How Does the Bible Deal with Sexuality?
The Biblical-World View and the Non-Biblical-World View approach the sex issue from entirely different perspectives. One is founded upon a sexual ideology where anything goes. The other is designed to include Jesus Christ as an intimate partner in a marriage setting. It is the love of Jesus Christ flowing through a marriage relationship that raises sex to a spiritual, emotional and intimate relationship that transcends anything that the world system can engender.
Somehow, in comparison, “friends with benefits” pales to insignificance.
In this age of internet dating I am dealing with this issue of living out godly sexual values in an increasingly secular culture.
Once upon a time I was asked, “Roger, how can I reconcile a world view with the teaching of the Bible in my personal relationship?” A question or two later and I knew that for this individual, as well as for thousands of other Christians, the bottom line answer can be found only by sorting out the dynamics of proper sexual values and behaviors in a variety of Christian and Non-Christian settings.
Let me begin my answer with a letter my pastor Glenn Barteau shared with me that puts the Biblical World View regarding sex in a helpful perspective. Then, I will answer the question many Christians struggle with in today’s degenerating sexual miasma.
“It’s a lot different being married than living together. And I’m glad the distinction has been so clear-cut for me. When we lived together we were committed as long as we were in love. But now we are in love because we’re committed. This is a real difference-our life is not perfect, many marital problems are a clear result it seems to me because of our past [living together].
I wish we had never lived together. In our case we would have had greater respect for ourselves. We would have learned to resolve disagreements and to negotiate rather than the style we learned of secretly evaluating each problem and asking the question quote: “Is this worth breaking up over?’ Such thinking teaches us to deal with problems with bitter acquiescence, or stiff-necked inflexibility depending on our secret answer to the question. This assumption ruined true trust and intimacy and encouraged fantasies about living alone. Now we face problems and we know the old ways are inappropriate. We don’t really have any substitutes, and we no longer have the old breaking up option as an escape route.”
Now, let me I exalt the high calling of following the Biblical principles regarding the holiness of sex inside a marriage setting.
First, God’s design is for Jesus to be the third partner in a marriage. We need His love and guidance to ensure a vibrant, fulfilled and successful marriage relationship. Solomon recognized this in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Second, only a Christian marriage can experience the deepest levels of divine-agape love. Three levels of love are delineated in the Bible. “Eros” love is sexual only. “Philos” love describes love between friends or marriage partners. “Agape” love, which is intended to occur in Christian marriage is divinely inspired. The “agape” love of God never quits, loves the unlovable without ever considering the worthiness or not of the one loved. Jesus alone can overflow His divine-agape love into two Christians in marriage.
Third, Jesus often pictured Himself as the groom and the church as His bride: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.). Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:7-9).
Marriage for Christians provides the opportunity to picture to the world how much Jesus loves His church represented by those who enter into a marriage relationship with Him when they surrender to Him as their Savior and Lord. Developing a loving Christian marriage is a high calling because of how it represents our married relationship with Christ.
Fourth, marriage provides the setting in which a husband can love with divine agape love. He is responsible for laying down his life in sacrifice for his wife just as Jesus laid down His life for His church. I find it interesting that never in the Bible is the wife instructed to love her husband. She is told to respect him and follow his guidance, but she is never called upon to love him. Why? I believe that when her husband loves her with all of his heart, constantly concerned with putting her needs before his, providing spiritual leadership and carefully protecting her wholesome purity, love for her husband is second nature.
Paul laid down these principles for the husband’s love leadership in Ephesians 5:25-33:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church, for we are members of his body. “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. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Show me a husband who loves like Christ loves and 95 times out of a 100 I will show you a wife who loves her husband.
Fifth, the Biblical definition for marriage is one man with one woman for one lifetime (Genesis 2:18). Strong marriages provide the foundation for a stable society. Loose sex, outside of marriage, undermines the very fabric of society. Our current degenerating Secular World View regarding sex and marriage is destabilizing the most fragile segment of our society: our children and adolescents. No society has survived the destruction of the family caused by degenerating morals. Ours will not be the exception.
In fact, it is quite easy to make a case that the Secular World View that permeates our culture is already bringing down the wrath of a holy God upon our nation. Wrath, brought on by the rejection of God often takes the form of runaway sex as described by Paul in Romans 1:18-27:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Returning to a Biblical World View, especially in the sexual arena may be the only hope for the salvation of our country.
Sixth, one of the most significant issues for Christian singles regards how to handle their God-given sexual drive. I always bring up this issue when giving guidance to those who are struggling. Unfortunately, I choose not to relate the contents of the ensuing discussions because of the privacy and intimate nature of the issues involved. However, I will give you some food for thought. I think that a healthy Biblical understanding of sexual-self stimulation revolves around several things.
Jesus declared in Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Exactly what does “looks lustfully” involve or not involve?
Also, we must factor in Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9: “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” In my experience many singles want to know if getting married is the only option for handling the passion when the right marriage partner is simply not anywhere around? Their questions are best dealt with by a trusted counselor.
Seventh, in simple terms, we must choose between functioning as a Christian with a Secular World View and thus impairing our ability to see God (Matthew 5:8), or, surrendering to the Biblical World View and thus having an intimate relationship with Christ. We cannot have both.
Finally, when as Christians we mess up and handle our sexual drives improperly, we need to get over it. I know some who are still struck with shame and guilt years after the fact. Long-term shame and guilt were never designed by God to continue even for a short time. This is not at all what Christianity is about. We need to follow Johnï¿½s instruction in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Let’s move on.
In John 8 Jesus dealt with the shame and guilt of an adulterous woman by telling her that He did not condemn her. He made it quite clear that she was to pick up the pieces of her broken life and get on with it. Nevertheless, He made it quite clear that He expected her not to sin in that area again.
Well, I hope that answer has revealed some of the beauty of the holiness of living out a Christian lifestyle in the sexual arena.