For anyone wanting to love well, learning to say ‘no’ to sexual urges is a must.
Just as important, though, is learning to say ‘yes’.
If you were to poll random people on the street what they think Christians believe about sex, I’d wager most people would begin with what they understand Christians are against. They’d bring up Christianity’s prohibition against sex before marriage, homosexual sex, and divorce, to name a few.
More troubling, if you were to ask Christians what Christianity teaches about sex, I think you’d hear something pretty similar, perhaps with a more positive slant: Sex is supposed to be saved for marriage, marriage is intended for one man and woman, and marriage is meant to be for life.
To my ears, it still sounds as though the focus is that there’s something bad to be avoided, and maybe even a subtle concession that it’s so hard to avoid the bad that a lot of people don’t, won’t, or can’t.
Glimpse into the sex lives of Christian husbands and wives, and you’ll find many (not all) who when they’re honest still feel like sex is something a little bad—but a bad thing they’re allowed to do because they’re doing it within marriage. (Consider that for a moment, and it’ll make your head spin.) You’ll also find sexless marriages, hidden pornography, sexual manipulation, and couples turning to advice columns about how to “spice up” their sex lives.
All this points to the reality that we’ve been duped. Somewhere someone sold us all on a faulty vision of sex, and now we’ve lived so long with it that we can’t remember what the original goodness was or why it was good. Where Christian sexual morality still stands, it does so like an old empty and abandoned banquet hall. In the corner sits a dusty record player, the vinyl spinning on it skips out one part of one tired tune.
The tune—the entire tune—plays on, though. It resounds across the heavens never forgotten. It began before creation, was set spinning into beautiful motion in the Garden, crescendos at the Cross, and though veiled, echoes in life around us every day.
For all of our sakes, we have to learn to hear this tune again, and to join in the dance.
We can begin with this: Your desire for sex is good.
And instead of wanting to extinguish your desire, God wants to intensify it.
If that alarms you, let me make this clarification: God wants to intensify your sexual desire, not your sinful desire. Remember, they are not the same thing. (If you need help distinguishing the two, contact Regeneration.) One points through human experience, toward heaven. The other points to human experience as though it were heaven.
When a person looks deep enough into their romantic and sexual desire, he or she finds longing for relational intimacy, a yearning to be known, a cry for faithfulness or comfort, an ache to be beautiful or strong or good, a desire for more than just sex (or marriage, for that matter).
Christopher West puts it this way: Eros (from which we get the word erotic) is actually our desire for infinity, meant to launch us heavenward, to union with God Himself.
So if you’re struggling with sex or sexual desire in your life, by all means get help with that, but as you do, keep looking deeper to discover what it is you really desire. And let what you uncover lead you to God.