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 drink. And 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.
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.