Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? Proverbs 5:18-20
Talking About Sex…
There is an awful lot of talk about sex these days, but very little of it is constructive or helpful, and even less of it comes from the perspective of leaders in the church. Yet, the Scripture has a profound amount to say on the subject. Now, by way of disclaimer, this blog post is going to be very candid (though not crass) about the subject of sex. After all, that is how the Bible deals with the issue – candid, but not crass.
Also, let me tell you what this post is not about – it is not about: homosexuality, the plague of teen pregnancy, whether sex is about pleasure or procreation or both, contraception, etc. These things are good and worthy of discussion, but they are not the focus of my post today. This post is about sex as it relates to wisdom and foolishness. In short, it is about how sex relates to and reflects the gospel.
Sex Reflects The Gospel?
I know what happened when some of you read that last line – you were pretty put off by the idea that sex has anything to do with the gospel. But, if you will give me a few lines, I hope to make myself clear on the matter. Consider all of the ways that the physical human act of sexuality reflects the spiritual reality of the gospel.
- Both sex and the gospel are gifts. When we consider the creation story in Genesis, we see that God made them male and female. God performs the first wedding ceremony and blesses this new union with a call to be “one flesh.” In other words, God gave humanity the gift of sexuality. He gave it as a gift when he built it into the design. He could have just as easily made humans to be like certain other animals, in which no physical contact is necessary for procreation. And yet, He blessed us with sex. And He deemed it as the physical expression of a higher emotional and spiritual reality – that the two would be one flesh. Now, consider the gospel. Is it any different? Is it something that humanity deserves? Have we earned it? God has freely bestowed upon humanity the gift of the gospel. And it too, like sex, reflects a great reality – a union of two people. Yet, in this case, the gospel supplies a union between Jesus and the church. Which leads to the second reflection…
- Both sex and the gospel are integrated into a covenant relationship in which faithful oneness is made manifest. The covenant relationship of marriage, in which sex was given to humanity as a gift, is a call for faithful oneness. “The two shall be one flesh.” Sex displays in a real, physical way the uniting of two people into one – not just in child-bearing, but in the sexual act itself. There is a “one flesh” reality in the act of sex. The gospel, in a spiritual sense, is that which brings us into union with Christ. He is the husband, the church the bride. We are in Him and He is in us. This gift that is found in a covenant relationship is made manifest by “faithful oneness.”
- Both sex and the gospel are capable of producing life. While it is quite true that there are “modern advancements” in the field of reproduction, the primary manner in which most humans come to life on this planet is still through the activity of sex. God designed human sexuality to have the effect (usually) of producing life, which is also a continuation of the “one flesh” reality. The gospel is God’s message of life to His people. The Scripture regularly uses the language of moving from death to life, new birth, etc. to describe the reality of what takes place in the human soul that savingly comes in contact with Jesus.
- Both sex and the gospel are designed to provide great joy within their proper boundaries. Why is our culture (and virtually every culture everywhere for all time) so “sex-crazed?” Because it feels good. It brings joy. It promotes pleasure. Now, this could be stripped down to the neurological/biological level. But it is so much more than that. There is an emotional, psychological, and (if I am making my point at all here) spiritual joy that flows from physical intimacy. (Consider the entire book of Song of Solomon to see this). The gospel, when applied properly to the heart and life, is designed to provide great joy to the recipient. Joy of new life; joy of forgiveness; joy of oneness with Jesus; joy of peace, stability, and security; joy of present and future hope.
- Both sex and the gospel are to display self-sacrifice for the good of the other. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 (one of the more open texts on marriage and sex in the New Testament), tells us that the husband’s body belongs to his wife and the wife’s body belongs to her husband. In other words, sex shouldn’t primarily be about your needs, it should be about your spouse’s needs. So too, in the gospel, at least from the perspective of the Trinity, the gospel is about self-sacrifice for the good of the other. Jesus, laid down His life for His sheep. They needed something and only He could provide it. And only He was right to provide it, for it was through His sacrifice that the faithful, one-flesh, covenant relationship came to be.
- Both sex and the gospel can be so severely distorted and misused that they bring all sorts of distress upon the one wronged by them. There is a reason that the Scripture lays a framework for the appropriate use of sexuality. There is a reason why a misuse of sexuality receives labels like “sin”, “abomination”, and “foolish.” The reason is that human sexuality reflects the gospel. It is a gift from God that is to be enacted in a covenant relationship that promotes faithful oneness and provides great joy. It is a potentially life giving activity, reflecting the outworking of oneness with Christ and the life-giving work that comes from him. When sex is distorted or misused, all sorts of problems can take place: “unwanted pregnancy”, “STDs”, “severe emotional distress”, etc. When sex becomes just a “physical thing”, or a tool for power, or bargaining chip in interpersonal negotiation, etc., then it no longer reflects the gift that it truly is. When the gift of sex becomes a “right” or a “privilege” or a very “Me-Centered” endeavor, it loses the true value that is given to it by God Himself. Those touched by this sort of sexuality usually bear significant scars: emotionally, physically, psychologically, or all of the above. So too, when the gospel becomes “just a ticket to heaven”, a “get out of hell free card”, an entrance into perpetual “health, wealth, and prosperity”, it ceases to be what it should. Those touched by a distorted gospel often do not realize the long term negative effects until it is too late. Oneness and unity with Jesus are sacrificed to self-interest and self-fulfillment.
Bringing It All Together
Have you considered your views and/or participation in sexuality in light of the fullness of the gospel? Consider these questions regarding sexuality and the gospel:
- Do I view sex, like the gospel, as a gift from God? Or, do I consider it more of a right and privilege to do with whatever I want?
- Do I see sex as a physical expression of a covenant relationship in which faithful oneness is made manifest? Do I see this true of the gospel?
- Do I see that the true fullness of joy in sex is much like that of the gospel, namely, that it is found only in proper boundaries, with an attitude of self-sacrifice, for the good of the other?
- In what ways am I either distorting a proper view of sex or passively encouraging distortions of it in the lives of those around me? Am I doing the same with the gospel? Do I take seriously the danger of distorting either of these gifts from God?