May 24, 2015
Pastor Joe Wittwer
The Sex Talks
# 1: God/Sex
Welcome to the Sex Talks. For the next 5 weeks, we’re going to have naked conversations about our sexuality and what God has to say about it. Don’t worry—we’ll all be fully clothed! But the conversations will be naked, honest, raw. We live in an age of sexual confusion and chaos; we desperately need a sound theology of sex! Fortunately, there is a lot of sexual wisdom in the Bible. Unfortunately, most churches won’t talk about it, or if they do, talk about it badly. Consider this quote.
Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth, and you should save it for someone you love.
Butch Hancock, quoted in Redeeming Sex, by Debra Hirsch, loc 365.
When churches do talk about sex, this is the message they communicate: sex is dirty and sinful and you should save it for someone you love.
ILL: I became a Christian when I was 13 and in the 8th grade–when a young man’s hormones have just kicked in. Through the next five years of junior and senior high school, there was not one sermon in our church on sex; in fact, I don’t think the word was ever uttered in church! It was as though we all pretended that sex was something that good Christians didn’t think or talk about; it was like we had all been supernaturally neutered at conversion!
But what we lacked in church, we more than made up for in youth group! There, pooling our ignorance and guided by our inflamed hormones, we composed a brilliant theology of human sexuality. Looking back, I believe it was a sad mistake that those least qualified to teach on this subject did, while those most qualified were silent.
So I do a full series on this subject every four years because I want our students to hear it from me, and talk about it with you. And students aren’t the only ones who need to hear this.
We live in a sexually crazed and confused culture, and it is literally killing people, wrecking marriages, destroying families, and breaking hearts. We must speak clearly and compassionately, to explain God’s purposes and standards for sex, and to extend God’s mercy and help to those who have failed and are hurting. We want you to know God’s will in this important area, to receive God’s power to do His will, and to experience God’s forgiveness if you’ve failed.
Here’s what we’re going to talk about in this series.
- God/sex: a theology of sex.
- Safe sex: sexual boundaries
- Fantasy sex: pornography and other sexual fantasies
- Confused sex: gender and sexual confusion (LGBTQ)
- Redeemed sex: sexual fulfillment in marriage
Let’s set the foundation by laying out a Biblical theology of sex.
The Big Idea: Sex was God’s idea. He created you a sexual being and wants the very best for you!
Here’s where we’re going in this God/Sex talk: God created sex, God redeemed sex, God established sexual boundaries.
- God created us as sexual beings.
Sex was God’s idea, and He made it good.
The sexual awakening didn’t begin in the 60’s. It began at creation, when Adam woke up from the first surgery and saw what God had fashioned. The story is in Genesis 2. God had created Adam, the first man, but Adam was lonely. And God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” First, God paraded all the animals by Adam, but no suitable helper was found. The words “suitable helper” mean “someone who corresponded” to Adam, someone like himself in every way and yet different; someone with whom he could interact as equals, as peers. The parade of animals wasn’t God’s attempt to convince Adam to be happy with one of them. “See, wouldn’t you like a nice puppy? Man’s best friend, you know—and very low maintenance!” It was just the opposite: God was showing Adam how different he was from everything else, and accentuating Adam’s loneliness. By the time the parade ended, Adam’s loneliness was acute: “There is no one for me.” That’s when God said, “I’ve got a little surprise for you; I think you’ll like it a lot, but I need your cooperation. I want to do a little surgery, and I need to put you to sleep.” Adam agreed, God administered the first anesthesia, and when Adam awoke, he took one look at Eve and said, “Wow! Smokin’ hot!” That’s the literal meaning of the Hebrew words! That was the beginning of the sexual awakening, and the sparks have been flying ever since.
Sex is in the very beginning of the Bible, in the creation. Sex, you see, was God’s idea. He designed us as sexual creatures.
Genesis 1:27-28 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’ God saw all that He had made and it was very good.”
God created us male and female, sexual creatures. Sex is not an accident, or an afterthought; it is an integral part of God’s design. And God looked at His design and said, “It is very good.” After everything else He created, God said that it was good, but after creating male and female, God said it was very good. And after 40 years of marriage, I concur; it is very good! God designed us as sexual creatures; sex is God’s good gift to us.
Some Christians believe that sex was the original sin; they say that Adam and Eve eating the fruit was symbolic of the first sexual act. This leads, of course, to the conclusion that sex is sinful, wrong, dirty. But that is a mistaken view. Mankind’s fall into sin is described in Genesis 3, after the creation stories in Genesis 1-2 in which God created us male and female and commanded us to multiply, and there is only one way that you can obey that command! Adam and Eve were making love long before they ate the forbidden fruit. Sex is not the original sin; it is God’s good gift to us.
God created you as a sexual being. Every cell in your body carries a sexual code, either an XX chromosomal structure if you are a female, or an XY if you are a male. Every cell in your body is sexual. Within weeks after conception, your body begins to produce hormones–androgen for males, and estrogen for females. These stimulate the development and function of the sexual organs, including brain development; affect social behavior and stimulate sexual desire and interest. You are a sexual creature through and through! We become aware of this very early.
ILL: My brother in law, Jared told me about visiting a pastor and his wife who had two children: a precocious 2 ½ year old daughter, and a brand new son. Their daughter was fascinated that her new brother had some parts she didn’t have. Not long after their son was born, the pastor hosted a distinguished elderly missionary in his home. The pastors’ daughter wasted no time asking this elderly missionary, “Do you have a penis?” When he slowly nodded, she told him how remarkable that was because so did her dad and her new brother!
Your sexuality is coded into every cell of your body and is impossible to escape or ignore. This is God’s design! God created you as a sexual creature and said, “it is very good.”
And God’s good gift of sex was given with some clearly defined boundaries. Sex is for marriage. God intends that His good gift be enjoyed by a husband and wife committed to a lifelong relationship with each other. At the end of the creation story, when Adam awakens to behold his wife, the marriage ordinance is given.
Genesis 2:24-25 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
God who created sex describes here its context: one man, one woman, one flesh for a lifetime. God’s good gift is for marriage.
For those who are single and struggling with sexual frustration, please don’t check out yet! I know you might be thinking, “Oh great! I’ve got these strong desires, and you say they’re good, and then tell me that God says ‘No, no, no! Not unless you’re married.’ So what am I supposed to do?” That’s next week’s talk: Safe Sex.
And if you’re gay or if you’re unsure about your sexual orientation, hang on; we’ll talk about that in week 4.
God designed sex; it was His idea; He designed it for marriage, and said it was very good. Why? What are God’s purposes for wiring us the way He did? Here are three purposes for sex.
- For adoration: the expression of marital love.
Our most common euphemism for the sex act is “making love.” And making love is an appropriate name for sex, because God intended the sexual act as a physical expression of love between a married couple. Husband and wife share an act of incredible intimacy and closeness; love is communicated in tender words and caresses that express the lover’s delight with the loved one.
The Bible uses the language of love when talking about sexual desire. The Song of Solomon is one of the most erotic and elegant love poems ever penned. Perhaps someone has told you that it is an allegory of Christ and the Church; that may be true. But first it is simply a love song that was sung at a wedding; a song that drips with desire. I can remember how shocked I was to find it in the Bible, and how fascinated I was–it seemed pretty steamy to me! Listen to a few verses:
Song of Solomon 7:6-8
6 How beautiful you are and how pleasing,
O love, with your delights!
7 Your stature is like that of the palm,
and your breasts like clusters of fruit.
8 I said, “I will climb the palm tree;
I will take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like the clusters of the vine,
the fragrance of your breath like apples,
Song of Solomon 8:6-7
6 Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of his house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.
Pretty erotic stuff; how many of you can hardly wait to get home and read this whole book? All this erotic, steamy, sexual desire, and it’s all in the language of love. God’s gift of sex was intended to express the deep love of husband and wife.
Song of Solomon also has some stuff that has always struck me a little funny.
Song of Solomon 4:1-2
How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from Mount Gilead.
2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.
God’s good gift was for adoration: to express the deep love of husband and wife.
- For recreation: the enjoyment of physical pleasure.
God’s good gift was intended for pleasure. Sex is fun! It is enjoyable even without getting those poppers on Amazon! And God intended it to be that way. Remember, He is the one who designed your body. All those nerve endings that produce such powerful feelings of pleasure: God’s idea! He could have made it drudgery, or a duty; instead he made it a delight.
ILL: I remember explaining to our children how babies are conceived. They couldn’t believe it! “Gross!” And then one of them said, “Well, you’ve only done it a couple of times, right? I mean, just enough to have us.”
“Well, not exactly,” I said. “We do it lots. We enjoy it.”
“Gross!” They couldn’t believe that anyone could enjoy something like that. We carefully explained that God made it fun, so that married couples would enjoy making love.
I’m glad God did it the way He did! If sex were just for procreation, to produce children, then I suspect that it wouldn’t be such fun; I mean, the rest of the birthing process isn’t exactly fun, is it ladies? If God’s sole purpose for sex was to produce children, then I imagine He would have made it far less enjoyable. “Well dear, I hate to do it, but if we’re ever going to have children, we’ve got to, so let’s get it over with!”
Just like the Bible uses the language of love to describe sex, it also uses the language of pleasure. Just one example:
Proverbs 5:18-19, “May you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer–may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.”
Notice the language of pleasure: rejoice, be satisfied and be captivated.
Not only was sex God’s idea, but the physical pleasure of sex was too. Your body has the capacity for sexual pleasure because God made it so. God’s good gift was intended for pleasure. Adoration, recreation, and…
- For procreation: the extension of the human race.
God’s good gift was intended to produce children. This is obvious. At creation, God commanded them to be fruitful and increase in number.
Genesis 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”
There is only one way I know that you can be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth: you’ve got to have sex! God’s good gift was intended to produce children in the context of a loving marriage.
So here are three purposes for sex: God created us as sexual creatures for adoration, recreation and procreation; to express love, to experience pleasure, and to extend the human race. Sex was God’s idea. And He said, “It is very good.”
- God redeemed our sexuality in Jesus.
So if sex is God’s idea, if God created us as sexual creatures and said, “It is very good,” what happened? We were designed for good. Why is it that what God intended to express love is often purely selfish? Why is it that what God intended to give pleasure has often produced pain and heartache? Why is it that what God intended to extend life has often resulted in death. Sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, are the epidemics, the plagues of our age. The tragedies of our sexual chaos include widespread promiscuity; millions of teen pregnancies, unwed mothers, and abortions; sexual addictions; a multi-billion dollar pornography industry that fuels everything from sado-masochism to pedophilia, incest, and rape. Add to that confusion about sexual orientation or gender identity, and the heartbreak of adultery and divorce, and you have a culture caving in on itself. It’s a mess! So what happened?
In Genesis 1-2, we read that God created us as sexual creatures and spiritual creatures. He made us for a relationship with Himself, and for relationships with each other. We were designed for good. But in Genesis 3, the first human beings decided they wanted to be in charge. They declared their independence from God and disobeyed Him. Christian theologians call this “the fall”—our fall into sin and away from God. As a consequence of the fall, we were separated from God and we, and everything around us began to die. Sin polluted, distorted and broke everything, including our relationships with God and each other, and our sexuality. We were damaged by evil. We are broken human beings.
In our brokenness, we sought to replace God with other things: idols. We made idols first of ourselves, and we made an idol of sex.
ILL: There is a story in the book of Exodus in the Old Testament. Moses has led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. They are on their way to the Promised Land. Moses went up on the mountain to meet with God. After 40 days, the people grow restless, and ask Moses’ brother, Aaron, to make them a new god to lead them. Aaron made an idol in the shape of a bull, and said, “Here is your god who led you out of Egypt.” Then they indulged in a sexual orgy.
What was going on? The bull was a common symbol of fertility that was used in many ancient religions. In these religions, the gods were worshiped by having sex, often with a temple prostitute. Sex became a god.
Sound familiar? Things haven’t changed much in 30 centuries. We’re still worshiping at the altar of sex…and it’s a lot of bull!
We are broken human beings. Our idolatrous sexuality is broken and needs to be healed, just like our spirituality is broken and needs to be healed. Here’s the good news. The God we abandoned has not abandoned us, but pursued us. God Himself became one of us, a human being, so that we could see Him, and touch Him, and hear Him. This is Jesus who restores us to wholeness. When Jesus was crucified, He wasn’t a victim—He was a sacrifice. No one took His life; He gave His life. He took all our sin, all our brokenness, and paid for it with His life. Said another way, He paid our debt, so we are fully forgiven. And He sent His Spirit to live inside us and empower us to live new lives, a life to the full!
How many of you would like to live life to the full? Would you like to have full and healthy relationships with others and with God? That is why Jesus came.
John 10:10 I came that they might have life and have it to the full.
Jesus came to redeem us, to bring us back to God, to give us eternal life—life to the full. He came to redeem every part of you, including your broken sexuality.
You are a sexual creature through and through, and you are a spiritual creature through and through, and the two are connected. The Hebrew word yada (“to know”) is used both for sexual intercourse as well as our relationship with God.
Genesis 4:1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain…
Adam knew Eve—a nice way of saying that they had sex. Making love is a deep and unique kind of “knowing.” The same Hebrew word, yada, is used in:
Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.
God chose us to know and believe Him. There is a sexual knowing, and a spiritual knowing. To know (vertical) and to know (horizontal).
We talk about this all the time: Jesus said the most important thing is to love God with all we’ve got and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Love of God and love of neighbor are two sides of the Great Commandment; two sides of the same coin. To love (vertical) and to love (horizontal). To know and to know. You were created for relationships. That’s why I can say that there is something deeply spiritual about sex. Our capacity for relationships, our longing for love, our identity as male and female, all point us to something beyond ourselves; they point us to God.
You are a sexual being and a spiritual being, and the two cannot be separated. In this series of talks we want to bring the two together, and submit our sexuality to the God who created and redeemed us.
The earliest Christian confession is “Jesus is Lord.” If you are a follower of Jesus, then all of your life is under His Lordship. He is your leader in everything—not just your spirituality, but your sexuality too. He redeemed both, and expects to be Lord of both. As you submit to His leadership, your sexuality is in the process of being restored to wholeness. But it is a process: all of us are in various stages of being restored to wholeness. We’re all works in progress.
God created you as a sexual creature and said, “It is very good.”
God redeemed your sexuality in Christ. This too is very good.
- God established sexual boundaries for our good.
So what does our redeemed sexuality look like? It means we bring our sexuality under the Lordship of Jesus, and we live within the sexual boundaries that God established for our good.
Your sex drive needs a driver. And it’s something more than those Cirillas adult store accessories. Our sexuality is a central part of our humanity. It’s not everything—it’s part of us, but not all of us. It affects all of me, but it’s not the sum total of all of me. I am much more than my sexual drive. Let me tell you some things that are true about me. I am human being, and we’re complex creatures. (Tell your neighbor, “You’re complex!”) I am a human being, and I am created in the image of God, and so are you. And I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Jesus is my Lord, my Leader; I follow Him. And He has redeemed me, all of me, including my sexuality. So the most important thing you need to know about me is not that I’m a man (true), or that I’m heterosexual (important), but that I’m a follower of Jesus. My identity is shaped first by my spirituality rather than my sexuality. As a follower of Jesus, my sex drive has a driver: it’s Jesus. Jesus is Lord.
God gave some sexual boundaries for our good. I want to emphasize that last phrase: they are for our good. God is not some celestial killjoy, who gave us an amazing sex drive and then said, “no, no, no.” He gave us an amazing sex drive and said, “This is very good when you use it as I intended.” That’s what the boundaries are about.
- Sex is for marriage.
- No sex outside of marriage.
- No pre-marital sex.
- No adultery.
- No unchecked lust.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll unpack some of these boundaries. But I want you to remember that God gave them for your good. God is for you, not against you. God wants the best for you!
ILL: On Monday, James Hinchcliffe crashed his race car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Watch this. He slammed into a wall at more than 220 mph; the impact registered at 125 G’s! Amazingly, he lived. Why? Because the wall was one of the new SAFER barriers made of foam, designed to absorb the impact. They designed that wall to save lives! And it saved James Hinchcliffe.
God put some sexual walls up. He did it because He loves you. He did it to save your life! He did it because He wants the very best for you.
And here is some more good news. The God who gave the boundaries also gives you the power to live within them. The Holy Spirit will fill and empower you to live this new life in Christ.
God created you as a sexual creature and said, “It is very good.”
God redeemed your sexuality in Christ. This too is very good.
God established sexual boundaries for your good.
Sex/God—good, good, good.