When was the last time you thought of your biological sex—your manhood or womanhood—as a gift?
When I was in college, in the throes of my habitual unwanted sexual behaviors, I remember hearing a pastor teach that integrity means acting like the same person wherever you are, whether at church on a Sunday morning, at work on Monday, or alone in front of your computer on a Saturday night. I get what he was saying, but today I think he missed the real essence of Christian integrity.
Integrity is not first and foremost about behaving like the same person, rather, it’s simply being one.
Sin dis-integrates humanity—it breaks us apart from ourselves, from each other, and from God—and so, results in death. Jesus came to re-integrate us—to restore our union with God, each other, and ourselves.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about sexual integrity through the lens of human integrity itself. Meaning, what does it mean to be re-integrated?
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the foundational reality that our bodies are designed for God and God’s will, not for sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:13-14, 18-20). The enemy would have us believe that the pleasure sexual sin produces is a sign either that our bodies are evil (a faulty view held by some in the church) or that sin isn’t actually evil (a faulty view held by many in the culture). Instead, the fact that we may feel pleasure when we sin is simply a sign of our dis-integration, and so a sign of our need for Christ.
Make sure you check out Becoming a Woman of Sexual Integrity and Becoming a Man of Sexual Integrity. These quick video series are an introduction to becoming more whole in the area of Sexual Integrity!
Then last week, I wrote about the role our emotions play in sexual integrity. To be sexual is to be relational, and to be relational is to be emotional. It is our vulnerabilities that allow us to connect with one another. And so, growing in sexual integrity requires growing in emotional health. If we do not allow Christ and others access to our wounds, pains, joys, desires, and longings, then our pursuit of sexual integrity will amount to little more than behavior management techniques.
Re-integration also requires we make peace with the fact that we are sexed creatures. Human beings are made male and female. The first characteristic Genesis 1:27 gives about this creature made in God’s image and likeness is their sexed biology: “male and female He created them.” This does not mean that God is male or female (that would be to make Him in our image), but that there is something in our maleness and femaleness that images the Creator God.
If this is true, then it follows that the enemy of God would hate maleness and femaleness, and that he would do all he could to mar, blur, twist, soil, or erase them from the earth. We can see this historically especially through the degradation and exploitation of women at the hands of men. We can also see this at work in violent depictions of what “real” masculine strength looks like or in hyper-sexualized depictions of what “real” feminine beauty looks like. And most recently, we can see this in the relatively new concept of the “non-binary” self, and also in the rise of young men ingesting estrogen and young women ingesting testosterone and undergoing surgery to have healthy parts of themselves amputated.
Whether these specific examples hit close to home for you or not, each of us has been impacted by the enemy’s relentless assault on God’s image revealed through man and woman. Perhaps for you it has been felt most in a gnawing sense that you do not feel at home in your body. Or perhaps you have been hearing the enemy’s subtle but relentless accusations that you don’t measure up as a man or woman. Maybe you’ve been living under the lie that men can’t control themselves sexually or that women’s intuition or emotions are a liability. Perhaps you’ve felt the assault most keenly in how you feel about your own gender, perhaps in how you feel about the other.
How comfortable are you with your own manhood or womanhood? Do you see your biological sex as a blessing or a liability to yourself and others? Have there been times or places in your life when you’ve sensed it is not good to be a man or a woman?
I don’t ask any of these questions to shame or accuse. (To be fair, some of these questions touch a nerve in me.) I bring them up because sexual integrity includes living at peace—a joyous, full-of-dignity peace—with ourselves as men or as women.
Can you hear the voice of Jesus speaking to you today? “I came to seek and to save that which is lost among you and within you. I have not come to condemn you, but to save you” (see Luke 19:10 and John 3:17). Jesus became human to restore our full humanity, including the likeness of God imaged in our maleness and femaleness.
Question: Where do you see dis-integration in the area of being a man or a woman? Can you see any examples in Scripture of Jesus seeking to re-integrate a man or woman’s sense of dignity?
Make sure you check out the 4 part podcast series on Sexual Integrity here with Episode 3, Pursuing Sexual Integrity
Another great deposit of truth into my life and our community. Thanks Josh. One of the highest compliments that I can pay you is that I find myself reading (and commenting) on your posts even when I’m (supposedly) too busy to stop and read your stuff. Here’s to hoping that I continue to engage with your writings, and ignore my impulse to get to that later. Thanks for blessing me/us today.
Gender is a construct of an oppressive patriarchal society!!