When I bring up the topic of sex and Christianity, there are always a few people in the room who immediately stop listening because their views — and cultural views they are accustomed to seeing — don’t line up with what the Bible says.
It’s a fair point. If you’re skeptical about God and His word, pulling verses from the Bible likely won’t change your mind.
In addition to what Paul wrote to a sex-obsessed world in 1 Corinthians Chapter 6, and the erotic words of Song of Solomon, I like to include sources outside of scripture to help drive home the message that sex is a gift from God, and to help provide context for this gift.
In my research on the topic, I found a poignant piece called A Roomful of Yearning and Regret: Modern Love in the New York Times about sexual betrayal in marriage. The author, Wendy Plumb, describes the heartache, pain, and sorry that can come from an extramarital affair — and it’s not written from a Christian perspective, but from a secular human perspective.
Wendy asks her friend, who is considering an affair, to picture herself with her betrayed husband after the affair was discovered; to imagine the empty excuses — the spark was gone, she was bored, he wasn’t meeting her needs; to consider the anguish of alibis, and of missing family events because she’s in a hotel room. Wendy shares this information from a first-hand point of view: this world was hers following an affair.
Wendy writes, “Our life will become an unbearable mix of yearning and regret because of it. It will be difficult if not impossible to be in any one place with contentment…. [You] will lose your appetite. Stress will blow out your metabolism. You will torture yourself with details known and imagined. You will fit together the mysteries of his daily patterns like a wicked puzzle….You will wonder why you were so stupid.”
In the end, she says there is “no view in the room worth having.” (The piece is worth a read — it’s amazingly well written. I’ve read it 100 times and I still get choked up.)
Marriage: The Context of Sex
But if sex is just fulfilling a basic physical need, why would an extramarital affair bring so much pain? Somehow, our body, mind, and soul are connected; it’s spiritual, because it’s a gift from God, and it has a context. The context that God created sex for is marriage, and in that context? Sex is amazing.
(“Please, pastor Brad”, you’re saying, “Don’t go any further.” Well, I can. Because this is my blog.)
Good sex takes work and exploration. It takes time to get good at it. This is the truth. Outside of marriage, sex will never reach its full potential. Yes, even in a consensual, dating relationship, no matter how serious or casual.
Let me answer that this way: In a relationship, there is an agreement; an unwritten contract that the individuals agree upon. Like, we are dating each other exclusively and are not seeing other people. But, what does every contract have? It has an out.
There’s 30-day clause. Or a buyout option. If you don’t like what’s happening you break up, and then the contract is terminated.
The Christian view of marriage is not a contract — it’s always has been and always will be a covenant between a husband, a wife, and God. It’s a reflection of the relationship that God has with us. Covenant says, I’m in, even if you’re out. This is forever. This won’t be broken. This isn’t going well, but we’ll work through it. A covenant says till death do us part. And Jesus is at the center of this marriage covenant.
Sex isn’t an appetite, and it isn’t bad. Sex isn’t gross or dirty or shameful. It’s a beautiful, amazing gift in the context of marriage — this is what the church should have been teaching all along.
What about Me?
Are you thinking this doesn’t apply to you? Asking why all of this matters, or why sexuality matters to me? Wondering why God’s view matters?
Here’s a secret you won’t hear in today’s culture: Your sexuality isn’t your identity. It wasn’t ever intended to define you. My identity isn’t straight guy. Your identity isn’t gay guy, straight woman, or lesbian. Your identity isn’t bi-sexual or transgender. That’s not your identity. Married, divorced, in love, out of love — it doesn’t matter. Sexuality isn’t your god; singleness isn’t your god.
What defines you? God.
God loves you. Even before He made the world, God loved you. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT) Jesus came off the throne to meet you where you are because you are worth it. He gave His life so that you can be called sons and daughters of God.
Sexuality might be how you see yourself, but isn’t what defines you. It’s not even close. My plea to you is to trust Him with your sexuality. Trust Him to be your salvation. Trust His plan for your life.
Will you trust Jesus for your identity? Will you trust God’s gift of sex?