In recent months, the nation has been rattled with a flurry of sexual abuse allegations. Those who seem to have it all have lost it all because of an appetite that they cannot control. Even beyond the focus on famous faces, the #MeToo movement across social media exposed that there is a pattern of sin that is victimizing women (and men), destroying families, and ruining lives.
“Sex outside of the bounds of God’s design will always leave us wanting.”
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly caused our culture to become so sexually destructive. This deep-seated and generational sin has been metastasizing for years. The culture at large allowed sex to become something that can only be defined by the individual himself, placing all accountability in the hands of the individual.
The onslaught of moral failures does reveal that man is in no place to define his own sexuality and to police his own ethics. The wickedness of sexual abuse goes all the way back to the garden. In Genesis 3, we see that man’s craving to define good and evil only results in a self-justifying disaster. We must be vigilant to not let the self-defined, self-governed sexual ethic of the culture at large creep into the sexual ethics of the church.
The World’s Vision for Sex
To keep that sort of mind-set from influencing the church, we must be mindful of the failings of the culture at hand. What are the subtle — yet sinister — realities of the world’s perspective of sex that can wreak havoc on the minds and hearts of those pursuing personal holiness?
Committed to self
The porn epidemic on our planet is symptomatic of a mind-set that is wholly aimed at pleasing oneself. The ability to fulfill one’s cravings on demand begins to create a pattern of behavior that is not easily broken. This pattern of seeing, desiring, and then acting on the desires of one’s heart is purely from the world (1 John 2:15). A wholehearted commitment to do right to self will always come at the expense of others. It is a mind-set that serves self alone, disregards the pursuit of others, and cheapens the value of human beings.
Dependent on a wayward heart
The edicts of our day are “Follow your heart” and “Do what feels right.” As romanticized as those ideas can feel, the heart of a man can never be trusted. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” We are the most horrible judges of ourselves. We will excuse and minimize the sin in our lives just so that we can meet the desires of our heart. The thrill of those desires will ultimately begin to fade and thus push a man’s heart deeper into darkness.
Sex was created for man and woman within the context of marriage (Genesis 2:24). Any departure from that design tarnishes the great gift that God bestowed on man. Sex outside of the bounds of God’s design will always leave us wanting. We’ll seek pleasure in different ways and crave more of it until we have consumed ourselves and those around us. Defying God’s design for sex will always leave one unfulfilled and drives a person to seek pleasure and fulfillment by other means.
God’s Better Design
The Christian ethic can never be about the things that we solely avoid, especially when it comes to sexual desires. Biblical sexuality cannot merely be a list of things we run from, but it must also be what we pursue. What is the bedrock of biblical sexuality?
Committed in covenant
God’s design for man and woman is that they may leave their parents, commit to one another in marriage, and become one flesh. It is that oneness that is meant to be cemented through sex. We honor God by keeping sex inside the bounds of marriage (Hebrews 13:4) and, in doing so, God enables sex to be a powerful gift physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Dependent on a desire to serve
God has given sex to the husband and wife as a gift they can give their spouse (1 Corinthians 7:3). In this biblical worldview, sex is not about securing pleasure for yourself, but about giving an incredible gift to your spouse. Through the gift of sex inside of marriage, a married couple can also help keep one another from sexual sin (1 Corinthians 7:5).
Designed to display the gospel
Even in God’s design for sex, we see an image he has painted of his pursuit of us. In Ephesians 5:31–32, God portrays for us a clear thread to the gospel: “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
“Sex is not about securing pleasure for yourself, but about giving an incredible gift to your spouse.”
Christ nourishes his bride. He cares for his bride. Christ gave everything out of love for his bride. Everything about marriage is to reflect the tender, sacrificial, pursuit-filled love that Christ has for his bride, the church.
God has given us the remarkable honor to live that out in our marriages on every conceivable level. May that be a gospel responsibility we take great care to consider, knowing that it is not the culture that defines what sex really is. God does. He has designed it, and he has defined it. May we take great pains to show his beautiful design for sex in our dark and lonely world.