Sex is a Not a Dirty Word
Christians do not handle the subject of sex very well. Perhaps scarred by bad experiences or influenced by a sex crazed society, we don’t talk about sex. Even when we do, the subject is filled with discomfort. I am guilty of this myself. The subject that causes me the most personal discomfort while preaching is sex. Yes, talking about sex, the normal healthy expression of a married couple’s love for one other makes me squirm. I admit it. I felt like I was 10 years old again going through passages that deal with sex.
I am in church, I just should not be talking about (drops to a whisper) S-E-X.
I don’t think I am alone with my discomfort on this issue. Christians as a group are just flat out uncomfortable talking about sex. We just don’t like the subject and try to avoid it as much as possible. Despite the Bible verse, the picture below still just makes me downright uncomfortable.
There is a problem with our avoidance. There is a bigger when Christians treat sex itself as dirty and evil. God created sex. It is part of His specific design for marriage. He made it necessary for man and woman to come together for the continuation of man. Since God made it and included it for our very survival, it has to be good, right? If God was not comfortable with the idea, He would not have made it so essential. It is one of the few absolute necessities for mankind. Sex was made by God for us so it is good, despite what the culture has done with it. It was also made as a special bond among those made one by the covenant of marriage. It should be celebrated as such rather than shuffled off into a hushed back room. So let’s talk about it. Sex as intended by God is good, normal and yes, even holy. It is meant to bless a man and wife as they become one before God. This is good. It is also meant to send a message.
Sex was Created for Marriage
The Bible lays out God’s vision for sexual relationships in marriage. Nothing about it is shameful or unholy. It is much more than how babies are made. It is a gift given from the Lord to man and wife to make them one in a very special and unique way. It is the way these two children of God are to create a bond of privileged intimacy for them alone. It also points to something so much greater.
In Corinthians, Paul takes us back to creation when he says that sexual intimacy results in two becoming one flesh in the marriage bed. Consider that amazing truth. Two separately created images of God become one. They do so in a way that God Himself planned for the good of two of His children and their marriage. Not only is it a physical oneness, but a spiritual one. Paul warns the Corinthians about bonding themselves with those who are not their spouses. What they consider temporary dalliances with prostitutes results in terrible spiritual results. That alone is pretty mind boggling. In marriage, that bonding takes place in the way that it was intended.
Two become One.
This spiritual application is so meaningful in a marriage, yet it often overlooked. Two Christians united in their love of Jesus come together physically in the same way that God bound them together spiritually. One heart, one soul, one body together under Jesus for eternity. Big problems develop when one spouse neglects or violates any part of that formula. When a spouse brings another body or many into the relationship through devotion to pornography or physical or emotional attachments. When one or both spouse treat sex as physical release rather than expression of selfless communion with their spouse before God. When sex is not an expression of Jesus fueled giving love for the couple, this is not the sex that God created. God’s love is kind, tender, selfless and good.
This is expressed in the Bible in a way that is often seen as dealing with power:
The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:4
Done incorrectly, it can also be expressed in the form of control and unhealthy relationship. But I don’t believe this is the intent of the verse. Rather, it a picture of the level of communion, loving oneness that God intends to be present in a marriage. Each spouse being one in love and spirit with one another intend their whole lives, including their bodies to be always yielded to one another. Since it is under love and under Jesus, there is no coercion or force involved. Just a constant state of union undisturbed by any outside attachments.
We are the Bride of Christ
God also lays out a link between this same sexual intimacy and the relationship between Jesus and His church. Jesus’ relationship is not sexual, but the picture of the relationship between the Lord and His church is of bridegroom and bride. The feast that we will celebrate with Jesus when He returns to take us home is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. God has deliberately linked the unbelievable closeness and love of the marital relationship between a man and his wife with Jesus and the Church.
For us as physical beings, two becoming one flesh is a big part of that picture. This physical reality points to the greater spiritual completion to come. It is a glimpse of the amazing love and communion that Jesus will have with His church for all eternity. It is a wonderful blessing from the Lord and something that we as a church should rejoice over. God gave us sexual intimacy to direct us to what is to come with Jesus in full. The immediate intimacy gives a hint to the greater relationship to come.
Sin Warps God’s Intention for Sex
The world takes the intention of God to bond two into one in marriage and twists it. Sin takes what is good, pure and intended to foster oneness in a marriage and turns it into something base and ugly. In dating, messed up marriages and culture, sex therefore ends up so warped it looks nothing like the original. It is sex of bondage, power, addiction and sometimes just filthy enslavement. It is then broadcast into our lives through media at every opportunity. It is no wonder that we have become confused about sex. The world’s version is shameful and to be avoided.
Paul talks about the result of this alteration even being bonding the Holy Spirit and Jesus with a prostitute.
Yuck! Yes, this is bad.
The world’s version of sexual intimacy is not God’s and we are good to avoid it. Flee from sexual immorality! But we cannot flee from sex at the same time. God made it and made for our benefit. If we run away from this truth, we leave sex to the world to define. That is disastarous.
God’s Intentions are Still Good
When the church responds to this worldly picture of sex by snapping back to the opposite extreme it is missing out on God’s clear plan. We cannot demonize all sex and related attraction:
“Bad, Bad, Bad! Sex is bad! We can’t even talk about sex even if you are married. Shameful!”
This is the message that some of God’s people send out. Yet, God created sexual intimacy between husband and wife. He talks about it in the Bible quite a bit and in great detail. Read the Song of Solomon for a clear example. God created it a blessing. Yet our response ranges from uncomfortable avoidance of the subject to fire and brimstone pronouncements of shamefulness. When we do this, we let the world and its sins dictate to the church rather than listening to God’s direction and following God’s intentions.
The world’s version of sex is not God’s, not even close. We should indeed flee from sexual immorality. But the point is God has a version. Since it is God’s creation for man, it is good and holy and sanctified. It is meant for His people and their good as He lays it out. Since it is from God, it is a thing of joy that we should be grateful for and not ashamed of.
We will not know the truth about God’s plan for marital intimacy if we don’t talk about it, even in church and most importantly in families. If we retreat from the truth we rob His people of the benefit of His direction on something He created for their good. This is just unfair to God’s people. It also leaves them open to fill in the gaps of information from the world. The world is only too happy to provide its twisted version of sex to even the youngest of our children.
So I still might be uncomfortable when talking about the sex-focused sections of Scripture. Sex was a forbidden subject for me growing up and it is hard to shake years of shaming. If I ever teach Song of Solomon, I will likely be bright red during the entire time. But God intended marital intimacy between a husband and wife to be special and wonderful for us. Something that creates a new oneness and makes a marriage better while also pointing to God. We should embrace that gift as it was intended and not to shy away from the subject when God puts it before us.
God talks about so we should too, regardless of what the world has done.