What Sex is Not
The past couple of weeks, we’ve been uncovering some core truths about what sex is. It’s a means for worship, a means of better understanding God and his character, a tool to reflect him and his triune nature, to name a few. And my hope is that by opening God's Word, you’ll begin to explore your own beliefs about sex. In doing so, my ultimate aim is that we greater know and love and reflect our God. This week, I want to finish this series by talking about what sex is not. Because I think there are a lot of myths we hold about sex, married and unmarried. I’ve spent some time exploring mine, and I want to share a couple of areas where I'm learning what sex is not:
1. Sex is not inherently shameful.
It is a great tragedy that single and married Christians are holding tremendous shame attached to sexual experiences. There are many reasons for this. I think partly because of the silence, or we've only heard why not to have sex in our Christian realms. We've also experienced trauma and abuse and deep hurt.
But I think it also has to do with the way we process sin in our lives. There is this really huge difference between guilt and shame following an experience or thought or choice. Healthy guilt speaks at the behavior – it says, “What I did was wrong or sinful, and repentance is the proper response.” But shame speaks to your identity, that core question of who you are - “Who I am is wrong and sinful and unworthy and unlovable.”
The more we internalize sexual experiences – pornography, masturbation, early childhood experiences, abuse, within marriage and relationships – as shameful, the more we link ‘sex’ and ‘shame’ in our brains and in our souls until they feel synonymous.
My friends, sex is not shame. Shame hinders connection. We see it from the start. Adam and Eve enjoyed full union with God in the garden – when sin entered, shame came with it – and they hid from intimacy with God. Shame led to disconnection.
Sex, however, is a means for connection. It is a means for true vulnerability and openness and knowledge of the other being – and shame has no place in connection. There are many contexts where sex is sinful and many where its not beneficial. But sex is not in and of itself shameful. Shame is a label we have placed on our sexuality that leads to disconnection to God and to our spouse.
2. Sex is not entitlement.
On the flip side of thinking sex is wrong is thinking sex is necessary. I think this entitlement piece comes into play when we believe that we, as humans, need sex. That we will not survive if we don't have it.
I'm not trying to downplay sexual urges or desires or longings here. They are real and we will dive into that in our next series.
A need is defined as "lack of the means of subsistence," while a want is defined as "having a strong desire for something."
You and I don't need sex. And this is just as true for guys as it is for girls. I am dismissing the myth that the only way to release those longings is to engage in sexual activity.
In light of that, sexual desires often feel like needs. And I know its not easy. Remembering this truth gives us alternatives when we are single for many years of our life or our spouse goes on a trip.
Entitlement plays into big decisions and also those little decisions - to choose not to masturbate in a given situation or not to cross our personal boundaries in a dating relationship. Those decisions, little by little, have the power to lead to greater sin and death or greater freedom and life. We get to choose.
3. Sex is not the greatest fulfillment.
I’ll keep this one short and sweet, because we’ve dived into this a lot. Sex is not the end-all, be-all. Sex will not ultimately fulfill our longing for intimacy or closeness or connection or worth or value, even in marriage. Sex is a means to an end – just as marriage and missions and the local church are a means to an end. The end goal is God’s Name glorified. And as John Piper’s famous quote reads, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
Next week, we’ll begin a series on Sex and Singleness. As always, feel free to send me questions and thoughts that you may have. I want these newsletters to be most beneficial to you, the reader, and I will tailor content based on questions I receive. Thanks for continuing on this journey with me!