Eli writes in and asks, “Dear Pastor John, in a message titled ‘For Men: Augustine, Sin and Sovereign Joy,’ you said this: ‘The Pleasures of God [your book] is not a book about sex at all, except that everything about God is about sex.’ Can you provide more clarity on what you meant by ‘everything about God is about sex’?”
Well, first I have to clarify that when I say everything about God is about sex, that’s not a unique statement about sex. I would say the same thing about everything.
All About God
Everything about God is about everything — meaning, everything about God relates to everything. Everything about God shapes the way we think about everything, and the way we handle everything, and the way we feel about everything, and the way we do everything — or it should.
In other words, nothing in the world — absolutely nothing — has existence apart from God. And therefore, nothing in the world has meaning apart from God. God designed everything and created everything, and holds everything in being, and governs everything for his purposes. And his purposes always include, supremely, the display of the fullness of his glory — that is, everything about God.
Therefore, sex exists because God designed it, God created it, God sustains it, God governs it, and its meaning is from God. And that meaning is the display of the fullness of the glory of God. And the fullness of the glory of God includes all that God is — or as I said, everything about God. Therefore, sex exists to display God in his fullness.
So let me put a text under all those claims.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons [what do those demons teach?], through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1–5)
The point of that passage is to warn us against those who think that marriage and its sexual relationship are not a proper place for the expression of faith in God and thanks to God based on truth about God. That is all from that text. But Paul says that marriage and its sexual relation and food are designed precisely for those who believe and who know the truth and who give thanks to God, whose glory is displayed precisely in those things.
Or we could put it this way: Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or have sex, do all to the glory of God (see 1 Corinthians 10:31). In other words, we recognize the fullness of the glories of God manifest in the design and creation and sustaining and governing of sexual intimacy, and we turn all of it into a reflection of the fullness of God’s glory.
Wrath and Mercy
Now if a person hears me say, “Everything about God is about sex,” he might wonder, “Well, how is the wrath of God about sex?” (Or he might pick another one, but let’s just take that one.) The answer is that in a world where every human being deserves wrath (this world), and any human being gets the pleasure of sex, we should be astonished at the massive contrast between the mercies of God and the wrath of God in that very moment of exquisite pleasure.
Every person who enjoys the pleasures of sex should be astonished precisely because of that pleasure, that they are not at that moment in hell instead, because that is where we all deserve to be at any given moment, and only mercy keeps us out. And some of those mercies are poured out precisely through food and sex on the very people who don’t even think the Giver exists. So yes, sex is very much about wrath.
And so I would reaffirm what I said — namely, that everything about God is about sex because everything about God is about everything.