This week we are talking with speaker and author Paul Tripp. Paul is the author of a really helpful book titled, Sex and Money. And Paul, one of the themes throughout the book that you make — and it’s an important one — is that sexuality is never secular. Sex is always spiritual. Sex is always worship. Explain this dynamic.
Well, in order to understand the worship nature of sex, again, you have to go back to how we were constructed. Worship is not first an activity. When many Christians hear the word “worship,” they hear Sunday morning, a service, a gathering or, if it is a real cool church, Saturday night. And what is important to understand is that worship is first my identity before it is ever my activity. I don’t just worship on Sunday. I really worship my way through every moment of every day — every situation, every location, every relationship involves worship. I mean you could argue that, if you took apart the motivation of human beings, the only thing we ever do is worship.
Now what does that mean? It means that something is always lord over my heart. Something is always controlling my heart, the heart being the seat of my thoughts, the seat of my emotions, the seat of my will and my choices. So it is the control center of my humanness. So it is impossible for my life not to be ruled by worship.
For example, the words that I say to the people in my life are controlled by what I am worshiping. Think about this: If I am worshiping pleasure and you are in the way of my pleasure, I am going to say angry words to you. But if I am worshiping God and you are in the way of my pleasure, I am going to be patient, kind, and forgiving to you. That is the difference. And so it is impossible for me to take off my worship nature when I am pursuing human sexuality. It is structured by what I am worshiping.
Now let’s be practical. If I am worshiping myself, I will use you for my pleasure and I will hurt you. If I am worshiping sex, I will deny boundaries and go wherever sexual pleasure leads me. If I am worshiping the other person, I will try to find satisfaction in that person that I am never able to find, hurt them, and hurt myself. If I am worshiping God, then I am going to love the boundaries he has set for me, I am going to love my neighbor as myself, and sex will live the way it is supposed to live.
That’s good. So what would you say to an unmarried couple who is presently living together?
This response will sound harsh at first, but let me explain. I would say that God is smarter than you. And when you say, “No, I am not going to stand inside of God’s boundaries,” you are actually saying, “I know more about me and this relationship than God does.” Now God knows that sex is only safe in the context of a long-term, committed relationship between a man and a woman called marriage. There may be mysteries to that which I will never understand, but I submit myself because I understand God as my Creator knows me. God as Creator knows sex, and he knows that it is best expressed, it is best beautified and protected and made holy, inside of these boundaries. How arrogant would it be for me to say, “No, I know better”?