It’s not because I just wanted to get your attention. It worked though, didn’t it? It’s because almost everyone is talking sex, and the rest are thinking sex. We can’t help it. As I write I recall a recent Hardy’s commercial. It features a beautiful Asian model, provocatively dressed, seated on apartment steps, pulling out a bacon-cheeseburger and in slow-motion taking a bite, dripping ketchup on to a leg … . You’ve seen it and you understand it. The commercial extols the virtues of a sandwich, but who doesn’t know they’re really talking sex?
The biblical world was as sex-crazed as ours. The older nature religions understood the agricultural cycles as tied to the sexuality of the gods. Often worship itself involved various sexual rites. The sophisticated and cultured folk claimed sexual expression as a basic human right. They would assert: One should not stifle whatever sexual expression fits one’s sense of self or served one’s personal pleasure.
Then and now, in a sex –charged world Christ-followers call attention to the beauty, sanctity, and—yes, pleasure of human sexuality. We insist that human beings were not made for sex, but sex was made for human beings. There’s a huge difference. Among other things, it means we were not made to worship or serve sex, and sex cannot make our lives whole or complete. We insist only God as known through Jesus makes life whole and complete. And with God at the center of our lives, we claim to embrace a sexuality that God made for us, that yields the deepest pleasures, and that always enhances and ennobles it practitioners.
Please note: what I have said: We call attention to sexuality as God intended; we insist God must be at the center; and we make claims about a certain kind of sexual expression.
You see: we’re talking sex. But our best or loudest, our most fearful or angry words about sex in a sex-charged world will have no good impact apart from a life that is in order sexually! Here’s where Paul’s teaching about sanctification and sex is helpful. He says this is God’s will and your sanctification: abstain from sexual immorality (see 1 Thess. 4:3). I do not have space in this column to spell out all Paul is saying. But, let me cut to the chase. Let me continue to talk sex for just a bit.
In a highly sexualized world, who or what will be the sun around which your sexuality revolves? Will it be the world, other people, the glamorous, beautiful, desirable, yourself, or will it be Jesus the Son? Bluntly, Christ is more important than sex. This is true whether you are married or single, male or female, inclined toward people of the same or the other sex, or whether you feel sexually frustrated or fulfilled. Christ is more important than sex. Less, bluntly, Christ knows better than we do what we need to be whole, healthy, and happy. Christ cares more about that than anyone else in our world. And, Christ will take us there, to wholeness, health, and happiness. He can be trusted.
When Christ-following becomes our most basic passion, more important than even sexual expression, our sexuality will find the place in our lives that best suits who we are and that most helps us access all God has for us, and not only for us.
As I have said, as Christ followers we must talk sex, but our talk will bless the world only if we are sexually in order. The research I have seen suggests that the rate of premarital sex among young believing adults is about the same as among unbelievers. Similarly, Christians commit adultery and divorce, as well as indulge in the use of porn about as much as anyone else. The fact is: sexual disorder within the church has discredited the things we say about sex. How can a sexually disordered people credibly advocate the virtues of God’s plan for marriage, proclaim God’s power to deliver from addiction or heal sexual brokenness?
The sex-talk our world needs in the worst way is not just about individual piety and purity. It is about the church’s spiritual credibility and authority to call the sexually broken, confused, and addicted to wholeness.
For our own sake and for the mission, we must acknowledge our sexual disorder, repent of it, and seek grace. We must welcome help and accountability, and receive grace that sets us free, cleans us up, reorders our hearts, minds and bodies for God-honoring sex that not only will feel good but be good.