I wrote a blog for men recently in which I said men’s bodies were designed with a purpose: to love God and love others. I wrote because despite how natural and normal sexual temptations may feel, it’s essential that we (men and women alike) know that our bodies were designed for love, not for sexual sin.
A few days later, I read a post by a friend of mine, Mark Stephenson, a pastor at Horizon Church in Towson, Maryland. What he posted challenged me to rethink what I wrote.
Like me, he affirmed that our bodies are designed with a purpose and that they are not made for sexual immorality. But then, drawing directly from Paul’s words to the church in Corinth, my friend concluded that our bodies are specifically designed for…
…the Holy Spirit.
“Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.” (1 Corinthians 6:13)
I’ve read Paul’s words many times, but this opened my eyes to it in a profoundly new way. Here’s an excerpt from what he wrote:
“Our bodies were perfectly designed to have intimacy with the Lord through the Holy Spirit. Our bodies (not just our spirits or souls) were designed to connect to the Lord.…Our bodies were beautifully designed to connect with God, receive communication from God, feel God’s Presence, sense God’s movement, soak in God’s love, absorb God’s Light.”
Isn’t that beautiful? And it’s so true!
I think I’d always read Paul’s words this way:
Your bodies are not designed for Action A (sexual immorality), but rather they’re designed for Action B (loving and serving the Lord, and doing as the Lord does).
But we can also read Paul’s words this way:
Your bodies are not designed for Union A (sexually immoral oneness with another person), but rather they’re designed for Union B (spiritual oneness with the Lord).
Both readings are correct, and both are important. They are like looking at a diamond from two different angles—two angles, one beautiful diamond. Even so, as I gaze at the diamond from the union angle and consider the foundational reality that our bodies are designed for relationship with God, it adds something that I desperately need, and I think we all do:
First, without it, we will be like people who know a car is designed to drive but who become frustrated because we don’t know a car is designed to run on fuel. It is His love abiding, living, and surging within us from which we love. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Second, the enemy would have us believe that on a practical level, the physical world and the Holy Spirit of God have nothing to do with each other—that heaven and earth never touch. But Paul declares just the opposite! Knowing that our bodies are specifically designed by God for union with God puts everything in proper perspective.
As we get this, our lives come into focus—Christianity comes into focus—including why we would give our lives for another, the glory of our bodies, the sacredness of male and female, the importance of sexual chastity, what marriage and marital sex represent, why the enemy attacks the body and sex, the reality of the gifts of the Spirit, why we pray for supernatural healing, why our desires are so immense, the beauty of the Eucharist, and so much more.
The fingers of God knit us together tenderly, purposefully. He designed every fiber of our bodies for intimate union with Himself. We are where heaven kisses earth.
We are heaven kissing earth.
Stop for a moment and try to take in the concept that your body was specifically designed by God so that He could intimately connect with you and you with Him. What arises for you when you contemplate this? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.
“And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss, and my heart turns violently inside of my chest, and I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us…” – John Mark McMillan
I have a problem of using food to try to settle myself down at the end of a day. I’ve known this about myself for years but haven’t done much about it. In my life, it’s been one of those sins Paul writes to Timothy about, the kind that isn’t outwardly obvious on the face of my life, but that follows behind to judgment (see 1 Timothy 5:24).
Recently, God spoke to me about this: “You don’t need two dinners.”
Like so many other temptations in my life, more food calls to me with a promise. Its call isn’t just “Hey, this will taste good,” any more than sexual temptation used to call to me with “Hey, this will feel good.” Temptation’s call speaks to a deeper, hungrier place than the belly or the groin: It calls to our souls, and it says…
“I am what you need.”
What is one habitual, long-term temptation that calls to you?
Sex? Porn? Media? Work? Worry? Control? Alcohol? Food?
Whatever it is for you, dig deep enough down and you’ll find its stream makes its way into the deepest caverns of your soul—that place where bedrock holds up your life—that place not just of want, but of need.
This is one reason giving up a long-standing sin doesn’t happen by mere resolve. If you found the footer of your house was faulty, you wouldn’t just go and dig it out, or your house would fall down.
Long-standing sins aren’t just removed, they’re replaced.
Graciously, God is not satisfied with our faulty foundations. He wants our lives to be upheld by something (or Someone) substantive enough to weather every storm, even into eternity. And so He points out our faults, tells us we don’t need two dinners, forbids sexual immorality and excessive drink, tells us to let go and trust, commands us to keep the Sabbath, calls sin sin and not something less.
This is where I’m most prone to stumble.
Replacing faulty foundations means first removing the old, and even as God is ready and willing to move into the gap, I’ve found that His presence there doesn’t feel like the old did, and that can leave me feeling vulnerable, like there’s a space.
Of course the old sinful foundation wasn’t strong enough to really hold up the house, but at least for a while it sure felt like it was.
With God, even though it’s surely a fact He is strong enough, that doesn’t mean I always feel it. As a Christian believer, this is where the rubber meets the road. I can say with my lips, I believe He will meet all my needs and satisfy all my hungers, but those words of faith without deeds* is not real faith (see James 2:17, 18). *Translation: Keeping the fridge closed.
I was here a long time ago with sexual temptation. Maybe that’s where you are now, or maybe you’re here with some other persistent temptation. I’m here again, this time with a second dinner.
So pray for me as I practice just eating one dinner. More importantly, pray for me that I’d become more accustomed to bringing that deep and true hunger to the One who said He is true food and true drink (John 6:55). I’ll pray for you, too.
Where have you been looking to faulty foundations to hold up your house? Where have you been taking your hungers? Leave a comment below.
Hungry for more,
What comes to mind when you think about holiness? What about a holy person? What does a holy person do or say?
What comes to mind when you think of love or a loving person? What does he or she do or say?
I ask because it seems to me we are living in an age when people’s perception of God’s holiness is growing increasingly distant from their perception of God’s love, and vice versa.
Some churches, denominations, and movements appear more comfortable focusing on the holiness of God—including His commands, His hatred of sin, and sinful humanity’s need to be reconciled to Him through the cross of Jesus Christ.
On the other extreme are churches, denominations, and movements more comfortable focusing on God’s love—including His affection for all people, His patient compassion for our struggles, and His desire for all to be accepted and loved as demonstrated by His death for us on the cross.
But God’s love is not in a different camp than His holiness. Just as He Himself is One, His love and his holiness are inseparable. We might even say God loves because He is holy, and He is holy because He loves.
In contrast, in our fallen state, we feel a tension between holiness and His love, and so from our limited perspective it feels we must choose between the two at times. For example, when a loved one suffers loneliness and longing because of God’s command to reserve sex for marriage between one man and one woman for life, we may reach a point when upholding this law feels unloving.
“In the name of love, can’t we move the line on holiness?”
And so, we turn a blind eye to Christian singles having sex with their boyfriends or girlfriends, we avoid Jesus’ words equating divorce and remarriage with adultery, or we reinterpret passages of Scripture on homosexual behavior.
But love is not fully love apart from holiness. Holiness maintains that we are the command recipients not the ones giving the commands. We are created not the Creator, we are finite not the Infinite One, we are limited in knowledge not the Omniscient One. God is God and we are not.
Instead of moving the line, we must look to Jesus and run to His cross.
Jesus, the One known for eating and drinking with sinners, taught that anyone who “annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Yes, he rebuked the religious elite for their lack of love and stood between them and the sinners they sought to condemn (see John 8:1-11, for example); but far from dismissing their attempts at holiness, Jesus added, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19, 20, italics added).
What does love look like? Look to the cross of Jesus.
What does holiness look like? Look to the cross of Jesus.
The cross is at once the greatest expression of love and the greatest expression of holiness the universe has ever seen.
And we, God’s people, are called to be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:16) and to love as Christ has loved us (John 13:34, John 15:12). So let us spur each other on to become a people of active holiness and active love—a people of a holy love, a people of a loving holiness, a people whose lives are increasingly cruciform in nature.
Shall we choose love or holiness? We choose both. Come, Lord Jesus, we cling to You.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections. Leave a comment below.
Men, God designed you for a purpose, for a mission.
A hammer is designed to drive nails. That’s its mission. You might say it’s most itself when that’s what it’s doing. Similarly, the male body is crafted by God so men can carry out their mission, and men are most themselves—most alive—when that’s what they’re doing.
What are they designed for? What’s the mission?
To love God and to love others.
Yes, women are designed to love, too, but a woman cannot love as you are designed to (neither can you love in quite the way a woman can). And we are living in a time when loving men are needed perhaps more desperately than ever.
Men, your design through and through is for love. When God dreamed up your sex, He was crafting a creature uniquely outfitted to love.
Don’t believe me?
Genesis 1:26 declares you are made in God’s image. 1 John 4:8 says plainly that God is love. And according to Jesus in Matthew 22:37-39 the most important things to God that you can ever do are love Him and love your neighbor.
Heart and soul, brain and body, head to toe, every fiber of your being was finely tuned to love with a self-giving love.
Do you think of yourself this way? Do you experience yourself that way? Most men most of the time do not. Surveying the culture of our day, watching what men do, listening to what we say, exposing what we think, what would these things say men are designed for?
It’s likely that if we had a way to examine our most subtle thoughts and attitudes, it’s possible we’d find the belief that the goal of our design is primarily about self-preservation and self-satisfaction.
Certainly in the realm of male sexuality, the common belief of our culture (whether spoken or not) is that a man’s sexual anatomy is primarily used to bring him pleasure.*
Oh, brothers! We’ve fallen so far from our true design. The fabric of authentic manhood has atrophied, the truest, most primal beat of a man’s chest has become a faint murmur. We are made for so much more than our own comfort and pleasure!
Christ has come to seek and to save that which is lost (Luke 19:10). He Himself is our model of God’s true intention for man’s design. To paraphrase what He told His closest male friends: “If you want to become like the greatest Man, then give up your life and pour yourself out so others can thrive” (see Matthew 20:26-28).
Consider each member of your body and ask, “Lord, how might I give myself for the sake of another today? Your hands, arms, and chest; your eyes, ears, and mouth; your back, legs, and feet—“Lord, how might I give my strength for the good of others this day?”
Each part of you was designed so that you might love like Jesus loves—with a self-giving, willing-to-sacrifice-myself-for-other’s-good kind of love.
What would it do if a generation of men practiced viewing their bodies this way? What would happen if even just you learned to view your body this way?
I think you might just change the world. I’m certain you’d change at least someone’s world.
Who’s with me?
Leave a comment below.
* There’s no doubt God designed sex to be pleasurable, but by God’s design, even a man’s sexual anatomy is biologically self-giving—literally designed to pour forth his love and life into his bride (an image of Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride the Church). The pleasure of sex was meant not as the primary goal of sex but as a corollary to sex’s primary purpose: Self-giving or self-donation. 1) A husband in essence says to his wife, “This is my body, given for you and only you, until death do us part.” 2) Their mutual act of self-giving produces children for whom the husband and wife will lay down their lives day after day after day. Compared to the common view of sex today that is really about taking something from another for one’s own pleasure, one is such a higher calling for men (and women).