A More Perfect Union (2)

In Part 1, we considered the basic blueprint of human sexuality as found in Genesis 1–2. We saw that, contrary to the major societal voices, our sexuality should not be something we find our identity in. It is subservient to our identity as imager bearers of God. Rather than ruling our life, sexual activity is to be confined within the confines of a marriage between a man and woman, for only a man and woman can be “one flesh,” and only a man and woman can reproduce children. So much for the basic blueprint of biblical sexuality. Now I would like us to consider something of the beauty of biblical sexuality as God has designed it.

Biblical Sexuality is beautiful because it celebrates diversity.

What would the world think of that, if they heard the traditional Biblical view celebrates diversity! That is what Adam sings about in verse Genesis 2:23, as he bursts into song at finding the one who fits him just right. This, I do believe, is part of being made in the image of a tri-personal God, who has for all eternity delighted in the communion of Father, Son, and Spirit. God delights in difference. He always has, and He built that into us. Sexuality, rightly ordered, longs for the other, not just because we are fascinated with something different, but because that “other” actually completes. Homosexuality distorts this, and perhaps is one of the most explicit examples of sin the way Augustine defined it: Incurvatus in se, a latin phrase meaning, “turning in on oneself.” That’s sin. And, in a similar way, homosexuality is not a celebration of difference, but a pursuit of more of the same. A beauty is lost in that.

Biblical sexuality is beautiful because it’s selfless and self-giving.

Consider what Paul says in Corinthians,

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:3–5)

The wife should not consider herself her own, nor the husband consider himself his own. They are mutually giving themselves to one another. We rightly speak of sex when we use the phrase as “sharing intimacy.” The beauty is lost when we make it about “getting” something from our spouse. The beauty of sexuality is best seen when it’s not about us, but about the other, and when sex is used as an opportunity to share with our spouse just how much we love them, and just how committed we are to them.
That beauty is also lost in the production and consumption of pornography. Those making it are entirely self-interested: looking for pleasure and money. Those consuming, likewise, remove the beauty of selflessness in sexuality, and instead seek self-pleasure. Our sexuality, by God’s gift, means pleasure. But it never means self-pleasure. That is ugly. And it’s an ugliness, that just based on statistics, the majority of people reading this article have dabbled with. And this must be repented of.

Biblical sexuality is beautiful because it shows us the gospel.

It expresses the gospel in a physical, almost sacramental-like way. The one-enfleshment of two different but complimentary parties is fulfilled in the union of Jesus to His people, the church (Eph. 5:31–32). And that is a beautiful thing the Christian couple can be reminded of every time they share in sexual intimacy.

But is marital sex the only way one can experience the gospel in their sexuality? Maybe you are single, maybe a widow, maybe you feel sinful desires towards the same sex, maybe you are married and find yourself drawn to someone other than your spouse, or you have a spouse who is not drawn to you, and you are therefore incapable of finding an appropriate outlet for your sexual desires—is there any beauty in this for you? Is there any way for you to experience the gospel in your sexuality? If not, then there will be very little reason for you to deny the draw of sin’s pleasure. But I believe there is. Because I don’t think what Paul says in Ephesians 5 is the only way we can experience the love of Christ, the reality of Christ, in our sexuality. In giving ourselves to our spouse we do, yes. But there’s another way: giving our desires up to God.

Shortly before his death, Jesus looked to his disciples, and he said, “This is my body, which is for you.” The Son of God gave His body for us, and He calls us to give our body for Him. Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” When you say no to disordered desire—whether that is homosexual desire, pre-marital or extra-marital desire, whether that is self-desire—and instead deliver your body to God, something beautiful is happening. By refusing your sexual urges, you are using your sexuality to glorify God, and to experience Christ. You are sharing with Him in that real, visceral, difficult self-denial.

God calls us to give our bodies, our sexuality, to Him as a sacrifice. The only way we will do that is by seeing that His Son gave His body first. A sinless body, mind you. Tempted in every way as us—tempted in his sexuality, yes! That’s what “in every way” must mean! But “without sin.” That perfect body was given up to save you and me from our sins, indeed our sexual sins. We all have them. Don’t let your heterosexuality give you a sense of false security, as though you are not a sexual sinner (Matt. 5:28). We are all sexual sinners, and we all need to repent of that. That’s not just a call upon a certain category of sexual sinner. Those of us who do not struggle with those types of sin need to begin at a place of humility when considering the sins of others, or else we will not be able to love them. Chris Gordon concludes his New Reformation Catechism on Human Sexuality with this question and answer,

Q. How do we love those who live in sexual sin?
A. We should not avoid or shun those who are mastered by sexual sin. Instead, we should speak the truth in love about sexual sin, repentance, and faith in Christ’ give witness to the deliverance God gave us from our own sins; and perform acts of kindness. By our godly living, we should seek to win over our neighbors to Christ.

So, don’t let your heterosexuality give you a sense of false security. Nor let your homosexuality give you a sense of despair. Christ saves to the uttermost. No sin, no perversion, no addiction is beyond the curative power of this promise: “This is my body which is for you.”

And when He gives His body for you that act actually does something. Two things, in fact. First, it changes you: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11).

But second, and this is so important, it charges you: “For you were bought with a price, so glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). Because Christ gave His body to save you from the sins you commit with yours, know that He is transforming you to be more like His glorious body—and now live for Him.

1 comment

  1. I believe that the emergence of the LGBT community from the margins in society has contributed to an apologetic panic for many of us religiously conservative Christians. I believe that panic can be seen in this 2 part series on a Perfect Union.

    That panic has caused us to try too hard to say too much to both persuade believers to follow the Biblical sexual mores and dissuade them and unbelievers from violating those standards. In trying to say too much, the above series has perhaps substituted some biblically inspired humanistic idealistic definitions of sex for what the Scriptures say while going beyond the Scriptures in describing unbiblical sexual practices and relationships. Those try too hard attempts to say too much may become counterproductive in or even sabotage what we want to do in promoting sexual purity.

    Let’s first talk about identity and how it was described in Part 1. I could agree with what was written there if we had only one identity and that identity said everything there is to say about us. But such would be the result of employing all-or-nothing reasoning to identity. The all-or-nothing approach is an example of a try too hard effort to say too much.

    Reality teaches us that we have multiple identities and none of them describe us in our entirety, though one identity is our most essential one. And so what if someone identifies themselves as heterosexual or homosexual? What qualifies that is if someone also identifies themselves as a Christian. For that Christian identity would cause that person to respond to their heterosexual or homosexual identity in ways that are different from how an unbeliever would respond to those identities. Thus, we can note that identifying as a heterosexual or homosexual does not tell us enough about that person. Our identity as a believer in Christ qualifies, or should, what our identity as a heterosexual or homosexual means to us. In terms of having multiple identities, we should also note that the parable of the 2 men praying (see Luke 18:9-14) teaches us that for our whole lives, one of our identities will be that of a sinner. Note the qualities of the person who no longer identified himself as a sinner.

    Also, claiming that only a heterosexual sexual can unite to become one flesh, is another example of trying too hard to say too much. The sexual act, whether it is done by a same-sex couple or a heterosexual couple, unites two people to one flesh. Otherwise, certain sex acts by a heterosexual couple could not counted as sexual immorality because those acts would not make them to become one flesh.

    We should note that the writer tries to put sex practiced by a Christian heterosexual married couple on too high a pedestal. But the result is to substitute this person’s biblically inspired, humanistic ideal of sex for what the Scriptures say. Here we should remember that context of when Paul talked about a husband or wife not refusing one another was for the prevention of sexual immorality.

    The series started by referring tothe Respect For Marriage Act. That act, along with the Obergefell decision and time has changed our culture so that the LGBT Community can come out of the margins of society. The way sex is described in this two-part series seems to be an attempt not just to help those in the Church to be pure, which is good, but to inspire us to return the LGBT Community back to the margins of society. That is another example of trying too hard to say too much. Here we need to imitate Paul’s expressed attitude described in I Corinthians 5:12, 13 here. Paul was taking action to maintain the sexual purity of the Church, not society. And so it seems to me that outside of evangelism, we should not attempt to create sexual purity in society. That is especially true because our past efforts to marginalize the LGBT community since the British and European discovery of our nation has done much harm to the reputation of the Gospel today.

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