Our society is soaked in sex. It's everywhere. It's exciting. Sometimes we, as Christians, get caught up in the obsession, accepting definitions from our culture over the Bible, but it's seldom a good thing.
We live in a fallen world. Our relationships, our minds, and our bodies are imperfect. Of course our sexualities are too. Regardless of our tendencies in attraction, our gender or our marital status, we all sin sexually.
There are so many perversions of sexuality pervasive in our culture. It's tempting to shun sex altogether. But sex is not inherently bad. In fact, it is a good gift from God- designed for a specific context and function.
Let's talk about sex
We need to talk. Church is a place where sex education needs to happen. Not necessarily the awkward how and what, but definitely the why. We can't assume that everyone will naturally pick up a biblical theology of sex if we never address the topic. If we are to stay true to the Bible and true to God's good design, we will need to be countercultural.
The problem is we tend to adopt the beliefs of the surrounding culture if we see no reason to do otherwise. Being vocal about sexual ethics isn't just about the latest political issues. It's also about the battles that were fought long ago. They are quieter now, but not because they've been defeated.
Divorce, de facto relationships, sex before marriage, infidelity, homosexuality, pornography, and a whole raft of other sexual and related issues are things that don't go away if you ignore them.
Sex in context
We can denounce evil until we're blue in the face. We can judge what's right and wrong. But if you're anything like me you'll know that knowing something is wrong doesn't mean you'll stop it.
Shame and guilt only get us so far.
We need a strong belief in the proper context for sex. Before we say 'no' to alternatives, we need to say a big 'yes' to something.
What is God's purpose for sex? By God's grace sex is pleasurable. However, we short-change it when we say this is its primary purpose. Sex is not about self. It is not about gaining approval. It is not about self-expression or self-gratification. Deep down we know this. We loathe rape. It is the ultimate sexual expression of selfishness.
Our culture values love. Many people would say that sex is best in a loving context. However, none of us understand love the way God does. The most loving use of our sexuality is in the context that God has designed it for.
Sex is for marriage.
It is a strong way to strengthen the bond between a man and a woman who have promised to stick together through thick and thin.
It is an expression of vulnerability, of trust and intimacy.
It is a beautiful way to serve each other.
It can also produce babies, which is great. Sex used well is a tool for producing a strong unity between two people, and expression of love, which helps to produce a good environment for raising children.
Sex is good, not God
If you're not having sex, you're missing out. What's wrong with you?
This often seems to be the attitude of western secular culture.
Implicitly Christians adopt the same view, just more subtly. We believe sex is for marriage, so we worship marriage.
They would make a great couple.
Why don't you find a nice Christian wife?
Met any nice boys at church?
Is there something inherently second-rate about singleness? Is celibacy a disease?
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 about marriage and singleness. They each have their advantages and disadvantages, but both are equal. Jesus was the perfect man, without being married. Marriage is not a more holy or better status.
Think of sex like cake, or going to the beach. These things are good, they enrich our lives, we (most of us) like them. But eating cake does not fulfil us. Not going to the beach isn't the be all and end all.
If you want to get married, that's good. If you want to stay single, that's great. But if you fall in between, where you have one but want the other, count your blessings.
You are deeply blessed, regardless of your current circumstances. You still have innumerable riches in Christ. We have inexpressible joy because of God, not because of sexual expression.
And because God never fails, neither can our joy.
Matthew Joils was created by God and he is In Christ. He is studying toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Filmmaking at the University of Canterbury. He is involved in the Christian Union on Campus. Sometimes he earns money in the hospitality industry; sometimes he does theatre stuff, gardens, and bakes.
Matthew Joils' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/matthew-joils.html