The Bible's prohibitions against our misusing our sexuality are there to protect us, not to punish us.
As a Christian gynecologist, I have had the privilege of treating thousands of women during the last two decades. Many of them have had the courage to ask questions about one of the most private aspects of their lives: their sexuality. The issues have ranged from the values of virginity to sexually transmitted diseases; from wedding night romance to the challenges of geriatric sexual relations; from birth control to plastic surgery.
The majority of couples struggle with these sensitive and important issues of marriage in a spiritual vacuum. They wonder how their faith in Christ and their human sexuality can peacefully coexist. Sensing that there must be more to their sexual lives than they are experiencing but wondering if God really approves of these secret desires, they ask themselves: Is sex the forbidden fruit?
Sex Is God's Idea
Of the many hundreds of questions I have been asked, the fundamental theme remains: What does God think about sex? The answer I give is the response I received from my pastor in my youth when I asked the same question: It's God's idea!
God created the sexes and sexual intercourse. He instilled the sexual drive into our bodies, knowing it would work its way into our thoughts and minds. He is not ashamed of our sexuality, nor does He regret creating it.
From the second chapter of Genesis throughout the pages of Scripture we can read about God's plan for our sexuality. And from one passage to the next, the theme is one of pleasure, joy and fulfillment within the boundaries He has created.
Yet many Christians mistakenly perceive that the few hedges of protection God placed around our sexuality indicate that God is against sex. The truth is, our sexuality is God's gift to us, not just for reproduction, as many in the church seem to believe, but also for intimacy and pleasure in the comfort of marriage. And yes, He knows how much fun it is. He made it that way!
But for so long, the church has looked at the way the fallen world has expressed itself sexually and closed its doors to all discussions of sex, seemingly fearing that the influences of the secular world will corrupt the holiness of the church.
The sometimes irresponsible approach of the church to human sexuality has left many sincere Christians sitting in their church pews each Sunday wondering if God is for or against sex. Is God condemning them as they struggle with questions for which they desperately need answers and for feelings that threaten their very walk with Him? The answer is, absolutely not!
I can tell you on the authority of the Bible that God is definitely interested in your sexual life—and not just so He can say, "Don't do that!" He longs for you to experience all He has created you for from the beginning. Though we may not achieve what we would have had in the Garden of Eden, we can surely take hold of a lot more than we currently enjoy, and we can do it without the guilt and condemnation that has so often hounded the sincere Christian.
Consider God's motivation for creating a companion for Adam and His ultimate design for their relationship. During God's creation process, He said: "'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'" (Gen. 2:18, NIV). Then, according to Scripture, "The Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh'...For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (vv. 22-24).
It was God who created a beautiful woman and brought her to Adam as His precious gift to him. When Adam saw how Eve was made, he also learned how his body fit together with hers. The two became one flesh, which is how the rest of us got here!
In fact, God's first command to them was to "'be fruitful and increase in number'" (Gen. 1:28). In other words, God told them to have intercourse; it was their first assignment as a couple!
Boundaries for Sexual Activity
Clearly, God is the one who initiated sex as an activity to be enjoyed between two people who are married to each other. However, He states in His Word that it is not to be engaged in outside this parameter. Whole chapters in the Old Testament are devoted to the regulation of sexual activity (Lev. 18; 20).
In the pagan cultures that surrounded the people of Israel, sexual activity between father and daughter, mother and son, brother and sister, or men and animals was not uncommon. Homosexuality was also a problem. So God established boundaries for His people and commanded them not to engage in these types of sexual activity.
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