God loves sex. C.S. Lewis defines sex as part of ‘The Great Dance’ – from the solar systems to the act of sexual intercourse— they form “an ongoing, dynamic dance, in which plans without number interlock, and each movement becomes, in its season, the breaking into flower of the whole of [God’s] design.” Therefore, our natural sexual desires are good and God-given. But because of the Fall, lust has invaded the headquarters of these desires, and thus we find the problem of sin. One thing we need to realise is this: God did not have our shame in mind when He created sex. He had our joy in mind. He had our pleasure in mind. He had His glory in mind. So what can we do to follow the blueprint of God’s design?
What is God’s purpose in sex?
God authored sex so beautifully. He has conceived it to be so personal and so sacred that it was created to be enjoyed in one exclusive context alone. In marriage. Between a man and his wife (Gen 2:24). This is because the purpose of sex, as a pleasant seal of this union, is to point to the love between Christ and His Bride, the Church (Eph 5:25-32). Sex is an act, not one that focuses on serving your individual’s sexual desires, rather sex should be characterised by the selfless servitude of offering your body to please your spouse (1 Cor 7:3-4). It is the complete giving over of oneself, unashamedly. It is the emulation of the rich and humble love displayed on the Cross.
The main condition of sex according to God is that it is a marital act. This is because God demands covenants. Why? Because covenants testify of and illuminate His faithful nature. The fidelity of a sexual act, confined to marriage, glorifies God’s character which provides a bedrock of deep intimate worship of Him. This worship is perfectly epitomised in Adam and Eve’s loving interactions in Eden before the fall (Gen 2:22-25).
However, this picture of oneness and fidelity is not what we see in society, even within ourselves as Christians. Sin adulterates the natural and pure desires to honour God through our sexual fidelity to our spouses and in purity to Him. Instead, we feel compelled to act out in ‘passionate lust like the pagans who do not know God‘ (1 Thess 4:5), declaring our defiance to His faithfulness by being unfaithful. Under the umbrella of these sinful acts that we perform to satisfy our lust, we find even more problems. Shame, pain, guilt, brokenness, and regret. We often find ourselves in a mess we are unable to fix.
Know Whom you offend
In our fight against lust, we must remember Who it is that we offend. God. The Father, the One who loved you so dearly that He gave His Son as a sacrifice for your sins (John 3:16). Jesus, the One who willingly laid down His life, for you, someone who had never loved Him or desired to even know Him (Rom 5:8, 1 John 4:19). The Holy Spirit, the One who lives within you, to perfect you and is your Guarantor to having eternal life (Eph 1:13-14). You offend God. You grieve God. This is why David says, “ Against You, You only, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:3-4). Not Bathsheba, not Uriah, not his son, but God. That is why when Joseph is fleeing Potiphar’s wife, he says, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen 39:9). When we choose to indulge in sexual desires that do not comply with God’s design for sex in covenant marriage, we offend God. It grieves and repulses the Spirit of God that we would dishonour the very bodies that He created, the temple He dwells in, by doing something that He considers abominable. We must recognise the gravity of our sin.
We can never understand this or the unexaggerated brokenness and desperation that David and Joseph felt until we understand the fear of God. And to understand the fear of God we must, first and foremost, know who God is. Therefore, before you join another accountability group, or set boundaries with your partner until further notice for the 100th time, or litter your walls with Post-it notes filled with Bible quotes to deter your attention from temptation, you MUST genuinely and relentlessly seek to KNOW the Lord. Fear of Him is the beginning of all wisdom (Prov 9:10). Sit with Him and have His words wash over you, purifying and bringing into submission those ‘untethered’ desires to the authority and control of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:4). Pray, asking for the fear of the Lord to guide you in the knowledge of who He is and why His plans for sex are what they are. Such knowledge will help you to repent more sincerely and walk according to what is the true and authentic way that God intended for us to live by. After all, the road to repentance must be an earnest one (Prov 28:13).
Teach me your way, O Lord,Psalm 86:11
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
Passive prayer won’t help you
We have all done it. Said a quick little ten-second prayer when we were faced with the temptation to watch porn or entertain a lustful rendez-vous, when we have no real desire to fight it. In fact, there are times where we are looking forward to satisfying that lust to the point of adopting a “Sin now, pray later” mentality. Sin causes us to have deeply warped views of how grace works in our lives (Rom 6:1). Pride can easily take root and dupe us into thinking obtusely that we can trick God into accepting our feigned attempts at sincere repentance. But why trick God when He is the only one who can save you? (James 4:10)
In the war for sexual purity we must come to an understanding of what we have in our weaponry:
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Ephesians 6:14-17
Do not underestimate what you were equipped with on the day of your salvation. God truly understood what awaited us on the front lines. Hence why He has given us weaponry that is not carnal, but that which can destroy strongholds (2 Cor 10:4). He knew the brokenness the trauma of molestation can breed. He knew the addictive power that pornography yields. He knew how our desires for companionship can easily be manipulated into lust by the malignant effects of sin. He knew how loneliness can get the better of you at times, misleading you into thinking masturbation is a safe refuge. He knows our frame and understands that we are dust (Psa 103:14), with no real power within ourselves to fight the sin that dwells within (Rom 7:18, Gal 5:17), or the god of this age (2 Cor 4:4) or the temptation of the world (Phil 2:15).
Therefore, prayer, like any weapon is only effective if we use it well. Why not confess your sins more readily and entirely to God? (1 John 1:9) Why not pray more specifically and boldly, telling God all of your needs and imaginations? (Heb 4:14-16) Why not place the burden of lust at Jesus’ feet and ask the Holy Spirit to exchange your lustful desires for pure ones in Christ? (1 Pet 5:7, Matt 11:29) By doing this you are bringing these lustful thoughts into captivity and submitting them unto the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5). Nothing is ever too shameful to tell Him who hung naked on the Cross to bear your shame (Isaiah 53:5).
Sex should end with satisfaction in God
I once read a statement that read, “Our sexual desires are meant to drive us towards a relationship that satisfies our soul”. I tried to take that statement seriously without scoffing. What did Pastor John Piper know about my needs? But then I realised what I was scoffing at. A statement that was essentially making a point that everything including our sexual desires, points to Christ. In that moment I knew I really had not even scratched the surface of how great or powerful Jesus Christ was to fulfil my every need and how deep-rooted my lust was. My scoff pointed to unbelief and a low view of God. We can be fooled into thinking intimacy with a human, trumps our intimacy with God. The God who made my existence possible was the very God in whose abilities I did not believe in to satisfy my soul.
The truth is when we underestimate God and we underestimate sin. Though penned more than a century ago these words still ring true:
“I fear we do not sufficiently realize the extreme subtlety of our soul’s disease. We are too apt to forget that temptation to sin will rarely present itself to us in its true colours, saying, “I am your deadly enemy, and I want to ruin you forever in hell.”
Oh, no! sin comes to us, like Judas, with a kiss; and like Joab, with an outstretched hand and flattering words. The forbidden fruit seemed good and desirable to Eve; yet it cast her out of Eden. The walking idly on his palace roof seemed harmless enough to David; yet it ended in adultery and murder. Sin rarely seems sin at first beginnings. Let us then watch and pray, lest we fall into temptation. We may give wickedness smooth names, but we cannot alter its nature and character in the sight of God.”J.C Ryle – Holiness: It’s Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots
Conquering our sexual sin first starts with conquering our low and false view of God and sin. We must know, understand and accept God’s position as Author and Governor of the things we enjoy here on earth. Things that must be correctly enjoyed through true satisfaction in Him. This includes sex. We must seek Him, to understand His blueprint for how sex should function. When we misappropriate His design, we miss out on the highest climax that there is – satisfaction in Christ.
Therefore dear Christian, do not lose hope. Pursue that greater knowledge, pursue that deeper intimacy with Him, pursue the grace to wait well for the good gift He has in store. Christ promises to draw near to us, only if we draw near to Him (James 4:8).