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Sex and God

Exodus 20:14

Jim Davis

The history of western religion is a dramatic chronicle of conflict between the sexual and spiritual sides of human nature." Augustine of Hippo, an early church theologian, believed that sex was the vehicle for transmitting original sin, and therefore corrupt even between two people married to each other. Pope Gregory I believed that "sexual pleasure can never be without sin." Pleasure was out of the question. There was a period where the Catholic Church forbade sex on Saturdays, Wednesdays and Fridays as well as the forty-day fast periods before Easter and Christmas. One historian calculated that when you added feast days and days of female impurity that only forty-four days a year were left for marital sex.

Why have the subjects of God and sex been so difficult for the church to embrace? The way we think shouldn't surprise us, because most of us learned about the mystery of sex in all the wrong places. We learned it everywhere but at church. Therefore, our orientation to sex is totally carnal. What makes it more difficult today is that those who have no idea of who God is are trying to define sexuality for the majority of the world.

I think that it is a little ironic when you open your Bible to the first book of the Bible sex is mentioned by the time you get to the twenty-eighth verse. God says to man and woman, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth . . ." (Genesis 1:28) In the second chapter, God says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame" (Genesis 2:24-25).

Everyone is a sexual being. The way we see ourselves, our interactions with other people, and even our relationship with God are all affected by whether we are men or women. Our sexuality goes beyond just sex--it is about relationships. It is a basic ingredient in God's purpose for creating us.

The concept of "one flesh" is that of two people becoming one in mind, body and soul. There is no division between that which is physical, that which is spiritual and that which is sexual. The body, mind and soul of two people are brought together to form one entity. That was the nature and purpose of male and female design in creation.

Satan Seeks to Destroy Oneness

Within the first three chapters of Genesis we see Satan's attack is against the very nature of our created being. He sought to destroy the one flesh union.

Genesis 3:4-10
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." (NIV)

Whatever happened in Eden tainted that first couples mind so that they could no longer only see the purity of their relationship. Sadly, it still taints our minds. Satan knows that a world divided against itself will self-destruct. What better way to divide our world than to destroy the oneness of man and woman? What better way to divide us than to make each of us ashamed of how God made us?

The seventh commandment was given to protect the one flesh union of man and woman. "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:13). Jesus said, "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV)

Doing the right thing is a matter of trusting the right Person. Every day we make choices about whom we are going to trust. Do we go along with the opinions of ungodly people who walk "in the futility of their mind "? Or do we live as Christ taught us to live, in "righteousness and true holiness "?

An article in a national magazine quoted a sociologist who has concluded, on the basis of interviews done with 800 married men, that infidelity can be good for a marriage. To buy that conclusion would be to walk as the world walks, trusting man more than God. But God didn't leave any room for guesswork on this subject. He said, "You shall not commit adultery."

Whom do we trust? One researcher, who asked 800 married men what they think? Or God, who created us, instituted marriage, and knows what is best for us?

Darwin explored how natural selection might have affected physical development. Evolutionary psychology explores how it might influence social behavior. Darwin saw the goal of natural selection as survival. Evolutionary psychologists posit that the goal of natural selection is propagation.

What is the ultimate purpose of life? According to evolutionary psychologists, it's getting our genes into the next generation. Consider how this theory impacts sexual behavior. As long as men are getting women pregnant, they are winners. "It is to their genetic advantage to impregnate as many females as possible during their lifetime."

This puts men at odds with women, for women fare best in a framework of monogamy and romantic love. For the woman to win, the man must stick around and share responsibility for his wife and children. This is what the seventh commandment is all about.

It should come as no surprise that a world pitied against the very nature of its design would naturally be divided. When we deny God we become our own gods and what better way to worship oneself than to have sex with others for our own selfish purposes. What better to worship oneself than to have sex with ones own gender.

Have you noticed the anger between the sexes today? Each feels that each is being deprived of something by the other. Their deprivation is obvious; they are missing something. They are missing the fundamental purpose for which they were created---to become one with each other in marriage for life.

The battle of the sexes reveals that each believes the other sex has deprived them in some way. The cry in the battle of the sexes is that the opposite sex owes me something. This belief exists because each has stressed their desire to be a whole person without the help of the other. Sadly that vacuum in their lives will not be filled until each sees his/her need for the other to make each of them whole. The cry of sexism today is really recognition that one cannot be whole without the other. If male and female could be whole without the other, why does each feel that they need what they feel the other owes them?

A young woman said that she and her boyfriend loved each other and that sex for her, even outside of the marriage covenant, was a natural expression of their love. A year later, she was calling the suicide hot line, cut to her soul by her boyfriend's betrayal.

A middle-aged man, going through a mid-life crisis, justified his one-time fling as "necessary." It was something about renewal and self-esteem. He ended up losing his wife, his family, and his reputation. What remained was guilt and shame.

How many have opted for sexual promiscuity and ended up with sexually transmitted diseases.

Sex is a powerful tool given to us for the purpose of becoming one flesh. It is no less powerful when it is abused. We have seen and are seeing the capability of its powerful destructive force as we seek to use sex as a no fault non-binding uncomplicated recreational pastime. How many times have we seen the physical, emotional and spiritual damage of sex outside of marriage? Society is picking up the tab of the anger engendered by the abuse.

Those who have opted to see sex as purely physical often see themselves as victims, because they have refused to accept the personal guilt for their deeds. Seeing themselves as victims leaves them powerless as they refuse to accept the personal responsibility of choice.

Marriage Is God's Design for Sexuality

"A number of years ago Phyllis George interviewed Dallas Cowboy superstar Roger Staubach. It is was typical, dull sort of interview until Phyllis blindsided the quarterback with this question: 'Roger, how do you feel when you compare yourself with Joe Namath, who is so sexually active and has a different woman on his arm every time we see him?'

"'Phyllis,' he said calmly, 'I'm sure I'm just as sexually active as Joe. The difference is that all of mine is with one woman.'"

Roger made a touchdown with that statement! Real men don't commit adultery."

1 Corinthians 7:2-5
But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (NIV)

Nowhere in the New Testament, perhaps in the entire Bible is there such a concise statement about the nature and purpose of marriage.

Marriage was designed by God to prevent immorality. Christians in the city of Corinth lived in a very immoral society. There was a temple there built to worship Aphrodite the fertility god. Adultery and fornication were commonplace in that temple and throughout the city. Paul was reminding them that marriage was designed to prevent immorality . . . " But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband."

God designed our sexuality, it is an almost endless aching need, but God designed marriage and only marriage to fill that need. Paul writes, "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent . . ."

You must give attention to meeting your partner’s sexual needs so completely that there will be no desire to look elsewhere. If we love our mate, we should desire to fulfill him or her sexually. We must, with great sensitivity, and much communication, attempt to ascertain the legitimate sexual needs of our mates. And, at the same time, we must be willing to give of ourselves in order to meet those needs. This requires great sensitivity and understanding, but the effort is worth it. Solomon says, "Be happy with the wife you married when you were young. She gives you joy, as your fountain gives you water. She is as lovely and graceful as a deer. Let her love always make you happy; let her love always hold you captive." (Proverbs 5:18-19)

Proverbs 6:32
But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. (NIV)

Marriage is designed because of lack of self-control. Paul writes, "Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." Our sexuality necessitates an outlet . . . marriage is the only outlet.

Promiscuity in our society is directly related to selfish motivation. The philosophy of sexual expression today is developed around the idea of scoring points for ourselves. It revolves around getting sex. It is usually disconnected from commitment, sacrifice, spirituality and lifelong love. Intimacy on a good day last about twenty-five minutes.

However, God's concept of sexuality is giving rather than receiving. Paul says, "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife."Paul speaks of sexuality in marriage as something that each person in that union owes the other. In marriage each person belongs to the other because each makes the other complete.

We speak of sex as kinky, obsessive, ecstatic, destructive and fulfilling. But what it isn't and can never be is casual. Sexuality is an expression of self as the mind, body and soul fuse with another person to become one for life. There is no way we can fuse ourselves with another person casually. Sex entered into casually damages self-esteem and robs us of the joy of purpose. Ultimately the immorality of sexual deviancy is more far reaching than illicit sex as it leaves individuals bitter and hurt.

Sex and the Church

Sexuality is inextricably intertwined with our spirituality. There is no way that you can understand your sexuality apart from faith in God. "Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." The need to express our sexuality makes us vulnerable to Satan's schemes to meet our needs in unholy ways.

The Corinthians were reminded of the gravity of sexual immorality as Paul reminds them of the temporal and eternal consequences.

1 Corinthians 6:9-15
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. "Everything is permissible for me"-- but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"-- but I will not be mastered by anything. "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"-- but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! (NIV)

How we express our sexuality involves Christ church very deeply: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute?" Sex can't be casual when you realize that you are uniting Christ body with a prostitute.

1 Corinthians 6:15-20
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (NIV)

It becomes extremely obvious why we must flee sexual immorality.

Ephesians 5:25-33
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church--for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery-- but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (NIV)

Honoring God with our bodies begins in the mind. Jesus gets to the heart of the matter.

Matthew 5:27-28
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (NIV)

Sin begins long before it is acted out. James says, "But every man is tempted when he is draw away of his own lust, and enticed then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death" (James 1:14-15). Notice the progression of temptation: Lust first begins in our minds; sin is the action based upon our thoughts; death is the result.

Sin will always take you farther than you meant to go . . . keep you longer than you want to stay . . . and cost you more than you want to pay!

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NIV)

The real battles of life are fought in the mind and heart.

Matthew 15:18-20
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'" (NIV)

Matthew 22:37
Jesus replied: "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' (NIV)

It is obvious that Satan through mass media is engaged in a battle for our minds. Notice how most all television and movie programming is geared to challenge the way we think about our sexuality. It always conflicts with God's design. There are very few shows that do not advocate homosexual unions in one form or another. This is not accidental. Mass media is determined to reprogram how we think in an effort to change our behavior.

"Just as fire only brings warmth when contained in the fireplace, and devastation when allowed to burn where it chooses, sex that is not contained in marriage brings devastation to individuals, families, and communities.

"How can we promote the higher purpose of sex?

"First, we can teach our young men that the essence of manhood is not their ability to be morally loose with many women, but rather to be faithful for a lifetime with one.

"Second, we can teach each of our daughters that if a man really loves her, he will protect and respect her purity, rather than disregard and abuse it. We can also teach them that virginity is an honor, and not an embarrassment." (Tony Evans in Urban Family, Spr 1994)

Conclusion:

"Our sex-obsessed society screams that the key to happiness is finding sexual fulfillment, that personal pleasure is the primary purpose of sex, and that everyone has a right to sex. Even though numerous Christian books, counselors, programs, and preachers are presenting a biblical perspective on sexuality, many believers are guilt-ridden because of past sexual experiences or present temptations they just can't handle. In order to be able to withstand the deceptions projected by the culture and get beyond our own brokenness, we must allow God's Word to sensitize us to His purpose for our sexuality.

"The human body and sexuality were designed by God and are therefore good. Some Christians miss what God wants to say to them about sexuality because of a vague feeling that He does not approve of it, but He created it and says it is good.

"God intended that there be openness and intimacy in our sexual expressions in marriage.

"Our sexuality is not just physical but is an integral part of who we are. That is why reducing it to mere physical acts is always depersonalizing.

"According to God's design, sex belongs within a permanent relationship. Sexuality has more to do with partnership and companionship at the deepest levels than with a merely biological act.

"Christians need to hear God's voice through His Word and to come to Christ daily with our guilt and temptations. He promises to restore our purity. That restoration happens through fidelity. Building and maintaining faithfulness in marriage is the foundation of all biblical sexual ethics. Allowing God to control our sexuality is a process that will continue throughout our lives and will require both self- discipline and help from others." ("What Dr. Ruth couldn't tell you" by Stephen Hayner. Discipleship Journal, Jul/Aug 1991 [#64]. Pages 22-25.)

 

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