Matt Carter speaks on Genesis 1:27-28 and Ephesians 5:31-32
Series: The Gospel And...
As long as there has been sin in the world, there has been sexual sin. It’s not new to the church either. I’m not one of those preachers who get freaked out and all up in arms when non-Christians are doing non-Christian things. Jesus said that was going to happen. But something has occurred in our culture over the last year that deeply concerns me.
There was a book released in 2011 that has become unbelievably popular in our culture. I won’t name the book, there’s no reason to give it any more publicity. I haven’t read it, nor am I going to. But I read a synopsis from another author who wrote a critique on it.
This book is full tilt erotica. It’s not a harlequin romance. It’s not a love story. It is pornography. The stuff the characters get involved in is messed up. The message of this book is satanic.
There’s nothing new about pornography or erotica, they’ve been around forever. But what’s shocking about this book is that its one of the best-selling books in history. On Amazon (UK), this book sold more copies than all the Harry Potter books combined. In the United States, it broke the record for the number of weeks on the USA Today Bestseller List.
One of the best-selling weeks for this book was the week before mother’s day. It’s estimated the vast majority of its readers are women. When I heard this, I remembered a quote from one of my professors. He was teaching through the book of Amos. It’s one of the only times in Scripture when God is speaking directly to the women of Israel. He is calling them out on their morality, calling them cows of Bashan. My professor said, “Women are always the last bastion of morality in any culture. When the women of a culture quit walking in morality, the culture is in a lot of trouble”.
That’s what’s going on with us.
When we see tens of millions of women, a lot of whom are in the church, looking at this book as an acceptable picture of sexual expression, then we’ve fallen a long way from God’s view of sex.
This book is the kind that would have been relegated to porn shops just a few years ago. But today it’s in the front kiosk of every single bookstore in the country.
This reveals just how far we, even as a church, have fallen from God’s view and purpose for sex.
We need to understand why God created sex. Man did not think it up. God created it for a very specific purpose.
Sex for Procreation
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...” Genesis 1:27-28a (ESV)
One of the basic purposes for sex is procreation. God gives Adam and Eve a commandment to go have sex and make babies. For centuries, the church argued that procreation was the only purpose for sex. But theologically, that has been disproven.
If that was the only reason God created sex, then why did He create sex the way He did?
Physical Aspect of Sex
God could have designed procreation to occur by a man and a woman staring into each other’s eyes for forty-five seconds. He could have designed it to be a secret handshake.
But He didn’t.
Matt Chandler says God designed sex in such a way that we, human beings, are the only mammals in which the primary sexual position for us is face-to-face, with our entire bodies touching and mingling.
Why did God create sex for us like that? Just anatomically speaking, not even going into Scripture at all, you begin to see there is a deeper purpose to why God created sex.
You see glimpses of this greater purpose in Song of Solomon. You can tell that there is something else going on besides just procreation.
How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O noble daughter! Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand. 2 Your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine. Your belly is a heap of wheat, encircled with lilies. 3 Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. 4 Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon, which looks toward Damascus. 5 Your head crowns you like Carmel, and your flowing locks are like purple; a king is held captive in the tresses. 6 How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! Song of Solomon 7:1-6 (ESV)
The Bible is describing, in very vivid terms, the sexual experience between a husband and his wife. He starts at her feet, works his way up to the hips, and then continues all the way up to the top of her head. He’s not trying just to conceive a child. In a very tender and caring way, this is a man who is enjoying and exploring every square inch of his wife’s body.
Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. 8 I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, 9 and your mouth like the best wine. Song of Solomon 7:7-9 (ESV)
This is so much deeper and intimate than the act of simply conceiving a child.
What is this deeper thing God has in mind when He created sex?
Spiritual Aspects of Sex
23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:23-25 (ESV)
God created man and woman. He brought them together and married them. The two of them physically and spiritually became one flesh.
Physically, they become one flesh through sex.
Spiritually, they become one flesh by God joining them together in the covenant of marriage.
God takes two people and forms them into one. That is marriage.
That is why Jesus said, 9 “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” Mark 10:9 (ESV)
God takes two people, joins them into one, through a covenant with each other and with Him. The ‘one flesh’ thing is happening both physically and spiritually.
31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:31-32 (ESV)
Back in Genesis, the purpose of the union of the flesh was a mystery. But now its revealed. It is a picture of the covenant union of Jesus Christ and His church. That is why God created marriage.
The primary purpose is not for your happiness.
The primary purpose is not for your companionship.
The primary purpose for marriage is for you and your spouse to be a living, breathing, physical picture to the world of Jesus and His bride.
Marriage displays the gospel.
So Where Does Sex Fit Into This Picture?
We’ve already talked about how something deeper is going on with sex than just procreation. When you make love for the first time on your wedding night, and every time after that, you are displaying your love for each other. Song of Solomon shows us that. But that’s not the only thing going on.
God created sex to be a physical reminder and picture of the covenant we have with God through Jesus Christ. That is why it is face-to-face, intermingled bodies, one flesh.
Yes, He created it for physical needs, to display love and to make babies. But, ultimately, it is to be a reminder of our covenant with our spouse and our God.
Why Its So Important to Know God’s Purpose for Sex
This explains why sex is so destructive outside of the covenant of marriage, creating emotional turmoil and baggage. God did not create sex to be experienced between two people that are not in a covenant.
He designed sex to be experienced inside the covenant of marriage with each other and with Him. Sex outside of marriage is a product of the fall. That means it will naturally carry with it the consequences of the fall.
Before sin entered the picture in the garden, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. But then sin entered the picture and suddenly they were flooded by shame and guilt and recognized their nakedness.
Sex outside of the covenant of marriage is almost always accompanied by guilt, shame and remorse. Only in the context of the covenant of marriage can we too be naked and unashamed. In its right context, it can provide warmth and comfort. One of the most fulfilling and amazing things you can ever experience.
But as a lot of you have discovered, sex outside of its intended purpose, can be horribly destructive to our souls.
Young men, who are single, need to take the lead in that. You have to guard your girlfriend’s soul. If you are pressuring her physically to have sex before the covenant, what you are saying to her is that you care more about your physical needs than you do her soul. That is breaking her in ways you won’t realize until years later.
Ladies, you don’t marry a man that cares more about his physical needs than he does your soul. That will come back to bite you in ways you have no idea.
A sexual experience that is purely physical, but doesn’t also have the spiritual, is at best a mere shadow of what God created it to be.
The best sex you will ever have is not when you are experiencing just the physical pleasure of sex, but it’s when you’re also experiencing the spiritual purpose of it.
Our culture doesn’t get that, nor believe it.
If you were to ask who has the best sex life in America, the generation before us would have said Hugh Hefner. Maybe the generation now would mention the characters in the book I was mentioning earlier.
To our culture, those people have reached the pinnacle of the physical aspect of sex. Hugh Hefner lives with five or six women with perfect bodies, sleeping with a different one every night. The world looks at that and says he has found the best sexual experience that life can offer.
Some of you might be thinking you are missing out, because you know that you will never experience what he has.
Hugh Hefner’s sex life, the characters in that book, is at best a shadow. On the best day, its just a fraction of the fulfillment that married believers can experience in Jesus Christ. Hugh can only experience the physical, he cannot experience the spiritual.
But God created sex to be both.
The Gospel-Centered Approach
This was a major step for my wife and I. When we began to view our marriage in light of the gospel and began to act toward each other and treat each other in light of it.
When I was a college student and was getting engaged, I had a self-serving view of marriage and sex. I had this idea I would come home from work and Jen would be waiting for me, naked, at least five or six times a week. Then we would have mind-altering sex until the wee hours of the morning.
I looked at my wife as a person who is supposed to give to me and meet my needs. Then if she is doing that, maybe I would cherish her and return that love to her.
Then over the last few years, I began to understand the gospel like never before. I realized I’m supposed to love and treat my wife in light of how Christ treated me. When I did not deserve it and had not earned it, Jesus still pursued me, loved me.
Jesus came to me first.
That is why we say we love because Christ first loved us. So I have begun to act out and view my marriage in light of this truth. I love her first. I give to my wife, serve and cherish her even if she is not giving to me or serving or cherishing me. I don’t take from her emotionally, physically and spiritually.
It’s been amazing how my wife has responded to this. After sixteen years of marriage, we are more in love today than we have ever been. We’re just silly in love with each other. The gospel has made our love for each other blossom in a way I didn’t know it could. And sex has become what I never could have imagined it could be.
Jennifer had wrong misconceptions of sex while she was in college too. She thought I would be a cross between Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice and Noah from the Notebook. Everyday I would look at her and say, “You have bewitched me body and soul”, and then we would go on a canoe ride together with swans. I would cook her dinner by candlelight and we would have warm and intimate conversation until the wee hours of the morning.
She got married to me and that didn’t happen. Those expectations she had were somewhat selfish too. I didn’t meet her standards and created disappointment for her too. But God began to do a work in her heart and reveal that she also was to display the love of Christ to me through our marriage and sex life, regardless of how romantic I was being.
She wrote a letter to the women of the congregation a while back about what God was revealing to her:
Women, let me encourage you to use this amazing gift of God, this blessing as a tool to minister to your husband. You are the only one that can do that in all the earth. You were given this precious gift from God as a means to minister to your husband in the way that speaks love to him, possibly better than any other way. Use it to cherish him, to comfort him in times of trial and grief. For there are many biblical examples of this. Use it to show him your love and admiration. Use it to guard him from temptation. Most of all, use sex to remind him of the covenant the two of you have before God. As you do it, it will bring glory to God. God has created women to enjoy sex, but somehow in our minds it has become a duty and we forget that He has created it for our enjoyment too. So as Hebrews says, throw off the sin that so easily entangles you, whether it is your past sexual sin, your past disobedience, your insecurity or your current bitterness, throw it off. Run the race, fix your eyes on Jesus.
- Jen Carter
Those are not just words from my wife. She has lived out, very consistently, that picture of the gospel. She has ministered to me in ways I cannot articulate to you. Through this Gospel-centered approach and view that she has taken towards our marriage and sex life, she has created an environment where it is an absolute joy for me to love her like Christ loved the church.
It’s because of the Gospel. You’ve got this guy who is saying he will love you, serve you and cherish you first no matter what. At the very same time, you’ve got this woman who is saying the same thing. When this happens, the gospel being the center of what you do, that is a recipe for an amazing sex life and God glorifying, satisfying marriage.
It all starts with the Gospel.
God’s absolute best for your life is not found on the New York Times Bestseller list or on the front kiosk of a bookstore. God’s best for your life is found in the Bible.
Let’s let all of our life be viewed and acted upon through the lens of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.