Does God have a high view or a low view of sex?
A lot of people view the God of the bible as having repressive views when it comes to sexuality. The idea of monogamy today is almost laughable, especially in a culture that claims freedom and self-expression.
But what do the scriptures actually say?
Well. To start, there are a couple of important things to consider.
First, the scriptures start with a positive command. God does not say, “don’t do it!” He says, ““Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
In the scripture the command is to do it. And the context is marriage. “One flesh” (Gen 2:24) is the Hebrew word echad, which can be translated “glued or sown together.” Sex is two opposite humans coming together to be one. It’s more than what we do with our bodies. Sex is soulish.
Let’s give God some props here. This is his idea!
Second, we can all probably agree that in our brokenness as humans we tend to take good gifts and destroy them. Food is a gift. Obesity in North America is as high as it has ever been. Wine is a gift to us, yet people abuse their soberness. And sex is a gift. Yet when we look at it, this is the gift that is most abused in a broken and fallen world.
Just look at these stats (from the book Real Marriage):
- Annual pornography revenues are more than $90 billion worldwide
- In the US pornography revenues were $13 billion in 2006 (more than all combined revenues of the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL or the combined revenues of ABC, CBS and NBC)
- Porn sites account for 12 percent of all internet sites
- Every day 2.5 million pornographic e-mails are sent
- 90 percent of children between the ages of eight and sixteen have viewed pornography on the Internet (in most cases unintentionally)
- the average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is eleven
- the largest consumer category of Internet pornography is boys ages twelve to seventeen
- the mean age of first intercourse in the US is now 16
- two-thirds to 90percent of young women involved in prostitution were sexually abused as children
It’s safe to say humans have taken the gift of sex in covenant marriage and messed it up.
This also leads to all sorts of questions to think about. Philosophically, who is our authority on these issues? What or who determines what is right or wrong with what we do with our bodies? Are we just governed by our feelings and urges? Are there not people in jail because they followed their feelings and urges?
Ok. With that said, let’s think about the original question. Does God have a high view or low view of sex? While some view God as outdated and repressive when it comes to sex look at how he treats sex in the Old Testament.
Just a couple passages for you:
16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife."
“If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days."
Now, I know we don’t live in the Ancient Near East, but think about it. The vile nations are destroying the earth. There were no bounds to sex and abuse. Then God calls a people out for himself to be a light to the other nations… and when it comes to sex he has a high standard. He institutes the idea that in a world filled with abuse you cannot take advantage of other people’s bodies.
Rob Bell puts it best when he says, “Obviously we’re repulsed by the inhumane treatment of women in these passages, and at first glance it seems there’s nothing remotely redeeming about these laws. But the Bible was always ahead of its time. Women basically had no rights in the ancient Near East. A man could do anything he wanted with her. He could rape her and then be on his way. He was free from the consequences of his actions. And a woman who had been raped was considered violated and unclean and would often be considered unworthy to be anyone’s wife. But this passage essentially says to the man, ‘You want to have sex with her? Then you take her as your wife, take care of her, provide for her needs, fulfill your duties as a husband to her. She is your equal, and you will treat her as such.”
Do you see it? God has an incredibly high view of sex. Covenant is for our protection and ultimately he knows best.
Now one last thought, and it’s this… This, right here, is not a very in vogue thing to talk about. Let’s be honest, somehow along the way sexual freedom and expression has become everything in culture. Just listen to our entertainers, poets, musicians and celebrities.
Jenell Paris, professor of anthropology at Messiah College has a great book called The End of Sexual Identity. In it she says, “Sexual desire is considered central to human identity, and sexual self-expression is seen by many to be essential for healthy personhood. The fact that sex is so important, and that sexual desire is seen as a central element of human identity, is new.”
What Paris is saying is that culturally sex has become everything. People have made it their identity and for the most part this is a new way of viewing things.
In the Greek world people would say the phrase, “Food for the stomach and stomach for food.” They basically understood human needs to be a collection of physical needs. If you were hungry you would get some food. If you were thirsty you would get something to drink. And if you were craving sex? Well, their assumption was you would go to a prostitute and have sex saying, “Food for the stomach…”
While that may be a Greco-Roman and even a twenty-first cultural response to sex, the apostle Paul does something radical. He says to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own (1 Cor 6:19).
People, this is provocative language that he uses for the church! The temple was a holy place and now Paul is using it as an image to challenge us with the idea that a human isn’t just a collection of urges. As followers of Jesus we are beings where God resides. He is opening up their eyes to what it truly means to be human because a redeemed view of sexuality is connected to a renewed view of our identity. (Last three paragraphs are a paraphrase from Rob Bell’s book Sex God).
So… sex is like fire. It’s both beautiful and dangerous. It can destroy if it’s abused or it can be life giving if it’s protected. You choose.