SEX – THE REAL DEAL
You know, it happens in classrooms all across our country every single year. On an appointed day, with no warning, but interestingly enough, a couple of weeks after a very mysterious envelope has gone home to the parents, the boys are summoned from the classroom, usually by a gym coach or the school principal, while the girls are left to sit in the classroom and wonder what the guys have done wrong. Once the two genders are appropriately segregated, they are ushered into separate rooms, where the shades are drawn, and they are introduced to a particular curriculum with very clinical titles like, Your Changing Body and You, Where Babies Come From, Responsible Social Behavior. And thus begins academic sex education.
Now, the vast majority of these classes are reiterating what most moms and dads have already begun introducing their children to in the realities of sex. But sex education in the academic sense in the schools is actually nothing new. Sex ed has been around since the very beginning. And as a matter of fact, this academic, government-taught sex ed falls woefully short of the sex ed that God had in mind when he combined men and women. Sex ed in its strictest sense is the very subject that we’re going to deal with this weekend. It is intimacy. Intimacy is one of those things that as soon as I say it, every single one of you in this room has a particular thought in your mind. For some of you, most of the guys, you’re disappointed. Because when I say intimacy, you think to yourself, man, I thought we were going to talk about sex. And the women are thinking, that’s right. You preach it, brother. Talk to them about the intimacy.
Well, I want you to know that both of those views are wrong. Because true sex ed in God’s economy includes both. And yes, the relational knowing and being known intimately by another person as well as the passion and the abandon of the sexual relationship God designed husband and wife and desires husband and wife to experience. I want to show you kind of where this comes from. If you’ll look on your outlines in Genesis chapter number 2, you go all the way back to the beginning. There’s an incredible description of this intimacy that God desires. The Bible says this, “Then 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, flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Now, watch this. Underline this part. “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” What God’s describing here in the book of Genesis, when he says they felt no shame, they were naked before one another, is this thing called intimacy. And the fact of the matter is that you cannot have a sexual relationship without intimacy. And in the bonds of marriage, you cannot have intimacy without that attraction. They feed and fuel one another in God’s design. And that’s where we are this morning.
Now, if you missed last weekend’s message, I want to encourage you to pick up the CD on your way out, because last weekend established some very baseline, foundational principles for where we are this weekend. But I want to talk about intimacy, about how God accomplishes this between a husband and a wife. Now, if you’re a single adult, if you’re a student, you may be thinking what about me? Hey, this is going to be one of the greatest messages you have ever heard because you have the opportunity to establish relationships that build a solid foundation. As we talked about last week, some people got a little nervous when we trotted a bed out here on the stage in church. Kind of like whoa, I don’t know.
I had a friend of mine ask me this week, I saw him on Monday morning. He goes man, what kind of e-mail or notes did you get on the bed being in church? I said you know what? This is God’s talk. God says in Hebrews 13 “marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure”. Nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of. God has given this gift to people, to human beings. And intimacy is the very thing that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, this capacity for knowing and being known, this desire for relational intimacy. But the fact of the matter is that we don’t just drift into intimacy. Intimacy doesn’t just kind of happen. We have to really and truly work at it. But I think we can all agree that this is pretty fun work. This ought to be enjoyable. But we have to intentionalize it. When I use the word intimacy, I want you to use this working definition. It is the intentional, willing giving of yourself. It is intentional vulnerability. Choosing to be vulnerable to another person.
If you remember, we talked about last week that the physical realities of sex actually echo spiritual and relational realities. So when we read that the man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame, we kind of dwell on the fact that they didn’t have any clothes, and ultimately after sin they tried to sew fig leaves together and cover themselves, and then God gave them animal skins. But before you really dwell on the physical realities, think about what that meant, for a husband and a wife to have no barriers, no relational hurdles to climb. They were open with each other, intentionally vulnerable with each other.
Now, I told you last week that we’re going to go into the Song of Songs, the Song of Solomon throughout this series. And today in particular we’re going to unpack the first four chapters of the Song of Songs. Some of you went home last week and read the Song of Songs for the first time. I know you did. Because you go, man, it talks about sex in the Bible. I’m there. But what you need to understand is the first four and a half chapters of the Song of Songs is pre-wedding. It is the groom writing to his bride, the bride journaling about groom as they are approaching the wedding date. Then in chapters 4 and 5, there’s the honeymoon, when the marriage, when the covenant commitment is consummated. And then chapter 5 through the end of the chapter is post-honeymoon. So there’s a natural progression. And you see in the first few chapters of the Song of Songs this couple building and creating and developing intimacy. So what I want you to see is that the first step of intimacy, the first thing of building this connectedness, this intentional vulnerability has to begin with this. Plan. You have to have a plan for doing life together if you’re going to be intimate. If you’re going to really and truly experience life together, if you’re going to know and be known, you have to have a plan.
Look at this incredibly sexy verse in Song of Songs 1:17. It says, “The beams of our house are cedars, our rafters are firs.” Man, that’s really sexy, isn’t it? You’re thinking right now, wow. Got to cool off. Why in the world would Solomon talk about the house? He’s communicating to his bride that they have a plan for doing life together. He says look, you’ve got to understand something. When we come together in this home, we are safe here. This is a haven. Because we’re on the same page. They have a plan for building this house. They have a plan for spending their time together. Intimacy requires a plan on two specific fronts I want you to be aware of.
The first one is a plan for your time. What are you going to do with your time? Most couples that have disagreements over how they spend their time, he’s playing too much golf. Man, she’s always hanging out with her friends. It’s not the golf, it’s not the friends. It’s the time that they’re spending, that they’re not investing in each other, that they are on different pages. So there has to be a plan for your time. There also has to be a plan for your money, for your finances. If you want to build intimacy, budget. Work a budget together. Husband and wife having a plan. The numbers that actually go down on the page are really secondary to the fact that you’re getting on the same page.
The number one cause of divorce in America is financial pressure. It’s because husbands and wives are not on the same page financially, typically because one or the other is the gatekeeper financially. Many times it’s the husband. Here. You need some money? Well, I gave you some yesterday, but go ahead. You go buy yourself something pretty. And he’s establishing himself as the financial parent. Hey, and it can swing the other way, too. I know there are women in the household who go, you’re spending too much money. No. Hey, if you are the financial parent, forget about being the sexual partner. It’s not going to happen. But if you’re on the same page financially, you have taken a great stride towards intimacy. Why? Because where your treasure is, is where your heart is. What you do with your finances is indicative and representative of your heart. So you have to have a plan with money and with time.
I know some of you men are deeply disappointed that we’re not talking more about sex, but we’re getting there. This is a process, all right? Some of you women, too. The second thing, protect. If you want to build intimacy, protect each other. Guard one another. Part of what he was communicating with the plan is that they were safe. But look at what the bride writes about her husband. She says his left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me. Watch this. Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field, do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. They’re talking here about safety in their relationship.
Wives, I will give you a little hint. If you’re at a party or you’re with a group of people and you need a laugh, make a joke at your husband’s expense. It’s a guaranteed laugh every time, because women will be able to identify with it, they’ll be oh, mine, too. I know what you’re dealing with. I’m praying for you. And you’ll get a laugh. But you will also wound your husband. Husbands, by the same token, you want to get a laugh? Make a joke about women, about your wife. Well, let me tell you how long it takes her to get ready. You’re not going to believe this. She spends money like it’s water. You’ll get a laugh. And you will wound your spouse.
This next point of the sermon I really tried to leave out, but I can’t do it. Sarcasm. I have a Ph.D. It is a spiritual gift of mine, the spiritual gift of sarcasm. Unfortunately, the spiritual gift of sarcasm is not a gift from God. Sarcasm will tear down and wound. Take the word apart. The word sarcasm comes from the original Greek, the word sarkos, which means flesh. It’s where you get the term of sarcophagus or a tomb, where flesh is laid when it dies. Sarcasm is literally the tearing of flesh. And when you are sarcastic, when I am sarcastic, what we’re communicating is you’re not safe here. It’s not a haven in this place. I’m not a haven for you. Sarcasm will shred intimacy. Men, do not do it. Don’t do it. This is your bride. She is the equivalent to Jesus of the church for which he gave himself up. Women, do not do it. Protect him. He’s going to get beat up enough. He’s going to make enough mistakes on his own without you pointing them out. Also, if your husband’s telling a story and gets the facts wrong, let it go. You don’t have to correct every mistake. I mean, unless your life or the lives of your children are at stake, let it go. So it happened on Tuesday instead of Monday. We know you’re smarter. That’s not in question. It’s crazy. Men, if your wives are telling a story and they miss a number or whatever, shut up. Protect her. She needs to be able to feel like your left hand is behind her head and your right arm is embracing her, there’s that protective covering.
This next one is better. Play. Play. As a husband and wife, play together. Have fun with each other. Go to a restaurant. I will promise you, you will be able to pick out most of the people who are married and those who are not. You know why? Because those who are not married are talking and flirting. That is so funny. I never would have thought that. That’s great. Dating. Married, how’s yours? It’s good. How’s yours? What happens when we get married that we quit playing together, we quit having fun? Find out about the other person’s interests. He plays golf. I don’t like golf. It’s just hitting that silly little white ball. You don’t have to like golf. Do you like your husband? Find out about it. Men, find out what is fun for your wives. I will suggest to you that the vast majority of women don’t know what they like to do for fun. They don’t. Because they’re always thinking about other people. They’re always thinking about doing something for someone else. Help them find out their fun. You show up as your wife’s fun finder. You will be that knight on a white horse. Tell her. Say we’re not doing one more thing until we find something you like to do for fun. Got it? Fun and play.
Look at how the bride talks about her husband in the Song of Songs. Chapter 2, she says, listen, “My lover, look, here he comes leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag.” Women, that man will walk through fire for her. You want to really call your man out? Say come here, stag. You are just ripped. But look at what the groom’s doing. Watch this. “There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.” What’s he doing? He’s flirting with her. He’s flirting with his wife. Men, when was the last time you sent your wife a flirtatious e-mail? Now, be careful if it’s on the company dime, because they can go and look at it. But get yourself a free Yahoo e-mail account so you can send your wife flirtatious e-mails. Play with her. “My lover spoke and said to me arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth. The season of singing has come. The cooing of doves is heard in our land.” We have doves in Texas. Use them. Play with each other. Have fun together. Now, let me say this. A lot of husbands and wives should not compete against each other. Don’t start playing tennis against each other, because a lot of times that’ll wreck intimacy. That was out. No, it wasn’t. Don’t do that. But play together. Have fun with each other.
There’s a great book that I would really recommend to you, married or single or undecided, students, it’s called His Needs Her Needs. It’s written by Dr. Willard F. Harley. And in this book, Dr. Harley stipulates five specific needs of a wife and five specific needs of a husband. Now, obviously, you can’t list every person’s every need, but by and large, these hold true. And one of the primary needs of a man is recreational companionship. Recreational companionship. I would suggest to you women want to have fun, too. Cindy Lauper said that back when I was in high school. Girls just want to have fun. Play together. Date each other.
Now, if you’re in a season of life, there are times when play is a little more difficult than others. If you have infants at home, man, that’s a tough time. But use it as a season, and do everything you can to get back in the game playing. Next, confront. If you’re going to build intimacy in a relationship between two people, you are going to have to learn how and when to lovingly confront. You’re going to have anger. It will happen. Every relationship between people involves two self-centered sinners. Wait a minute. My husband, and who’s the other one? You. Wait a minute. My wife, and who else is she — you. We are all born with the predisposition toward self. And in this thing called intimacy and being known and knowing of another person, we have to learn how to confront. We touched on this verse last week, but look at what it says here. Song of Songs 2:15. It says, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” The groom is saying here let’s don’t let anything get swept under the rug, but let’s identify just the little things that rob us of the real fruit of our relationship, of the real joy that should be ours.
I was teaching this last night, and somebody came up to me after the sermon and said, do the little foxes include children? Do children kind of count? Sometimes. But as husband and wife, again, being on the same page. That’s why God says in the New Testament do not let the sun set on your anger. You don’t go to bed mad. Doesn’t mean that you’re going to go to bed and agree all the time, but you’re going to go to bed on the same page. And you know what that means? That means that sometimes you will spend some late nights. There will be some nights that you choose to stay up getting on the same page rather than rolling over and going to sleep because it’s easier. You’re going to do the work of confrontation. But you have to confront lovingly. You have to know how to go to your spouse. You have to give your spouse permission to confront. They’ve got to know that they can do that and you’ll listen, that you’re not going to go anywhere, you’re not going to bolt, but that you can confront together because you want your vineyards to stay in bloom. You want to see that fruit come into its fullest flower. You also have to appreciate, slash, respect. If you want to build intimacy, men, appreciate your wife. Women, respect your husband.
Now, I split that, because most men, if you tell a man I appreciate you, they’ll be like well, thanks, that’s nice. But if you say to a man I respect you, they’re going to feel like, that’s right. And well you should, my lady. I mean, he’s going to feel like you have really and truly stoked the fires of his soul. By the same token, if you tell a woman, I respect you and I admire you, she’s going to be like, that’s nice, thank you. But if you tell a woman I appreciate, I value you, what you bring to this relationship, what you bring to this home, you will stoke the fires of her soul. This is what happens between this prospective husband and wife. She writes, “Come out, you daughters of Zion, and look at King Solomon wearing the crown, the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced”. She says look at my husband. Women, when your family, when your friends hear you talk about your husband, they need to think you got the last good one on the planet.
But look at what the groom says about his bride. He says, You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride. You are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. She’s locked up. She’s sealed because they have not yet entered covenant marriage. But as their relationship stands prior to the wedding, he knows she’s a garden, she is a fountain. Do you see how he describes her? She gives life to him. She brings beauty into his life. I want you to contrast that with something else that Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs. This is great. Solomon said, A nagging wife is worse than a dripping faucet. So there’s fountain or faucet, wellspring of life or water torture. We appreciate one another, we respect each other, we call out of each other the best part of who we are. And for that person who looks into your life and believes in you and affirms you, you want to know them, you want to be known by them, you want to intentionally open yourself up to them. But we’re not quite through with intimacy in the sexual relationship. Because so far, we’ve talked about all of the foundational, relational components of it, but there’s another significant component to this intimacy in real deal sex. Enjoy. That’s right. Enjoy one another.
We were created to enjoy this incredible gift of God, to truly enjoy one another. Here’s the thing about intimacy. Intimacy in a sexual relationship functions as both thermostat and thermometer. Intimacy regulates the sexual temperature in a relationship. It sets the temperature. By the same token, it registers the intimacy temperature. It shows where the intimacy really is. If the sexual component of the relationship is going great, more than likely, the intimacy component is going great. By the same token, if the intimacy component is going great, the sexual component is going great. Sexual excitement feeds intimacy, and intimacy feeds sexual excitement. Again, the creative genius of God. Don’t think for a second that that’s accidental. Real deal sex is more exciting, it is more fulfilling than it’s-just-sex sex.
Look at how this husband and wife describe it, here describing the honeymoon. Now remember, this is the Bible. This is God’s word, holy and inspired. This is the wife writing initially. She says, “Awake north wind, and come south wind, blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad. Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits”. Then the groom says, “I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride. I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey. I have drunk my wine and my milk”. Wow. That’s God describing the sexual relationship that he designed and desires husbands and wives to enjoy, to experience. But it requires intimacy.
Now, I said something last week, and I reiterated it earlier in this message. But right now, it is critical that we get the fact that the physical realities of sex echo the spiritual realities. And this intimacy that God desires, he has created specifically so that we can begin to understand relationship with him. You see, that’s why sex is such a big deal to us. That’s why it is so soul-centric, because ultimately it points us toward him. Real intimacy references Adam and Eve in the garden, naked with no shame. And that is exactly what God accomplishes in the cross of Jesus.
See, the fact of the matter is that before God, I am naked. And Jesus allows me to stand before him spiritually naked. He allows you to stand before God spiritually naked with no shame. No matter where you are, no matter where you have been, no matter what you have done, no shame before God himself because of the cross of Christ. That’s what’s going on. That’s why the marriage bed matters to God. That actually is why men have a sexual thought every 22 seconds. It’s because it’s a part of the human condition. It’s a part of our soul. And this fire of intimacy, ultimately God wants to point us back toward him to guard and to protect this gift of sex, to enjoy it as we learn to enjoy him. For some people, enjoying God is a foreign concept. You see God as the hammer. You can’t enjoy him. He’s there for the taking.