My Intelligent Friend,
For our entire lives, we have heard conflicting messages about our sexuality. To quote Mark Driscoll, the message has been: Sex is “dirty, nasty, vile, and wrong, so save it for the one you love.” What a contradiction! But, we young Christians have all felt the weight of that message. I think the majority of us young godly singles agree that intercourse outside of marriage is damaging to us and our relationship with God (or, to use the Christianese term: sin), but what do we do there?
Because we are created with a sex drive. It causes us to deeply desire what we are told we shouldn’t do. It flashes inappropriate ideas and images into our brains at inopportune times. It needlessly complicates our friendships and romances. If you are like me, you have BEGGED God to take away your sex drive until your wedding night. And he (spoiler) didn’t.
Why? Because our sex drive isn’t something that arose out of the fall, but rather something that God implemented before his long rest from creating.
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Overquoted? Yes. Necessary to begin here? Also yes. Before the fall, there was sex (fruitful and multiplying). There was no shame, and their sex drives were intact and working. Their children had sex drives, kicked into full gear during puberty, and Jesus had a sex drive. The question becomes, what should we do with this sex drive, this desire for expression, right now?
Firstly, let’s come to terms with what are NOT the things to do with our sexuality. Our sex drive is created good, but corrupted by sin, and we do not want to gratify it’s myriad desires. Our basic drive to know and be known intimately is good and God-given, but not every expression we come up with is holy and pure. When we lust after someone who is not our spouse, that is adultery and we must avoid that. So, we do not live as a slave to all of our passions and desires.
It isn’t a correct reading of Paul to suggest that, as some have, staying single is wrong. Paul was single and said it was good because it freed him up to do more ministry. Moreover, JESUS was single, and perfect, so it is absolutely wrong to try and shame singles into settling and getting married, giving you grandchildren, or be a guilty neurotic single wondering what is wrong with themselves. Life doesn’t begin on your wedding day, and single people are not second-class citizens.
It can’t be right to put a straight jacket on your sexuality until your wedding day. The fear of messing up (or the fear of the shame that would come upon the Christian parent whose progeny *gasp* had sex before marriage!) is not a legitimate reason to refrain from something. We have a spirit of power, love, and self control. So many of the Christian Pharisee rules of “Don’t do X because X leads to BABIES AND HELL!!!!” are premised upon a spirit of fear and an utter LACK of self control, and that isn’t what Christ bought for us in his redemption.
It is important to remember that Christ entrusts us with responsibilities and expects us to do something productive with them. We have been told out whole lives to steward our time, talents, and treasures (which supposedly encompasses everything we have). What if we re-read this parable keeping in mind that our sexuality is a gift bestowed upon us by our God, and he expects us to steward it as well?
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed,25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
I look forward to continuing this line of thinking, and digging into the implications in a later letter.
Your partner in intelligent conversation,
A Christian Guy