Biblical Sexuality and Sexual Purity

Date: April 13, 2014
Study: In His Image: Biblical Manhood, Womanhood, and Relationships
Teacher: Lawson Hembree

REVIEW
Biblical Manhood-The essence of Biblical masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.
Biblical Womanhood- The essence of Biblical femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.
Biblical Marriage– The sexual and covenantal union of a man and a woman in life-long allegiance to each other alone, as husband and wife, with a view to displaying Christ’s covenant relationship to his blood-bought church.

INTRODUCTION

When it comes to teaching on and talking about sex at church, it’s hard to imagine a topic that is at the same time more awkward and more important.

Awkward because of the way our culture has sensationalized the sexual experience and saturated our minds with it’s unrealistic and yet tantalizing images; awkward because sex between married couples is personal but not exactly private—we all sort of politely pretend sex doesn’t happen, and at the same time happy to celebrate someone getting pregnant and the birth of each new baby!

But at the same time it’s important. In the age of AIDS, STDs, abortion, and addictions, sex, when perverted, has the ability to forever alter and destroy lives. Important because it stands at the center of our experience of what it means to be married; important because more than anything else in this life, it gives expression to a physical intimacy and pleasure and joy that ultimately points beyond itself, to the intimacy and pleasure and joy we will know for all eternity in union with Christ. In fact, sexuality is so important that a whole book of the Bible, Song of Solomon, was dedicated to it.

Unfortunately, the church in general has disregarded a healthy theology related to sexuality beyond the “don’t do this” or “don’t do that” approach. Few churches, youth groups, or even Christian parents take the time to instruct young people on sexual purity from a gospel perspective. Combine these two factors with a hypersexual culture, and you have a generation of young men and women with a flawed view of love and sexuality as well as an increased bondage and addiction to sexual sin.

Since it is such an important and often overlooked topic, we are going to spend some time talking about sexuality from a biblical perspective. Why did God create sexual intimacy?  What is it for? And how do we protect and cultivate that intimacy in marriage? 

BIBLICAL SEXUALITY

Why did God create sex?  God obviously has a purpose for sexual intimacy in marriage. Remember the definition of “one flesh” when talking about marriage: the physical, relationship, emotional, and spiritual merging of the husband and wife’s life together. Sex provides a physical, outward expression of the overall union that marriage creates.

Based on Scripture, there are three aspects of God’s purpose for sex in marriage:

  1. Expression of the One-Flesh Union Between Husband and Wife (Genesis 2:24; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)
    The first purpose is that God intends sex in marriage to be a healthy expression of intimate union, in which each spouse gives himself or herself to the other, for the other’s good.  God cares not only who we love, but how we love.  It is not to be in a passionate lust, that uses another for our own selfish pleasure, but in passionate love, that does not so much seek its own pleasure, but gives itself for the pleasure of the other and finds its pleasure there.Obviously, this runs counter to what our culture tells us sex is all about. Between pornography, romantic novels, and a general sensationalization of sexuality, our culture has sent us on a wild goose chase after the perfect sex life.  And if a married couple’s sex life isn’t like the unrealistic cultural picture, there must be a problem. This leads many couples to grow frustrated with themselves and each other, leading to the temptation to turn elsewhere: either to the ease of pornography and masturbation, or to the unreality of romance fiction, or to other lovers, be they other people, jobs, or responsibilities as parents.

    But the good news is that our culture has sex wrong. Rather than a pornographic pursuit of ecstasy, the Bible presents sex as a picture of the intimate union between a husband and wife. What that means is that there are as many different kinds of great sex as there are aspects to your relationship. Sex is a lot like a mirror, reflecting physically all the different aspects and moods and expressions of your union. And that’s good news, because it means that sex always has a place within a marriage.

    If sex is a picture of the marriage union, then that has another important implication: sex isn’t so much a solution to problems in a marriage (other than the problem of sexual temptation), as it is a display of the state of your union. Sex is much more like a thermometer than a thermostat. Too often, couples want to use sex to overcome a lack of intimacy or a conflict in communication. But the fact is, sex is only going to display what’s already there. Often the solution to lack of intimacy stems from bad communication or neglect.

    Communication and sex are inseparable. It is essential that a husband and wife be communicating, admiring, affirming, and encouraging each other constantly. They should use their words, actions, and knowledge of each other to constantly create intimacy, both inside and throughout the rest of the day. Seek to touch each other’s hearts and minds, before touching each other’s bodies.

    In order to protect and guard this incredible God-given gift of sex, couples need to be vigilant and deliberate so as not to neglect it and each other. This involves planning, strategy, intentionality, and communication. So when you get married, enjoy sex to the glory of God!

     

  2. Pleasure (Song of Solomon)
    The reason why so many people are drawn to having sex is because it brings great pleasure to those who are partaking in it. This pleasure comes from the delight that comes in admiring the beauty of your spouse, the satisfaction that comes in being intimate with the other, and the enjoyment that comes from partaking in physical love with your spouse.People have sex because they enjoy it. God has given this to Christians as a gift for us to find great delight in within our marriages. This is sex for the glory of God.  As awkward as it might be to fit these two ideas together—sex (because we find it to be so private) and the glory of God (because it is such a theological idea)—God intends to bring these both together within marriage.

    Most of us associate sex with this reason.  When we think about having sex, we think about the pleasure and satisfaction we will get from the experience.  But if that is your only disposition toward sex (i.e., to get pleasure for ourselves), that is fundamentally selfish. Sex should not be fundamentally selfish, but selfless; you should enter into the experience more interested in pleasing your spouse rather than pleasing yourself.  While it is true that you will get great pleasure and satisfaction from the experience, that shouldn’t be your primary goal.

  3. Procreation (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 127:3-5)
    The third purpose for sex in marriage is procreation. God commands us in the very beginning of time, during the creation account, to “be fruitful and multiply”.  It is one of our primary directives. Secondly, God continually speaks of children as a blessing and a good gift from Him. Children are consistently celebrated in Scripture.  As such, marriage should include children.[Note: It is often common today for couples to have difficulty having children. A couple’s struggles with infertility is in God’s sovereign hands. If a couple desires children and are trying to have children then they are obeying God’s commands.  Some struggling couples wonder if God has cursed them because they have tried, and tried, and been unable to conceive. In His sovereignty, God has a reason for a couple’s infertility. Fortunately, there are several options available today for couples facing this trial, including adoption. It is always essential to trust God, even though it is hard in circumstances like infertility.]

SEXUAL PURITY

Sexual oneness that been specifically created for marriage alone. Since God created sexual intimacy in order to provide a picture of the marital union, then it should not surprise us that Satan hates this beautiful picture that displays God’s glory and will go to great lengths to deface it. As Christians, married or not, we must seek to protect the reputation of Christ and the truth that sexual intimacy inside the covenant of marriage proclaims. This can be done number of ways.

  1. Flee Sexual Immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18-20; Matthew 5:27-30; Proverbs 6:20-7:27; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7)
    The Bible repeatedly warns of the dangers of unbiblical sexual acts. Any type of sexual oneness outside of marriage clearly transgresses God’s commands for holy living. With the picture of biblical sexuality painted above, sexual immorality is serious because it lies about the intended purpose of sex as well as distorting the relationship between Christ and His church and damaging us. Immorality includes not only physical acts with another person, but also virtual infidelity through pornography, sexting, or the like or even cultivating intimate, emotional relationships with members of the opposite sex we aren’t pursuing.The frontline for the battle against sexual immorality is our thought life. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 5 when He says “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” An act of external sexual immorality is often the result of prolonged internal thoughts of sexual immorality. As a result, we must be diligent to guard our minds by taking every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and grounding ourselves in biblical truth (Psalm 119:9).
  2. Seek Sexual Purity (1 Timothy 5:1-2; Song of Solomon 2:7)
    As we talked about a few weeks ago, the fundamental relationship between Christian men and women who aren’t married is that of a brother or sister in Christ. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul says that our relationships with each other should be marked by “absolute purity.” This isn’t a relative purity compared to relationships between nonbelievers, but a purity based on God’s desire for holiness. Remember that our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ are one of the best examples of the gospel. As the old hymn goes, “They will know we are Christians by our love”, especially our love for one another as believers. The sexual purity in our relationships is actually one of the best witnesses to the unbelieving world.Another way we pursue sexual purity is the way we talk about and discuss sexuality. We shouldn’t trivialize sex through coarse joking or a cavalier attitude. On the flip side, we don’t want stigmatize it by being prude.

Sexuality is a beautiful gift from God for believers within the context of marriage. True biblical sexuality brings glory to God by displaying the intimate one-flesh union of a husband and wife as a picture of Christ and His church while also bringing pleasure to the couple as they seek to obey the command to be fruitful and multiply. Striving for that ideal in not only the way we act, but also in the way we think and talk is a powerful way to preserve and promote the God-intended purpose for sex.

RESOURCES AND FURTHER READING
What is the Meaning of Sex? by Denny Burk
Sex and the Supremacy of Christ by John Piper and Justin Taylor (editors)
Sex, Dating, and Relationships: A Fresh Approach by Gerald Hiestand and Jay Thomas
Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God by CJ Mahaney
Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace by Heath Lambert
Marriage: Lesson 9. Capital Hill Core Seminars

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One thought on “Biblical Sexuality and Sexual Purity

  1. Pingback: We Cannot Be Silent [Book Review] | Lawson Hembree's Blog

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