I can remember being a teenager, babysitting at my sister’s house. On her nightstand, she had a book about sex. I was intrigued . . . I was curious! I would never have admitted that to anyone back then, but in the privacy of her house I looked through the book. Asking questions about sex was just awkward and embarrassing. Librarians will tell you that books on sexuality are not often checked out but are secretly paged through. The topic of sex makes us curious, interested, filled with shame, and sometimes even disgusted.
One look at the marketing techniques of Madison Avenue and you will realize that sex is a powerful force. It is used to sell alcohol, cars, and everything else. Television shows and movies are filled with sexual scenes and innuendos. Approximately 15 percent of searches on the Internet are related to porn. Thirty percent of those who are looking for porn are women.
Single or married, male or female, sex is an important and powerful aspect of being human. Because we rarely admit the power of our sexuality, it works in subversive ways, impacting our choices and often becoming a formidable source of temptation and frustration.
Human sexuality is an essential aspect of who we are as children of God. God intentionally created us as sexual beings and intentionally designed our sexuality to be a powerful force within us. Because Christians often don’t talk or teach about sex, confusion reigns. Worldly resources like random blogs, erotic novels, and women’s magazines seem to have more sexual advice than Christian resources. Many women are left with the assumption that God just doesn’t have that much to say about sex . . . other than “don’t do it 'til you are married.”
I’ve met hundreds of Christian women who are confused and even devastated by the area of sexuality. With the silence of the church, they are left alone to sort through harrowing experiences like childhood sexual abuse, exposure to porn, raging temptation, homosexual thoughts, and betrayal in marriage.
Many women feel like sexuality has hijacked their happiness, and it certainly seems to be a barrier to honoring God. Single or married, we desperately need God’s perspective on sexuality. Fortunately, the Bible has a lot to say on the topic. Some of it might surprise you.
We all have thoughts and beliefs about sex that are not based on truth. Perhaps your misinformation about sex even came from Christian sources. This misinformation impacts the choices we make. Here is a common example:
Leigh grew up with a sorted sexual past. She experienced sexual abuse from a boy in the neighborhood and was too ashamed to admit it to her Christian parents. As a 12-year-old girl, Leigh drew many conclusions about herself and about sexuality.Sex is dirty. I’m a dirty girl. The only way I can ever get a boy’s attention is through giving him sex. I can never be pure again. As a teenager, Leigh moved from boy to boy and had a secret unplanned pregnancy that ended in abortion. Leigh is now a 40-year-old wife and mother. These unspoken messages, violations, and secret sins still dominate her thinking and impact her marriage. Although she loves the Lord and reads the Bible, she doesn’t quite know how to be free from the shame of her past.
Like Leigh, if you truly want to see the gift of sexuality as it was created to be experienced, you must be willing to expose the lies you’ve believed as measured by the truth of God’s Word.
Here is perhaps the most profound truth I have learned from studying what God says about sex: Whether you are single or married, having great sex or no sex, your sexuality is inseparable from your spirituality.
Take a moment to digest that. Most Christian women have erected a thick wall between their sexuality and spirituality. Their sexual fantasies, sexual shame, and temptations are far removed from their desire to please and know the Lord. I believe that the walls we build between the sexual and spiritual are only imaginary. Our sexuality deeply impacts our spirituality and vice versa. Our confusion and hidden pain related to sex is intricately intertwined with our present relationship with God.
John Piper wrote in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, “The ultimate reason (not the only reason) why we are sexual is to make God more deeply knowable."
What do you think of the above quote? Kind of a paradigm shift, isn’t it? God created sex for a lot of reasons—for procreation, for pleasure, for intimate knowing between a husband and wife. However, one of the most important reasons He created sex is to communicate about Himself.
God understands that we are limited creatures—that we have difficulty grasping spiritual truths. All throughout Scripture, God paints physical pictures to explain spiritual truths. For example, in John 15, He used the physical picture of a grapevine to explain what it looks like to abide in Christ.
God created sex and the covenant of marriage to be a brilliant metaphor of how deeply He knows us and longs for us to know Him. It’s not just John Piper who says this. Consider this fact: The Hebrew word for sexual intimacy between a husband and wife in the Old Testament is the wordyada.Yada literally means, “to know deeply or intimately.” The word yada appears in the Old Testament more than 940 times. No, there isn’t that much sex in the Old Testament. The wordyada is most often used to describe intimacy with God—His with us, and ours with Him. Here are a few examples:
“You have searched me and you yada my heart.” Psalm 139:1
“In all your ways yada Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:6
“Moses said to the Lord . . . 'If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may yada you and continue to find favor with you.'" Exodus 33:13.
Sexual intimacy is a powerful picture of the gospel—of the degree of intimacy and ecstasy we are capable of having with God. The Christian marriage is designed to be a showcase of this masterpiece. The romantic longings of a single woman mirror the longings of a bride who is waiting for the ultimate salvation—the coming of Jesus Christ. To the extent that our understanding and experience of sex is damaged and twisted, our view of God is compromised.
Here’s the takeaway: What you think about sex really matters. Having God’s perspective on the topic, whether you are single or married, is a vital piece of your growth as a daughter of God.
Want to learn more? Dr. Juli Slattery's newest book Rethinking Sexuality was released on July 24th and dives into this conversation!