45 – What Dr. Ruth Won’t Tell You About Sex
How’s your sex life? If you’re like most men, that’s a loaded question.
Thinking about your sexual relationship with your spouse probably brings up a wide range of emotions joy, fun, frustration, hurt, tension, and more. Why is sexual intimacy so important to us as men? Why does sex have the power to take us to such emotional extremes?
This article will address key insights on God’s design for sex. But before we look at what the Bible says, we need to understand our current situation. Too many Christians are experiencing pain and frustration because their view of sexuality has been shaped more by the culture than the Bible.
TWO PREVAILING CULTURAL VIEWS OF SEX
1. The Victorian View
Traditional American values about sex are basically Victorian. Sex is a private thing that should not be talked about. Our bodies have parts that are embarrassing at best and dirty at worst. For many people in this mindset, sex is a necessary evil. Or, if they enjoy sex, they are ashamed that it is fun.
When this prevailing view is combined with the sexual and psychological abuse that so many young people especially women experience, it is a recipe for near disaster. Sex becomes viewed as a filthy, shameful activity. Many people see sex as an obligation that must be met, so they “give in” occasionally for the sake of their spouses.
The Victorian view owes more to Platonic philosophy than it does the Bible. Plato taught that the spirit was perfect and that the passions and desires of the body pulled the spirit down. Thus, the body is a “prison-house” of the soul. Physical things, such as the human body, are by definition soiled by comparison to things of the “spirit.” A good man learns to overcome the passions of his body.
Combining Victorian morality with Platonic philosophy, the traditional American view of sexuality has, for all practical purposes, denied that sex is a holy activity instituted by God.
2. The Hedonistic View
During the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, the old morality was cast overboard as young people searched for experience and pleasure. “If it feels good, do it” became the new golden rule. Sex is just an activity that brings pleasure, with little or no meaning beyond the physical sensations.
Our secular culture promotes this view in thousands of ways. Many hit movies espouse this view by making the viewer sympathetic towards unmarried couples who become involved sexually. Magazines and television speak of sex as little more than a recreational activity. And clearly this is the lesson that our children are learning: a recent study of 1,700 sixth through ninth graders showed that over 50% of them believed a couple should have sex if they have been dating more than six months.1
When we absorb either of these two views of sex from our culture, it inevitably leads to frustration. We have a sense that something
better is out there, but can’t quite find it. Here’s a start…
GOD’S DESIGN FOR SEX
The Apostle Paul shows us God’s design for sex.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery but I am talking about Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31-32, NIV).
This passage reveals three truths we desperately need to recover…
1. Human sexuality is a good gift from God.
In this passage, Paul quotes from the second chapter of Genesis. After God created woman, He brought the man and woman together and told them they were to become one flesh. The intimacy of being “one flesh” obviously involves more than just sex, but it doesn’t involve less. Many aspects of marriage help create intimacy. But God ordained sex as the highest expression of physical intimacy between a man and woman.
In Genesis 2:25, we see that the man and woman were “both naked, and they felt no shame.” God’s design was for men and women to celebrate their spiritual and emotional intimacy through the free and open expression of physical intimacy. This is why sex can bring such great joy. The Bible clearly contradicts the Victorian mindset that sex is shameful or dirty.
Many Christians are trapped in the view that sex is a duty or obligation, but the Bible also teaches that sex should be enjoyable. Proverbs 5:18, 19 tells us sex should bring joy and satisfaction. Many issues can contribute to a warped perspective of sex past sexual abuse, lack of information, insensitivity of a spouse, health issues, stress, lack of faith, etc. Whatever the source, someone who sees sex as drudgery is missing out an a great blessing and can ask Christ by faith for healing.2
2. Sex is holy because it mirrors the intimacy of our relationship with Christ.
The Hedonistic view of sexuality prevalent today says that sex is a fun activity just like any other. Eat ice cream, watch a sunset, read a good book, enjoy a round of golf, have sex they’re all the same.
Yet the Bible shows there is much more to sex than just physical pleasure. Paul teaches in this verse that intimacy in marriage is a picture of the intimacy between Christ and His bride, the church.
When we experience physical intimacy, it is intended to remind us of the intimacy we have with God. We are Christ’s bride, and He has united us to Himself through his death on the cross. Sex points us to the spiritual reality of our union with Christ.
This holy aspect of sex shows us why sex outside of marriage is so offensive to God. Paul says, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” (1 Corinthians 6:15, 16). Sex signifies the relationship between Christ and the believer, so sexual activity outside of the marriage covenant is always a cheap imitation of the real thing, regardless of any momentary thrill.
God designed sex so that a man and woman could experience intimacy as a reminder of their intimacy with Him.
3. Sex is a reflection of what it means to be made in the image of God.
At the end of each of the first five days of creation, God closed it saying that his work was “good.” Then, after the creation of man on the sixth day, God said it was “very good.” So it is startling to read in Genesis 2:18 that something was “not good.” God saw that it was not good for man to be alone.
We were made for relationships. The creation story shows that intimacy with others is essential to our humanness. There is a sense in which we only fully reflect the image of God when we are in significant relationships with others.
Sex is the highest form of physical intimacy between two people. Somehow, sex taps into the very heart of our personhood. This is why Paul can say that “all other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Sexual immorality defiles an ultimate expression of His image in us.
A lack of sexual fulfillment is frustrating for reasons beyond just an unmet physical desire. It causes frustration because it can feel like rejection of me as a person. Also, because I am made in God’s image, I have a powerful need for physical intimacy with my spouse. Just as a lack of communication breaks intimacy for most women, a lack of sex breaks intimacy for men. And in our hearts we recognize that we are missing something deep and real and good.
Why is intimacy in relationships so important? Perhaps because God is a trinity one God, three persons and He has experienced eternal intimacy in the relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Our experiences of human relationships, especially sexual intimacy, may very well be a holy reflection of the tri-personality of God.
RENEWING OUR VIEW OF SEX
As Christian men entering a new millenium, we need to renounce a cultural or humanistic view of sexuality. God designed sex as a celebration, but a holy one. Sex doesn’t have to bring tension and frustration. In the context of an intimate marriage, our sexuality can become a beautiful reflection of our intimacy with God.
If you have an inadequate view of sex, consider these steps…
Confess your faulty understanding to Christ. Study His Word. Look to Him by faith to restore your heart and mind so that you can experience sex as He intended, living in dependence on Him.
Share this article with your spouse. Each one think through whether you have more of a Victorian or a Hedonistic view of sex. What has shaped your view? Which insights in this article could help you the most? What other areas of your marriage need to improve so that you can have a healthy sex life? Pray together that God would renew your hearts and create a greater sense of intimacy in your marriage.
1 Time Magazine, June 15, 1998, p. 54.
2 There are many issues of sexuality beyond the scope of this article…
If you or your wife are the victims of sexual abuse, a helpful resource may be The Wounded Heart, by Dr. Dan Allender, NavPress.
If you are struggling with addiction to pornography or other sexual activities, consider the resource False Intimacy, Dr. Harry Schaumburg, NavPress. Also, see our A Look in the Mirror #7, “Conquering a Secret Thought Life.”
David Delk is the Executive Director of Man in the Mirror.
© 1998. Man in the Mirror. All rights reserved.