I’ve been thinking about sex a lot lately. (Get your chuckle over with, then continue). The absence of it, the presence of it, and the exploitation of it are each critical issues in our lives as we are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
However, I’m not about to say what you think I’m about to say.
Our culture has somehow become convinced that having a fulfilling sexual experience (or series of experiences) is the pinnacle of being alive.
I’m becoming more and more convinced that most of the debates we have about sexual orientation as well as the issues we have in marriage center around this sex-centric idea.
Celibacy is compared to torture.
Asking someone to avoid films and programming that include sexual content (seemingly impossible to do) is like asking them to become Amish.
Why? Frankly, it’s because intercourse = existence.
God created sex and created it good, and in the proper context it’s better than anything that we could invent on our own. I understand that I’m writing this post from the perspective of someone who has the socially-acceptable set of sexual circumstances (married, committed, heterosexual) in which to live and that there are many people who don’t have those circumstances who would say “Step in my shoes for one day and you wouldn’t write this post.”
I appreciate that. However, it doesn’t change my conviction.
The most spiritually healthy thing we can do is to rob sex of it’s all-consuming power by putting it in its proper spiritual place.
Here are three realities I believe we must use to return sex to its rightful place:
- Sex is a gift, and not every gift is for everyone. Married folks, can we stop using sex as a bargaining chip or as grounds for termination? Single folks, could we consider for a moment that sex is not a relationship-building activity, but a gift given to a relationship that has a deeper commitment? Celibacy until marriage may sound medieval, but I get the feeling that this is tied more deeply to our “freedom of gratification” styled worldview than our actual human needs. There is a reason that Paul identifies celibacy as the optimum scenario, because he understands sex doesn’t function well for everyone.
- Sex does not lead to happiness, but joy comes in contentment. If we are living so that our every sexual need is being met, we miss out on the goodness of contentment and simplicity. Simplicity is nearly impossible when the relationship (or lack thereof) that engages in sex-for-satisfaction adds layer upon layer of complexity. Joy comes when we delay that which everyone tells us we’re entitled to, in order to remind ourselves how little we need it in the light of who God is.
- Sex occupies space in the soul that belongs to other things. From personal experience, when I am not consciously monitoring my thoughts and become consumed with a particular thought-line such as sex, there is little space for anything else. We only have so much hard drive space, and our brains need to be shaped around things that are “good…lovely” (Phil. 4:7-8). This doesn’t mean that we should NEVER give our thoughts to sex, but in our culture there is enough external stimulus to keep our brains completely occupied for quite a while. Where is space for thinking on justice? On prayer? On Scripture? The problem isn’t either/or thinking – the problem is balance.
These are incomplete thoughts, rambling on a Friday, but hopefully they make sense. Be well my friends.