I remember hearing many sermons, teachings, and lectures about sex as I was growing up. Whether it be at church, at home, or in school, this topic was covered by more people than I could possibly imagine while I was in high school. I’m not saying that this shouldn’t be the case, my concern is what I remember hearing.
I remember different pastors and small group leaders saying that I should save sex for marriage, without ever being told why. I remember being told constantly that “true love waits”, and to “kiss dating goodbye”, without ever hearing a reason why I should do these things. I remember hearing things like sex should be saved for marriage because that’s when “the two become one flesh”, but as a teenager, this didn’t make much sense to me. I mean, married couples aren’t literally attached at the hip or anything, they definitely remain two distinctly separate physical beings. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point, I had many questions (that I didn’t even know how to ask) that the church wasn’t answering for me.
I remember being taught at school to at least save sex for someone you love, as if a 16 year old (or younger) will have a clue as to what love is, I’m 27 and sometimes I still think I’m clueless when it comes to that. I remember being taught that it was better to not have sex at such a young age, but if we were going to anyway, that we should always practice safe sex. I remember the classes devoted to STD’s and pregnancy, followed by more of the “you’re too young, but practice safe sex if you’re going to ignore me”. So they’re basically saying, “We know you’re going to do something stupid, but at least be smart about it.” Really?
So, at church, I’m not getting a logical reason to wait, and at school I’m basically being told “we know you won’t listen to us anyway, so at least use a condom to protect against pregnancy and STDs.” Basically, we have no idea how or what to teach you about sex, so we’re going to try to just scare you away from it and hope that works. Don’t get me wrong, given all the lack of answers in the teachings at church, fear was a pretty good motivator. I wasn’t really worried about pregnancy or STDs, but I kinda figured my mom would shoot me if I had sex and she found out. I wasn’t really afraid of dying, but I didn’t exactly want to encourage it to come earlier either.
Then I remember all of my friends at school talking about it, because they were a bunch of immature morons who thought it best to not keep their mouth shut. Don’t get me wrong, I was an immature moron too, I just didn’t have anything to talk about. They talked about all the parties where this person was with that person, and where this girl made out with that girl, and where whoever “finally” lost their virginity.
The problem with trying to scare people away from something is that eventually there’s someone brave enough, or dumb enough, to challenge that fear and “see what happens”. The church told us that we shouldn’t have sex because it’s for marriage and that’s when two people become one physically. The schools echoed this by constantly talking about the physical repercussions of having sex. What does this indicate to a teenager? It tells us that sex is only a physical act. So then we think, as long as it’s only a physical act, where is the harm if we use protection and birth control. That gets us out of most of the physical consequences right? The result of this is two-fold: We now have a bunch of kids who have disassociated their physical form from their emotions, and we have a bunch of kids who are unable to ignore the emotional side of them, and are left broken and feeling used, but still not quite sure why.
The answer lies in Genesis 2:24-25:
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
The concept here, that I mentioned earlier, of the two becoming one flesh, means more of a “mingling of souls” in the Hebrew. These two souls are so intermingled that they are so unified that they may as well be one flesh. When this model of a man growing up, leaving his parents’ house, marrying his wife, and then becoming one with his wife through sex (and there should obviously be deeper intimacy of actually knowing someone before it gets to this point), then they are whole, unashamed, and glorifying God.
When we stray from this example, we cause all sorts of problems for ourselves. We unite with people spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally, and then just go our separate ways. This is the cause for so many men and women feeling broken, abandoned, inadequate, and ashamed after a relationship in which they have been sexually active ends.
So, how does the Gospel relate to sex? There are several ways I can think of, allow me to cover three of them.
First, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us that as Christians, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and our bodies belong to God. We are responsible for glorifying God in and with our bodies. Our bodies are vessels with which to image forth God’s glory. We have been set apart to live differently. With our bodies being the temple of God, how dare we unite with someone’s soul outside of His plan for sex?
Second, in Ephesians 5:22-33 when Paul speaks of marriage, he tells us that marriage is an earthly (not worldly) picture of Christ and the church. Marriage is designed to show us the type of unity that we find with God through the Gospel. In verse 31, Paul even quotes Genesis 2:24 to make sure that the point gets across: when a man and a woman marry, and have sex, they are glorifying God and are a living representation of Christ and the church. This is why extra-marital sex (meaning sex outside of marriage) is so horrific when viewed through the lens of the Gospel, because that then becomes a living representation of the church uniting with an idol, it represents the body of Christ uniting with something other than God.
Third, if you are one of the many people who are struggling with the feelings mentioned above because of sexual activity, there is HOPE. The Gospel is the power of God to heal you, and to set you free. I urge you, talk with someone about it. Find a pastor, a small group leader, or other Christian mentor to talk with about this and begin the road to recovery.
Parents, pastors, teachers, youth and college leaders, we MUST teach, preach, and talk about sex through the lens of the Gospel. The reason our young people are having sex so early isn’t just because they are growing up in a culture where sex is more prominent than it has been previously, it is because too often we try to scare people away from having sex. The problem isn’t that they love sex, it’s that they don’t love sex enough. They have not been taught to see sex within the framework of the Gospel as such a beautiful thing to where they WANT to follow God’s plan.
I hope all of this made sense, and for those of you who would like a more detailed sermon on the Biblical model of sex, I encourage you to listen to the Culture and Theology sermon God and Sex taught by Pastor Matt Chandler. If you want to save this MP3, right click and click Save Target As (or Save Link As) to be able to save it to your computer. Please know that this sermon is pretty direct, so if you aren’t an adult, please have your parents listen to this first, and let them decide if they want you to listen to it, or if they’d rather communicate the truths to you on their own.