Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Human sexuality’

8 Keys to Defeating Sexual Sin.


young couple
(© Pkripper503/ StockFreeImages)

When I agreed to write about sexual immorality in thebody of Christ, I thought pulling the information together would be an easy task. As a pastor, counselor, speaker and public health educator, I often address this topic. But as I began to wrestle with the many perspectives from which I could approach the issue, I almost lost myself in a crippling hodgepodge of psychology, sociology and theology.

Finally, I decided that the best approach was the biblical approach. After all, God‘s perspective, clearly revealed in His Word, is the only perspective that really matters.

The Bible makes four simple declarations about human sexuality:

1. God created our sexuality, and it is beautiful (see Gen. 1:26-28; 2:24-25).

2. Sex within the marriage covenant is holy and pure (see Heb. 13:4).

3. Sex outside the marriage covenant is sin (see 1 Cor. 6:9).

4. Sexual relations with the same sex is an abomination (see Lev. 18:22).

Many nonbelievers would probably reject these statements as trivial, outdated, homophobic, narrow-minded, judgmental, accusatory and discriminatory. Unfortunately, judging from their lifestyles, many Christians do too.

I’m not writing to nonbelievers. I’m writing as a Christian to Christians from a Christian perspective.

I wish sexual immorality were a problem outside the church only. But it’s not. It’s a big problem inside the church, also, among Christians and Christian leaders.

Often when I’ve taught about sexuality in church meetings, I’ve been shocked by the concerns that were expressed to me privately. Take my word for it: Every form of sexual addiction, perversion and practice is alive and well among believers, and it stretches from the pulpit to the vestibule of the church and everywhere in between.

The issues, problems and consequences of carnality and sexual immorality are recorded in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. God has given us clear guidelines in His Word. So why are so many believers today involved in sexual sin?

Let me put it bluntly: The reason is that too many of us are refusing to yield totally to the Holy Spirit. We declare with our mouths that we love Jesus; we say we will follow Him wherever He leads us.

But our actions indicate otherwise. Our actions say, “I love you, Jesus, almost as much as I love myself; and I will follow you all the way until I get to the fork in the road where I make the choice to satisfy my own carnal desires. I will believe your Word up to the point at which it disagrees with the secular perspective that explains my behavior. Any variance from that perspective means Your Word is outdated and is not for today.”

How did we get to this place? How did the body of Christ reach the state in which sexual sins are not only overlooked by many Christian leaders but are being openly committed by the keepers of the flame? Blatant immorality, drunkenness, womanizing and perversion are running rampant and unchecked in too many assemblies!

Strong words, you say? Yes, these are very strong words. But strong words are what are needed to rout the “strongman” of immorality. The sins of fornication, adultery, homosexuality and perversion have become deeply rooted in the church and are tolerated by too many of us.

Part of the problem is that we’ve believed the lie that church leaders are “faultless.” That lie has caused many of us to close our eyes to the sexual sins in which some leaders have engaged while serving as our spiritual shepherds. Those “private Bible studies” and late night “counseling sessions” with single folks, unhappy spouses and “sick” members have gone unchallenged and unrebuked by a godly membership.

Now mistresses have the audacity to sit on the front row in the church. Homosexual lovers don’t hesitate to share the platform during praise and worship. Unmarried couples who sleep together Saturday night have no qualms about sitting in church together Sunday morning.

I am aware that I sound angry. I am angry! I’m tired of seeing strong young men and women in the church devastated by the ravages of AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases and dysfunctional lifestyles as a result of sexual immorality. It hurts to see the hopes and promises of beautiful teen-agers and young women dashed when they discover that they’re pregnant and the father has disappeared or has announced to the world that the child is not his baby because the pregnant female “sleeps around.”

Who will comfort the young child who has been fondled by a priest, a pastor or a trustee of the church in the church? Who will help rebuild the shattered emotions of the pastor’s wife after she has discovered her husband’s infidelity with the church secretary or the Sunday school teacher, or worse yet, one of the young men in the choir? Who will sound the clarion call to sanctification and holiness in this age of promiscuity and rank immorality?

Needless to say, we need a revival. The principles of sanctification and holiness need to be revived at the altar. We must stop petting folks who want to stay in their sins. We must herald the truth of God’s Word. We must face sexuality immorality squarely in the face and declare holy war on our carnal nature.

God has given us plain and simple instructions throughout the Bible such as those found in Galatians 5:16: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (NKJV). We need to study the Bible and let the Word of God speak to us. We must be willing to hear and to repent of the sin that God reveals in our lives through His Word. After all, we serve a loving and gracious God who is waiting and willing to forgive us, sanctify us and restore us.

The strongman of immorality can and must be overcome in our lives and in our churches. There are specific things we can do to ensure his defeat.

1. Flee temptation. If you are struggling to overcome sexual sin, it is your responsibility to flee temptation. Be wise. Avoid situations that would contribute to sexual arousal. For example, if you are dating, don’t allow your date to sexually arouse you with kisses, touches or any other kind of stimulation.

If soft music turns you on, put on some hymns or a loud Kirk Franklin album. Play a marching band if you must!

More importantly, associate with those who have the same attitude about sexual purity that you do. I know it can be difficult to track them down, but there are saved brothers and sisters out there somewhere. Entreat the Holy Spirit to help you find them.

2. Ask for help. If you need special help, seek out a Christian therapist or physician who is trained in handling the behavioral problems and addictions that have a stranglehold on your life. All healing comes from the Lord, but not everyone is able to get free from behavioral problems without assistance.

3. Take the risks seriously. If you know what is right but are choosing to live in willful disobedience, I ask: Is it worth the risk? As a Christian participating in a sexually immoral lifestyle, you risk death from incurable, sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis and more. You risk losing your mate and your family because of your unfaithfulness. You risk losing your self-esteem and the respect of your peers and neighbors. You risk devastating your business or profession, especially if you are in ministry. Worst of all, you risk your fellowship with the Lord.

4. Make a commitment. It doesn’t matter whether the behavior you’re involved in is “trendy” or not. As a Christian, you are a “slave of righteousness,” and your call is to crucify the lusts of the flesh. It is possible to live holy if you desire to do so. Commit yourself to staying before the Lord on a daily basis and avoiding anything that would contribute to your taste for immoral pleasures or gratification outside of marriage.

5. Confront unfaithfulness. If you are a Christian wife and your husband has been unfaithful, ask yourself: Is your spouse truly repentant, and will he remain faithful after repentance? Is the unfaithfulness a continuous practice, or was it just one breach of fidelity? Is your spouse a professing Christian, or does he just go to church on Sunday? Is he a Spirit-filled man whom Satan tripped up but who is now truly repentant?

Only you can answer these questions. Forgiveness is possible–and biblical–but the Bible also says that you are not obligated to remain with an unfaithful mate. If you choose to stay with him, you must realize that your husband’s unfaithfulness could well mean your early demise from undetected disease. Given the severity of the sexual diseases among us, I strongly suggest a period of sexual abstinence and then the use of protection at all times, even after lab reports have determined that your mate is disease-free.

Even if your husband is a pastor or church leader, do not hesitate to confront him head-on about his infidelity and report it to the other church authorities. Women must stop shielding and hiding such behavior. Many are suffering physical abuse and threats from these “spiritual leaders” because they are too afraid or too embarrassed to expose them.

Stop being a punching bag for these unregenerate heathen! The Word tells us that a man is worse than an infidel if he neglects his family (see 1 Tim. 5:8). Seek legal help to get the support you need to maintain your family and yourself. There are laws on the books that address adultery!

6. Don’t accept excuses. If you are a member of a congregation and discover that one of your leaders is being sexually immoral, you have a responsibility to bring it to the attention of the church leadership. This action must not be based on hearsay or gossip. But if you know without a doubt, then it is your duty as a Christian to pull the covers off this festering boil that affects the whole body of Christ.

There are no excuses. We do things because we want to do them, and your pastor or leader is no exception. Besides, how can you sit under the leadership of a hypocrite who thumbs his nose at God’s state of holy matrimony?

Yes, it takes courage to uncover sin, but it must be done–even if you are rejected by the leadership. Even if you’re called a liar! Just pick up your marbles and move to another ministry after you have sought God’s face. You don’t want to find that you’ve run from the frying pan into the fire.

7. Confess your sin. If you are a Christian leader, pastor or minister involved in sexual immorality, you need to confess your sin and seek serious counseling–both psychological and spiritual. I personally believe you need to be relieved of your position during this process. You cannot continue on as though nothing has happened. There needs to be public repentance and restoration before you mount the pulpit again or accept any kind of leadership position.

8. Stand up for holiness. To all believers and ministers of the gospel, I say: Wake up! We need to combine forces to lead a strong, faith-based, biblical attack on the scourge of sexual immorality that has become epidemic in our congregations.

It is time to stand up for Jesus. It is time to rebuild the walls of holiness and sexual purity in the church so that we are no longer a reproach to the world. In the words of Nehemiah 2:8: “Let us rise up and build!”

 


Judy Ann Fisher is the founderof the Full Gospel Church of the Lord’s Missions International in Washington, D.C. She is a gifted businesswoman, she is owner of several companies and has traveled extensively as a motivator, lecturer and presenter of her Human Sexuality series.

Enjoying Sex God’s Way.


(iStockphoto.com)

The Bible‘s prohibitions against our misusing our sexuality are there to protect us, not to punish us.

As a Christian gynecologist, I have had the privilege of treating thousands of women during the last two decades. Many of them have had the courage to ask questions about one of the most private aspects of their lives: their sexuality. The issues have ranged from the values of virginity to sexually transmitted diseases; from wedding night romance to the challenges of geriatric sexual relations; from birth control to plastic surgery.

The majority of couples struggle with these sensitive and important issues of marriage in a spiritual vacuum. They wonder how their faith in Christ and their human sexuality can peacefully coexist. Sensing that there must be more to their sexual lives than they are experiencing but wondering if God really approves of these secret desires, they ask themselves: Is sex the forbidden fruit?

Sex Is God’s Idea

Of the many hundreds of questions I have been asked, the fundamental theme remains: What does God think about sex? The answer I give is the response I received from my pastor in my youth when I asked the same question: It’s God’s idea!

God created the sexes and sexual intercourse. He instilled the sexual drive into our bodies, knowing it would work its way into our thoughts and minds. He is not ashamed of our sexuality, nor does He regret creating it.

From the second chapter of Genesis throughout the pages of Scripture we can read about God’s plan for our sexuality. And from one passage to the next, the theme is one of pleasure, joy and fulfillment within the boundaries He has created.

Yet many Christians mistakenly perceive that the few hedges of protection God placed around our sexuality indicate that God is against sex. The truth is, our sexuality is God’s gift to us, not just for reproduction, as many in the church seem to believe, but also for intimacy and pleasure in the comfort of marriage. And yes, He knows how much fun it is. He made it that way!

But for so long, the church has looked at the way the fallen world has expressed itself sexually and closed its doors to all discussions of sex, seemingly fearing that the influences of the secular world will corrupt the holiness of the church.

The sometimes irresponsible approach of the church to human sexuality has left many sincere Christians sitting in their church pews each Sunday wondering if God is for or against sex. Is God condemning them as they struggle with questions for which they desperately need answers and for feelings that threaten their very walk with Him? The answer is, absolutely not!

I can tell you on the authority of the Bible that God is definitely interested in your sexual life—and not just so He can say, “Don’t do that!” He longs for you to experience all He has created you for from the beginning. Though we may not achieve what we would have had in the Garden of Eden, we can surely take hold of a lot more than we currently enjoy, and we can do it without the guilt and condemnation that has so often hounded the sincere Christian.

Consider God’s motivation for creating a companion for Adam and His ultimate design for their relationship. During God’s creation process, He said: “‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'” (Gen. 2:18, NIV). Then, according to Scripture, “The Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’…For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (vv. 22-24).

It was God who created a beautiful woman and brought her to Adam as His precious gift to him. When Adam saw how Eve was made, he also learned how his body fit together with hers. The two became one flesh, which is how the rest of us got here!

In fact, God’s first command to them was to “‘be fruitful and increase in number'” (Gen. 1:28). In other words, God told them to have intercourse; it was their first assignment as a couple!

Boundaries for Sexual Activity  

Clearly, God is the one who initiated sex as an activity to be enjoyed between two people who are married to each other. However, He states in His Word that it is not to be engaged in outside this parameter. Whole chapters in the Old Testament are devoted to the regulation of sexual activity (Lev. 18; 20).

In the pagan cultures that surrounded the people of Israel, sexual activity between father and daughter, mother and son, brother and sister, or men and animals was not uncommon. Homosexuality was also a problem. So God established boundaries for His people and commanded them not to engage in these types of sexual activity.

The few rules He established were designed to distinguish the Israelites from the pagan cultures around them. But they were also a hedge of protection around the sanctity of the family in places where sinful sexual practices had destroyed the foundation of those cultures. God did not want the nation of Israel to fall victim to the same fate.

But some Christians read chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus, in which the punishment for sexual sin is specified as death by stoning, and conclude that God is fierce and vengeful, ready at any moment to strike them down if they sin sexually. They forget that God is also a God of grace and forgiveness. The boundaries still exist to protect us, but forgiveness is ours for the asking because of Calvary.

New Testament heroes reveal little information of their marital lives to us. But Paul teaches us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy unto God (Rom. 12:1). He reminds us that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that we must strive to honor God with it (1 Cor. 6:18).

So how does one honor God with his body, be an acceptable temple for the Holy Spirit, live holy before God, and yet experience the joys and delights of sexual union? Many of us have thought that when the Bible says to present our bodies as living sacrifices, it really means sacrificing a fulfilling and exciting sex life.

We find ourselves envying those television and movie “role models” who seem to enjoy sex with guiltless abandon. Some of us escape into the fantasy world of romance novels, soap operas or worse, pornographic videos, to become spectators of a dark and lonely life from which we have been set free. This dilemma seems especially difficult for those of us who carry memories of a pre-conversion sexual life that was fulfilling.

Though the secular world has, admittedly, pushed the envelope of sexual exploration to extremes, we as a church have been robbed of our inheritance in Christ. The lack of proper scriptural interpretation and explanation of God’s true design for marriage hinders a mutually satisfying intimacy with our spouse.

We have had too few champions from the pulpit to encourage us to reclaim what has been stolen from us. Much preaching that touches the topic of sexuality has emphasized the sins of sex with little, if any, reference to the joy of sex that God ordained.

A New Look at Biblical and Medical Truths 

Thankfully, a new generation of spiritual leaders is dedicated to reclaiming the sexually broken and to teaching young adults a godly pattern for beginning their marriages. We are living with an epidemic of divorce, adultery, fornication, sexually transmitted diseases and pornography.

Yet God has given wonderful promises in His Word to all who would hear and be set free by its truth. And, perhaps surprisingly, the Bible reveals beautiful examples of the pleasures that proper sexual expression should bring to our lives.

The Song of Solomon is undoubtedly the largest and most detailed biblical example of the beauty of sexual life God intended us to share. But it is by no means the only example. The Book of Proverbs warns against adultery while extolling the pleasures of intimacy in your own house:

“Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. … Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love” (Prov. 5:15, 17-19).

This passage contains a simple instruction about enjoying sexuality in a healthy way. In the New Testament, Jesus quotes from the Book of Genesis regarding God’s intention for marriage:

“But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Mark 10:6-9).

Jesus reminds us that from the very beginning it was God’s intention that man and woman come together sexually and become one flesh, a condition that occurs only in intercourse. This drive to unite is so strong that a man will leave the comforts of home and all that is familiar to begin a new life with his wife. This bond is so important to God that He commands that no man separate it.

The undeniable truth is that God wants you to have great and satisfying sex; it’s His idea. By following specific and appropriate boundaries, we can have a life and marriage that are not only satisfying to us but also pleasing to the One who made us.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.


Scott FarhartM.D., the author of Intimate and Unashamed, from which this article is adapted.

Want to Be Sexually Successful?.


couple-happy-woman-smilingI believe that God wants every Christian man to be sexually successful. He desires all of us to enter into the holy of holies where spirit, soul and body intimacy occurs with your wife on a regular basis. His desire is to equip each one of us with the skills to be spiritually and emotionally intimate outside of the bedroom so that we can be sexually successful inside of the bedroom.

Are you wondering what a sexually successful man is and how you can become one? Let me be perfectly clear. Sex is by far one of God’s best ideas! Don’t you agree? I imagine the Creator could have made procreation a behavior that brought little pleasure and only engaged our bodies, completely detached from the wealth of a soul and spirit experience. What a bummer sex would have been if that were the case.

Thankfully our Maker decided to be very creative con­cerning our sexuality. Not only does your body go through the greatest physiological changes, but when engaging successfully in sex you also experience the highest chemical reward possible for your body.

As a therapist, I have counseled with thousands of men regarding sexuality issues. During this time, I have learned that many men are not sexually successful. I have “clocked in” years of my life listening to men as they share varied stories of their lack of sexual success. These men and their wives want to be sexually successful, but even after several decades of marriage, they have not achieved sexual success.

Why haven’t many men experienced sexual success? Although there are different answers to that question, there are several broad sexual deficits that have commonality among many men.

The first deficit stems from the fact that many men have never received reliable information about true sexuality from their fathers. While traveling the country speaking at men’s conferences, I often ask men how long their sex talk with their fathers lasted. Over 95 percent of the men questioned stated that it was less than three minutes long. You can understand how such a deficit of information from a sexual expert—your dad—would force you to launch your own quest to discover successful sexuality.

The second-largest deficit perpetrating the lack of sexual success is the source from which most young men acquire their sexual information. For boys 14-16 years of age, their main source for sexual information is usually other 14-16-year-old boys. They may never have had sex, but they lie about that also.

For many young men today, pornographic literature, the mainstream media, prime-time sitcoms, movies, magazines and, more recently, the Internet are primary sources for learning about sexuality.

The good news is that regardless of whatever deficit of information you have suffered in your past, you can have a phenomenal three-dimensional sex life that will reach a plane of sexual success and satisfaction you never thought possible.

Like many men, I was misinformed early on about sexuality, and I had experiences that could have kept me from sexual success. But I kept searching until I found the information that we must have in order to become sexually successful and to maintain that success throughout life!

Once you experience sexuality as God intended it, you will never be able to settle for less again—I guarantee it. It is an incredible journey that offers awesome rewards.

This journey, which I call Sex, Men and God, involves a process—there is no magic bullet. If you choose the process, ahead of you lies a journey during which equipping, informing and for many, healing will take place. When you reach the end of this journey you will be a sexually successful man who can be fearless in prayer, a threat to the enemy of our souls and a spiritual blessing to your wife, family, church and community.

God’s gift to men is our sexuality. It is a divine gift that we have from birth to death. Yet, as men, we are misunderstood many times because of our God-given desire to consummate our marriage regularly.

I also believe that when men appropriately understand their sexuality they will experience three-dimensional sexuality that is wonderful and productive.

The ability to connect with your spouse in three God-given dimensions—spirit, soul and body—can satisfy you so profoundly that you do not even desire sex the next day. Imagine being that sexually satiated on a regular basis; that is sexual success!

Realizing the value of your sexuality will help you avoid the pitfalls of misusing it—pitfalls that result in damaging yourself, your relationship with God and even future generations.

The enemy of our soul has concentrated his attacks against God’s gift of male sexuality. He is fully aware that this gift, if misunderstood or misused, can lead to conse­quences that extend through family lines for generations to come.

Likewise, God knows the blessing of a man of God who understands his sexuality and submits it to the lordship of Christ. The blessing of a sexually healthy man also impacts his sons and daughters for generations.

Understanding that male sexuality is God’s great design can motivate every man to exert whatever effort is required to complete his personal journey to sexual success. God offers to every man who chooses to complete this journey the wonderful reward of sexual success.

I have studied the Scriptures for almost 20 years and have clearly seen that God’s Word addresses what I call the two sides of sexuality. By this I mean that He clearly communicates the reality of our external sexuality as well as our internal sexuality.

By the term external sexuality I refer to the actual sexual acts that you participate in with your physical body. These sex acts fall basically into two categories. The first category is comprised of sex acts approved by God in the context of a monogamous relationship with your wife. The second category includes sex acts that are disapproved and discouraged by God. These include sexual acts with anyone prior to marriage and outside of marriage.

Internal sexuality involves your sexual feelings, thoughts, fantasies and impulses. Internal sexuality is what you do with your eyes, your heart and your creative mind. This side of sexuality is also a gift from God.

This internal dimension of your sexuality can function undetected by those around you. You can lust after another woman’s body without anyone knowing or condemning. At least that’s what many of the Christian men I have talked to believed in adolescence. They rationalized that as long as they only looked and didn’t touch, they were good boys.

As adults this now may sound immature, but when you’re a 14- or 16-year-old, this faulty reasoning is to be expected. The problem is that some men remain stuck at that level of thinking all of their lives because neither they nor their spiritual leaders have adequately addressed the important issue of their internal sexuality.

Dr. Doug Weiss is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. This article is adapted from Dr. Weiss’ Sex, God and Men (Charisma House). Click here to purchase the book. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, http://www.drdougweiss.com, by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at heart2heart@xc.org.

By Douglas  Weiss,  Ph.D.

MARRIAGE AND SEX.


Chapter 3

MARRIAGE AND SEX


During much of Christian history, sex in marriage has been condoned as a necessary evil for producing children. Before the sexual revolution of our times, calling a lady “sexy” would have been insulting. Nowadays many ladies would accept that adjective as a prized compliment. “The Victorian person,” writes Rollo May, “sought to have love without falling into sex; the modern person seeks to have sex without falling into love.”1

The attitude of society toward sex has truly swung from one extreme to another. From the Puritan view of sex as a necessary evil for procreation, we have come to the popular Playboy view of sex as a necessary thing for recreation. From the age of warning “Beware of sex,” we have come to the age of shouting “Hurrah for sex.” Homo sapiens has become homo sexualis, packed with sexual drives and techniques.

Both extremes are wrong and fail to fulfill God’s intended function of sex. The past negative view of sex made married people feel guilty about their sexual relations; the present permissive view of sex turns people into robots, capable of engaging in much sex but with little meaning or even fun in it. In spite of the increasing number of books on the techniques of love-making, more and more people are telling marriage counselors: “We make much love, but it isn’t much good. We find little meaning or even fun in it!”

Objective of the Chapter. This chapter examines the Biblical view of sex. We shall consider various aspects of sex within and without marriage in the light of the Biblical teaching. The chapter is divided into three parts. The first part surveys the past attitudes toward sex, from ancient Israel to modern times. The second part examines the Biblical view of the nature and function of sex. Attention will also be given to the morality or immorality of contraception. The third part addresses the question of whether or not there will be marital relationships in the world to come. The overall objective of the chapter is to counteract the secular and hedonistic view of sex by helping Christians understand and experience sex as God intended it to be.

PART I: PAST ATTITUDES TOWARD SEX

Ancient Israel. The Hebrew people understood and interpreted human sexuality as a positive gift from God. They were not affected by the later Greek dualism between spirit and matter which considered sexual intercourse and evil “fleshy” activity to be shunned if possible. Such thinking was foreign to the Hebrews who saw sex within marriage as beautiful and enjoyable. A wedding was a time of great celebration, partly because it marked the beginning of the sexual life of the couple.

The bridal pair retired to a nuptial tent or chamber at the end of the wedding festivities to make love together while lying on a clean, white sheet. Blood on the sheet indicated that the bride had been a virgin and provided evidence of the consummation of marriage (Deut 22:13-19). A newly betrothed man was even excused from participating in war in order to be able to enjoy his bride (Deut 20:7)!

This indicates that the ancient Hebrews had a healthy attitude toward sex. They saw it as a divine gift which gave pleasure to the persons involved while providing the means for the propagation of the race. The classic example of the exaltation of human sexuality is found in the Song of Songs. This book has often been a source of embarrassment to Jews and Christians alike. Some interpreters, like Sebastian Castellio, have viewed the Song of Songs as an obscene description of human love which does not belong in the Biblical canon. Others, like Calvin, have defended the inclusion of the book in the canon by interpreting it as an allegory symbolizing the love of God for His people. The book, however, is not an allegory. It is a romantic celebration of human sexuality. According to some traditions, portions of the book were sung during wedding processionals and wedding feasts.

When the Hebrews came to the land of Canaan, they were exposed to the evil and excesses of the fertility cults associated with the worship of Baal, which included sacred prostitution. To correct these evils, several regulations were given. There were strict prohibitions, for example, against revealing in public one’s “private parts” (Gen 9:21; 2 Sam 6:20), incest (Lev 18:6-18; 20:11-12,14, 20; Deut 27:20,22), bestiality (Lev 18:23; 20:15-16), homosexuality (Lev 18:22; 20:13), and various kinds of sexual “irregularities” (Ex 22:16; Lev 19:20,29; 15:24; 18:19; 20:18; Deut 25:11). Overall, however, the Jews had a healthy view of sex, although they saw it primarily in terms of its reproductive function.

New Testament Times. In New Testament times, we find the beginning of two extreme attitudes toward sex: licentiousness and celibacy. Some interpreted the freedom of the Gospel as freedom to engage freely in sexual relations outside marriage. Jude speaks of “ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness” (Jude 4). Peter warns against the enticement of false teachers who had “eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin” (2 Pet 2:14). The problem of sexual permissiveness and perversion had become so noticeable in the Corinthian church that Paul openly rebuked those who engaged in incestuous and adulterous sexual relations (1 Cor 5:1, 6:16-18).

Other Christians were influenced by Greek philosophical ideas which viewed anything related to the physical aspect of life as evil. Since the sexual act involves “fleshly” contact and pleasure, it was viewed as inherently evil. This thinking prevailed in the Greco-Roman world, and exercised considerable influence among some Christians. In Corinth, for example, there were some Christians who maintained that unmarried people should remain single and those who were married should refrain from sexual activity (1 Cor 7:1-5, 8-11, 25-28).

Paul responded to these “ascetic” believers by affirming that it was right and proper for married persons to engage in sexual activities: “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. . . . Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season . . . lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control” (1 Cor 7:3,5). Paul counsels unmarried and the widows to remain single (1 Cor 7:8, 25-26). His reason, however, is based not on theological but on practical considerations, namely, on the need to avoid the added burdens of a family during the end-time persecution which Paul believed would soon break out (1 Cor 7:26-31). Paul’s counsel does not reflect a negative view of sexuality because his advice was predicated solely on practical considerations. This is indicated by his counsel, “It is better to marry than to be aflame with passion. . . . if you marry, you do not sin, and if a girl marries she does not sin” (1 Cor 7:9, 28).

Christian Church. The negative view of sexuality, already present in embryonic form during apostolic times among some Christians, developed fully during the early church, shaping the sexual attitudes of Christians up to modern times. This view can be traced back to Greek philosophy, especially to Platonic thought, which saw man as having two parts: the soul, which is good, and the body, which is bad. Such dualistic thinking influenced Christianity through a movement known as Gnosticism. This heretical movement taught that all matter, including the human body, was evil. Only the spark of the divine in man (soul) is good and through special knowledge (gnosis) such a spark could be released from the human body and returned to the divine realm. Thus, salvation was perceived as the liberation of the soul from the prison-house of the body.

This dualistic teaching greatly influenced Christian thought through the centuries to the point that many Christians gradually abandoned the Biblical view of the resurrection of the body, replacing it with the Greek concept of the immortality of the soul. The fundamental error of this view, which an increasing number of scholars are rejecting as unBiblical, is its assumption that matter is evil and must be destroyed. Such a view is clearly discredited by those Biblical texts which teach that matter, including the human body, is the product of God’s good creation (Gen 1:4, 10 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). The Psalmist declares: “For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works” (Psalm 139:13-14).

The adoption of the unBiblical Greek notion of the human body as intrinsically evil has led many Christians through the centuries into a warped attitude toward sex. Its effect still lingers, as many today are still uneasy about their marital sexual relations, viewing them as something tainted with sin.

Augustine’s Role. The church father who has molded the negative Christian attitudes toward sex more than any other person is Augustine (354-430).2 He regarded the sexual drives and excitement which cannot always be rationally controlled as the result of sin. He speculated that if sin had not come in, marital intercourse would be without the excitement of sexual desire. The male semen could be introduced into the womb of the wife without the heat of passion, in a natural way similar to the natural menstrual flow of blood emitted from the womb.

As a result of sin, the sexual act is now accompanied by powerful drives which Augustine called concupiscence, or lust. The satisfaction of lust through intercourse, was for him, a necessary evil to bring children into this world.

In effect, Augustine equated original sin with the sexual act and its lustful desires since the act is the channel through which he thought the guilt of Adam’s first transgression is transmitted from parent to child. By making the sexual act the means whereby original sin is transmitted, Augustine made sex for pleasure a sinful activity. This view necessitated the administration of baptism immediately after birth to remove the stain of the original sin from the soul of the new born baby.

The major fallacy of this view is its reduction of original sin to a biological factor which can be transmitted like an infectious disease through sexual intercourse. In Scripture, however, sin is volational and not biological. It is a willful transgression of a divine moral principle (1 John 3:4), and not a biological infection transmitted through sexual contact.

What can be transmitted is not the guilt of sin, as Augustine believed, but its punishment. Guilt is the personal transgression of a divine principle, which cannot be imputed upon a third party. The punishment of our wrong doings, however, can be passed on in terms of sickness and/or evil hereditary tendencies. Scripture tells us that God visits “the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation” (Ex 34:7). In the case of Adam’s sin, what has been passed on to mankind are the consequences of its punishment, which include evil inclinations and death. These consequences cannot be mechanically removed through infant baptism.

Original Sin. The notion of original sin is derived primarily from Romans 5:12 where Paul says that “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” In this statement the apostle simply affirms the fact that mankind shares in Adam’s sin and death. He makes no attempt to explain how this happens. He makes no allusion to sexual procreation as the channel through which mankind has become partakers of Adam’s sin and death. The context clearly indicates that Paul’s concern is to affirm the fundamental truth that Adam’s disobedience has made us sinners and Christ’s obedience has made us righteous: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Rom 5:19).

The concept to which Paul alludes to establish the connection between the sin of Adam and that of mankind is not that of biological transmission of sin through sexual procreation, but that of corporate solidarity. As Achan’s sin became the sin of his household because its members shared in a corporate solidarity with him (Josh 7:24), so Adam’s sin has become the sin of mankind because its members share in a corporate solidarity with him. This Pauline argument provides no support to the Augustinian attempt to equate original sin with sexual excitement and intercourse.

Augustine’s association of original sin with sex has been widely accepted throughout Christian history, conditioning the sexual attitudes not only of Roman Catholics but also of Christians in general. As Derrick Baily notes, “Augustine must bear no small measure of responsibility for the insinuation into our culture of the idea, still widely current, that Christianity regards sexuality as something peculiarly tainted with evil.”3

Partly as a reaction to this negative view of sex as a necessary evil for the propagation of the human race, a completely different and pleasure oriented (hedonistic) view of sex has emerged. The sexual revolution of our time has glamorized sexual profligacy and prowess, ridiculing sexual chastity as a prudish superstition. The catastrophic consequences of the sexual revolution can be seen in the ever-increasing number of divorces, abortions, incidents of incest, sexual abuse of children, and the loss of the true meaning and function of sex. In the light of this painful reality, it is imperative for Christians to understand and experience the Biblical meaning and function of sex.

PART II: THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF SEX

Image of God. The book of Genesis is the logical starting point for our quest into the Biblical view of sex. The first statement relating to human sexuality is found in Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” It is noteworthy that while after every previous act of creation, Scripture says that God saw that “it was good” (Gen 1:12,18,21,25), after the creation of mankind as male and female, it says that God saw that “it was very good” (Gen 1:31). This initial divine appraisal of human sexuality as “very good” shows that Scripture sees the male/female sexual distinction as part of the goodness and perfection of God’s original creation.

It is important to note also that human sexual duality as male and female is related explicitly to God’s own image. Theologians have long debated the possible nature of this relation. Since Scripture distinguishes human beings from other creatures, theologians have usually thought that the image of God in humanity refers to the rational, moral and spiritual faculties God has given to men and women. This is a valid interpretation since these faculties distinguish human maleness and femaleness from that of lower creatures.

There is, however, another possible way in which human maleness and femaleness reflects the image of God, namely in the capacity of a man and a woman to experience a oneness of fellowship similar to the one existing in the Trinity. The God of Biblical revelation is not a solitary single Being who lives in eternal aloofness but is a fellowship of Three Beings so intimately and mysteriously united that we worship them as one God. This mysterious oneness-in-relationship of the Trinity is reflected as a divine image in man, not as a single individual but as a sexual duality of maleness and femaleness, mysteriously united in marriage as “one flesh.” The love uniting husband and wife points to the love that eternally unites the Three Beings of the Trinity. In this sense, it constitutes a reflection of the image of God in humanity.

A “Unisex” God? Some theologians interpret the image of God, not in terms of a similarity of oneness-in-fellowship, but in terms of a correspondence in sexual distinctions within each person of the Godhead. Paul Jewett articulates this view saying: “If we are to think of God as sexual, we have to think of the divine as both feminine and masculine if this symbolization of God is to convey a personal wholeness. God becomes he/she. Otherwise the attribution of personality to God would be skewed or out of balance. A purely masculine God would be as intolerable as a purely masculine human, and the same could be said for the purely feminine.”4

The attempt to make God into a unisex Being consisting of both feminine and masculine characteristics, if not properly qualified, can lead to a disastrous misrepresentation of the God of Biblical revelation. While it is true that God possesses not only masculine but also feminine qualities, since He compares His love, for example, to that of a woman’s for her sucking child (Is 49:15), the fact remains that the possession of feminine qualities does not make God into a “he/she” androgynous Being. We recognize varying degrees of masculinity and femininity in every person , yet we do not regard a man who possesses unusual feminine gentleness as a he/she person.

The fact that the Bible sometimes presents God as our Father (Jer 31:9; Matt 23:9), while at other times compares God to a crying or compassionate mother (Is 42:14; 49:15), does not mean that God is an androgynous he/she Being. It is important to see the distinction between those statements which describe the person of God (God is our Father) and those which describe the qualities of God (God is like a crying or compassionate mother). The former identifies the person of God, the latter compares the compassion of God to that of a mother.

Today, both liberal and evangelical feminists are clamoring for a re-symbolization of the Godhead based on impersonal or unisex categories. This is seen as the first indispensable step to clearing the way for the elimination of sexual and functional role distinctions in the home and in the church. To achieve this, they advocate dropping the masculine names of God, adopting, instead, non-personal names such as “parent, Benefactor, Almighty” or androgynous names such as “Father-Mother” for God and “Son-Daughter” for Christ. The ultimate result of such efforts is not merely switching labels on the same product, but rather introducing new labels for an entirely different product. Biblical faith knows nothing of an androgynous Godhead, partly masculine and partly feminine. Any attempt to introduce a female counterpart in the person of God means to reject the God of Biblical revelation, accepting, instead, the one fabricated by feminist speculations.

In light of the foregoing considerations, we reject as unBiblical the attempts to interpret the image of God in human maleness and femaleness as indicative of sexual distinctions within the persons of the Godhead. God transcends human sexual distinctions, yet He has chosen to reveal Himself predominantly through male terms and imageries because the male role within the family and church best represents the role that He sustains toward the human family. The image of God in humanity must rather be seen, as discussed earlier, in the rational, moral and spiritual faculties God has given to men and women, as well as in the capacity of a man and a woman to experience a oneness of fellowship similar to the one existing within the Trinity.

Becoming “One Flesh”. The oneness of intimate fellowship between a man and a woman is expressed in Genesis 2:24 by the phrase “one flesh:” “Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The phrase “one flesh,” as already shown in chapter 1, refers to the total union of body, soul, and spirit between marital partners. This total union can be experienced especially through sexual intercourse when the act is the expression of genuine love, respect, and commitment. The physical or sexual meaning of the phrase “one flesh” is clearly found in 1 Corinthians 6:16 where Paul applies it to the sexual intercourse between a man and a harlot.

The phrase becoming one flesh sheds considerable light on God’s estimate of sex within a marital relationship. It tells us that God sees sex as a means through which a husband and a wife can achieve a new unity. It is noteworthy that the “one flesh” imagery is never used to describe a child’s relationship to his father and mother. A man must “leave” his father and mother to become “one flesh” with his wife. His relationship to his wife transcends the one to his parents because it consists of a new oneness consummated by the sexual union.

Becoming one flesh also implies that the purpose of the sexual act is not only procreational, that is, to produce children, but also psychological, that is, the emotional need to consummate a new oneness-relationship. Oneness implies the willingness to reveal one’s most intimate physical, emotional and intellectual self to the other. As they come to know each other in the most intimate way, the couple experiences the meaning of becoming one flesh. Sexual intercourse does not automatically ensure this oneness intimacy. Rather it consummates the intimacy of perfect sharing which has already developed.

Sex as “Knowing”. Sexual relations within marriage enable a couple to come to know each other in a way which cannot be experienced in any other way. To participate in sexual intercourse means not only to uncover one’s body but also one’s inner being to another. This is why Scripture often describes sexual intercourse as “knowing,” the same verb used in Hebrews to refer to knowing God. Genesis 4:1 says: “And Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived.”5

Obviously Adam had come to know Eve before their sexual intercourse, but through the latter he came to know her more intimately than ever before. Dwight H. Small aptly remarks: “Self-disclosure through sexual intercourse invites self-disclosure at all levels of personal existence. This is an exclusive revelation unique to the couple. They know each other as they know no other person. This unique knowledge is tantamount to laying claim to another in genuine belonging . . . the nakedness and physical coupling is symbolic of the fact that nothing is hidden or withheld between them.”6

The process which leads to sexual intercourse is one of growing knowledge. From the initial casual acquaintance to dating, courtship, marriage, and sexual intercourse, the couple grows in the knowledge of each other and this makes greater intimacy possible. Sexual intercourse represents the culmination of this growth in reciprocal knowledge and intimacy. As Elizabeth Achtemeier puts it: “We feel as if the most hidden inner depths of our beings are brought to the surface and revealed and offered to each other as the most intimate expression of our love.”7

Sex as Pleasure. A revolution has taken place in Christian thinking about sex within the last hundred years. Until the beginning of our century, Christians generally believed that the primary function of sex was procreative, that is, to produce children. Other considerations, such as the unitive, relational and pleasurable aspects of sex were seen as secondary and usually tainted with sin. In the twentieth century the order has been reversed. Christians place the relational and pleasurable aspects of sex first and the conception of children last.

From a Biblical perspective, sexual activity is both unitive and procreative, or we might say, recreative and reproductive. God’s command, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28), is a command to be sexual. When we obey it, we fulfill God’s purpose by becoming one flesh and producing children. So sex in marriage is both unitive and procreative. “During the Middle Ages,” writes David Phypers, “Christians stressed the procreative aspect of sex while neglecting and sometimes despising its unitive purpose. Today, we stress its unitive role, and may ignore the command to be fruitful and increase in number.”8

As Christians we need to recover and maintain the Biblical balance between the relational and procreational functions of sex. Sexual intercourse is a relational act of perfect sharing that engenders a sense of oneness while offering the possibility of bringing a new life into this world. We need to recognize that sex is a divine gift that can be legitimately enjoyed within marriage. Like all other divine gifts, sex is to be partaken of with thankfulness and moderation.

Sex as a Divine Gift. It is noteworthy that the wise man Solomon mentions together bread, wine, clothing and marital love as the good gifts that God has approved for our enjoyment: “Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white; let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love,all the days of your life which He has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun” (Eccl 9:7-9).

Sexual activity is generally more important to humans than it is to animals. It is significant that among the mammals, only the human female is capable of enjoying sexual orgasm as well as the male. It is recognized that this experience binds a woman to her partner emotionally as well as physically. The fact that both the human male and female can share together in the pleasure of sexual intercourse indicates that God intended marital sex to be enjoyed by both partners.

In the Song of Songs, the celebration of sexual love between the bride and bridegroom is expressed in suggestive romantic words: “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields and lodge in the villages; let us go out early to the vineyards . . . There I will give you my love” (Song of Songs 7:10-12).

The same positive view of marital sex is found in the New Testament. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul urges husbands and wives to fulfill their marital duties together, because their bodies do not belong to themselves alone but to each other. Therefore they should not deprive each other of sex, except by mutual agreement for a time to devote themselves to prayer. Then they should come together again lest Satan tempt them through lack of self-control (1 Cor 7:2-5).

In Ephesians Paul speaks of the physical union of a man and a woman as a profound “mystery” reflecting Christ’s love for His church. Therefore, we should not be uneasy about marital sex, because when we come together we are experiencing something of the mysterious redemptive love of Christ for the world.

The author of Hebrews admonishes that “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure” (Heb 13:4 NIV). Here, marital sex is extolled as honorable, something not to be embarrassed about. But the same writer adds, “God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Heb 13:4 NIV).

Bible writers are unanimous in commending sex within marriage and in condemning all forms of sexual activity outside marriage. Paul warns the Corinthians, “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral . . . nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders . . . will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9,10 NIV). The book of Revelation places the “fornicators” among those whose “lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur” (Rev 21:8).

Sex as Procreation. In the Bible the function of sex, as noted earlier, is not only unitive but also procreative. It not only serves to engender a mysterious oneness of spirit, but it also offers the possibility of bringing children into this world. God’s command “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28) expresses God’s original intent for the purpose of sex. Through marital sex and the birth of children, God enables men and women to reflect His image by sharing in His creative activity. This means that sex in marriage without the intention of having children fails to fulfill a fundamental divine purpose for sex. The lengths to which some married couples will go in order to have children reveals the deep creative urge God has placed within us.

Of course, not all couples are able to have or are justified in having children. Old age, infertility, and genetic diseases are but some of the factors that make childbearing impossible or inadvisable. For the vast majority of couples, however, sex in marriage should include the desire to have children. As sex consummates the act of marriage, so children consummate the sexual act. This does not mean that every act of sexual union should result in conception, but rather that the desire for having children should be part of the overall intent of sexual relations.

Various contraceptive techniques make it possible today to separate sexual activity from childbearing. A growing number of couples choose to enjoy a lifetime of sexual activity without desiring or planning for children. They are not simply concerned about delaying their arrival but in avoiding them altogether. Children are seen as a threat to their high standards of living associated with two incomes and two careers.

“We are not meant to separate sex from childbearing” writes David Phypers, “and those who do, totally and finally, purely for personal reasons, are surely falling short of God’s purpose for their lives. They run the risk that their marriage and sexual activity may become self-indulgent. They will only look inwards to their own self-satisfaction, rather than outwards to the creative experiences of bringing new life into the world and nurturing it to maturity.”9

The life-begetting function of sex enables a married couple to further God’s creative work by becoming procreators with Him. It is altogether consistent with God’s creative work that the sexual life-begetting experience should be joyous. Did not God’s angels shout for joy at His first creation (Job 38:7)? Bringing into life a new person in God’s image is a joyful and solemn privilege delegated by God to married couples. In this sense, they become workers together with God in furthering His creation.

Importance of Children. Children are a fundamental part of our marriage and sexual relationships. They represent God’s blessings upon the marital union. The Psalmist expresses this truth, saying: “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like the arrows in the hands of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Ps 127:3-5 NIV).

The population explosion has not rescinded God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. World famine is not so much the result of too many people as much as the result of greed, exploitation, irresponsible governments, misuse of natural resources, and unwillingness to adopt more effective methods of agriculture and to teach people responsible family planning. While a number of developing countries are facing population explosions, most Western countries are experiencing population stagnation or decline. Western societies are aging, and unless the current trend is reversed, it will soon become increasingly difficult for them to support their ever-growing numbers of elderly people.

We no longer need large families, but we still need families. The church needs Christian families that can share with the world the love of God experienced in the home. Society needs the service and moral influence of Christian families. Most Western societies live today in what social analysts call the “Post-Christian era.” This is the era in which social values and practices are influenced no longer by Christian principles but rather by humanistic ideologies. The latter promote a secular view of marriage and a hedonistic view of sex. Marriage has become a dissolvable social contract rather than a permanent sacred covenant, and sex is regarded primarily as a recreational activity rather than as a procreational responsibility.

As Christians, we are called not to conform to the world (Rom 12:2) but to transform the world through God’s given principles and power. In the area of marriage and sex, we must show to the world that we obey God’s command to “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:22) and not to “put asunder what God has united” (Matt 19:6).

The Use of Contraception. It is a fact that today most couples in the Western world use contraceptives to delay the start of their families, to space the arrival of subsequent children, and to limit their numbers. This practice is followed by most Christians, often unthinkingly. Is this right? Does Scripture allow us to limit and time our children’s births? Or does the command to be fruitful and multiply mean that we should leave the issue of family planning to the mercies of God? No explicit answer can be found in the Bible because the subject of contraception was not an issue in Bible times. In those days, larger families were needed and welcomed to meet the demand for helping hands in that agricultural society.

In seeking for Biblical guidance on the subject of contraception, we need to ask two fundamental questions: (1) What is the purpose of sexual intercourse? and (2) Do we have the right to interfere with the reproductive cycle established by God?

We have discussed earlier, at great length, the first question. We have seen that the function of sexual intercourse is both relational and procreational. It is a relational act of perfect sharing that engenders a mysterious sense of oneness and offers the possibility of bringing children into this world. The fact that the function of sex in marriage is not only to produce children but also to express and experience mutual love and commitment, implies the need for certain limitations on the reproductive function of sex. If a couple were to risk a new conception each time they made love, they would soon forfeit sexual intercourse as a means of giving themselves totally to each other. This means that the relational function of sex can only remain a viable dynamic experience if its reproductive function is controlled.

Natural or “Unnatural” Contraception? This leads us to consider the manner of controlling the reproductive cycle. This issue is addressed by the second question, namely, do we have the right to interfere with the reproductive cycle established by God? The historic answer of the Roman Catholic Church has been a resounding “NO!” In December 1930, Pius XI reaffirmed the traditional Catholic position against contraceptives in his encyclical Casti Connubii: “Since therefore the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it [contraception] deliberately frustrate its natural effect and purpose, sin against nature, and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.”10

The unyielding historical Catholic position has been tempered by Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (July 29, 1968) which acknowledges the morality of the sexual union between husband and wife, even if not directed to the procreation of children.11 Moreover, the encyclical, while condemning artificial contraceptives, allows for a natural method of birth control, known as the “rhythm method.” This method consists of confining intercourse to the infertile periods in the wife’s menstrual cycle.12

The attempt of Humanae Vitae to distinguish between “artificial” and “natural” contraceptives, making the former immoral and the latter moral, smacks of artificiality. Why is it “artificial” to block the flow of the sperm in the uterus and yet not “artificial” to time the placement of the sperm so that it does not fertilize an egg? In either case, the fertilization of the egg is prevented by human intelligence. Moreover, to reject as immoral the use of artificial contraceptives can lead to rejecting as immoral the use of any artificial vaccine, hormone or medication which is not produced naturally by the human body.

The morality or immorality of contraception is determined not by the kinds of contraceptives we use, but by the reasons for their use. “Like most other human inventions,” writes David Phypers, “contraception is morally neutral; it is what we do with it that counts. If we use it to practice sex outside marriage or selfishly within marriage, or if through it we invade the privacy of others’ marriages, we may indeed be guilty of disobeying the will of God and of distorting the marriage relationship. But if we use it with a proper regard for the health and well-being of our partners and our families, then it can enhance and strengthen our marriages. Through contraception we can protect our marriage from the physical, emotional, economic, and psychological strains they might suffer through further pregnancies, while at the same time we can use the act of marriage, reverently and lovingly, as it was intended, to bind us together in lasting union.”13

Contraception and Sin. To ban contraception, as the Catholic Church has done historically, means to ignore the effects of sin on marriage, sex and childbirth. If sin had not entered into this world, there would have been no need for contraception. The menstrual cycle and the fertility rate would have been regular in all women. Childbirth would have been easy and painless. The abundant provisions of the earth would have amply satisfied the need for food and shelter. The socio-political structures of a perfect society would have provided to any child unlimited educational and professional opportunities.

But sin has spoiled our world. Both the human and sub-human creation has been marred by sin. Some women are very fertile while others totally infertile. Childbirth is a great source of pain to most women. Thorns, thistles, pests, and droughts destroy our crops. The socio-political systems of many developing countries are unable to provide adequate housing, education, employment, and medial services to most members of their societies. Christians are not spared the results of sin. Christian mothers may not be able to give birth without caesarean delivery, or many suffer from various health problems. These and many other reasons may cause couples to delay, to space, or to limit the size of their families. In situations such as the ones mentioned above, contraception becomes a responsible way to respect human life and resources.

It is significant to note that the command, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28), is immediately followed by the command to subdue and have domination “over every living thing.” This implies that God is calling us to be responsible stewards of His creation, controlling any destablizing factor such as the threat of population explosion.

To be responsible stewards of God’s creation means that as Christians we have no right to avoid children altogether by using natural or “unnatural” means of contraception. We have a duty before God to become responsible parents, by bringing up children in the love, “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). The way we fulfill this duty will vary from couple to couple as we prayerfully seek divine guidance regarding the timing of our children’s births and the methods we use to this end.

Sex Outside Marriage. Nowhere has Christian morality come under greater attack than in the whole area of sex outside marriage. The Biblical teaching that sex is only for marriage does not even enter the thinking of most people today. The Biblical condemnation of illicit sexual acts has become for many a license for sexual experimentation.

The popular acceptance of sexual permissiveness is evidenced by the introduction and use of “softer terms.” Fornication, for example, is referred to as “pre-marital sex” with the accent on the “pre” rather than on the “marital.” Adultery is now called “extra-marital sex,” implying an additional experience like some extra-professional activities. Homosexuality has gradually been softened from serious perversion through “deviation” to “gay variation.” Pornographic literature and films are now available to “mature audiences” or “adults.”

More and more, Christians are giving in to the specious argument that “Love makes it right.” If a man and a woman are deeply and genuinely in love, they have the right to express their love through sexual union without marriage. Some contend that pre-marital sex releases people from their inhibitions and moral hangups, giving them a sense of emotional freedom. The truth of the matter is that pre-marital sex adds emotional pressure because it reduces sexual love to a purely physical level without the total commitment of two married people.

Biblical Condemnation. The Biblical condemnation of sexual relations before or outside marriage is abundantly clear. Adultery, or sexual intercourse between married women or married men and someone other than their marital partners, is condemned as a serious sin. Not only is adultery forbidden in both versions of the Decalogue (Ex 20:14; Deut 5:18), but it was also punishable by death in ancient Israel: “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death” (Lev 20:10; cf. 18:20; Deut 22:22-24). The same punishment was meted out to a man or a woman who engaged in pre-marital sex (Deut 22:13-21, 23-27).

The New Testament goes beyond the Old Testament by internalizing the whole sexuality of a person and placing it within the context of motivation. Jesus emphasized that to entertain lustful desires toward a person of the opposite sex outside marriage means to be guilty of adultery (Matt 5:27-28). The reason for this is that defilement comes not only from outward acts but also from inward thoughts, which in Biblical symbology derive from the heart: “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man” (Matt 15:19-20).

Sexual laxness was pervasive in the Greco-Roman world of New Testament times. Hence, one of the conditions the Jerusalem council made for the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Christian Church was that they should abstain from all forms of “unchastity” (Acts 15:20,29).

Paul’s letters reveal the difficulties the apostle had in leading Gentile converts away from sexual immorality. To the Thessalonians, he wrote: “For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from unchastity; that each of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like heathen who do not know God” (1 Thess 4:2-5). Here Paul admonishes those who had sexual urges to satisfy them by entering not into temporary relationships “in the passion of lust like the heathen who do not know God,” but into permanent marital relationships. Such relationships are to be characterized by “holiness and honor.”

Paul is most explicit in his condemnation of prostitution. He asks the Corinthians who lived in the celebrated sex center of the Mediterranean world: “Do you now know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’ But he who is unified to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him. Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:16-20).

Reasons for Condemnation. In this passage, Paul helps us to see why the Bible strongly condemns sex outside marriage. Sex represents the most intimate of all interpersonal relationships, expressing a “one-flesh” unity of total commitment. Such a unity of commitment cannot be expressed or experienced in a casual sexual union with a prostitute where the concern is purely commercial and recreational. The only oneness experienced in such sexual unions is the oneness of sexual immorality.

Sexual immorality is serious because it affects the individual more deeply and permanently than any other sin. Paul describes it as a sin committed inside the body: “Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body” (1 Cor 6:18). It might be objected that all sins of sensuality such as gluttony or drunkenness affect a person inside the body. Yet they do not have the same permanent effect on the personality as the sin of fornication. Indulgence in eating or drinking can be overcome, stolen goods can be returned, lies can be retracted and replaced by the truth. But the sexual act, once committed with another person, cannot be undone. A radical change has taken place in the interpersonal relationship of the couple involved that can never be undone. Something indelible has stamped on them both forever. Even with a prostitute, sexual union leaves its permanent mark. It is a spot in the consciousness that cannot be removed.

“The immoral man sins against his own body.” This truth is openly rejected by those who regard pre-marital sex not as sinful, but as helpful to a satisfactory sexual adjustment in marriage. Some even believe that sexual relations with the person one intends to marry are necessary to guarantee sexual compatibility. Such attitudes fail to recognize that sexual intercourse before marriage is the worst possible preparation for marriage. The reasons for this are not difficult to discover.

Sex without Commitment. To begin with, sex before marriage is sex without commitment. If we do not like our partners, we can change and find somebody else. Such casual relationships destroy the integrity of the person by reducing it to an object to be used for personal gratification. Some, who feel hurt and used after sexual encounters, may withdraw altogether from sexual activity for fear of being used again or may decide to use their bodies selfishly, without regard to the feeling of others. Either way, our sexuality is distorted because it destroys the possibility of using it to relate genuinely and intimately toward the one we love. Sex cannot be used as a means for fun with one partner at one time and as a way to express genuine love and commitment with another partner at another time. Those who become accustomed to a variety of sexual partners will find it difficult, if not impossible, to express through sex their total commitment and final intimacy to their marital partners.

Engaged couples will probably deny that when they sleep together they are not expressing genuine commitment to one another. But if they were fully and finally committed to each other, they would be married. Engagement is the preparation for marriage, but it is not marriage. Until the wedding vows are taken, the possibility of breaking up a relationship exists. If a couple has had intercourse together, they have compromised their relationship. Any subsequent break up will leave permanent emotional scars. It is only when we are willing to become one, not only verbally but also legally by assuming responsibility for our partners, that we can seal our relationships through sexual intercourse. In this setting, sex fittingly expresses the ultimate commitment and the final intimacy.

Marriage licenses and wedding ceremonies are not mere formalities but serve to formalize the marriage commitment. As Elizabeth Achtemeier explains: “Just the fact that such young people [living together] are hesitant legally to seal their union is evidence that their commitment to one another is not total. Marriage licenses and ceremonies are not only legal formalities; they are also symbols of responsibility. They say publicly, what is affirmed privately, without reservation, that I am responsible for my mate—responsible not only in all those lovely emotional and spiritual areas of married life, but responsible also in the down-to-earth areas that have to do with grubby things like money, health insurance, and property. For example, two people just living together have no obligation for each other when the tax form comes up for an audit, or the other is involved in a car accident and legal suit; but persons holding a marriage license do have such responsibility, and commitment to a marriage involves accepting that public responsibility too. It is a matter of accepting the full obligations that society imposes on its adult members in order to ensure the common good.”14

PART III: MARRIAGE IN THE WORLD TO COME

Will there be marital relations in the world to come? The answer of many sincere Christians is “NO!” They believe that at the resurrection the redeemed will receive some kind of “unisex” spiritual bodies which will replace our present physical and heterosexual bodies . Their belief is derived primarily from a misunderstanding of the words of Jesus found in Matthew 22:30: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven.” Does this text imply that at the resurrection all sexual distinctions will be abolished and that our bodies will no longer be physical? If this interpretation were correct, it would mean that, contrary to what the Scripture says, the original creation of humanity as physical, heterosexual beings was not really “very good”(Gen 1:31). To remove the “bugs” from His original creation, God would find it necessary in the new world to create a new type of human being, presumably made up of “non-physical, unisex” bodies.

Change Implies Imperfection. To say the least, this reasoning is absurd for anyone who believes in God’s omniscience and immutability. It is normal for human beings to introduce new models and structures to eliminate existing deficiencies. For God, however, this would be abnormal and incoherent since He knows the end from the beginning.

If at the resurrection God were to change our present physical, heterosexual bodies into “non-physical, unisex” bodies, then as Anthony A. Hoekema rightly observes: “The devil would have won a great victory since God would then have been compelled to change human beings with physical bodies such as he had created into creatures of a different sort, without physical bodies (like the angels). Then it would indeed seem that matter had become intrinsically evil so that it had to be banished. And then, in a sense, the Greek philosophers would have been proved right. But matter is not evil; it is part of God’s good creation.”15

Like Angels. A study of Jesus’ statement in its own context provides no support to the view that at the resurrection the redeemed will receive non-physical, unisex, angelic bodies. The context is a hypothetical situation created by the Sadducees in which six brothers married in succession the widow of their brother. The purpose of such successive, levirate marriages was not relational but procreational, namely to “raise up children for his [their] brother” (Matt 22:24). The testing question posed by the Sadducees was, “In the resurrection to which of the seven will she be wife?” (Matt 22:28).

In answering this hypothetical situation, Jesus affirmed, “You are wrong, because you know neither the scripture nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matt 22:30). In the context of the hypothetical situation of seven brothers marrying the same woman to give her an offspring, Christ’s reference to not marrying or giving in marriage but being like angels, most likely means that marriage as a means of procreation will no longer exist in the world to come. It is evident that if no new children are born, there will be no possibility of marrying a son or of giving a daughter in marriage. The cessation of the procreational function of marriage will make the redeemed “like angels” who do not reproduce after their own likeness.

In His answer, Jesus did not deal with the immediate question of the marital status of a woman married seven times, but with the larger question of the procreational function of marriage, which, after all, was the reason the seven brothers married the same woman. This indirect method of answering questions is not unusual in the teachings of Jesus. For example, when asked by the Pharisees, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10:2), Jesus chose to ignore the immediate question, emphasizing instead the original creational design for marriage to be a lifelong commitment, without divorce (Mark 10:5-9).

Single in Heaven? Does the cessation of the procreational function of marriage imply the termination also of its relational function? Not necessarily so. If God created human beings at the beginning as male and female, with the capacity to experience a oneness of intimate fellowship, there is no reason to suppose that He will recreate them at the end as unisex beings, who will live as single persons without the capacity to experience the oneness of fellowship existing in a man/woman relationship.

The doctrine of the First Things, known as etiology, should illuminate the doctrine of the Last Things, known as escatology. If God found His creation of human beings as male and female very good (Gen 1:31) at the beginning, would He discover it to be not so good at the end? We have reason to believe that what was “very good” for God at the beginning will also be “very good” for Him at the end.

Christians, who believe that human life originated not perfectly by divine choice but imperfectly by chance through spontaneous generation, may find it rational to believe in a radical restructuring of human beings from physical and heterosexual to non-physical and unisexual. They could explain this transformation as part of the evolutionary process used by God. But for Christians like myself who believe in an original perfect creation and who celebrate through the Sabbath the perfection of God’s original creation, it is impossible to imagine that at the end God will radically change the structure and nature of the human body.

Cessation of Procreation. The cessation of the human reproductive capacity in the world to come, as implied by the statement of Jesus in Matthew 22:30, could be seen as a change in God’s original design of the function of human sexuality. But this is not necessarily true. Scripture suggests that God had already contemplated such a change in His original plan, when He said: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen 1:28).

The command to “fill the earth” presupposes that God had intended to terminate the reproductive cycle once the earth had been filled by an ideal number of persons. In a perfect world, without the presence of death, the ecological balance between land and people would have been reached in a relatively short time. At that time God would have interrupted the reproductive cycle of human and sub-human creatures, to protect the eco-system of this planet.

It is reasonable to presume that the resurrection and translation of the saints constitute the fulfillment of God’s original plan for the “filling” of the earth. In a sense, the redeemed represent the ideal number of inhabitants which this renewed earth will be able to support adequately. This is suggested by the reference to names “written before the foundation of the world in the book of life” (Rev 13:8; see 17:8; 21:27; Dan 13:1; Phil 4:3). The mention of names suggests the existence of an original divine plan for an ideal number of righteous to inhabit this earth. Had sin not arisen, God in His providence would have interrupted the reproductive cycle once the ideal number of people had been reached. But the cessation of the procreative function of marriage before or after the Fall does not necessitate the cessation of its relational function.

Continuity of Relationships. Jesus’ reference to our being “like angels” (Matt 22:30) at the resurrection does not necessarily imply the termination of the relational function of marriage. Nowhere does Scripture suggest that the angels are “unisex” beings, unable to engage in an intimate relationships similar to that of human marriage. The fact that angels are often mentioned in the Bible in pairs (Gen 19:1; Ex 25:18; 1 King 6:23) suggests that they may enjoy intimate relationships as couples.

We noted earlier that God has revealed Himself, not as a solitary Being who lives in eternal aloofness, but as a fellowship of three Beings so intimately united that we worship Them as one God. If God Himself lives in a most intimate relationship with the other members of the Trinity, there is no reason to believe that He would abolish at the end the unitive function of marriage that He, Himself, established at creation.

Support for this conclusion is provided also by the fact, already noted, that the sexual distinctions of maleness and femaleness are presented in Scripture as reflecting the “image of God” (Gen 1:27). One aspect of the “image of God” in humanity is the capacity given by God to a man and a woman to experience through marriage a oneness of fellowship similar to the one existing in the Trinity. If human maleness and femaleness reflected the image of God at creation, we have reason to believe that they will continue to reflect God’s image at the final restoration of all things. The purpose of redemption was not the destruction of God’s original creation but its restoration to its original perfection. This is why Scripture speaks of the resurrection of the body and not of the creation of new beings.

CONCLUSION

Sex is seen in the Bible as part of God’s good creation. Its function is both unitive and procreative. It serves to engender a mysterious oneness of body, mind, and spirit between husband and wife while offering them the possibility of bringing children into this world.

Scripture strongly condemns sex outside marriage because it is a sin affecting a person more deeply and permanently than other sins (1 Cor 6:18). It leaves a permanent mark in the consciousness that cannot be removed. Sex outside of marriage is sin because it is sex without commitment. It reduces a person to an object to be used for personal gratification. Such a selfish use of sex impairs, if not totally destroys, the possibility of using it to express and experience genuine love and commitment toward one’s marital partner. At a time when sexual permissiveness and promiscuity prevails, it is imperative for Christians to reaffirm their commitment to the Biblical view of sex as a divine gift to be enjoyed only within marriage.

NOTES ON CHAPTER III

1. Rollo May, “Reflecting on the New Puritanism,” in Sex Thoughts for Contemporary Christians, ed. Michael J. Taylor, S.J. (New York, 1972), p.171.

2. For a discussion of the attitude toward sex of the early church, including Augustine, see Derrick Sherwin Bailey, Common Sense About Sexual Ethics: A Christian View (New York, 1962); Donald F. Winslow, “Sex and Anti-sex in the Early Church Fathers,” in Male and Female: Christian Approaches Sexuality, eds. Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse and Urban T. Holmes III (New York, 1956).

3. As quoted by William E. Phipps, Was Jesus Married? (New York, 1970), p.175.

4. Paul Jewett, Man as Male and Female (Grand Rapids, 1975), p.261.

5. See also Genesis 4:17, 25.

6. Dwight H. Small, Christian: Celebrate Your Sexuality (Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1974), p. 186.

7. Elizabeth Achtemeier, The Committed Marriage (Philadelphia, 1976), p. 162.

8. David Phypers, Christian Marriage in Crisis (Kent, England, 1986), p. 38.

9. Ibid., p. 39

10. Cited in Norman St. John-Stevas, The Agonizing Choice: Birth Control, Religion and Law (Bloomington, Indiana, 1971), p.84.

11. Humanae Vitae, paragraph 11.

12. Humanae Vitae, paragraph 10.

13. David Phypers (n. 8), p. 44.

14. Elizabeth Achtemeier (n. 7), p. 40.

15. A. A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids, 1979), p. 250.

By Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University.

What Women Must Know About Lust.


coupleMen aren’t the only ones who wrestle with sexual temptation.

In fact, women today need clear guidance on where to draw the line.

 Indulging in a steamy romance novel … going out of your way to pass by the attentive co-worker’s desk … surfing in cyberspace to find a chat room buddy who’ll stroke your ego.

None of these seemingly innocent activities could be considered cheating or sexually compromising, right? Or could they?

Where is the line between sexual integrity and compromise?.

What constitutes marital unfaithfulness?.

Can we consider ourselves “pure” as long as we’ve not been physical with another man? Or, does sexual purity go deeper than that?

Even Christians often assume that until they actually engage in intercourse with another person, they’re acting with sexual integrity.

But our sexuality isn’t just what we do, but rather who we are.

God created us with not just a body, but also with a mind, heart and spirit.

These four components combine to form the whole of who God made us to be.

Therefore, our bodies are only one aspect that we must guard against sexual compromise.

It is vital that we also carefully guard our minds, hearts and spirits.

The Components of Sexuality

Over the last decade, pursuing my own healing from these issues, as well as teaching on the topic of sexual purity, I have come to understand that in some way or another sexual integrity is a battle that every woman fights.

Perhaps Kevin and Ruth’s experience can help you visualize this four-component concept.

After their wedding, they proceeded into the reception hall where a long, lace-covered banquet table displayed the beautiful multitiered wedding cake, the crystal punch bowl and cups, sterling silverware and frou-frou monogrammed napkins.

The only problem was that whoever set up the table forgot to fasten the latch on one of the folding legs.

As soon as the red punch was poured into the crystal punch bowl, the leg buckled and everything slid down to the floor with a clatter!

When all four of a table’s legs aren’t securely fastened, the possibility of a mishap is pretty good. The same can be said of our sexuality.

All four components-mind, body, heart and spirit-must be guarded in order for our lives to reflect purity and integrity.

So how can we securely guard our minds, bodies, hearts and spirits from sexual compromise? What things are women prone to do that undermine our sexual integrity?.

We’ll need to examine the most common temptations women face.

Seven Pitfalls to Sexual Purity

1. Unhealthy comparisons. Whether it’s the Hollywood hunk, the passionate pastor or the charming neighbor, it’s tempting to compare our mates to other men and meditate on the many ways he fails to measure up.

But what man can possibly live up to the bright and shining qualities of all others?

When we compare ourselves to the magazine model or the younger, smarter, prettier secretary in his office, discontentment is sure to follow.

We can become so disillusioned with our less-than-perfect partners or with ourselves that our sex lives are negatively affected.

If you find yourself falling prey to 1unhealthy comparisons, remind yourself of three wonderful things about your husband (or about yourself), then say a prayer of thanks to God for His wonderful creation.

2. Mental fantasies involving others. If you discovered that your husband fantasizes about other women while being intimate with you, would you feel offended? Sure.

And most husbands would feel the same way if the tables were turned.

To safeguard your mind from straying outside of your marriage bed, I recommend leaving the lights on and keeping your eyes open during intimate moments together.

It may seem unusual at first, but think about it: When we talk with someone, we don’t usually turn our backs or close our eyes.

We prefer the intimate connection of face-to-face and eye-to-eye contact.

A dark room or closed eyes can hinder, rather than foster, genuine intimacy if our minds are prone to wandering. Remaining mentally and visually focused on your husband during lovemaking will help you feel more connected.

Single women, too, must be aware that allowing their minds to envision inappropriate activities or relationships paves the way for their defenses to become so weakened that they eventually act out their thoughts.

Avoid tempting fantasies by limiting their access to your mind.

3. Emotional affairs. Many women protect their bodies from sexual sin, but allow their hearts to stray far from home.

Even if the relationship never becomes sexual, for a man to lose his wife’s heart to another is a crushing blow.

Some women seek to medicate the pain of loneliness or rejection when they feel love is eluding them. Some take solace in food; others in sexual relationships with any willing partner.

Women don’t usually intend to get tangled up in an emotional affair.

If you find yourself sensing an improper attraction to or from a man, avoid being alone with him (even in a public place) and refrain from conversations that you wouldn’t want others to know about, including private e-mails, chat rooms and telephone conversations.

Remember, the heart is to be guarded above all else! (See Prov. 4:23.) Find an accountability partner, and give her permission to ask you the hard questions to keep you from falling into an emotional affair.

4. Pornography and Internet chat rooms. Men aren’t the only ones tempted to peep at porn.

Many women admit to compulsively accessing Internet pornography, at first perhaps out of curiosity or to see what their husbands were looking at, but later to satisfy their own lustful curiosities.

Looking at pornography pulls our minds away from God’s plan for sexual purity within marriage like nothing else.

Those graphic images of other people often continue to flash through our minds even when we are making love with our spouses.

Many women prefer cyber sex (or cyber foreplay) in chat rooms with strangers.

While it may feel exciting to be intimate with a stranger, divulging and learning new things about each other, such isn’t intimacy-it’s just intensity-a cheap substitute for the real thing.

Genuine intimacy is achieved only by personal contact over long periods of time, such as in marriage.

An unmarried woman demonstrates her love for God by focusing her thoughts on Him and on those things He has prepared for her to do that are pleasing to Him.

Cyber relationships of a sexual nature fuel unhealthy appetites and foster a sense of guilt that will inhibit intimacy with the Lord.

5. Romance novels and soap operas. It’s no coincidence that I was experiencing the most extramarital temptation during the days that I watched All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital while my children were napping.

When we put garbage into our minds, we can expect it to rot and create a stench that infects our lives.

Romance novels can have a similar effect, stirring up cravings for illicit sexual encounters.

Even though there are some great Christian romance novels out there, if you find yourself feeling disappointed that your husband doesn’t sweep you off your feet like the hero in the story, it’s a threat to your emotional sobriety and faithfulness in marriage.

Singles who indulge in this kind of sexually suggestive entertainment can find their struggle with temptation intensified, as I did.

They may also find their future attempts at enjoying intimacy in marriage hampered.

6. Self-sex. While some experts say that masturbation doesn’t hurt anyone, we are being selfish lovers when engaging in sexual pleasure apart from our spouses rather than sharing a mutually satisfying experience.

I suggest incorporating a “no masturbation” rule in marriage.

When sexual tension is felt by either or both partners, it’s a great motivator for us to draw closer to one another, creating a stronger, more intimate bond.

Singles often think, “Once I have a husband, I won’t feel the need to masturbate any longer.”

However, a wedding band on your finger and the freedom to have guilt-free sex doesn’t always remove the craving for self-gratification.

Many women remain addicted to masturbation even after marriage.

We train our bodies as to what it finds pleasurable, and once you train your body to fly solo, sharing the experience with a partner can prove challenging and frustrating.

It’s often argued that the Bible doesn’t expressly forbid it. However, let’s be honest, when women masturbate, they don’t think pure thoughts, and the Bible is very clear about that issue (see Phil. 4:8).

Masturbation enslaves you and is a very proud response to our human desires.

Such actions tell God: “You can’t satisfy me, nor is Your Holy Spirit strong enough to control me. I must take care of my own physical desires.”

But God does know what will truly satisfy you.

Once you allow Him to prove Himself in this area, you will understand that God-gratification instead of self-gratification will ensure that your body, mind, heart and spirit remain pure.

7. Using sex to manipulate or control. A woman doesn’t have to engage in secretive extramarital acts to defile her own marriage bed.

Using sex as a reward for good behavior or withholding sex as punishment for not-so-good behavior makes a mockery of God’s design for sexual intimacy.

Marriage should be about ministering to each other’s needs, not manipulating each other.

If you have a tendency to use sex as a bargaining tool, make a concerted effort to engage in sexual pleasure with absolutely no strings attached.

Some women may also use sex as a form of control, avoiding it altogether while appearing to be disinterested.

However, a sexless marriage is a sure sign of trouble.

God created us to be sexual beings and if our libido is low, there are likely medical or emotional issues hindering your natural sexual desires. Talk to your doctor or professional counselor if such is the case.

The issue of sexual flirtation should also be addressed here. Some women are too naive to recognize the impact of their words and mannerisms on men. Others are so hungry for affirmation that they will continue to jeopardize their integrity in order to fish for compliments anyway.

We must recognize when our communication begins to border on becoming flirtatious. Whether the relationship is a forbidden one or one you do not want to cultivate, keep your conversations on a level that does not lead to intimate talk and compromise.

The Rewards of Sexual Integrity.

Once a woman learns to guard her mind, heart, spirit and body from sexual compromise, she is free to discover the joy of connecting physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually with her husband.

To help you visualize the powerful bond that such a connection creates, imagine a light bulb and a laser beam.

The power of a single light bulb is limited because it sends light in many different directions. But with a laser beam, light rays are parallel to one another, instead of fanning out in all directions.

A laser beam is so concentrated that you can cut metal or perform surgery with it.

Many marriages have only experienced “light bulb sex.” Because of pornography, masturbation, emotional affairs, fantasies and such, our sexual energies are often spread out in a multitude of different directions.

But I want to challenge you to concentrate your sexual energies just like rays of light are concentrated in a laser beam.

There is nothing sexier or more satisfying than two people, committed for life, focused solely on each other’s pleasure, and on meeting each other’s sexual and emotional needs.

Make your spouse the sole object of your sexual desires and the beneficiary of your passions, and you will both discover the definition of sexual integrity and fulfillment.

If you are single, allow yourself to be courted by our Creator. Focus your energies on Him.

The same God whose words formed the entire universe longs to whisper into your hungry heart words that have the power to thrill you, heal you and draw you into the deepest love relationship of your life.

One day a husband may say to you, “I’m committed to you until death,“ but God says to all of us today, “’Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5, NIV).

I encourage you to draw a hard line against sexual and emotional compromise.

Be honest with yourself about any hidden motives you may have and, above all, pursue a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

Once you experience a love so pure and so passionate, your heart will be strengthened in a way that you never imagined possible.

ByShannon Ethridge.

Tag Cloud