Sex: A God's Eye View
In Hebrew thought, human sexuality is a gift of God to be
celebrated within the context of the Torah teachings that apply
to it. When God created two genders, He looked at this naked
pair, commanded them to reproduce (or have sex), and declared it,
along with everything else, "very good" (Genesis 1:28,31). How,
then, did something very good become tainted?
Only after the first couple sinned by disobeying God (that
sin had nothing to do with sex, as some suppose) did they become
self-conscious about their nakedness and guilt enter the human
psyche (2:25; 3:7). The advent of guilt changed Adam and Eve's
relationship to God, as they were cut off from Him.
Driven out of the lush Eden into a world of thorns and
thistles, they knew something had gone terribly wrong. Adam
might've said to Eve on the way out of the garden, "I perceive we
are in a time of transition."
Indeed it was a transition: from innocence to sinfulness,
from intimacy to alienation. Adam and Eve, like all their
descendants, stood in need of redemption and reconciliation. It
is difficult for an unredeemed world to view human sexuality from
a divine perspective.
SEX AND SCRIPTURE
No passages in Scripture view human sexuality as sinful per
se, or even as tainted. No one should ever feel guilty about ex-
periencing a sexual appetite; it is hard-wired into every healthy
person, like the need to eat, drink view beauty. None of the
appetites and drives the creator built in to us are in themselves
evil, and there is no reason to be shamed of, or embarrassed, by
any of them.
Sarah, Abraham's wife, associated the act of procreation
with pleasure (18:10.12). The Song of Solomon celebrates the joy
of romantic love. Sex, very good from the start, was meant for
both pleasure and procreation. It was also meant for
heterosexually married couples (Genesis 2:22-24).
Like the appetite for food or drink, the desire for sex is a
gift from God. Animals fulfill these desires based on need and
instinct, but man has a unique quality that calls for managing
his appetites. Being created in God's image demands of us a
higher, holier standard of behavior than brute beasts.
Among other things, it is our capacity to think and act
morally that reflects in us the image of God. Once the knowledge
of good and evil enters our lives, we become aware that sexual
desire, like any other appetite, can be directed toward evil
ends. Note that Satan tempted Adam and Eve through a combination
of ego and appetite (3:6). He has been doing the same with their
descendants ever since. Invariably, we all take the bait and sin.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR HOLINESS
The commandments of God are meant to lift our behavior above
the animal level, toward the divine. When kept, they render the
fulfillment of human appetites holy. Keeping them provides us
with a dignity that reflects the divine image.
Within heterosexual marriage, Christian couples are free to
express their sexuality creatively, but not outside of biblical
boundaries. All such expressions of sexuality must be by mutual
consent. Some in the Corinthian church, in distress because of
persecution, reasoned that it might be better to remain single
rather than take on the responsibilities of marriage. Paul's
response in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 begins with the statement "it is
good for a man not to marry," which probably reflects their
opinion and should be in quotes.
Paul realized that young people with strong sexual desires
might struggle to remain chaste. Rather than risk slipping into
fornication, Paul instructed them to marry. Once married, both
partners should view their bodies as belonging to their mate.
Women who withhold sex - use it as a weapon - are violating
the instructions here. The man and the woman should meet and
satisfy their sexual needs in each other. Paul saw this as a
"duty," not merely an option.
Neither Paul nor any other biblical writer provides
guidelines for sexual mechanics. Married couples are free to meet
each other's needs in sex, as long as it is consensual and
private. Neither partner should impose upon the other any act
that is repugnant to their mate. At the same time, each partner
should do his or her best to accommodate the other's particular
needs. If this involves compromises, they must not be of a moral
nature, like adultery. Clearly, no parties outside of the
marriage should be involved. Sex is between the husband and wife
only, and it is entirely exclusive.
The sexual relationship between a man and his wife is pri-
vate. A wife should not discuss her husband's sexual
idiosyncrasies or inadequacies with others, nor should the
husband ever embarrass his wife in front of others. The image of
God that we bear implies a certain dignity tha must be protected.
The wife should be as "sexy" as her husband wishes in their
private times, when no children are present. In public she should
be modest, not flirtatious or provocative. A woman's ideal public
demeanor is described in Proverbs 31. Her romantic nature is
described in Song of Solomon.
In our time, sex has been downgraded to merely recreational,
like having a snack when you're hungry. Many single adults hook
up simply for casual sex, with no commitment.
Sexual over-stimulation is ubiquitous. Sex sells - all over
the Web, in magazines, in movies, and in life. The boundaries of
Judeo-Christian sexual ethics have been broken down. Now every
form of sex, no matter how perverse, is being incrementally
legitimized, mainstreamed, and legalized, Sex in out timehas been
trivialized, politicized, and exploited to the max. None of this
LIGHT TO THE WORLD
What is legal is not necessarily moral. What's good for the
world is not always good for Christians. It is our duty to march
to the beat of the divine drummer. I many western churches, the
culture prevails over the biblical sexual standard. Culture is
increasingly defining the church, instead of the church
influencing the culture to a higher standard. If the church caves
in to the prevailing darkness, its light goes out and it becomes
like any club or lodge that caters to people. It ceases to be the
We are called to be a light to the world, as was Jesus. Our
job is to set the example, to model godly behavior in every
aspect of life, including the sexual. When we fail to live up to
the standards we espouse, we are viewed as hypocrites. Our moral
authority is out the window.
Let's heed the admonition in Hebrews 13:4 to keep the
marriage bed pure.!
Brian Knowles writes from Monrovia, CA. Scripture quotations were
taken from the New International Version.
June 2007 Bible Advocate - a publication of the Church of God,
7th Day, Denver, CO. USA