Sex is important.
But not at all in the way popular culture portrays it. Because sex isn’t ultimately about us. Sex isn’t just about love (and certainly not how society defines it) procreation or personal pleasure, though those are wonderful elements of it, they are not the purpose of sex, they are not what make it important. Sex is important because of how it serves to glorify God. Without the aim to glorify God in sex; pleasure, love and procreation become distorted (or even entirely absent).
The way sex is portrayed in media is abhorrent in light of its purpose, because it is absolutely contrary to God’s design. God is fairly explicit when he addresses sex in Scripture (that it be between one man and one woman within marriage with purity and faith–see references at the end of this post for further reading) and in fact uses the distortions of sexuality to describe how far from his standard of purity we are in all aspects of our being; we are the adulterating wife to a faithful husband, and we need Jesus’ purity not just sexually, but in all aspects of our lives, in order to be reconciled to God. Sexuality displays this; sexual sin displays our brokenness, and sexual purity (be it abstinence in singleness, or sex within marriage) displays the new covenant we have in Christ, one with his purity where he is exalted and we rejoice as his bride.
Hosea 1:2 (NASB) When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.
Ephesians 5:31-32 (NASB) “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church.
God is serious about his design. He is specific because when sex is done as he designed, it is one of the most magnificent pictures of exalted joy, pointing to the future hope we have of ceaseless pleasure in God; sex and its grandeur is a shadow of what is to come, a small taste of the splendor of God.
1 Thessalonians 4:2-8 (NASB)
For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
Few see sex this way. Instead, it is seen as something deserved, to be worshiped and achieved at any cost. It is about personal pleasure and instant gratification. But God’s design is so much greater, it is about the “other”, about serving your husband or wife, and ultimately about exalting God. Sex in its proper place is a holy communion between husband, wife and God, it exalts the Creator and gives hope as it offers a glimpse of true joy. God calls us to abstain from sexual immorality because his design is far superior and any distortion we engage in detracts from the gift, ultimately hurting us.
Proverbs 6:26-29 (NASB) For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, And an adulteress hunts for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, And his clothes not be burned? Or can a man walk on hot coals, And his feet not be scorched? So is the one who goes into his neighbor’s wife; Whoever touches her will not go unpunished.
To those of you who are single, and possibly called to a lifetime of singlness, marriage and sex is a unique calling, but so is singleness and celebacy. God fulfills those in either case, and he reveals himself in each in unique ways. While sex is important within marriage, it is only so because God designed it so, likewise God designed singleness and is exalted within it. As a single man or woman you are not “missing out”, don’t allow the world’s perspective on sexuality define it for you, in your singleness your act of abstinence exalts God to the same degree sex within marriage exalts him, embrace that and take joy in him as he gives you contentment in this stage of life (or lifetime if you are called to singleness).
To those who have made mistakes, there is wonderful news, God is gracious. The beauty of grace is that God takes our failings, our sin and distortion of his design, and acknowledges them, but instead of holding them against us he puts them in the hands of Jesus and nails them to the cross. When we acknowledge our failings and bring them to the feet of Jesus we are made new, we may have the scars of past mistakes, but we no longer bear the guilt, Jesus did it for us and he has given us his purity, and he gives us the grace to pursue purity now.
The lie of our culture is that purity is antithetical to freedom. Women and men are proclaiming their freedom by stripping bear and having sex with whomever they wish, without responsibility or the covenant of marriage; the demand has become that there be no natural consquence, there is no place for the blessing of a child as the natural result of intercourse because it is “unplanned” and hinders the freedom of sexuality; there must be no moral constraints on this act that is considered a right to engage in whenever desired; they call this “sexual liberation”, but the irony is that it is nothing more then enslavement to lust. People have largely become one-dimensional beings in light of this “sexual liberation”, nothing more then their sexual preferences, flings, and fantasies. If you don’t believe me, glance at a few magazine headlines, or browse Pinterest–you will be met with an onslaught of objectification from either sex as people are defined by their “sexiness”–or read a few statistics on pornography. Humanity has become nothing more then our sex drives in which we are enslaved to only one element of our being. This attitude of feeding lust abandons thoughts of serving the “other”, and enslaves even to the extreme of sacrificing our offspring. But real liberation, true freedom, can only be found in the original design, in the loving relationship between one man and one wife in communion with the Creator of everything, including sex and the children that often result from it (more on that in the next post). Sexuality is not the only aspect of humanity, and if we want to find true liberation, we must acknowledge that, we must stop serving it as god, and instead embrace it in the goodness of its design, as one element of God’s grace and one of many ways he is exalted.
If we choose instead to continue feeding lust, the hunger will simply demand more and will only serve to reveal how truly deprived we are; just as Nietzsche says of the Greeks,
The question of whether the Greeks ever more powerful demand for beauty (Schönheit) for festivals, entertainments, new cults, really grew from a lack, from deprivation, from melancholy, from pain.
–The Birth of Tragedy
But unlike Nietzsche believed, we are not doomed to tragedy, we do not have to serve the gods of despair, there is hope, there is Christ, and in him there is freedom from this so-called “sexual liberation”, one that offers peace and joy as we embrace what we were truly purposed to be.
This Momentary Marriage by John Piper
Letters and Papers from Prison Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Hudson Taylor’s Song of Solomon Sermon
The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
1 Corinthians 6:15
1 Corinthians 6:18
1 Corinthians 7:1-5
1 Timothy 1:10