I cannot begin to write on my thoughts about God and sex without a note of heartfelt gratitude to John Piper and Justin Taylor for their work as editors of the most magnificent book on sex I have ever read. “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ” was foundational in helping heal my heart of fears before marriage, and has continued to be a beacon of hope and truth to me throughout my marriage. Most of what I will be writing today is truths tucked in those pages, and I strongly urge you to buy this book and read it for yourself.
In writing a post about the theology of sex, I feel it is important to note that I am not a “educational” theologian, merely a practicing one. But aren’t we all? In one sense or another we each have our thoughts about who God is, what He is about on the earth, and why it matters. If you are a thinker in any sense, you have asked yourself questions about your importance and God’s importance – and have tried to live your life according to the answers you have found. But even if you don’t realize it, you are living your life according to some form of theology. And it has been shaped by the world, by your experiences, and hopefully the reading of good books (and one Great Book), conversations with thoughtful people, and much prayer.
I believe that a healthy theology of sex must be a part of a much larger thoughtful theology about life. Weak theology creates wimpy Christians, as one pastor states. So many believers go through life without ever taking the time to ask themselves the hard questions about the God who has called them into the light. And when they are faced with challenging or heart-breaking situations they crumble because they don’t have a theology that will stand up to life’s battles. The trouble with this is that we are promised these battles will happen. We are promised that life will be hard, that it will be a fight. We are told that we will be abandoned by those we love, ridiculed by those we admire, and attacked by the enemy of our souls. So once again I urge you, dear friends, to become true thinkers, to have a sturdy mind and work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
So. A theology on sex. I am just going to come right out and state it : I believe the ultimate purpose of all creation and all life is to glorify God. Therefore, I believe the purpose of sex and our sexuality is to glorify God. Now let me tell you why.
I Corinthians 10:31 says this : “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Romans 11:36 says : “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
Justin Taylor starts the introduction to “Sex and Supremacy of Christ” with these words, “These are among the Bible verses most often quoted by evangelicals. But quoting Scripture texts is different than shaping a worldview around them.”
Today I hope to urge you to see the ink on the pages of your Bible as more than mere words, and to challenge you to apply them to your sex life.
All things to the glory of God.
From Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
Including sex? I have to answer with a resounding yes.
It is my belief that the ultimate (though not the only) purpose of sex is to glorify God. Sex points to God. As Bruce Marshall so famously said, “The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.”
We have all been taught that God created sex. And while there may have been many misguided teachings regarding what that means, I believe it means that sex is good, because the God who created it is good. And, as Ben Patterson so beautifully writes, “God is glorified greatly when we recieve his gift with thanksgiving and enjoy it the way he meant for it to be enjoyed.”
So why do I think that sex is made to glorify God? Beyond the very obvious Scriptures that I wrote earlier, and my belief that all things were created to glorify God – I believe that this is the ultimate purpose of sex because God’s glory is the ultimate purpose of marriage – and sex is only blessed by God in the marriage relationship. As I touched on in another post, sex matters.
In Matt 19:4, Jesus asks, “Haven’t you read…that in the beginning God made them male and female?” Our gender, our sex and our sexuality is central to how God made us. Ben Patterson writes, “To say that we are sexual creatures is to say that we cannot be understood except as male and female, and except as male or female. As male and female we make up one humanity. As male or female we make up the two poles of humanity, with our bodies as concrete expression of those poles.” And we are meant to come together, to be one in marriage – through sex.
There is so much more I could write on this, but I want to conclude with this final point. I believe that sex (as John Piper states) is “designed to make God more deeply knowable.” The rich imagery of marriage and sex are used time and again in the Bible to describe Christ’s pursuit of His people (Ezekiel 16 being one of the most graphic). The passion of sex gives us a language to describe leaving others and cleaving to Christ. And our sexuality, and sexual passions give us a way to “describe the promises and pleasures of our covenant relationship with God through Christ.”
God’s great gift to us of sex is also for “pleasure, joy, communion and celebration”. It is what brings new life into this world. And I do indeed believe that all of those things are important to the purpose of sex. But they are not it’s ultimate purpose.
So why does this matter, and what does it mean for the reality of sex in marriage? Because when it really comes down to it, theology must be practical. It must work its way out of our hearts and heads into the day-to-day lives we lead. It must find its form and function in our words, our attitudes, our choices, our marriage beds. I believe that there are some very real outcomes from understanding the purpose of sex, and I am excited to share my thoughts about it this coming Monday.
So I would love to hear from you – what do you think about sex being created, primarily, as a way to glorify God? Does that sound too far off and noble? Or does it give you hope of a bigger purpose to sex than you originally thought? Can you see any practical out-workings of a God-glorifying theology of sex?
I am so excited to continue this conversation with you.