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Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I figured the title would get your attention ...

Greek philosophy always had a low view of the physical. The physical realm was meaningless at best and more likely evil. What was really important was the spiritual realm. Plato spoke of things like the "chairness", that spiritual reality that gave the physical chair its value. Some Christians, then, took their cue from Greek philosophy. Some keyed off the problems the Bible sees with "the flesh" as if physical was evil (not the biblical concept at all). Extremists like Mary Baker Eddy (and others) argued that our physical reality is merely what we think it is. Are you sick? It's just because you think you are. Reality is merely what you believe it to be.

The Bible never took that approach. After all, it was God who formed Adam -- gave him his physical nature. We know we die, but a resounding message of the Scriptures is that we will be resurrected, and that isn't just a spiritual thing. We will return to physical bodies. While "the flesh" in Scripture is a reference to the sin nature, our physical bodies actually have value to God, starting with the fact that we are in His image and concluding with the fact that we will always have physical bodies -- before and after this life.

Enter the problem of sexual immorality. Christians, apparently in large numbers, are succumbing to the world's sexual perspectives. "After all," they appear to reason, "it's what's in the heart that matters. If we love 'in the heart', what we do with our bodies is of little consequence." Paul, of course, disagreed. "Do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, 'The two will become one flesh'" (1 Cor 6:16).

Sex and the body operate in a world that includes but goes beyond the mere physical. Sex is designed by God as a mystical union for you and one-and-only-one other person. It is a real image of the mystical union of Christ and the Christian -- the Christian and only Christ. It is designed as a creative union where the joining of the two actually produces something. In the spiritual union of Christian and Christ, it produces "fruit", a changed heart, "good works" that cause others to glorify God. In the physical union of humans, it produces "fruit", a union of heart and mind as well as actual offspring. Sex is designed to be a total investment. It is a union that is "'til death do us part". Breaking that union is like ripping off a body part (part of the real problem of divorce). Sex is a complete and irrevocable gift, an exposure of self in absolute nakedness without defense or protection, a lifelong uniting of two bodies and two souls. The "two will become one flesh" nature of the union makes it permanent, even if it isn't intended to be.

As a picture, then, of Christ and a Christian -- of the union of the Christian to Christ and Him alone for eternity -- and a living example of God at work in His creation and as an actual complete surrender and joining for life, sex is much more than recreation or pleasure. That it would be pleasurable, given its real significance, would seem to be a given since God is good, but to merely see the pleasure without the real significance is blindness.

Why should we wait for sex until marriage and then keep the marriage bed holy? Waiting tells yourself and everyone else of the real value of the body given by God for God's purposes. It tells everyone else of the genuine worth of the union of Christ to Christian, of the value of joining man and woman until death. It takes into account both physical and spiritual realities missed by those who indulge their lusts and whims for mere pleasure. Both chastity before marriage and fidelity within marriage tell a strong story of the unspeakable worth of knowing Christ and our great gratitude for His gifts of bodies, soul, and spirit and the marvelous, mystical union of husband and wife. It's a picture worth showing, a story worth telling, and one all too rarely seen or heard, even among today's Christians.

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