Sex is not about sex – part 2

Stafford_Queen_Bed

We really do have a sex problem.

Yesterday we said that sex is deeper than a right or an identity. Today I want to take a look at another harmful approach to sex: Appetite.

If we’re honest, our culture has trained us to view sex as an appetite:  If you’re hungry, you should eat.  If you’re thirsty, you should drinkAnd if you feel sexy …

This is a natural craving, we reason, and it would be wrong to impose some sort of frustrating restraint on such an ordinary part of our humanity. This has a ring of truth to it, but the question is this: Is it possible that the Executive Director of the universe knows more than we do about how we are wired?

C.S. Lewis points out that the sex craving has  been twisted well beyond the abuses of other natural cravings. Of course we need to eat. But imagine living in a culture where the most viewed websites on the internet involved people watching covered plates of food slowly being exposed to reveal juicy pieces of meat and potatoes. Or close-up shots of people slowly chewing their pork chop. Imagine going to jobs where safeguards had to be put in place to keep people from wasting time viewing these illicit food-fests during work hours. Surely you would conclude something had gone very wrong with the appetite for food. And yet that is precisely where we find ourselves with sex.

There is something unique about sex. We really have believed a set of lies, and it’s twisting us in ways we don’t realize.

Consider “solo sex”. Multitudes of unmarried people establish the habit of “meeting their own needs” whenever the craving arises. I’m not going to enter into what I consider a fruitless debate discussing the theological or philosophical acceptability of the practice. I’m very aware of the arguments of leaders on both sides of the issue. I try to stay as clear as the Bible is clear, and remain honest about where the Bible is not clear. And there is no clear prohibition. At the same time, I feel the need to ask the wisdom and life questions. What is wisdom? What will produce life?

The porn industry rightfully takes its share of the blame for the twisting of our sexual habits, but what if there are other roots at the bottom of this problem? Take away the porn, and solo sex can still ruin all sorts of lives and marriages. Long after the last image was viewed one can have a rolodex of images and fantasies in their heads. Porn sobriety is not just about quitting porn, it’s about choosing to express oneself sexually in the ways God intended.

What so many unmarried people do no seem to realize is this: if you have a sex-lust problem before marriage, you will have a sex-lust problem after marriage. Marriage is absolutely not the antidote to a sex-lust problem. There is research that finds that after long periods of solo sex, some men cannot perform in a relationship. That means there are actually young men who are destroying their future marriages now, by training their bodies and souls to approach sex with the functional purpose of “getting my needs met” whenever I feel the urge. And here’s the problem. How is a man or a woman who has spent years establishing the habit of looking out for #1 supposed to get married and know how to switch gears.

Real marriage is not about getting my needs met.

Which is why sex is not about sex.

It’s deeper.

We bear the incredible image of our God. Which means when we give ourselves away, we thrive. When we seek our happiness, we wither. Sex itself was created for so much more than we have realized. It is an intimate occasion where two people, who have lowered their guards, and dropped their defenses, and given up their rights, and ceased seeking their own, have mutually decided to serve and love and cherish one other. To give the other the desires of their hearts. The beauty of course, as any couple can attest, is that the greatest sex on earth is when this “mutualing” takes place.

We are wired for encounter, because our Father is an encountering God.

We are wired to serve, because our King washes feet.

We are wired to wait, because our Lord is waiting for a union with us that he calls a marriage supper.

We are wired to give ourselves away, because our redeemer went on a tree where he was broken so that we could be whole.

I assure you, the reason sex is so often twisted is because it is so uniquely loaded with the potential to reveal the nature of a radically surprising and delightful God. Will you let him be the Lord of your sexuality? You will not be sorry.

Sex is not about sex – part 1

Stafford_Queen_Bed

Sex.

Of course you’re still reading.

But it’s not just about sex.

In the culture we live in, you can’t really become a follower-lover-apprentice of Jesus without confronting the sex questions head-on. And Jesus wants to be the Lord of your sex life.

We have a real challenge because we tend to gravitate toward harmful approaches to the subject of sex.  I’ll hit a couple today and more later. 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 speaks straight to this subject if you want to check it out.

Some of us view sex as a rightNobody should tell me what to do with my body, we reason. You should know that these thoughts are nothing new. In the first century the apostle Paul wrote a letter to people at Corinth who argued, “All things are lawful for me.” (6:12)

But not everything is wise. At some point, the wise person starts asking better questions than is it wrong? Does it put you on the path of wisdom? Does it produce life? Not everything lines up with how God made you.

“The body is not meant for sexual immorality.” (6:13)

Hold this thought because here is where the subject gets uncomfortable. Here’s where my friends start to ask me, what about homosexuality? This brings up another approach to sex: sex as an identity. What about those of us who feel like we were born gay? What do I say to the many people who come to me and assure me that they did not choose this? I believe them. In a world where homosexuals have often suffered unspeakable pain, I do not believe that most people simply chose this orientation.

But then I cannot run from the clarity of Scripture: “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, not idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality … will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

We really need to get a little more honest about the stumbling block of Christianity. It’s not just the gay issue; it’s the sex issue. Think about the command against adultery. One partner. In marriage. Period. Go find a good evolutionary biologist and open up that can of worms. He might laugh in your face. I have had people say, Mike, get real. From a purely biological standpoint, we are not wired to be with only one person. Christianity puts a requirement on us that we are destined to violate.

I know! And yet the Executive Director of the universe claims authority over our bodies the biologist does not have.

And that’s the point. It’s not worth arguing about what comes “natural” to me. Because regardless of how I was born, Jesus teaches that I must be “born again.” (John 3:3) I feel like I was born to be with thousands of women. Seriously. Yet God says that I am to be faithful to one wife. Regardless of how I was born, I must be born again and learn the way of Jesus.

So what do I say to those of us who are struggling with same-sex attraction? Or polygamy? How did this happen? I’m not sure. It’s probably the combination of many factors. Upbringing. Genetics. Decisions. Life circumstances. If you take it back far enough we end up in a Garden where everything got thrown off. Some of us are prone to anxiety. Some of us are prone to greed. And some people may be prone to various manifestations of sexual immorality. Yet the Bible teaches that we do not thrive when we live there. Following Jesus means we allow only one Person to assign our rights and define our identity, and that is God Himself.

Does that mean I  have to line up my sexuality to the will of God? Yes. Is it easy? No. Is it a quick fix? No. Do all kinds of people “try to change”, but then fall back into unbiblical lifestyles? Yes. It happens with homosexuality all the time. And anxiety. And anger. And greed. And heterosexual immorality. It’s not just a gay issue. But don’t miss the 1 Corinthians 6:11 hope: “And such were some of you.”

Mike, this is so unrealistic. I know. I’ll always look at sex as my right, until I look to the One who gave up his rights on a tree so I could have life itself. I’ll always live out of what comes natural, until I gaze upon the One who gave up his natural life so that I can experience eternal life in the deepest chambers of my soul. But it’s odd; when I look in his direction – when I really gaze with trust, I change.

And it’s the amazing promise of Jesus to help us become.

I dare you to become.

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For more of my thoughts on homosexuality check out a previous blog here.