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Saturday, June 11, 2016

God and Sex

Speaking of our earthly existence here, someone once said, "There is a worm in everything." Paul expressed the same thing about our world when he wrote, "The creation was subjected to futility" (Rom 8:20). We know that each of us harbors sin, requiring first a new life in Christ and then a process of sanctification, of transformation. We all still struggle with sin and wrong thinking in some areas and we will continue to do so this side of heaven.

One of the primary gods of this world today (and, honestly, always, I think) is sex. I'd like to say that it is sexual immorality, but I'm pretty sure that properly married couples engaging in lawful sexual relations suffer from this same problem of broken thinking and perceptions. While the world has immersed itself in "What I do for pleasure is my business" with sex high on that list, God had a different idea of it and I believe we -- we who are genuinely interested in God's plans and perspectives -- have largely missed it.

Let's start at the beginning. Remember God's definition of marriage: "a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." (Gen 2:24) This "one flesh" union is a repeated theme in Scripture (see, for instance, Matt 19:4-6 and Eph 5:31-32). In this union is God's picture in human form of the union of His Son to His Bride in the form of the Church. It's an important picture and a vital concept. So why is it that we tend to largely boil it down to "sex"? It's not. It's intimacy. But, of course, Satan got here before me so that "intimate" is now a synonym for "sex". Ask someone "Were you intimate with that person?" and they'll understand you to be asking if they had sex. It is not sex I'm referencing. It's intimacy. Like Peter's command to husbands to "live with your wives in an understanding way" (1 Peter 3:7). Look, everyone knows what it means when we say, "He knew her in a biblical way." And sex is there, to be sure, but why "knew"? Why that word? It's not "acquaintance". It's not like Adam was introduced to Eve at that point. No, it is intimacy. That is, in God's version sex is a physical expression of a spiritual reality that a man and a woman who marry become one -- one flesh, one mind, intimate.

Today we've arrived at something so much better. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) We've arrived at sex for pleasure and, if we are being honest, sex for power, but not sex for intimacy. Think about it. What we do in the bedroom reflects what makes us feel good. Too often it is precisely that narrow -- "What makes me feel good." But even the generous husband and wife will be seeking pleasure for the other along with himself or herself. What we do in the bedroom is often for pleasure and if it is not pleasurable we don't do it because pleasure is the point, is it not? Now, I would argue that the answer to my own question is "No" not because it isn't pleasure in view, but that it most often is not merely pleasure in view. Most people who know will tell you that rape is not a sexual thing, but a power thing. I would contend that much of what happens in the bedroom today is not a sexual thing, but a power thing. You have various sex acts that are painful. There is the whole world of bondage and sadomasochism specifically aimed at giving and receiving pain and humiliation. Much of sex much of the time is aimed more at dominance and submission. More than pleasure? No. Because in these cases pain and dominance and submission gives these people pleasure, just not sexual pleasure.

So what is my point? My point is not about sex. It's about our failure even as Christians to grasp that God intended sex for the union of a man and a woman in the ultimate physical intimacy as part of the ultimate intimacy of persons. We've accepted the world's interpretation of sex for power or pleasure and figure that marriage sanctifies that lie. We're wrong. If what you do in the bedroom, husband or wife, is predicated on "what I like" or "what makes me feel good" or "what leads to an orgasm", you're missing the aim -- intimacy. And if you understand "intimacy" to merely mean "sex" instead of "knowing at the deepest levels", you've clearly missed the point. God intended so much more. It would be a shame for us to miss it in favor of so much less.

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