by Rick Ezell
We live in a sex-crazed culture. According to the Web site Students Against Destructive Decisions, “Currently 46.8 percent of all high school students report they have had sexual intercourse” (http://www.sadd.org/stats.htm).
Teenage “dating” Web sites that boast millions of members encourage teenage patrons to select not prom dates but partners for casual sexual escapades. According to the 2000 census, the number of unmarried couples living together has increased tenfold between 1960 and 2000, and 72 percent between 1990 and 2000 (http://www.rayfowler.org/2008/04/18/statistics-on-living-together-before-marriage/). It seems as though everybody is doing “it.”
We are bombarded with sex and sexual images. One can learn about sex from a variety of sources, but it would be wise to hear what the Bible say about sex.
Many people believe the whole subject of sex is somehow dirty and shameful to discuss. God is the one who in the beginning created us as sexual beings. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). What it means to be man, what it means to be woman—emotionally, intellectually, physically—that difference comes from God himself. Men and women are different because God made them different.
Sex was God’s idea in the beginning. He thought of it first. He made us different so that our differences would attract us to each other.
An Intimate Relationship
While God said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:28), the primary reason for sex is so a man and a woman can reach an intimacy that is impossible without it. The Bible refers to that as becoming one flesh. In that moment a husband and wife physically come together in the act of love. This moment cannot happen simply by talking together, working side by side on the same project, or living in the same house.
This idea of becoming one flesh, this act of marriage, is described in Genesis 4:1. The Hebrew literally says “Adam knew Eve.” Modern translations have correctly interpreted this as a reference to the sexual relationship, but in substituting “lay with” for “knew,” the meaning has been lost.
The Hebrew word translated “know” means to know intimately, to know by personal experience. This knowing goes beyond the intellectual. It is the difference between saying, “I know George Washington” and “I know my wife.” The one I know from history; the other I know from 28 years of living together.
To become one flesh, then, is to know a person in a way unlike any other kind of knowing. That means there is no such thing as casual sex. For better or worse, every time a man and a woman come together—whether or not they are married—it is anything but casual. It may be fun or pleasurable, it may be earthy and physical, it may be accompanied by candles and soft music, and it may take place in a bedroom or in the back seat of a car. The specifics don’t matter. But it is not casual. It’s serious business when a man and a woman engage in sexual activity.
The Context of Marriage
God’s plan from the beginning was for the glorious gift of sex to be opened in marriage. That’s why the Ten Commandments include the statement, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). One Sunday school student in a children’s department defined adultery as the sin of pretending to be older than you are. He may be right. Adultery is pretending to know more about life, marriage, and relationships than God. Adultery is a violation of God’s plan of faithfulness to one partner.
Why would God communicate such a message? Did he want to cause us undue grief and pain? Did he want to spoil our fun? Inherent within every negative biblical command are two positive principles: to protect us and to provide for us. It is to our benefit to wait to have sexual relations until after marriage. God wants the best for us. He gives his commands to protect us from fear, anxiety, guilt, self-consciousness, and even physical pain. And he wants to provide for us a future, a hope, a wonderful marriage based on trust, love, and honesty.
Solomon in Proverbs 7 warned his young son to beware of any woman who would lead him into sexual sin. The adulteress promised a good time but her path led only to shame and destruction. He described the consequences of going down that path and the ultimate demise. Solomon minced no words. To cross the line into sexual adultery and sexual immorality will cost you.
Solomon painted three destructive pictures of when a person crosses the boundary into illicit sex—a slaughter, a noose, and a snare. Have you ever been to a slaughterhouse? It can make even the strongest person nauseous. Have you ever heard the desperate yelp of an animal caught in a trap, knowing death is imminent? It will cause you to hurt in agony. Have you seen a bird caught in a web or net unable to free itself? It is a pitiful and tragic site. Each of these pictures shows the outcome when one crosses the line into sexual immorality. The warning has been issued. When you cross the line into sexual immorality you reap inevitable and distinct consequences.
Running from Sexual Temptation
When it comes to sexual temptation, the Bible is quite clear that the appropriate response is to run away. “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). “Flee the evil desires of youth” (2 Timothy 2:22). Don’t debate it. Don’t resist it. Don’t see how close to the line you can come. Don’t flirt with it. Run. Run fast. Run hard. Run away from it.
Sex can be like a dangerous explosive. Some people think they can play with it and not get hurt. Some people think they can walk right up to the line and have the willpower not to cross over. Some people think they can handle this explosive, but they lack common sense and judgment.
Let’s own up to it. Most of us simply cannot handle certain television shows, films, Internet sites, music groups, and even people. Certain clothes should not be worn. Some settings are too tempting, some touches are too personal, and some liberties are too much for us to handle.
Granted, we can’t avoid all sexual stimuli, but in Martin Luther’s terms, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.”
One man who travels extensively has a practice that helps him avoid tempting situations. “Whenever I check into my hotel,” he said, “where I normally stay for three or four days, I ask them at the front desk to remove the television from my room. Invariably they look at me like I’m crazy, and then they say, ‘But sir, if you don’t want to watch it, you don’t have to turn it on.’ Since I’m a paying customer, however, I politely insist, and I’ve never once been refused.
“The point is that I know that in my weak and lonely moments late in the evening, I’ll be tempted to watch the immoral movies that are only one push of a button away. In the past I’ve succumbed to that temptation over and over, but not anymore. Having the television removed in my stronger moments has been my way of saying, ‘I’m serious about this, Lord,’ and it’s been the key to victory in my battle against impurity.”
What tempting things do you need to have removed from your sight?
Sexual Sin Is Forgivable
In the end, everyone sins in some area or another. If you have crossed the line into sexual sin, there is still hope. While you cannot become a virgin again, you can obtain God’s forgiveness. You have to ask for forgiveness and try not to sin that way again. While giving up sex may be difficult, God calls us to remain sexually pure until marriage.
When two people who love God come together in the marriage relationship, the coming together is not just for them. It is also for God. And that act of coming together not only gives us pleasure; it also gives him pleasure. When a man and woman come together becoming one flesh, it is not just a sexual act. It is a sacred act. It is not only good; it is holy. That’s what God wants, and it is what the Bible says about sex.
Rick Ezell is a freelance writer in Greer, South Carolina.
YOUR SEX LIFE
Look at the article again and consider where you are:
An Intimate Relationship
• If you are married, how are you honoring your spouse, the one person you “know” the most?
• How can you continue to “know” one another in all aspects, allowing sex to deepen your relationship?
The Context of Marriage
• Many people view sex as a necessary part of a dating relationship rather than waiting for marriage. Do you find yourself sometimes agreeing with this view of sex? If so, go back to God’s Word and be reminded why God created sex and why he insists that it should stay within marriage.
Running from Sexual Temptation
• Are you flirting with sexual temptation of any kind, or are you running from it? Choose to run.
• Like the man who asked that his TV be removed from his hotel room, are there some extreme measures you need to take in order to run from temptation? What other changes can you make (what you see, where you go, who you talk to) to keep temptation far away?
• If you have a past or present situation that involves sex outside of marriage, confess it to God. Seek his help and the help of others to embrace forgiveness and move toward God’s plan for your sex life.
• Are there others you need to forgive who have sinned sexually? Pray that God will help you show them his grace.