Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Have Sex Like You Know God

Have Sex Like You Know God

I hate my sexual past, and I regret it all the time in marriage. I wish I could retrace every adrenaline-filled step I took into romance and intimacy, and heal every wound I inflicted. I wish I would have made Jesus look real, trustworthy, and satisfying in all of my dating. Instead, it often looked like I didn’t really believe what he said, and that he wasn’t enough for me. I dated, at times, like I simply did not know God.

The lesson we receive from the world is that sex is fun and even valuable, but selfish and fleeting. The sexy, tantalizing “love” of Hollywood mixes seduction, scandal, and passion. It suggests that the best love is found in forbidden love, and with as many lovers as possible. Get yours — you “need” it, and you deserve it — but don’t trust anyone. And don’t be surprised if they leave after they get what they wanted. Just move on.

The media says men have uncontrollable sexual cravings that have to be satisfied somewhere. Women are either helpless objects of their desires, or wield their own sexuality as an instrument of power and influence over men. The default sex education we receive in our world will only produce fallen, selfish ideas about sex, and false ideas produce bad decisions, and bad decisions produce bad habits, and bad habits breed shame, guilt, and hopelessness.

Sex doesn’t breed those things. Do you know that? Sex, as God designed it and gifted it to us to enjoy in marriage, breeds life, and hope, and love for Jesus. Counterfeit sex — distorted sex, plagiarized sex, self-gratifying sex — steals the life and pleasure it was meant to give. I know, because I tried to cash the checks and came up empty, ashamed, and despairing.

My Favorite Verses About Sex

My favorite text in the Bible about sex isn’t even about sex (and there are plenty about sex). Paul writes,

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God . . . humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3–8)

When we’re asking questions about how to date and where to draw the lines sexually, we draw a cross. It was the highest act and expression of love the world has ever known, and it’s the mold for our relationships, and for our pursuit of sexual purity. If our love for one another looks selfish — if it takes, rather than gives — it simply isn’t love.

If we aim to love each other like Christ loved us on the cross, we’ll avoid a lot of the sexual immorality, confusion, and heartache that are so common in dating. We’ll love each other enough to say, “No.” What if our love was so strong that it freed us from selfishly indulging now, or taking anything from one another too soon?

True love — the purest, fullest, most pleasing love — was designed by God for our good, and then displayed by God at the cross. That’s the love we need in marriage — sexual selflessness, generosity, and patience — and so that’s the kind of love we should be searching and waiting for in dating.

Flee from Sexual Immorality

Sexual selflessness, generosity, and patience looks like Jesus’s love for us on the cross, and it also looks to that love and sacrifice as its driving hope and incentive. Paul writes, “Flee from sexual immorality. . . . Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:18–20).

When you begin to feel overwhelmed with temptation and the desires are raging inside of you, remember that you were bought with a price, paid for in full with blood. Sadly, many of us take the purchase of grace at infinite cost, and foolishly and suicidally justify more sin. We assume Jesus will just forgive us, again. But the cross — those two grace-charged beams of murderous wood — call us to do exactly the opposite.

God spent the precious, sinless blood of his one and only Son not just to forgive our sin, but to keep us from it. He wanted us to see the thorns in his head, the open flesh in his back, and the nails in his wrists, and run like crazy away from sin. When we begin to realize that we will never be able to grasp the fullness of the love God revealed in Jesus’s wounds, in his agony, in his last breath, we will dread doing anything to make that price look cheap, like a clearance-rack redemption. When we commit sexual immorality, we discount the cross.

What Sex Says

But when we choose to pursue purity and postpone intimacy, Jesus’s sacrifice looks costly — like our most expensive and prized possession.

When we do not push boundaries, we announce the priceless weight of every one of his wounds. When we keep our clothes on and our hands from wandering, we celebrate the immeasurable mercy he carried on a back destroyed with lashes. When we wait in dating, we declare again that he really is risen from the dead and reigning in heaven. Our sexual purity will either make the cross look real and valuable, or it won’t.

With our eyes happily fixed on Jesus, the once-for-all sacrifice for our sins, we can say with Paul, “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not at all be ashamed, but that with full courage, now as always, Christ will be honored in my body, whether by [singleness] or by [marriage]” (Philippians 1:20). Looking to the cross and all Jesus paid to make us his own, we trust God for the grace and courage to resist our impulses to dishonor him and to disgrace the cross. And instead we wield our God-given and grace-filled bodies to honor him, to glorify him, to help others see the beauty of his strength, wisdom, love, and sufficiency.

With every second we deny selfish sexual desires, we say that we trust him more than we trust ourselves, and we say that he is more than enough for us.

Sex Without God

At its simplest, we should have sex (or not) like people who know God. Paul says, “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:3–5).

The Gentiles — people in the world and not in Christ — are involved in all kinds of sexual nonsense, and that makes sense, because they don’t know God. We should expect them to go too far, and too fast — to fool around with the random person at the party, or sleep with their third or fourth person in a month, or move in with their boyfriend.

If God is out of the picture, sex can be as good a god as any. It will still fail them forever, but that doesn’t bother them, because they don’t believe in Jesus or sin, heaven or hell. They believe in now, in living it up here on earth as much as possible, and for as long as possible.

Like We Know God

But we know better. We know that sin, death, and hell are as real as the roof over our heads, last month’s cellphone bill, and the Grand Canyon. They’re not ideas flying around in our philosophy class. They’re realities hanging over every inch of our lives, including our sex lives.

We live every moment in the shadow of a real Creator and a real judge, one who knows our every thought and move. We know that we deserve less than nothing because of our sin, that we’ve earned conscious, relentless, inescapable destruction for ourselves, and that “everyone who is sexually immoral or impure . . . has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:3–5). And we know that Christ came to die — the crown of the thorns, the whip filled with rocks, the nails in his hands and feet, the terrifying wrath of God — for our sin and to rescue us out of sin.

God made each of us and invented sex, why would we act like we know better than him?

God warns us that sexual immorality only leads to pain, shame, slavery, and ultimately judgment, why would we risk so much for a little pleasure now?

God bought our forgiveness, freedom, and purity with the blood of his own Son — an infinite cost — why would we heave more sin on his shoulders and drive the nails even deeper?

God waits with open arms to welcome us into a never-ending adventure of peace and happiness with him, why would we trade it away for a few seconds of satisfaction?

What We Already Know

Sadly some of us still do. Temptation overwhelms us in moments of weakness. I knew what sexual impurity was, and does, and says, and I still fell. I did not fall because I did not know enough, but because I did not take what I knew with enough seriousness and joy — not yet. Paul is saying what we already know about God is enough to keep us from sexual sin. To know God — his sovereign power, his surprising mercy, his sacrificial love, his satisfying friendship — is to hold the keys to sexual purity, even in a sex-crazed society. Especially in a sex-crazed society.

As we set our eyes and hearts above, “the love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14), and more and more, we “know how to control [our] own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust” (1 Thessalonians 4:4). We put on sexual selflessness, generosity, and patience.

from Desiring God
via DG