Last night I began my four part series dealing with the issue of sex, Christianity and culture. In short, it is a series looking at what the Bible has to say about sex, and how culture, for the most part, has very differing opinions. In this series I want to challenge all of you to look at sex as a beautiful and wonderful thing created by God.
Philip Yancey, in his book, Rumors of Another World: What On Earth Are We Missing?, tries to point people to look beyond just their desires and urges, and to a Creator, a Designer. In the book, Yancey states:
“UPTIGHT CHRISTIANS forget the fundamental fact that God created sex. Having studied some anatomy, I marvel at God laboring over the physiology of sex: the soft parts, the moist parts, the millions of nerve cells sensitive to pressure and pain yet also capable of producing pleasure, the intricacies of erectile tissue, the economical and ironic combination of organs for excretion and reproduction, the blending of visual appeal and mechanical design. As the zoologists remind us, in comparison with every other species, the human is bountifully endowed.
A connected view of life assumes this is God’s world, and that despite its fractured state, clues of its original design remain. When I experience desire, I need not flinch in guilt, as if something unnatural has happened. Rather, I should follow the desire to its source, to learn God’s original intent.”
(You can view portions of the chapter Designer Sex in Christianity Today, here).
Most of us, at least I think…Read the instructions to equipment, or electronics, or to our car…to the things that we buy. We know that by reading the instructions, assembling the product correctly, and paying attention to the details, can keep us from a lot of future trouble, mistakes and devastation. So why is it then, when it comes to the issue of sex, that seems to be an issue that we ignore the design of? Wouldn’t it make sense to look to the Creator of Sex, and see what He has to say about it? And wouldn’t what He has to say about it make sense? Probably keep us from heartache and pain, and help us experience sex in the most fulfilling way?
As I told you last night. I stand by the Biblical truth that the only proper expression of sexual intercourse is in a committed, monogamous, marriage, between a man and a woman. I believe that that is God’s design, and is explicit throughout the Bible, especially as that groundwork is laid out in Genesis 1-2, and finds its expression in such writings as Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, I Corinthians, and many other places.
Why are we talking about sex? Because I believe for too long that culture has been the dominant force in relaying to us, and feeding to us our views of sex, while the church has lost it’s voice. This seems especially true in Los Angeles where Hollywood rules the roost, and continues to barrage us with a steady stream of sex, telling us that we seem to be missing out on life if we aren’t participating in sex. And mind you, in many distorted forms! So I think it is time that the church begin to teach more seriously on this issue, otherwise it may find itself irrelevant to a culture that is looking for fulfillment and direction in all the wrong places. I think that Rob Bell, the pastor from Mars Hill Bible Church made a great case in the video last night that culture really doesn’t get it..doesn’t really understand sex, and that it is a spiritual thing. For those interested in that video, go to Nooma for short excerpts of each video, or to purchase them. The video last night was called Flame and was a wonderful look at the three Hebrew words for love in the Song of Solomon. Bell made the case that society tries to live off only one flame, one word, the word that means sexual pleasure, arousal, while God really created sex only to be enjoyed in conjuction with all three words: friendship, commitment and sex. Only when all three are expressed, do we experience true sexuality, in the spiritual way that God designed. To hear more of Rob Bell’s teachings (the best preacher in the country), go to his on-line archives.
The famous Fuller professor, and Christian ethicist Lewis Smedes writes about sex, saying:
“It is simple to make an idol: slice one piece of created reality off the whole and expect miracles from it. The miracles may be positive or negative; they may heal or hurt. If the idol has the power to heal, you keep it around you; you touch it, kiss it, rub it, or manipuate it any way you can. If the idol threatens you, you place a taboo on it, which means that you do not touch it, do not even mention it, for fear that familiarity will have a hurtful backlash. Idols work both ways: we make an idol of something either by expecting too much good from it or by fearing evil from it. Making an idol of sex happens both ways. We make an idol of sex by first isolating one dimension of sexuality–the genital. Then we either expect everything from it that we need to be happy or we fear that it will hurt us. Either way, sex has become an idol.”
I think that is one of the most amazing statements about sex. All of us have made an idol of sex it seems. Some of us have looked to it for all our answers and fulfillment in life, hoping that that will bring us intimacy and love, and quench the longing that we have had. It has become distorted. While others of us have been so afraid to talk about sex, that we have placed a taboo on it, and we are unable to have a real and honest discussion about the issue, while all the while it is affecting negatively something that God has designged to be a wonderful thing for us in a marriage relationship.
We all have different views on sex, and for the most part they are ones that we have inherited, or have held on to for a long time. Some of our views can be traced to our family, and either their openness, or lack thereof on this issue. Others of us can trace it to our upbringing in the church, which is interesting in and of itself, since the Church has held some strange views on this issue, dating all the way back to St. Augustine, who saw the doctrine of orginal sin as being passed on through the sexaul act. And many of us have had sexual experiences that have shaped our views in many negative ways.
So over the next three talks I want to focus on three very distinct things. 1) I want us to look at the Created Goodness in sexuality, looking at how God created sex, and for what purposes, and in what context that it is to be expressed. I want us to begin to take off the taboos we have placed on sex, and to begin to have an open discussion. And I want us to let go of the magical power that we thought sex held for us, hoping that would be the magical pill to fill all of our needs. 2) I want to look at the Sinful Distortion that sex can create in our lives, and how we try to fill the emptiness and voids in our life with things such as sexual relationships, pornography, “hooking up” the way we dress, and many other things. 3) I want us to look at Redeemed Potential, and how God can take our sinful pasts and redeem them. That no matter what we have done, we have never run too far away from God to not return. And sex seems to be one of those sins in our lives that we often seem as unredeemable. I believe that that is one of Satan’s biggest lies and attempts to keep us away from God, by giving us so much guilt and shame, that we feel God will never have us back.
So as we journey through this series, look for daily updates, thoughts, articles and many other things.
I will be linking articles and the such in each blog, as well as on the side margin under the sermon resources.
I would also like your input and feedback. So please send me any info. that might be helpful, and please post comments that I can respond to.
But for now, let’s move forward together in honest discussion about sex, seeking in prayer and diligence what God has to say about sex, and not Hollywood.