the knowing of a lover, not a scholar. A scholar can be a lover. But a scholar doesn’t know God until he is a lover of God.
Paul is using this Old Testament understanding of knowing here. He says when our view of sex is too low, when we misuse sex for our own benefit, we are just like the people who don’t know God, and have no interest in taking him seriously.
You might have a mental awareness of God, but you don’t really know God until you see him in this intimate light. And so whatever you’re looking for in sex - satisfaction, or acceptance, or belonging, or worth … you will never find it, because God can only provide it. That’s why we keep getting drawn back to Him. Until God is the lover of your soul, you’re not going to be fit to be the lover of anybody else.
Great sex starts way before sex starts
As created by God, sex is far, far more than a physical transaction. There is a spiritual “one-fleshness” that happens during intercourse, something the two people can’t escape, no matter how they feel about one another—even if they don’t know each others’ names!
In a healthy marriage relationship, sex reflects a deep, protected, vulnerable, beautiful intimacy than cannot be experienced in any other type of relationship.
And sometimes, even in marriage, this sense of intimacy is either diminished or lost all together. Sex is no guarantee of a great relationship. But if you work on that which needs attention in your marriage, your time in the marriage bed will increase dramatically. And sometimes, even the reverse is true. When both partners in marriage relationship practice selflessness in the bedroom, that attitude has a tendency to carry over in day-to-day life.
Listen to this absolutely radical thing the Apostle Paul said …
The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Corinthians 7:3-4)
Husband and wife have authority over each other’s bodies. That’s a difficult concept to grasp, especially in our own culture, where women are objectified and expected to be pleasure-machines for men. Nothing could be further from the truth, biblically speaking.
In bed, and out of bed, husband and wife their authority into action by focusing all of their energy on the best interests of his or her partner—and then seeks to find and implement “win-win” solutions where what is important to each person is addressed.
If you were to give your marriage a “one-fleshness” grade, what would it be? Are the two of you on the same page in most areas of life? If not, what kind of conversation (perhaps a difficult or awkward one), can get the two of you back on track?
Remember, great sex happens way before sex starts.
If sex is good, are all the modern expressions of sex and human sexuality in our culture healthy? Regarding our sexuality, are humans flourishing today?
No doubt sex has had multiple “revolutions” to try to liberate human sexuality, and so the topic has become been a driving reality in our culture. Sex has been used for enjoyment and to reproduce, but it has also been used to build and topple kingdoms, and sell countless products from sports cars to deodorant.
Today we are living in a unique cultural moment where we are being encouraged to explore and follow whatever our sexual interests are and that, in doing so, the promise from culture is that we will be affirmed and find joy, peace, and ultimate happiness in whatever sexual expression we choose. Nothing is out of bounds as long as you are happy.
But are we better off today because of our movement in this direction, or is the use, misuse or confusion about sex hurting humankind?
In this cultural moment, we see a mass invitation to a similar destination regarding humanity and human sexuality. Behind the political and media narrative that tells us how wonderful this renaissance is to affirm any and every sexual choice people make, we are experiencing widespread brokenness and confusion in humanity and human sexuality.
The good news is that God does not leave us there!
The Christian teaching on sexual healing is simple, but profound:
We were created by God and it was very good, but by personal choice and by broken human nature we rejected God. We see this in Romans 1.
Jesus came in the flesh, lived a perfect life and died on a cross to pay the ransom for our rebellion against God.
Through believing in faith, his sacrifice is credited to us personally and individually upon believing. Through this work you and I are reconnected with God and his plan. We are declared “not guilty” and restored to our purpose and hope!
From there, the Christian life is an adventure of getting to know God and allowing Him to transform every aspect of our lives (including our sexuality).
That leads to step #2 of our restoration, found in Romans 12.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
Notice how this invitation stands in stark contrast to what we learned in Romans 1. As in our brokenness we “dishonored our bodies among ourselves”, now we are encouraged to “honor” our bodies by giving our bodies to God. It’s as if God is saying, “Come back to me! Let me show you how to use your bodies for the good they were created for!”
Romans 12 resets our broken human trajectory we saw in Romans 1. In doing so we break the cycle of conformity to a world that is set in opposition to God’s good plan. What does this look like? In my experience both personally and in walking with others, it means breaking ties to activities that do not honor God. Cutting off practices that are not honoring to God, including out of bounds sexual activities.
As we live this, God begins to transform and renew our minds. So much of our sexual brokenness begins in the mind. Hurts done to us and incorrect assessments of our value leads to most regretful sexual decisions. The healing process begins when we offer our bodies back to God and allow Him to begin healing our bodies and minds.
Can you see what is happening here??
God gives us Eden back! In the safe “mini-Eden” of marriage, we have an opportunity to reclaim all that was lost!
We exchange the shame, fear, and confusion of broken sexuality we saw in Genesis 3 and Romans 1 for the security, trust, companionship, excitement, romance, unashamed unity, and nakedness with no shame we had in Genesis 2 when sex was good! It is where we can find healthy sexual satisfaction and healing from our brokenness
Every man and woman coming together in marriage will have baggage. It’s part of the brokenness we came out of. For many its fear of rejection, for others its shame from our pasts, and still for others its abuse we might have experienced. It’s in the safety of a committed marriage, a husband or wife becomes an instrument of healing and healthy sexual gratification for each other.
We have the opportunity in this setting to trust again and, in doing so, to discover deep love and healing.