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.
Question for you: Are you planning to join us on November 10 for God, Sex, and the Meaning of Life with Christopher West and music by Mike Mangione? We hope so. Click here to register.
I find the supposed life and intimacy God wants to intensify absolutely infuriating as a single person. there is no construct, outlet or situation that is authorized in Scripture for singles. I”m sure this is great idea of married folks. But God has left the rest of us out of that equation.
So beautifully said, Josh.
Aaron, the life of many singles in our world is especially difficult, for sure. In other times and places there have been social constructs built into culture where the single life was a valued and respected alternative to married life. But even with 50% of the population being single, there remains a feeling that singleness is kind of a second tier life, a waiting room of sorts for those who aren’t married “yet”. That’s unfortunate, and I think it sets us all up for disappointment.
When I write that I believe God wants to intensify our longing for intimacy, I mean He wants to increase it to the point that no human relationship can satisfy it. Probably a better way of saying this is that we all actually already have that kind of intense desire in us and God wants to uncover it so we feel it. And this so we will bring our longing to Him for satisfaction, so we learn to aim that desire not toward human relationships alone but toward God. Don’t get me wrong, I love being married, but I also know that the image of marriage as the place where all our longing for intimacy is met is false. The equation isn’t and was never intended to be Longing + Marriage = Fulfillment. Marriage is a great gift for sure, but it is not the only option God gives for a good life here and now, and ultimately it is only a sign post pointing to the One marrieds and singles alike still long for. The ones who are left out of the equation are marrieds and singles who insist on looking to marriage for the intimacy only available from Him.
I’m just saying, if anyone reads this, but when I’m horny for lack of a better word my first notion isn’t to crack open the bible, its to have sex with a woman. I feel like married people take their availability for sexual gratification for granted. And sex is also a means of allowing you to be closer to God in a sense because you do know yourself better: mind, body, and soul. Or at least that’s what I thought sex benefited, am I wrong?
Nick, it’s a bit more complicated than that. We would love to have the conversation though, it’s best suited for a phone call though. Give us a call if you want to continue the conversation.