God designed sex. He made it to be something enjoyable and pleasurable between a man and woman joined together in a holy matrimony.
So, why is it so hard for us to talk about sex? Why do pastors avoid the topic like the H1N1 flu bug? Why do churches offer help only after men and women get into trouble. Why are churches failing to teach about healthy human sexuality?
One word; FEAR! What percentage of today’s adults do you think have had the “sex talk?” What percentage of today’s adults had a clue about sex after the “sex talk” with one or both of their parents? Most of the men and women I meet didn’t have a “sex talk” at all. Why are parents so afraid to talk about sex with their children?
Most parents aren’t comfortable talking about sex because their parent’s weren’t comfortable talking about sex. Many parents inherited their parent’s belief that sex is not to be talked about. Sex is an embarrassing, uncomfortable topic for most parents. They think, “what if little Johnnie asks me a tough question?”
Here’s one theory (it’s my theory, so take it for what it’s worth). Our society has moved away from an agriculturally based economy to a city-based economy. The vast majority of people do not live on farms anymore. In past generations, nearly everyone was raised on a farm or worked on a farm. I hate to get graphic here, but... when you grow up on a farm there are a lot of animals procreating all of the time. Little eyes growing up around animals figure out what sex is pretty fast. It was not uncommon for the family to talk around the dinner table about bringing in a bull to fertilize a heifer, or multiply the herd. It wasn’t perverted; it was natural and part of the process of life. Life continued because of sex. Babies or little calves were born because of what the boy bull did with the girl cow. Animals provided an easy way for children to naturally learn about reproduction. Children’s natural curiosity led them to ask questions. Parents could answer their questions using the examples the children saw during a normal day.
Fast forward to today’s world. Parents avoid the “sex talk” entirely. It’s not uncommon to hear a father say, “he’ll learn on the street just like I did.” If you don’t teach your children, then who will? What examples do our children see to learn about sex? Stew on that answer for a little while. “Reality” television teaches that sex is fun, acceptable, risk free, safe, and requires that everyone feel good all of the time. What is shown today in movies, television, and pornography rarely teaches about the natural tensions in real relationships that are an integral part of healthy human sexuality.
Church is probably the worst place to learn about human sexuality, because the church is almost completely silent on the topic. The Bible is not silent about sex, but its instructions about sex are pretty general. There is a lot that God wanted the husband and wife to figure out on their own.
God designed marriage. The first marriage occurred when God created Adam and provided a helpmate for him, Eve. This union, or marriage, was approved, designed, and ordained by God. This was our first example of marriage. Together, Adam and Eve sinned and were separated from God. However, they were not separated from each other. God’s plan to multiply the earth with offspring began with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
God blessed them and said to them, be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
Genesis 1:28, NIV
As far as we know God didn’t leave an instruction manual behind. Adam and Eve had to figure out this “be fruitful and multiply” thing.
Commitment in marriage is a result of making a holy covenant with God. Each marriage partner vows before God to remain faithful to his or her partner. Women are to submit to their husbands.
“For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands,” (1 Peter 3:5, NIV).
Husbands are to treat their wives with respect so that their prayers will not be hindered.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
1 Peter 3:7, NIV
The scriptures are clear that sexual infidelity is wrong. Jesus even said that any form of thought related to unfaithfulness is a sin.
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28, NIV).
The Bible is relatively silent about what are acceptable practices in the area of sexual relations between a husband and wife. However, Paul writes to the church in Corinth:
Now for the matters you wrote about:
It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1 Corinthians 7:1-5, NIV
Self-control was a problem in Paul’s time too. Not too different from today is it?
The husband and wife are to fulfill their sexual marital duties to each other. The attitude each should take is that they do not have authority over their own bodies. Depriving a wife or husband, except for a time of prayer, is not wise. Self-control will become an issue at some point. Sexual intimacy is left to the husband and the wife’s discretion. The specifics of sexual intimacy in a marriage should honor each person, be edifying to God, and show respect for the other partner’s comfort.
I’m not a bible scholar, but it seems clear to me that God intentionally challenged the man and woman who were united in marriage to discover what is acceptable and pleasing to God and each other. That can be very different from couple to couple. This idea requires and shouts out to us that constant open communication must happen in a marriage, all of the time. No exceptions, no hesitation, no reading the latest “seven steps to a fulfilling sexual relationship” book with your spouse. The best guide is sitting down, or lying down in this case, and figuring it all out. After all, isn’t that the best part of discovering your mates wants and desires? Practice, practice, practice!
Okay, after that last paragraph, if you are ready to tie me to a cross and crucify me for blasphemy, you might be one of the people in church who hold back others in understanding and enjoying the gift of sex that God has provided. Again, it was designed to be enjoyed in a spirit-filled marital union between a man and a woman.
Sex is a beautiful, God-designed experience that creates a unique bond between two committed married adults. Marriage without healthy mutually satisfying sex is not marriage, it is cohabitation. Marriage without faithfulness is not marriage; it is a sea of land mines waiting to be detonated. Marriage without healthy, mutually satisfying sex is a marriage without intimacy, trust, and satisfaction and is headed for trouble.
In the next chapter we will look at the research on the Internet and addiction and how the risks have increased with its use. Don’t think your family will be the only one who resists temptation. Don’t simply believe that you are strong enough to resist temptation on your own. The research shows that anyone is vulnerable. Christians are especially at risk!
Contributed by: Jerry Wright author of My Father's Stash