“But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:2
That verse right there stands in stark contrast to the worldly notion that sex should be explored with anyone at any stage of life; that we should be lead by our fleshly desires and impulses, our emotions and passions.
The Bible sets the standard high, and 1 Corinthians 7:2 clearly confirms that God’s purpose for the intimacy of sex was to be enjoyed between a man and a woman united in marriage.
Modern Sexual Culture
Weep for the culture. We hear that often. There’s so much to weep for. One thing in particular that both causes my heart pain and gets my back up at the same time is the way sex is glorified (and misused) – even among adolescents. It’s promoted as a “rite of passage”. And you’re pegged as “odd” or a “loser” if you’re not sexually active.
We see it in the movies and t.v. shows we watch. It’s either whispered in some songs or shouted in others. It’s insinuated in the advertisements in magazines we flip through. It causes laughter in the jokes we hear and repeat. And it’s in those “romance novels” we are tempted to buy in the supermarket. We are bombarded with it everywhere we turn.
There was a time when promiscuity was frowned upon, and if it did take place it was hidden so as not to bring shame on the family or community. And when the secret was found out, usually by pregnancy, the couple was forced into marriage right away.
Then came the “sexual revolution” in the 1960’s.
Nowadays, pre-marital sex is acceptable as long as you “use a condom”. No long-term commitment is required, and many flaunt having frequent sexual encounters with different partners as notches in their belts or badges of honor.
Co-habitation is encouraged so that you can figure out if your significant other is suitable marriage material. But, all this really does is enable the couple to “play house” without fully committing themselves to one another. There’s no true union of hearts and lives.
That said, I am hearing more and more that in the most “modern” of cultures the whole institution of marriage is becoming a thing of the past. The new philosophy is that romantic relationships are meant to be fluid, without restrictions or boundaries.
As Christians, we know the standard by which we should live. Yet we are so easily wooed by the culture around us. “If it feels good, do it”, “Follow your heart”, “Go with the flow”, “Try it just this once”, and “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission”.
The new philosophy is that romantic relationships are meant to be fluid, without restrictions or boundaries.
The Dangers of Casual Sex
Casual sex in the eyes of God is abhorrent according to 1 Corinthians 6:9, yet it is completely acceptable and even encouraged in many circles. But sex was never meant to be casual. God created it to play a part in the unifying of husband and wife. It is spiritual, holy.
Jay Budziszewski wrote, “Casual sex can’t achieve [unity]. It endlessly joins and severs, joins and severs. Imagine what it would be like to repeatedly tear off and reattach your arm. There would come a day when no earthly surgery would suffice; the reparative power of your body would be lost. It is the same when you repeatedly tear off and reattach your various sexual partners. Eventually they will all seem like strangers; you just won’t feel anything. You will have destroyed your capacity for intimacy.” – (What’s Good About Sex?)
We are deceiving ourselves if we believe that casual sex leaves behind no harmful effects on our hearts and minds. God created us to be passionate beings, but when it comes to physical intimacy he set limits so that our needs would be fulfilled within the protective walls of the marital bedroom.
Sex was never meant to be casual.
Let’s make a list of the ways the world would be different if the majority of people lived by the principle that sex should be limited to men and women united in marriage.
- no sexually transmitted deseases
- very few unwanted pregnancies
- virtually no market for prostitution
- Sex trafficking would be non-existent
- Pornography wouldn’t be a billion-dollar industry
It’s hard to imagine a world without all those things, isn’t it? Yet, our destiny was written in the stars once we decided that our way was the better way. When we decided to step outside of the boundaries and remove the restrictions God put in place we opened the way for the many negative consequences that are destroying us today.
A Holy Union
C.S. Lewis wrote, “The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside of marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union.” (Mere Christianity)
The “union” Lewis refers to is the physical, spiritual and emotional union that God meant for all marriages to have. The physical union sex provides is just a part of the whole. In a healthy marriage when one hurts the other hurts, when one rejoices so does the other. Over time, spouses come to know one another so intimately that certain facial expressions will reveal what they’re thinking and they learn how to make the other happy or feel safe or feel loved.
It is truly offensive to God when the act of sexual intercourse is used without keeping his divine purpose in mind. John Piper said, “The world tries to steal what belongs to believers. Sex belongs to Christians. Because sex belongs to God.” (Sex Belongs to Believers)
The physical union sex provides is just a part of the whole.
Sex is not only a symbol of the union of two people but it is a part of making two beings whole. When it is used outside of the context of marriage it is impossible for a person to experience true fulfillment. And isn’t that what every human being longs for?
Now, marriage is not for everyone. But, it is for most people. Paul, the apostle, stated, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Corinthians 7:8, 9)
He also said to those believers who were either unmarried or tempted to commit adultery, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
More Than Just Sex
Sex isn’t merely about feeling or experiencing pleasure. Oh, it’s so much more than that! That’s why God ordained it only for the marriage bed. Hebrews 13:4 exhorts all Christians by saying, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” The sexual experience involves the body, the mind, the heart and the spirit. Paul tells us that the marriage relationship is a picture of Christ and his bride – the church – in Ephesians 5. He sees the importance in making the connection, while proclaiming that it was still a mystery. John Piper explains it perfectly:
“The union of man and woman in marriage is a mystery because it conceals, as in a parable, a truth about Christ and the church. The divine reality hidden in the metaphor of marriage is that God ordained a permanent union between His Son and the church. Human marriage is the earthly image of this divine plan. As God willed for Christ and the church to become one body (Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor. 12:13), so He willed for marriage to reflect this pattern—that the husband and wife become one flesh (Gen. 2:24).
The sexual experience involves the body, the mind, the heart and the spirit.
Now, why would we want to go and mess up something so beautiful, so perfectly orchestrated?
Why God Created Sex
God made sex so that we could, “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it,” according to Genesis 1:28. Procreation was the means God chose to use us, who were created in his own image, to fill the planet with families who would learn how to love Him and love one another. And the enjoyment of sexual intimacy wasn’t just a bonus, it is a way for us to enjoy our spouses deeply.
Now, we all know that marriage isn’t just about sex. As we age the physical desire for sex will fade but the union is not broken. What remains, in a healthy marriage, is a bond that cannot be broken. When I think of my parents I can’t think of one without thinking about the other. They are one. Same goes for my kids: they can’t imagine my husband and I ever being apart. In their eyes we are one unit. And that is exactly what we are – a union that can only be broken by death.
Reclaiming Sex for Marriage
Why did I write this article? A few reasons:
- To remind us, as Christians, that there is a standard by which we are to live; one that God set, not because he is restrictive but because he is love. He wants us to enjoy his beautiful purpose and thrive in it.
- As Christ’s church we have allowed too much of the world and its philosophy to seep into our homes and influence our families. Enough is enough.
- As parents we are responsible not only to teach our children what the biblical standard is, but how to live by it. We are also called to protect them from diabolical influences that could potentially water down their principles and values. We need to teach them while they are young the joys of knowing and following Christ so that when temptation arises they will run in the opposite direction.
It took me quite a while to settle on a title. Lots of phrases rolled around in my mind until I finally settled on “Reclaiming Sex for Marriage”. My decision was confirmed when I found the definition for the word “reclaim”.
To reclaim means: to bring (uncultivated areas or wasteland) into a condition for cultivation or other use; to recover (substances) in a pure or usable form from refuse, discarded articles, etc.; to bring back to a preferable manner of living, sound principles, ideas, etc.
Christians, we need to reclaim sex for marriage because it has become a wasteland out there in the world. And the garbage from that wasteland is seeping into our homes. It’s time to seal up those crevices by changing what we watch and listen to and read. Some iffy relationships need to be cut off.
We are called to “come out from them and be separate” according to 2 Corinthians 6:17, and to not “conform to the pattern of this world” as taught by Paul in Romans 12:2. And when we are tempted 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God is faithful and will always provide a way out. And if we do fall the Bibles tells us that, “if we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Our God is loving and holy. No one compares to him. He deserves to be glorified in the bodies he gave us in the first place. Let’s live like it. And teach our children how to live like it.
His purpose in ordaining marriage is awe-inspiring. Beautiful. Magnificent. Instead of running away from his purpose, let’s delve into it and enjoy it. His works are wonderful!
Focus on the Family has put together a terrific series called, “God’s Design for Sex”. I encourage you to read it. It’s a wonderful resource. Share it with the teenagers and young adults in your life so that they can be better prepared. You won’t regret it!
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