SEX – THE REAL DEAL
It’s Just Sex
November 11, 2009
I wouldn’t say it was a life-altering dilemma, but it was a dilemma. I had gone downstairs to say goodnight to our kids. I had poked my head into Joseph’s room and said goodnight, Hoss. Stuck my head in Emily’s room, said honey, I love you. Sleep tight. See you tomorrow. When Emily said, Daddy, can I ask you a question? Now, at this particular moment in question, I had forgotten that within the past few days, Julie had sat down with Emily to have the talk. And so I very naively said, sure, honey. What’s up? And she proceeded to ask me some very pointed questions about sex. Apparently, Julie had made the mistake of telling her that she could ask us anything anytime if she wanted to. But here was my dilemma. I knew in the moment intellectually that the right course of action as a father was to honestly and openly answer and address Emily’s questions. But as a father of a daughter, there was a part of my heart that wanted to say now, Emily, mommy did tell you, of course, that sex is only for marriage after you’re 30 years old and only when you want to have children. She said that, didn’t she? Because any other use of sex will cause your ears to grow and swell to four times their normal size. That’s what I wanted to say. But I realized that an answer like that might just possibly irreparably wreck Emily’s perspective on this incredible gift of sex.
God’s given us this gift. It’s really interesting to me that as our culture has cranked up the volume sexually, the church by and large has remained incredibly silent and absent from the conversation. It’s even more ironic when you consider just how un-silent and un-absent God is in the conversation. If you even casually pick up the Bible and read it, you’re going to find God openly and repeatedly dealing with the subject of human sexuality. The reason for this is very simple. God invented it. It is his gift to us. Animals mate. Human beings have sex. And in this conversation that we’re beginning this weekend, we are going to really and truly take a look at sex as God describes it, sex the real deal. Some of you are very uncomfortable that there’s a bed out here on this stage in church. You’re thinking no, no, no, no, no, that does not happen. Are you kidding me? Makin’ Whoopee, the song? Well, if that song offends you, you have never read the Bible. Read the Song of Solomon. The whole thing is about the same thing, husband and wife having a ball. And they are making whoopee, having sex. If we can’t talk about sex in church, where can we? Where do we go to find out the real deal?
Because we live in a world where the prevailing wind is it’s just sex. That’s what people say, isn’t it? I mean, it’s just sex. Well, let me ask you some questions. If it’s just sex, why in the world do marketers and advertisers use it so predominantly and prevalently to separate us from our dollars to buy stuff? If it’s just sex, why does God talk about it all the way through the Bible? If it’s just sex, why does the average male have a sexual thought every 22 seconds? Average. Clearly, it’s more than just sex. It has to be. And I want you to see why God says it is more than just sex. Look on your outlines at Hebrews chapter 13, verse 4. This passage of scripture is a great one to memorize. This is actually going to be the foundation for this entire conversation. This verse actually gives us license to bring this bed out here on stage. Look at what it says. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure. For God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Now, that’s a long way from making whoopee, isn’t it? I mean, that doesn’t sound like it’s supposed to be fun. But why does God put that in the Bible? Why does God say that this is so significant that everyone should honor marriage, that everyone should keep the marriage bed pure, whether you’re married or not. Married or single, undecided, no matter where you are, you have a responsibility and a calling from God to keep the marriage bed pure. Why is that? It is because sex is first and foremost a spiritual issue. It is spiritual and theological long before it is physical and relational. Sex is a statement of faith.
Now, in the next few weeks we’re going to address some very specific issues. Next week we’re going to talk about intimacy. We’re going to talk about that knowing of one another as it relates to this subject. We’re going to talk about the passionate abandon that God wants us to experience sexually, that he designed it to be for us. We’re also going to take a look at some of the counterfeits, those things that rob us of the full significance and meaning and enjoyment of sex.
Also we’re going to take a look at what God says about keeping the sexual fires lit in marriage that over time sometimes those embers kind of burn down low. How do you relight those fires? But this weekend, we’re going to answer one question, just one question, and that’s it. Why sex matters. That’s it. That is where we begin this conversation. Why does it matter so deeply and so profoundly to God and to us? Why is it that it is such a soul-level issue? The first reason is this. Sex matters because it reflects. Sex matters because it reflects and mirrors the character and the image of God.
Go all the way back to the beginning in the Garden of Eden. Genesis chapter 1 says this. “So God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them.” Now, we’ve said this before many times, but it’s imperative we reiterate it right here. Men and women are different. Hallelujah, hallelujah. The angels sing. Thank God we’re different.
You see, God stamped specific parts of his personality primarily into the heart of a man. By the same token, he stamped specific other parts, complementary parts of his personality into the heart of a woman. That’s why God looked in before he created woman and said of the man it is not good for him to be alone. Now, when you and I read that, we think, well, I mean, it’s no good being alone. Poor Adam, guy down there in the garden. But God says it’s not good because first of all it’s a theological issue. You see, man by himself could not accurately bear the image of God sufficiently. By himself, there were parts of God’s personality that were missing just in the man. That’s why God created woman. That’s why woman came alongside, to complement, to help Adam. The Bible calls her a helper suitable, ezer kenegdo in the original language. That doesn’t mean that she was there to clean up for him and do the dishes. That means that she completed him. He was insufficient in and of himself. So when a man and a woman come together sexually, they are making a theological statement. They are portraying the image of God. They embody it in the act of sex.
So sex is first and foremost theological, because it reflects the image of God. Apart from one another, we paint a partial picture of God. Connected in marriage, connected in sex, we begin to see a more complete view of who God is and what he’s all about. Sex matters because it reflects. Second of all, sex matters because it consummates, or as we’re going to say, it consumes mates. It consume mates. What do they say, when a couple gets married and they have the wedding and they leave on their honeymoon, people of taste just kind of say very generically, they’re consummating the marriage. Yes, the marriage has been consummated. What are they saying? They had sex. They went on their honeymoon. Because when you engage sexually, it consumes every part of who you are. There’s not one part of you that you leave at the door. Spiritually, physically, obviously, emotionally, intellectually, relationally. It consumes, it engulfs all of those two mates.
Genesis chapter 2, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Again, in 2006, we see that one flesh, and we think about mechanics. We think about the fact that they unite physically and sexually. But in God’s economy, it is much deeper than the mechanics of sex. There is a meaning and a significance to it that is deeper than just the physical realities.
You see, we live in a world, all of us have to one degree or another bought into a false dichotomy. What I mean by that is this. We believe, at least to some degree because of our culture that there are two separate spheres of life. There’s the spiritual stuff, the stuff of God, and for those of us in America, we usually kind of pull that off the shelf on Sunday, and we clean up and we go to church. Hi, how are you. Lord bless you. Yes. And there’s spiritual stuff. Then there’s physical stuff. That’s day in, day out reality. That’s where it really counts and all that kind of stuff. That’s a false dichotomy. God has never bifurcated life into two different spheres that never meet. As a matter of fact, if you read the Bible, he is all about integrating the spiritual and the physical. There’s no disconnect between the two. It is the physical that gets meaning and significance from the spiritual, and it is the spiritual that has practical relevance in the physical. So they complement one another. Particularly in the area of sex. The spiritual and the physical come together.
So when God says they become one flesh, he’s not just talking about mechanics. He’s talking about meaning. The physical representation is symbolic of what’s going on on a much deeper, multiple deeper levels. So sex matters because it consume mates. Also, sex matters because it expects. You know, sex expects something out of you. It calls for an investment personally. 1 Corinthians chapter 7. “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.” Men, husbands, you need to go to your wives and say honey, I just want you to know I am willing to fulfill my marital duty. I’m here for you. That’s how deeply I love you. It’s something expected in marriage. He goes on to say this. “The wife’s body does not belong to her alone, but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone, but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” Is that a great verse? You need to memorize that puppy. Don’t deprive each other. Well, define deprive. I don’t know. One woman’s deprivation may be another man’s exhaustion.
In marriage, you’ve got to figure that out. You have to talk. You have to communicate and learn each other’s needs, submitting your needs to their needs. But it calls for something. It expects something out of you, out of me. That’s why pornography is so insidious. Ultimately, you know what the deal is pornography? Or gentlemen’s clubs? I love that term, gentlemen’s clubs. That’s a great one, isn’t it? Because nothing but gentlemen go in there. You know what the problem with those deals is? They don’t call for anything. They don’t expect anything out of you. Those are coward clubs. It’s cowardly to try to satisfy your own needs sexually by just a cheap representation, by just a cheap imitation that doesn’t call for anything out of you. It doesn’t call for anything out of me.
Now, women are not above pornography, but let’s be honest. Guys, it’s a lot more of a problem in our arena. Men are visual creatures. That just is. Women, I hate to burst any bubbles, that’s so shallow. It just is. It may be shallow, but it is. That is why we have to guard our hearts against that junk, against that garbage, because it doesn’t expect anything. It doesn’t call for anything out of us. So guys, if you’re looking at that stuff online and you can’t stop, get help. But if you can stop and you just choose not to, it’s because you’re a coward. You don’t have the guts to engage a real human being. And that includes the Victoria’s Secret catalog and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. It’s Sports Illustrated, man. I read the articles. Shut up. No, you don’t. Real deal sex expects something.
Now, in the context of marriage, wives, use this fact as a tool, as a leverage. Visually entice your husband. That’s part of what God wants you to do. We’re going to get to that in just a second, believe me. But it expects something. Also, sex matters because it exposes. You’re vulnerable. Male and female, you’re at your most vulnerable physically in the act of sex. The tenderest parts of your body physically are vulnerable, they’re exposed. And that physical reality is representative of an equally true emotional and spiritual reality. I love the Song of Solomon. We’re going to go to Song of Songs a lot in this series, and I want to tell you right now, buckle up, punkin, because it gets real in the Song of Songs, okay? There’s some of this that I’m not even going to go into because some of you are single. I don’t want to cause you to burn with passion, like Paul says. But some of you who are married, man, I’m just saying. But this is the husband writing to his wife, and then the wife writing to her husband.
Watch this. The husband says you are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon. I mean, is he saying what I think — yeah. That’s what he’s saying. He’s talking about her vulnerability. Then look at what she said says. His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His mouth is sweetness itself. He is altogether lovely. This is my lover. This is my friend, oh daughters of Jerusalem. She’s telling her girlfriends he has exposed himself to me. He has made himself vulnerable, and it is incredible. We’re exposed in this act. And this fact is why God has specifically, intentionally, and unambiguously nestled the gift of sex in the cocoon of covenant marriage. One man, one woman, one life, period. That’s God’s design, that’s God’s desire.
Now, some people say well, that is such an antiquated view. I mean, people are going to do it. Shouldn’t we just give them the condoms and blah, blah, blah. Listen, God doesn’t say that to squelch fun. God nestles sex in the cocoon of covenant marriage as an act of love because he understands how exposed we are in the act of sex. Yes, physically, but even more so emotionally, spiritually, relationally. There is nothing more intimate that you give to another person than yourself. Nothing. So we’re exposed. Let’s move on, shall we? Sex also matters because it thrills.
God designed sex to be an amazing experience of fun, of passion, of joy. For years, people said — particularly people in the church. This blows my mind. People said sex is a necessary evil for procreation. That’s how babies get here, so go ahead, but don’t enjoy it. Those people never read the Bible. Those people never saw what God had to say about it. I love this. In Song of Songs, again, chapter 7, just for the record, this is the wife talking right here. Thought that was interesting. Watch this. “Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened and if the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love.” She’s inviting her husband to a sexual experience. Watch this. “The mandrakes send out their fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy both new and old that I have stored up for you, my lover.” What would her husband not do for her? I mean, this guy would walk across cut glass and hot coals at the same time. She is making herself available and inviting him. Are you kidding me? Some of you are like fanning yourselves. But do you see what she’s saying here? This is going to be fun for both of us. This is going to be a thrilling experience. That’s God’s intent. That’s his design and desire. If it’s not, that’s symptomatic of something else relationally going on.
Now, there are times when because we’re human beings we’re going to disconnect, one is going to say yeah, the other’s going to go no, but by and large, as we develop this real deal sexual intimacy, we become more united, more one together. Now, you cannot ignore this next fact. Sex also matters because it creates. This is how life is initiated. Yes, God does it. Look at Psalm 139. “You created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Yes, God did it, but how does he accomplish that? The sperm and the egg find each other, become friends, and then replicate, and it’s life. He knit me together. Before I was formed, he knew me, he knew my soul. I don’t get that.
If you ever watch the Discovery Channel, you know all the — I mean at least have a flavor of how many things have to go right for any of us to be here, from the moment of conception all the way through the delivery. Then compound that complexity with all the things that have to go right for a man and a woman to come together in real deal sex, opening themselves up to each other, honoring God, bearing his image physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and in that act, life happens. If you don’t get anything else from this series and this conversation, I hope you are blown away by the creative genius of God. I mean, look at all of the different layers that we’ve just touched on briefly here this morning that God wrapped up and packed up into this gift of our sexuality. It’s staggering. You can’t even really adequately describe it.
But if you don’t hear anything else, I want you to catch this last point more than anything. Real deal sex matters because it protects. Real deal sex protects us. It protects our relationships. It is the only truly safe sex. The only one. Song of Songs again. This is the husband writing to his wife. He says, “My dove, in the clefts of the rock.” Do you see the hiding? Do you see the woman afraid to come out? But look at what he says. “In the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face. Let me hear your voice. For your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” Watch this. “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” This is a man inviting his wife into the safe context of marital love, saying it’s okay. With me, you’re safe. Come into this relationship. Come to me physically and emotionally and spiritually and intellectually. I love what he says there. Catch the little foxes that ruin the vineyards. That’s a relational expression.
Every relationship has little foxes that ruin the vineyards, that take the low-hanging fruit, that pick, that cut, that get into the relationship and create wedges. He says here let’s get those things out of the way. Let’s address the little foxes that are coming after our vineyards. Let’s address those issues that right now may be little but could grow so that they’re out of the way and we can be safe with each other. Our vineyards are in full bloom. Our relationship is in full flower. Let’s enjoy it. Because in this context, we’re protected. It’s safe.
In the context of real deal sex, you never have to worry about catching a disease. You never have to worry about an unwanted pregnancy. You never have to worry about what God thinks about it. You never have to worry about hiding anything. Before God, if Jesus walked in the room, you’d have a clear conscience. Be with you in just a second. I believe Jesus would say cool. He’d probably say it in Greek, but he’d say cool. Do you see the grace of God? Do you notice how he gives us this gift as well as the protection for the gift, to guard it as we celebrate it?
That’s how I finished my conversation with Emily. I said, baby, you have a gift that God has given to you. It’s not about momma, it’s not about me. It’s about you guarding the gift so that it’s everything God wants it to be in your life. Some of you are also nervous about the bed being out here because it represents for you pain. It represents for you mistakes that have been made. Doesn’t have to be that way.
You see, just as sex physically tells the spiritual truth, Jesus on the cross physically tells the spiritual truth. When Jesus went to the cross, he took on himself spiritually my sin, your sin. All of it. All of it. And when he rose again, he left all of my sin, he left all of your sin in the grave with the offer of a new life, of a clean slate. That is who Jesus is. That is what he does. There is not one sin, there’s not one mistake, there is not one hurt that he does not redeem, that the cross is not sufficient for. But you have to own that. You have to forgive yourself, because God does, and your standards are not higher than his, and receive what Jesus did for you on the cross.