Don’t mention sex, God might be listening!
Really? Is that truly how God views things?
Many modern songs of course have sexualised lyrics. Casual sex seems to be just part of the course for characters in so many TV series or in Hollywood movies – and not just for the obvious ones like Mr Bond as he battles with Spectre! Often advertising reverts to using sexual imagery to grab people’s attention in order to help sell products.
True freedom is proclaimed by some to mean to be able to have sex with whoever we want, whenever we want – as long as the other person agrees.
Or is that true freedom?
For instance, 2012 survey in the UK on attitudes towards relationships including sex, showed that 77% believed that monogamy was natural. 92% said they saw it as preferable! Many of those people have no religious world view but still believe in the importance of monogamy.
The idolising of sex seems to be well summed up by one of comedian Woody Allen’s quips, ‘I don’t know the question but sex is definitely the answer.’ Yet in the same survey just mentioned, when asked what was the most important component for a successful relationship? – 57% stated ‘trust’ and 26% ‘communication’. Only 2% suggested sex was the main thing.
So what about God? Is He anti-sex?
Sadly according to the way some of His “followers” speak, you would believe that He is.
It is also true that in the Bible we can read of verses speaking out against both adultery (cheating sexually on your marriage partner) and other sexual immortality. But I want to suggest that is the wrong starting point.
In Genesis 1 we can read that God created people in his own image. Mankind – male and female together called to be relational. Those sexual differences are God given and it is the context of humanity being added into the creation mix, that we can read, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31)
This is very positive.
In Genesis 2:24 we read of a man being united to his wife and their being one flesh.
Again a positive statement about intimacy. Just as can be seen in the book of Song of Songs – probably a book that some would be surprised to find is in the Bible!
Oneness links to the idea of covenant. A covenant, as I wrote in a recent blog, is a binding agreement between two or more parties. In the Bible we can read of God taking the initiative again and again with making a covenant.
Through Christ a new covenant was brought in by which all who to turn to God through Jesus Christ can be made right with God. Paid for by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
That’s incredible covenant.
In the book of Malachi at the end of the Old Testament we can read of marriage being described as a covenant. Then in the letter to the Ephesians we see a healthy marriage being portrayed as a metaphor for Christ’s love for the church.
The Bible places sexual intimacy within a marriage covenant between a man and a woman. Not because God is anti-sex but because the idea originated from Him, to be an expression of oneness between two people who have made such a covenant commitment.
Yet also the Bible shows that wholeness is not dependent on a person being in a married relationship or having sexual intimacy. Jesus himself was single – does this mean he was odd, incomplete or inferior in some way to other human beings?
Whatever our marital status, we are all created to be relational and in the ideal world for all to know that they are loved, accepted and affirmed by others. Dare I say it though, that does not mean we have to be having sex!
I fully appreciate that is easy to write such things when I am married. Does not this blog throw up all kinds of questions?
Yes it does.
I suggest that the church community needs to be open to exploring such questions and doing so with compassion and love, with grace as well as truth. To also have a willingness to listen to how others see things and seek to understand their perspective.
Why should the church do so?
For the sake of people whom Christ died for, including…
- Single people (as an aside 1 Corinthians 7:7 affirms that singleness can be just as much a gift from God as marriage. Being single is not lesser! I know that there is much so more to write on this topic. Two sentences here does not do any justice)
- Married people
- People who are divorced
- People with same sex attraction or other differences from heterosexuality.
I’ve possibly opened up all kinds of things now by writing those last sentences and bullet points. It is not my purpose to seek to be insensitive to anyone by doing so, rather I want to give recognition to the need to engage about covenant and sexuality in the realities of life.
I am not going to write much more right now. It is the topic of the talk in ICL this Sunday and there will be a follow-up discussion later this month.
Words in writing can easily be misunderstood. That is one of the reasons I draw this particular reflection to a close. You may have agreed with what I wrote, really disagreed with it or are not sure how to respond.
I encourage us all to be open to asking how does God views relationships, sexuality and human identity?
I finish with the thought that God is not detached. God puts such value on people that Christ went to the cross that we might be brought into right relationship with God and each other. That we might know true freedom.
So go ahead, you can mention sex even though God is listening!