“Love – Eros” – 1 Corinthians 7:1-7, 32-35; Song of Solomon

May 4th, 2014

1 Corinthians 7:1-7, 32-35; Song of Solomon

“Love – Eros”

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Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. —  1 Timothy 4:4-5

 

The questions to be answered are . . . What does the Bible (God’s Word) have to say about sex that might help me better understand eros, or passionate, sensual love?

 

Answer:  Plenty!  And God’s Word is truth.  The real question is, can you handle the truth?

 

Historically, there have been countless attitudes about sex.  First, there is sex as a natural appetite.  This view goes something like this: Sex, it is said, was once surrounded by taboos, but now we realize that sex is indeed like eating or like any other good and natural appetite.  That means we should feel free to fulfill the appetite when we feel the need.  And there is no reason why we shouldn’t sample a variety of cuisines and continually look for “new taste sensations.”  Forbidding the satisfaction of a natural appetite or limiting it for years is as unhealthy (and, really, as impossible) as trying to stop eating for years.

Another view of sex is more negative, and it has deep roots in some forms of ancient thought.  Sex is seen as part of our lower, physical nature, distinct from our higher, rational, more “spiritual” nature.  In this view, sex is a degrading, dirty thing, a necessary evil for the propagation of the human race.  This view is still very influential in the world.

Today, a third view is also prominent.  While the first view sees sex as an unavoidable drive and the second as a necessary evil, this last view sees sex as a critical form of self-expression, a way to “be yourself” and “find yourself.”  In this view, the individual may wish to use sex within marriage and to build a family, but that is up to the individual.  Sex is primarily for an individual’s fulfillment and self-realization, however he or she wishes to pursue it.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 251-52)

 

Sex: Sub-Christian views in church history:  Some of the church fathers goofed.  Irenaeus (about 180 A.D.) Reported that Gnostics believed “that marriage and procreation are from Satan.”  Marcion (another heretic in the second century) spoke of the “disgusting paraphernalia of reproduction.”  Augustine (a great church leader about A.D. 300) wrote that “the gateway to hell lay between a woman’s thighs.”  Jerome (another great church leader about A.D. 300) spoke of “the bestial act of intercourse.”  He also said, “Anyone who is too passionate a lover with his own wife is himself an adulterer.”  Peter Lombard (theologian about A.D. 1100) warned “that the Holy Spirit left the room when a married couple had relations, even if for the purpose of conceiving a child.”

Fortunately, Martin Luther (about A.D. 1540) held a healthier view—that “the marital embrace might be a good posture in which to be found when Jesus returns.”  Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., said, in line with Hebrews 13:4—“Sex for Christians…is a joy…not a toy.  You do not play with fire.  Sex needs a context.  It needs a fireplace.”  (Jim Townsend; Hebrews: Pilgrim’s Progress or Regress?, 112)

 

Christianity is also not against sex, not against the body and its functions.  More than any other great religion, Christianity takes the physical world seriously and endeavors to glorify it by using it for spiritual ends.  As evidence of this, we have the fact that the ideal of romantic love between husband and wife scarcely exists outside the Christian world, and most of the world’s great love poetry has been written in Christian civilizations.  (Chad Walsh, Early Christians of the 21st Century, 124)

 

The Christian life is about passion.  Passion for God and passion for people in need.  These are the words and ideas that when enfleshed can change the world.  These are the things we live for.  (Ken Gire; The Reflective Life, 67)

 

Passion is at the core of you—it’s who you are.  Without it we would be automatons, going through the motions of life without feeling or distinction.  Passion gives you life.  It defines you just as much as where you come from and who you spend time with. (Richard Chang, The Passion Plan)

 

The heart does not respond to principles and programs; it seeks not efficiency, but passion.  Art, poetry, beauty, mystery, ecstasy: These are what rouse the heart.  Indeed, they are the language that must be spoken if one wishes to communicate with the heart. ( Curtis and Eldredge; The Sacred Romance, 6)

 

Define Eros:

1.    Greek god of love

2.    Sexual love or desire/passion

3.    Life energy

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Pleasure

 

What does the Bible have to say about sex that might help me better understand eros or passionate sensual love?:

I.  We were created perfect in the image of God.  Since eros (sex) is prefall; that means passion and desire come from God and sex done God’s way is perfectly designed to enhance our relationship with God.  (Gn 1:26-31; 2:20-25; Song of Sol.; Mt 19:3-9; 1 Tm 4:1-5; 6:17; Heb 13:4; Jas 1:17)

 

Sexuality is designed by God as a way to know God in Christ more fully; and that knowing God in Christ more fully is designed as a way of guarding and guiding our sexuality.  Or to put it negatively:  all misuses of our sexuality distort the true knowledge of Christ; and all misuses of our sexuality derive from not having the true knowledge of Christ.  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 16)

 

Every significant physical activity in life is learned by practice; why should lovemaking be different?  Adult human beings possess the desire and necessary equipment to make love, but the art of lovemaking is learned–it is not innate.

Dr. Ed Wheat of Springdale, Arkansas, told a group of men in a seminar, “If you do what comes naturally in lovemaking, almost every time you will be wrong.”  In reality he was cautioning his male audience that each “natural” or self-satisfying step in gaining sexual gratification for a man would probably be incompatible with his wife’s needs.  For that reason, a couple must seriously study this subject just prior to marriage, and then after their marriage they can begin their practice to learn satisfying techniques.  (Tim & Beverly LaHaye, What Lovemaking Means to a Woman, 11)

 

The German philosopher Martin Heidegger argued that our passions tune us into the world.  Tune us into the world…Think about that for a moment.  A sexually fulfilled and active wife radiates a certain energy.  A man who is sexually satisfied with his wife exudes a sense of well-being.  Passion is a very healthy thing.  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 221)

 

“Stoicism” has never been a Christian philosophy.  If truth be told, we serve a passionate God who feels deeply.

Our passions are what make us come alive.  The apathetic person is a pathetic person.  While we often fear our passions because they can carry us into an affair, a fight, or some other destructive behavior, the solution is not living a less passionate life but finding the right things to be passionate about.  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 222)

 

God created human beings in his image–“male and female he created them” (Gn 1:27)–with capacities for intense sexual pleasure and with a calling to commitment in marriage and continence in singleness.  And his goal in creating human beings with personhood and passion was to make sure that there would be sexual language and sexual images that would point to the promises and the pleasures of God’s relationship to his people and our relationship to him.  In other words, the ultimate reason (not the only one) why we are sexual is to make God more deeply knowable.  The language and imagery of sexuality are the most graphic and most powerful that the Bible uses to describe the relationship between God and his people–both positively (when we are faithful) and negatively (when we are not).  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 26)

 

The Reformation fortunately called Christians back to studying the Word of God rather than blindly accepting dogma.  In gaining new insights into God, salvation, sin, and theology, Christians discovered that God is the author of sex, that both men and women have sexual needs which a partner is obliged to fulfill (1 Cor 7:1-5), and that their fulfillment is honorable and undefiled.  Obedient Christians over the centuries have discovered in the privacy of their bedrooms that sexual relations provide the most exciting experiences in their lives.  Any young woman who enters marriage without knowing it is a blessing from her heavenly Father, to be enjoyed without reserve, does not fully understand the Bible.  (Tim & Beverly LaHaye, What Lovemaking Means to a Woman, 49-50)

 

It is this spiritual intercourse with God that is the ecstasy that is imagined and hinted at in all earthly intercourse; physical or spiritual.  And I think that is the ultimate reason why sexual passion is so strong and so different from other passion; so heavy with suggestions of profound meanings that always just elude our grasp.  I don’t think any practical need can account for it.  I don’t think any animal drive can explain it.  No animal falls in love or writes profound romantic poetry or sees sex as a symbol of ultimate meaning of life because no animal is made in the image of God.  Not just sexuality, but human sexuality is that image.  And human sexuality is a foretaste of that self-giving, losing and finding the whole self, a foretaste of that oneness and manyness that is the very life of the Trinity and the joy of the Trinity.   And that is what we long for without knowing it.  That is why we tremble to stand outside of ourselves in the other.  That is why we long to give our whole selves, body and soul, because we are images of God the sexual being. We love the other sex because God loves God.  And this early love is so passionate because heaven is full of passion, of energy, and dynamism.  That is one of the reasons God invented families.  You can’t love or hate anybody as much as your own family.  Families are full of passion.  Heaven is not boring or blasé.  It is passionate because God is passionate.  Jesus Christ who is our window to God was not a stoic or a Scribe or a Scholar.  He was a lover.  I think we correctly deny that God has passions in a passive sense.  He is not moved or driven or conditioned by them as we are.  He cannot fall in love for the same reason the ocean cannot get wet.  He is love.  (Peter Kreeft lecture “Sex in Heaven”)

 

Theologian Christopher West remarked, “If the body and sex are meant to proclaim our union with God, and if there is an enemy who wants to separate us from God, what do you think he is going to attack?  If we want to know what is most sacred in this world, all we need do is look at what is most violently profaned.” (Christopher West, Theology of the Body for Beginners, 11)

 

Your sexuality is an intense battle because it is the arena where God desires to demonstrate who He is and what He’s like.  Through sexual intercourse, God desires to demonstrate what communion with Him is meant to be.  It’s the taste of the intimacy we crave.  (Michael John Cusick, Surfing for God, 113)

 

The right attitude is important for both husband and wife.  The first thing to recognize is that the act of marriage (technically called coitus) is good.  It was designed by God for man’s good.  It could well be described as the most sublime expression of love between two people when limited to the bonds of marriage.  Because of the fact that taboos are properly put on the act of marriage during the teen-age and courtship years, Christian girls sometimes hesitate to enter enthusiastically into the relationship after marriage.  (Tim LaHaye, How to Be Happy Though Married, 61-62)

 

Any notion to the effect that the marital act tends to a lowering of the spiritual temperature and is not compatible with the highest demands of Christian devotion is one that, from its inception, is an assault upon the handiwork and institution of God.  It is no wonder that the apostle elsewhere should characterize the prohibition of marriage as a doctrine of demons (1 Tm 4:1, 2).  The false asceticism which has come to expression in the demand for a celibate clergy springs from a bias that has no affinity with the Christian ethic and is antithetical to the whole spirit of the biblical revelation.  (John Murray, Principles of Conduct, 65-66)

 

The title’s repetition of the words, “The Song of Songs,” then, tells us that this is it.  It’s the greatest love story of all times.  It begins with a strong statement of passion.

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!”  Solomon’s bride says to him in the first full verse of the book.  For observant readers, that’s her initiating an intimate response and her asking for him to kiss her–repeatedly!

For every man who was ready to inject his wife with testosterone, here is an example of a woman who didn’t need any artificial prompting to want to kiss her husband.  Interested in what prompted those words of passion from Solomon’s bride?  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 151)

 

What Solomon’s wife is telling is a truth about marital passion.  The more purified my character, the more attractive I am to my spouse–and the more responsive she’ll be to me as a result.  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 151)

 

Our romantic relationship may never be called the “Song of Songs,” but we can still sing the chorus with gusto.  And a clear stanza from that very helpful song reads, “If you want to raise the passion level in your marriage–increase the purity of your character.”  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 153)

 

Gifts of a loving Creator, our bodies are not barriers to grace.  If we could truly accept this, then we would know God even in the ambiguous delights of our sexuality.  (Evelyn and James Whitehead)

 

Sex, according to the Bible, is a beautiful creation from the mind of God, covered in his moral perfection.  (Peter Jones, The God of Sex, 121)

 

J. D. Unwin studied 86 different societies.  His findings startled many scholars, above all Unwin himself, because all 86 demonstrated a direct tie between absolute monogamy and the “expansive energy” of civilization.  In other words, sexual fidelity was the single most important predictor of a society’s ascendancy. (Philip Yancey; Finding God in Unexpected Places, 17)

 

“In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence.”  (J. D. Unwin)

 

…For Roman, Greek, Sumerian, Moorish, Babylonian, and Anglo-Saxon civilizations, Unwin had several hundred years of history to draw on.  He found with no exceptions that these societies flourished, culturally and geographically, during eras that valued sexual fidelity.  Inevitably, sexual mores would loosen and the societies would subsequently decline, only to rise again when they returned to more rigid sexual standards.(Philip Yancey; Finding God in Unexpected Places, 17)

 

II.  I believe God designed Eros (romance/passion) and sex to be the glue to hold marriages together especially in the context of waning philos or agape love.  (Prv 5:18-19; Song; 1 Cor 7:1-7, 32-35)

 

Each partner in marriage is to be most concerned not with getting sexual pleasure but with giving it.  In short, the greatest sexual pleasure should be the pleasure of seeing your spouse getting pleasure.  When you get to the place where giving arousal is the most arousing thing, you are practicing this principle.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 267-68)

 

Men may question why they keep going back to a woman who treats them poorly or may wonder why they never seem able to feel, deep inside, a commitment to a woman after having sex partner after sex partner.  Sadly, they simply do not know that their brains are flooded with vasopressin during sexual intercourse and that this neurochemical produces a partial bond with every woman they have sex with.  They do not realize that this pattern of having sex with one woman and then breaking up and then having sex with another woman limits them to experience only one form of brain activity common to humans involved sexually–the dopamine rush of sex.  (A. Aron, H. Fisher, et al., “Reward, motivation, and emotional systems associated with early-stage intense romantic love,” Journal of Neurophysiology, 327-37)  (Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD & Freda McKissic Bush, MD, Hooked, 43)

 

Many people believe that if you have sex with your spouse just to please him or her though you are not interested in sex yourself, it would be inauthentic or even oppressive.  This is the thoroughly subjective understanding of love-as-passionate-feeling.  And often this quickly leads into a vicious cycle.  If you won’t make love unless you are in a romantic mood at the very same time as your spouse, then sex will not happen that often.  This can dampen and quench your partner’s interest in sex, which means there will be even fewer opportunities.  Therefore, if you never have sex unless there is great mutual passion, there will be fewer and fewer times of mutual passion.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 81)

 

When two people connect, when their beings intersect as closely as two bodies during intercourse, something is poured out of one and into the other that has power to heal the soul of its deepest wounds and restore it to health.  The one who receives experiences the joy of being healed.  The one who gives knows the even greater joy of being used to heal.  Something good is in the heart of each of God’s children that is more powerful than everything bad.  It’s there, waiting to be released, to work its magic. . . . But it rarely happens.  —Larry Crabb  (Dallas Willard; Renovation of the Heart, 185-86)

 

Will a woman or man who is involved in sex with someone they feel is just using them as a sex object, or having repeated broken sexual relationships, continue to bond with and trust their sexual partners?  Probably not.  And this crushing of these inborn healthy responses to sex may be one of the saddest outcomes of such sexual experiences–for damaging an individual’s future enjoyment of sex and bonding with a partner who loves and cherishes them.  (Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD & Freda McKissic Bush, MD, Hooked, 85-86)

 

Historians point out, however, that, “Paul, in effect, redefines marriage as a context for the mutual satisfying of erotic desires in contrast to the pagan philosophical idea that the purpose of marriage was the procreation of legitimate heirs who would inherit and continue the name, property and sacred rites of the family.”  In other words, Paul is telling married Christians that mutual, satisfying sexual relations must be an important part of their live together.  In fact, this passage indicates that sex should be frequent and reciprocal.  One spouse was not allowed to deny sex to the other.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 267)

 

In short, according to Paul, sex with a prostitute is wrong because every sex act is supposed to be a uniting act.  Paul insists it is radically dissonant to give your body to someone to whom you will not also commit your whole life.  C. S. Lewis likened sex without marriage to tasting food without swallowing and digesting.  The analogy is apt.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 258-59)

 

One of the reasons we believe in our culture that sex should always and only be the result of great passion is that so many people today have learned how to have sex outside of marriage, and this is a very different experience than having sex inside it.  Outside of marriage, sex is accompanied by a desire to impress or entice someone.  It is something like the thrill of the hunt.  When you are seeking to draw in someone you don’t know, it injects risk, uncertainty, and pressure to the lovemaking that quickens the heartbeat and stirs the emotions.  If “great sex” is defined in this way, then marriage–the “piece of paper”–will indeed stifle that particular kind of thrill.  But this defines sexual sizzle in terms that would be impossible to maintain in any case.  The fact is that “the thrill of the hunt” is not the only kind of thrill or passion available, nor is it the best.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 82)

 

Bible scholars Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner argue that here (1 Cor 7) Paul is rejecting the late Stoic view that marriage should be something you do not for romantic passion but strictly for business and producing children and heirs.  And also he does not, as did most pagan authors of the time, teach that you can get release for sexual passion merely through nonmarital sexual liaisons.  No, let your passion find its fulfillment in marriage and only there.  So Paul teaches that attraction is an important factor in choosing to be married.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 242)

 

Love can be given through eye contact, caresses, sitting closely together, and holding hands.  This must not be done only when preparing for sex or it loses its integrity as a way of showing affection.  Love can also be expressed through creatively finding situations that make focused attention easier.  Plan walks, sitting before fireplaces, scenic drives, and picnics.  Even making the effort to arrange these are an important sign and expression of love.  Also, we can work on our own personal appearance as a gift to our spouse.  Playfulness and fun are part of creating affectionate climates as well.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 175-76)

 

Here, at a time in which women were legally considered the possession of their husbands, Paul makes the revolutionary claim that “the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife” (1 Cor 7).  “It communicates, negatively, his obligation to refrain from engaging in sexual relations with anyone other than his wife and, positively, his obligation to fulfill his marital duty to provide her with sexual pleasure and satisfaction.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 266)

 

The OT verb “to prostrate oneself” gives us room for reflection.  While we must never lapse into worshiping the created, there are those intense moments in which the unity of marriage and even the ecstasy of physical union lead you to stand in awe before another, wanting to fully offer yourself, without reservation.  When a wife says to her husband, “Take me, I’m yours,” she demonstrates a trust that whatever the husband does will be done out of love and with genuine concern and care.  It is a remarkable testimony to self-giving and to the joy of intimacy.  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 84-85)

 

One recent study of sexually active adolescents illustrates that sexual activity has more ramifications beyond the physical.  The study showed that both boys and girls who have had sex are three times more likely to be depressed than their friends who are still virgins.  The study accounted for other factors in the lives of the young people, ensuring an accurate comparison with their peers.  The girls who became sexually active were three times more likely to have attempted suicide as their virgin friends, while the sexually active boys were fully seven times more likely to have attempted suicide.  (Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD & Freda McKissic Bush, MD, Hooked, 20)

 

Until now, efforts to accurately assess the connection between sex, love, sexual desire, sexual risk-taking, and so on with brain activity have been limited.  But with the aid of modern research techniques and technologies, scientists are confirming that sex is more than a momentary physical act.  It produces powerful, even lifelong, changes in our brains that direct and influence our future to a surprising degree.  This new neuroscience information, which has only become widely available in the last decade, has transformed the scientific discussion about sex.  (Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD & Freda McKissic Bush, MD, Hooked, 21)

 

When a new activity or experience occurs, it can result in a strengthening of the connection between neurons, or even in a new connection altogether.  These connections are critical for memory, behavior, emotions, desires, and any number of other outcomes that activity or experience brings.  If that experience or activity occurs again, the connection is used and strengthened in the process.  If that connection is not used, the synapse eventually breaks down and dies.  This process refers to either a continued connection between neurons or to a loss of connection–not the life or death of the neurons themselves, although that can and does occur as well.  (Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD & Freda McKissic Bush, MD, Hooked, 28)

 

The primary things that change in the brain structure, that mold it, are its synapses.  Synapses either are sustained or they are allowed to deteriorate based on behavior and experience.  It may seem incredible, but the things we see, do, and experience actually cause part of our brains to flourish, i.e., synapses that survive and strengthen; and part of our brain to weaken, i.e., synapses that disintegrate or die.  (Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD & Freda McKissic Bush, MD, Hooked, 29)

 

We’ve seen how the brain is composed of multiple neurons, all of which are connected by synapses.  These synapses can be created, grow, or deteriorate based on our thoughts and actions.  In this manner, each person actually changes the very structure of the brain with the choices he or she makes and the behavior he or she is involved in.  (Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD & Freda McKissic Bush, MD, Hooked, 45)

 

A quick look in any office will reveal that working women try to look their best during the eight hours they are working with other women’s husbands.  If a wife lets her appearance run down, she puts herself in an unfavorable comparison to these women, and she may be just following the path of least resistance, which is a form of selfishness.  (Tim LaHaye, How to Be Happy Though Married, 36)

 

Our Lord said, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mt 5:28).  Has it ever occurred to you that He made no such directive concerning a woman lusting after a man?  The reason is clear.  Men are quickly stimulated visually, and the most beautiful object in a man’s world is a woman.

Many women counselors urge wives to make the daily homecoming of their husbands the most significant time of the day.  By bathing, fixing their hair, and putting on fresh attire, they are prepared to give their husbands an enthusiastic welcome home each night.  A contented husband is one who is assured that the loveliest sight of the day greets him when he opens the door at night.

Some women resent making their husband’s homecoming the object of such attention.  Others greet prince charming in their work clothes and curlers in an attempt to impress him with the grievous nature of their daily chores with “his kids.”  The sight of a bedraggled wife may engender sympathy (though it’s doubtful), but it will rarely inspire love.  A women has more assets than she thinks, so she might as well take advantage of them.  “Clean up, paint up, fix up” is a good motto for every loving wife to remember just before the time of hubby’s arrival.  We have observed that the women who go that extra mile seem to avoid the problem of “How can I get my husband to be content to come home at night and spend the evening with the family?”  If he is provided with a good reason to come home, he usually will.  (Tim & Beverly LaHaye, What Lovemaking Means to a Woman, 55-56)

 

I often tell people it doesn’t take great wisdom to energize a person, but it does take sixty seconds.  That’s the amount of time it takes to walk over and gently hold someone we love.  A few seconds invested in being tender can not only help our relationships–it can become catching in a home as well.  But the amazing part of tenderness is that it works wonders even when we’re not near our loved ones.  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 70)

 

Romance is the act of keeping your courtship alive long after the wedding day.  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 133)

 

The most common reason why romance dies in a relationship is that it gets inseparably linked to physical intimacy.  Often this happens because that’s the way television or movies paint the scene.  It’s as if any display of tenderness or emotional intimacy is simply a warm-up for the main act of physical intimacy, but while effective romance may sometimes lead to sex, our goal in being romantic shouldn’t be sex.

God certainly created men to be goal-oriented initiators.  He filled their bodies with a wonderful chemical that heightens their sex drive. . .  Sometimes, though, we allow our natural enthusiasm to get the best of us and make the fundamental mistake of substituting emotional closeness with a physical experience.  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 133-34)

 

Romance is not a setting…It’s a relationship which can be taken into and out of a wide variety of settings.  (Norm Wright, Romancing Your Marriage, 41)

 

To most women, sex is much more than just an independent physical act.  It’s the culmination of a day filled with security, conversation, emotional and romantic experiences, and then, if all is right, sex.  For the average man, you can reverse the order–or just skip everything that comes before sex!

In many ways, it’s just as hard for the average male to initiate intimate conversations and plan romantic activities as it is for his wife to initiate sex.  But these two different needs in the physical area can be met–in a fulfilling way–for both a man and a woman.  This is true particularly if you’re aware of several practical attitudes and actions that can help to fan passion’s flame.  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 146)

 

If couples could give themselves to one another in every way as they did when they first passionately embraced, or as they have in their most sublime experiences of sex, or even in their most ordinary lovemaking, then their problems would be few.  What great and profound truths, what startling confessions and intimacies pass between the hearts of a man and a woman when they are in bed together!  It may have taken hours of sensitive closeness and patience, of tentative explorations, and literally hundreds of kisses and hugs and strokings and subtle contacts and pressures between the two bodies of wife and husband before they were able to enter into a place of such extraordinary honesty and simplicity and naked safety, into that still point of absolute trust at the heart of the sanctuary of sex.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 152)

 

Even the simple act of kissing is powerfully symbolic of the crush of personalities, as each partner pushes his features against those of the other as if to make one new face out of the two.  Kissing implies losing face; it is inherently a free and wholehearted gesture of self-effacement.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 159-60)

 

They are one flesh; therefore the one spouse does not have the exclusive mastery or authority so as to have the right unilaterally to withhold from the other when the other properly desires or solicits the conjugal act.  This does not, of course, exclude the moderation, restraint, delicacy, and modesty which ought to regulate the marital relations of the spouses; but it does explicitly forbid the one-sided resistance which has too frequently marred and disrupted marital relations.  The iniquity of this resistance and failure to cooperate in the use of the conjugal act becomes all the more reprehensible when it puts on the garb of piety.  Then it becomes contemptible piosity.  (John Murray, Principles of Conduct, 62)

 

In most animals, sexual activity is narrowly focused on reproduction.  For example, among the primates closest to humans in evolutionary development–the great apes–the female is receptive to the male’s sexual approach only during estrus, a recurring but relatively brief period of biological fertility.  Among humans, in contrast, sexual interest is not limited to reproductive periods.  A woman can experience sexual arousal throughout the menstrual cycle, not just during the limited phase when conception is possible.  Both women and men remain interested in and capable of genital behavior long after their biological fertility has come to an end.  This would seem to confirm that for the human species sex is about more than reproduction.  (Evelyn & James Whitehead, A Sense of Sexuality, 29)

 

It takes four hugs a day to survive;

eight hugs a day to maintain;

Twelve hugs a day to grow.  (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community:  Romans 12, 158)

 

III.  The “one flesh” status  during intercourse of a married man and woman in a covenant relationship is eschatologically symbolic of God’s desire to be one with mankind.  Any perversion of that symbol is blasphemous to God’s nature and His relationship with mankind.  (Gn 2:24; Mt 19:3-9; Mk 10:2-12; Jn 17; 1 Cor 6:12-19; Eph 5:21-33)

 

The intertwined relationship of sexuality and spirituality is emphasized throughout the Scriptures by the frequency with which God uses sexual images to admonish Israel. Rebukes for “going awhoring after other gods” occur almost twenty times in the First Testament, revealing the interconnection between making sexual intercourse an idol and giving our love promiscuously to any of a mutiplicity of other gods.  (Marva J. Dawn, Sexual Character, 58)

 

To call the marriage “one flesh,” then, means that sex is understood as both a sign of that personal, legal union and a means to accomplish it.  The Bible says don’t unite with someone physically unless you are also willing to unite with the person emotionally, personally, socially, economically, and legally. Don’t become physically naked and vulnerable to the other person without becoming vulnerable in every other way, because you have given up your freedom and bound yourself in marriage.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 256)

 

God created us with sexual passion so that there would be language to describe what it means to cleave to him in love and what it means to turn away from him to others.  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 28)

 

Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in thee, O Lord.  (St. Augustine)

 

There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any other created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus.  (Blaise Pascal)

 

Indeed, sex is perhaps the most powerful God-created way to help you give your entire self to another human being.  Sex is God’s appointed way for two people to reciprocally say to one another, “I belong completely, permanently, and exclusively to you.”  You must not use sex to say anything less.

So, according to the Bible, a covenant is necessary for sex.  It creates a place of security for vulnerability and intimacy.  But though a marriage covenant is necessary for sex, sex is also necessary for the maintenance of the covenant.  It is your covenant renewal service.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 257)

 

Dr. Robert J. Collins published in the American Medical Association Journal the results of his research on coeds attending Midwestern universities.  He stated that 80% of the young women who had sex before marriage hoped that the premarital sex would lead to marriage with their sexual partner.  80% of them!  But only 12% of the men involved in the sexual activity had the same expectation—suggesting, once more, that men by nature tend to be more promiscuous and that women have a tendency toward monogamy.  Given these widely divergent expectations, who is to say no harm was being done?  Who is to say that if a young female student looking for love and relationship and commitment is pressured into a sexual relationship, only to be disappointed in her hopes, there will not be deep, deep harm done to her?  And who is prepared to say that the young man, having deceived the young woman and cheated her out of something precious, has not damaged his own credibility and masculinity?  If there is any truth at all in the old adage men give intimacy to get sex, and women give sex to get intimacy, you don’t need to have a Ph.D. in psychology to see the possibilities for harm in premarital sexual relationships.  (Stuart Briscoe; Choices for a Lifetime, 106)

 

Clearly “one flesh” (1 Cor 6) means something different to Paul than mere sexual union, or Paul would be reciting a mere tautology: “Don’t you know that when you have physical union with a prostitute you are having physical union with a prostitute?”  Obviously, Paul also understands becoming “one flesh” here to mean becoming one person.  One flesh refers to the personal union of a man and woman at all levels of their lives.  Paul, then, is decrying the monstrosity of physical oneness without all the other kinds of oneness that every sex act should mirror.”  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 258)

 

…human beings are creatures who are much more than physical bodies.  We possess the ability for cognitive thought, which includes judgment, abstract thinking, planning for the future, moral intelligence, and other processes that govern our lives.  Our decision-making ability, coming from the highest centers of the brain, can guide an individual to the most rewarding sexual behavior–unless bad programming from premature and unwise sexual behavior during the adolescent years has occurred, causing the brain formation for healthy decision making to be damaged.  —Peter Jensen (Barbara Strauch, The Primal Teen, pp. 34-35)

 

The inability to bond after multiple sex encounters is almost like tape that loses its stickiness after being applied and removed multiple times.  (Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD & Freda McKissic Bush, MD, Hooked, 42)

 

An individual who is sexually involved, then breaks up and then is sexually involved again, and who repeats this cycle again and again is in danger of negative emotional consequences.  People who behave in this manner are acting against, almost fighting against, the way they are made to function.  When connectedness and bonding form and then are quickly broken and replaced with another sexual relationship, it often actually causes damage to the brain’s natural connecting or bonding mechanism.  (Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD & Freda McKissic Bush, MD, Hooked, 105)

 

Abstinence culminating in a lifelong committed relationship (it is rare for couples involved in a sexual relationship to maintain that relationship for life unless it is in the context of their being married) has long been perceived as a religious position rather than a suggested course of action based on scientific reality.  (Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD & Freda McKissic Bush, MD, Hooked, 135-36)

 

We moderns talk about sexual liberation and yet, even without AIDS and a host of other sexually transmitted diseases, we know the morning after that “when people are unfettered they are freed, but not yet free.”  From what does such a sexual liberation free us?  From homes where family members care about each other–turning them instead into places where selfish individuals constantly look after their own independence?  (Michael Horton, Putting Amazing Back into Grace, 52)

 

In reference to the sanctity of sex as the sanctity which guards the marriage institution and the proper exercise of the procreative function it is necessary to make the necessary distinctions.  The line of demarcation between virtue and vice is not a chasm but a razor’s edge.  Sex desire is not wrong and Jesus does not say so.  To cast any aspersion on sex desire is to impugn the integrity of the Creator and of his creation.  Furthermore, it is not wrong to desire to satisfy sex desire and impulse in the way God has ordained.  Indeed, sex desire is one of the considerations which induce men and women to marry.  The Scripture fully recognizes the propriety of that motive and commends marriage as the honorable and necessary outlet for sex impulse.  What is wrong is the earliest and most rudimentary desire to satisfy the impulse to the sex act outside the estate of matrimony.  It is not wrong to desire the sex act with the person who may be contemplated as spouse if and when the estate of matrimony will have been entered upon with him or her.  (John Murray, Principles of Conduct, 56)

 

The burning to which Paul refers is the flame of sexual passion.  Two remarks are necessary in order to guard the apostle’s thought from misunderstanding.  First, there is no condemnatory insinuation to the effect that such burning is sinful; Paul is simply taking account of the fact that the sexual urge is in some persons particularly potent and insistent.  Second, Paul distinguishes between sex desire and sex burning.  In other words, the strength of the term “to burn” is to be noted.  Calvin’s remark is pertinent: it is one thing to have heat, it is another thing to burn.  Paul does not say, or mean, that it is better to marry than to have sexual desire, for such weakening of the term “to burn” would set up an inadmissible contrast and would amount to nonsense.  If burning meant simply sexual desire, then it would mean that marriage is the cure for sex desire and would terminate it.  Obviously that is not the apostle’s intent.  When we take into account the strength of what is implied in burning, namely, consuming passion, then there is a valid contrast and marriage is viewed as relieving this consuming and distracting passion.  It is better to marry than to be laid waste by the consuming flames of sex passion.  (John Murray, Principles of Conduct, 61)

 

Sexual intercourse is such a profound sharing of ourselves with our partner that it needs to be protected–within the covenant of a lifelong, faithful commitment.  When God’s design is followed, how freeing it is for all the persons involved!  (Marva J. Dawn, Sexual Character, 24)

 

Sex is not a neutral ingredient in our relationship; sex changes things.  Sex generates more than passion; a sexual relationship arouses hopes and enkindles expectations.  As sexual sharing continues, promises are made–sometimes explicitly, often in subtler ways.  Recreational sex is bankrupt not because it focuses on pleasure but because it does not keep its promises.  (Evelyn & James Whitehead, A Sense of Sexuality, 32)

 

The promises of sexual love are real but fragile.  Passion hints at a union between us that goes beyond the joining of our bodies.  But passion comes and goes.  Our lovemaking confirms that “we fit together well,” luring us to link our lives in other ways.  But to forge these links we must depend on more than the spontaneous delights of sex.  The promises sex makes are not well kept in casual encounter.  These promises need a home, a protected place in which to grow.

The body Christian knows that sex finds its home in commitment.  Commitment gives passion a place to flower and be fruitful.  For many people, the form that this commitment takes is marriage.  As a legal contract, marriage is the sanctioned shape of enduring sexual commitment.  As a religious covenant, marriage is a sign and source of God’s love.  The commitments of marriage–communion, fidelity, permanence–provide a framework that can protect and purify the promises of sexual love.  (Evelyn & James Whitehead, A Sense of Sexuality, 36-37)

 

Love is the total willingness to be owned.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 107)

 

I read somewhere that the ability of a couple to express anger well can do wonders for their sex life.  It’s true, it’s true.  It seems there can be no warm fuzzies without their opposite (cold pricklies?).  Both anger and tenderness are forms of passion.  As is prayer.  God doesn’t mind our anger.  He even relishes it, if it drives us to Him instead of away from Him.  Better an outburst than a theologically correct and spiritually pallid rationale, and a dangling conversation.

No wonder we can get so bored with prayer.  God is bored too.  He wants to engage our hearts, not just our brains. (Ben Patterson; Leadership, Spring 1999, 120)

 

IV.  Just as human life is conceived in the context of knowing one’s wife, so too is eternal life conceived in the context of knowing God.  (Jn 1:4; 3:15-16, 36; 5:39-40; 10:10, 28; 11:25; 14:6; 17:2-3; 20:31; Acts 3:15; 1 Tm 6:19; 2 Tm 1:1, 9-10; 1 Pt 3:7 ; 1 Jn 5:11-13, 20)

 

The use of “know” for sexual intercourse is a euphemism, but a suggestive one, implying something important both about knowledge and about sexuality in the biblical materials.  Knowledge is not just cognitive, but always experiential and deeply personal; and sexual intercourse is never just physiological, but always involves mystery and touches the whole person.  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, 433)

 

I think it is virtually impossible to read this and then honestly say that knowing God, as God intends to be known by his people in the new covenant, simply means mental awareness or understanding or acquaintance with God.  Not in a million years is that what “knowing God” means here.  This is the knowing of a lover, not a scholar.  A scholar can be a lover.  But a scholar–or a pastor–doesn’t know God until he is a lover.  You can know about God by research; but until the researcher is ravished by what he sees, he doesn’t know God for who he really is.  And that is one great reason why many pastors can become so impure.  They don’t know God–the true, massive, glorious, gracious, biblical God.  The humble intimacy and brokenhearted ecstasy–giving fire to the facts–is not there.  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 32)

 

Sex is glorious.  We would know that even if we didn’t have the Bible.  Sex leads us to words of adoration–it literally evokes shouts of joy and praise.  Through the Bible, we know why this is true.  John 17 tells us that from all eternity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been adoring and glorifying each other, living in high devotion to each other, pouring love and joy into one another’s hearts continually (cf. Jn 1:18; 17:5, 21, 24-25).  Sex between a man and a woman points to the love between the Father and the Son (1 Cor 11:3).  It is a reflection of the joyous self-giving and pleasure of love within the very life of the triune God.

Sex is glorious not only because it reflects the joy of the Trinity but also because it points to the eternal delight of soul that we will have in heaven, in our loving relationships with God and one another.  Rom 7:1ff tells us that the best marriages are pointers to the deep, infinitely fulfilling, and final union we will have with Christ in love.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 270-71)

 

We find sex so powerful because it provides people with glimpses into the world we all desperately desire but can’t seem to create on our own.  (Rob Bell; Sex God, 167)

 

Is there any other activity at all in which an adult man and woman may engage together (apart from worship) that is actually more childlike, more clean and pure, more natural and wholesome and unequivocally right than is the act of making love?  For if worship is the deepest available form of communion with God (and especially that particular act of worship known as Communion), then surely sex is the deepest communion that is possible between human beings, and as such is something absolutely essential (in more than a biological or procreative way) to the survival of the race.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 146)

 

We need to be able to “see” in nakedness what God intended us to see in it: the glory of His presence in the world, the highest expression of what He Himself looks like, the very form that He assumed when He visited the earth in person.  Can we not detect His Own paint still wet on our skins, and the marks of His fingers imprinted in our ears, in our eye sockets, on our lips and on our genitals?  Only when we perceive that these poor bodies of ours are the natural (as opposed to supernatural) expression of God’s glory, so that nakedness is as close as most of us will ever get to seeing God in the flesh, only then can we begin to understand also that sex is the closest thing (next to the Eucharist) to touching Him.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 146-47)

 

The desires of the body lie to us.  They make deceitful promises–promises that are half true, as in the Garden of Eden.  And we are powerless to expose and overcome those half-truths unless we know God–really know God, his ways and works and words embraced with growing intimacy and ecstasy.  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 33)

 

 

 

CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: How can a relationship with Jesus make me a better Eros lover . . . and vice versa?:

A-  God empowers us to be better eros lovers by His Spirit and Word.  (Gal 5:22-23)

–        Not ego driven

–        Concerned about other’s needs

–        Filled with God’s spirit (love, joy, peace, patience . . .)

–        More sensitive

 

This spiritual intercourse with God is the ecstasy hinted at in all earthly intercourse, physical or spiritual.  It is the ultimate reason why sexual passion is so strong, so different from other passions, so heavy with suggestions of profound meanings that just elude our grasp.  —Peter Kreeft  (John Eldredge; The Journey of Desire, 135)

 

The way Jesus loves is the diametric opposite from how sexual sin works.  Whether flagrant or atmospheric, whether physical or imaginary, sexual sin is hate.  It misuses people.  Jesus’ love treasures and serves our sexual purity.  We misuse God’s gift of sexuality when we do not treasure and serve the sexual purity of others.  We degrade ourselves and degrade others.  As Jesus starts to rearrange how you treat people, you are becoming a qualitatively different kind of person.  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 103)

 

In order for romance to deepen, you must touch the heart and mind of your wife before you touch her body.  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 155)

 

As Catholic philosopher Dick Westley observes, “The fact is that sexual activity, when it is truly love-making and the work of the spirit, is the antithesis of self-indulgence.  It is the height of asceticism.”  At the core of sexual love, this discipline links pleasure to both responsibility and fruitfulness.  (Evelyn & James Whitehead, A Sense of Sexuality, 13)

 

C.S. Lewis spoke to the heart of this question when he wrote about the soul damage caused by sexual fantasy (whether through masturbation or pornography) and what he called “imaginary women.”  Lewis described these imaginary women this way: “Always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival.  Among those shadow brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity.”  (From personal correspondence by C.S. Lewis, in the Wade Collection at Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL)  (Michael John Cusick, Surfing for God, 8)

 

When it comes to marital intimacy, men tend to be like microwave ovens–instantly ready to be turned on at any time, day or night, and also ready to hurry through the cooking experience.  The average woman, however, is more like a crock-pot.  She needs to warm up to the sexual experience and savor the process, and the thing that warms her up the most is a quality relationship.  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 146)

 

When people forget that the opposite sex is opposite, it can result in men actually resenting women for not being men, and vice versa.  Ultimately this is just one aspect of the way in which people are continually being hoodwinked into assuming they are in relationship with one another, when really all they are relating to is themselves.  And there is neurosis in a nutshell.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 155)

 

 

 

B-  We find our security in God and not in our spouse by giving our expectations to God.  (Ps 5:3; ch 62; Prv 3:5-6)

 

Therefore what Paul is teaching us here is that the proper use of physical pleasures in sex and food is that they send our hearts Godward with the joy of gratitude that finds its firmest ground in the goodness of God himself, not in his gifts.  This means that if, in the providence of God, these gifts are ever taken away–perhaps by the death of a spouse or the demand for a feeding tube–the deepest joy that we had through them will not be taken away, because God is still good (see Hab 3:17-18).  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 187)

 

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual, Volume III, is an encyclopedia of psychological dysfunctions.  In fact, it lists almost 200 pages of possible sexual problems.  Do you know what one of the primary “treatment choices” is for all but a handful of these many disorders?  “Decrease performance anxiety.”  In other words, if you can get acting and unrealistic expectations out of the bedroom, you can erase almost every sexual dysfunction that doesn’t have a physiological basis, and you decrease performance anxiety by lowering expectations to realistic levels, focusing on genuine love, and seeking to meet the other persons’ needs, comfort, and pleasure instead of your own.

Often a man who has performance anxiety is one who judges the quality of his marriage by his sexual prowess.  If, in the normal course of a marriage, he experiences some frustration in his sexual performance, fear can set in, and he can lost all confidence in this area.  On the other hand, if a woman “performs” her way through the “act of marriage” by faking her real feelings or responses, genuine intimacy can be a long-forgotten experience.  Couples need to stay clear of performance anxiety if they want passion to occur–and not be a memory from the past.  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 154)

 

C-  With the right heart and mind, better sex with our spouse can goad us to God. (1 Tm 4:1-4; 6:17; Jas 1:17)

 

Sex is sacramental because it is suggestive, reminding us not only of the mutual commitment of this couple but of our link with our Creator.  Our passionate unions resonate with that covenant of affection and fidelity that God has made with humankind.  This ability of our sexual lives to hint at God’s presence among us makes sexuality mysterious and holy.

In its fierce privacy and its unavoidable socialness, sexual life symbolizes the life of faith.  The covenant between us and God, resonating in the deepest recesses of our heart, affects all our public behavior.  The Church has long cherished the image of marriage as a compelling metaphor of its own commitment and fidelity with God.  Sex is mysterious because it is sacramental: it can remind us of God’s passionate affection for us.  For this reason, too, sex is very good.  (Evelyn & James Whitehead, A Sense of Sexuality, 31)

 

The gigantic secret of the joy of sex is this:  Sex is good because the God who created sex is good.  And God is glorified greatly when we receive his gift with thanksgiving and enjoy it the way he meant for it to be enjoyed.  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 55)

 

What I’m suggesting is that we connect our marriages with our faith in such a way that our experience in each feeds the other.  The next time you caress your spouse, think about how that caress might open up new avenues for your prayer life.  The next time you are virtually overcome by passion for your spouse, consider how you can offer yourself with equal abandon to your God.  Don’t be afraid to use all aspects of marriage–even sexual expression–to expand your prayer life.  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 86-87)

 

To those who submit gladly to the truth of God about themselves as sinners, and about Christ as the Savior, and about the Holy Spirit as the Sanctifer, and about God the Father as Creator–to them sex and food are sanctified.  That is, they are pure.  They are not unclean idols competing for our affections, which belong supremely to God.  They are instead pure partners in the revelation of God’s glory.  They are beams of his goodness along which the pure in heart see God (Mt 5:8).  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 189)

 

All misuses of our sexuality distort the true knowledge of Christ.  And, in the second place, all misuses of our sexuality derive from not having the true knowledge of Christ.

Or to put it one more way: all sexual corruption serves to conceal the true knowledge of Christ, but the true knowledge of Christ serves to prevent sexual corruption.  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 26)

 

Almost a century ago, G. K. Chesterton wrote that the man who knocks on the brothel door is knocking for God.  If he were writing today, he might say that the man who surfs the web for porn is surfing for God.  If nothing else, this truth means that sex is a signpost to God.  It also points us to the way He designed us as sexual beings–when we are most aligned with this design and intention, we are most powerful, complete, and fulfilled.  (Michael John Cusick, Surfing for God, 15)

 

The older Christian wedding vows contained these amazing words: “With my body, I thee worship.”  Maybe our forefathers weren’t so prudish after all; maybe they understood sex far better than we do.  To give yourself over to another, passionately and nakedly, to adore that person body, soul, and spirit—we know there is something special, even sacramental about sex.  (John Eldredge; The Journey of Desire, 134)

 

The ancient Jewish text The Holy Letter (written by Nahmanides in the thirteenth century) sees sex as a mystical experience of meeting with God: “Through the act [of intercourse] they become partners with God in the act of creation.  This is the mystery of what the sages said, ‘When a man unites with his wife in holiness, the Shekinah is between them in the mystery of man and woman.’” The breadth of this statement is sobering when you consider that this shekinah glory is the same presence experienced by Moses when God met with him face-to-face (see Ex 24:15-18).  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 206)

 

If Paul tells us that a man is not to join himself to a prostitute because his body is a holy temple–that is, if we are to use such imagery to avoid sinning–can a Christian not use the same imagery to be drawn into God’s presence in a unique way as he joins his body with his wife?  Isn’t he somehow entering God’s temple–knocking on the door of shekinah glory–when he joins himself to a fellow believer?  And isn’t this a tacit encouragement to perhaps even think about God as your body is joined with your spouse?  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 209-10)

 

Larry Crabb explained it well: “When pleasures of any kind are used to satisfy (or at least to quiet) our crucial longings, then the craving for what only God can provide becomes a demanding tyrant driving us toward whatever relief is available.  Our god becomes our appetite.  Crucial longings meant to create a panting after God energize our addiction to whatever feels good for a moment.”  ((Larry Crabb, Inside Out, 105)  (Michael John Cusick, Surfing for God, 34-35)

 

Inside and outside the church Western culture is drowning in a sea of triviality, pettiness, banality, and silliness.  Television is trivial.  Radio is trivial.  Conversation is trivial.  Education is trivial.  Christian books are trivial.  Worship styles are trivial.  It is inevitable that the human heart, which was made to be staggered with the supremacy of Christ, but instead is drowning in a sea of banal entertainment, will reach for the best natural buzz that life can give: sex.  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 44)

 

“…God is the God who desires passion from His people.  He wants us to know Him through love rather than through reason, and He laughs at our arrogant attempts to try to grasp Him in intellectual terms.   (Tony Campolo; Carpe Diem—Seize the Day, 23)

 

It is worth noting that the specific forms of idolatry common to the Graeco-Roman world, and to other ancient cultures, centered in exaggerations of human sexuality and fertility.  A quick look at most museums of antiquity will reveal cases filled with figurines characterized by exaggerated genitalia.  Many are explicitly pornographic, as the power of sex has been transformed into an idol and object of worship.  This is an insight of inestimable theological significance.  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 121)

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Like every other passion or desire, God provides a righteous way for those desires to be temporarily and partially satisfied and at the same time, allow those passions to point us to the ultimate satisfaction of those desires . . . Himself.  Contemplate this.

 

The Christian Way — The Christian says, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists.   A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food.   A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water.   Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex.  If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.  Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.  If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.  I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same.  (C. S. Lewis; Mere Christianity, 120)

 

We find sex so powerful because it provides people with glimpses into the world we all desperately desire but can’t seem to create on our own. (Rob Bell; Sex God, 167)

 

Worship point:  Begin to see the connections between sex and worship (sex as the sign and worship as the reality).  Worship God knowing that God (after He delivers us from the FWS) has incredible delights in store for us as we enjoy intimacy with Him forever.

 

Thomas Hart observes that “our fascination with sex is closely related to our fascination with God.”  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 211)

 

Let me put this succinctly: We can learn to use the sex drive to groom our character.  Out of a need to be intimate with their wives, husbands may learn to show tenderness and empathy.  Wives may use physical intimacy to help capture their husbands’ interest emotionally.  Emotionally.  Idealistically, we would seek opportunities to grow because that’s what we’re called to do as Christians.  Realistically, it doesn’t hurt to have such a physical need pushing us in that same direction of growing in character.  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 220)

 

To love at all is to be venerable.  Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin or your selfishness.  But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable…The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers…of love is Hell.  (C.S. Lewis; The Four Loves, 169)

 

I wanted to prove that I was sorry for what I did by being faithful for a period of time.  I wanted to develop a good track record before pursuing my relationship with Him again.  I wanted God to see that I could be a good servant.  Then I felt good enough to talk with God again.  But God didn’t want a good slave who tried really hard.  He wanted me to see that He was a good Father.  He wants intimacy.  (Francis Chan, Forgotten God, 113)

 

Originally adultery was considered illicit; then it was justified if there was “love” between the lovers; next adultery was declared natural on the grounds that humankind is innately polygamous; and finally it was pronounced good as long as there was, ironically, no “love”!  (R. Kent Hughes;  Disciplines of Grace, 125)

 

Dishonoring words that come up around the sexual area act like red lights to an intimate response.  Take the man who would comment on his wife’s need to “lost weight” just as she undressed to get into bed.  Usually it’s the same man who couldn’t understand why she was cold and unresponsive.  Or what about the woman who “teased” her husband about his sexual endurance until they had a major problem in his responding at all?  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 155)

 

Ever since Adam and Eve hid their nakedness from God and each other, there has been a natural insecurity around the sexual act.  That level of insecurity can be multiplied by ten with poorly timed or insensitive words, but it’s not only words that can be dishonoring and result in lowered passion.  Actions can speak louder and more powerfully in this area.  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 155)

 

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith.  Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.  (C.S. Lewis quoted by John Piper; Desiring God, 88)

 

Quotes to Note:

Knowing the supremacy of Christ enlarges the soul so that sex and its little thrills become as small as they really are.  Little souls make little lusts have great power.  The soul, as it were, expands to encompass the magnitude of its treasure. The human soul was made to see and savor the supremacy of Christ.  Nothing else is big enough to enlarge the soul as God intended and make little lusts lose their power.  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 43-44)

 

What you think about is ultimately what you become.  What we once called “the power of positive thinking” is increasingly backed by scientific evidence.  The more attention your brain pays to a given input, the stronger and more elaborately it will be wired and retained in the brain.  When we give our attention and focus to good things, like peace, joy, and self-control, our brains rewire themselves in a way that allows us to experience those good things.  Wouldn’t it make sense, then, to be intentional about what we give ourselves to?  (Michael John Cusick, Surfing for God, 135)

 

What was God hoping to accomplish by cutting away a man’s foreskin?  Circumcision represents at least three things.  First, a man’s penis represents his masculine identity, reaching beyond social and cultural definitions of manhood.  It symbolizes the way a man uses his strength: to move toward others and enter their space to bless or curse, to give or take, to deposit or withdraw.  In circumcision, a man surrenders his masculine identity to God.

. . . Secondly, cutting off the foreskin of the penis represented the paring away of the hidden self.  This hidden and private part of a man was reserved for the most intimate of relations; no one else had access to his innermost part.  But God established his relationship with Israel in this most intimate of rituals.

. . . Finally, the foreskin and penis symbolize the part of us that gives life.  From a reproductive slant, the penis enables us to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gn 9:7).  But a man is called to give life, to be fruitful, in areas far beyond sexual intercourse.  A man has the potential to pour life into others through word and deed.   (Michael John Cusick, Surfing for God, 180)

 

Circumcision of the penis is an external act of surrender, remembrance, and new identity.  Circumcision of the heart represents these same three realities internally.  When Jesus criticized the Pharisees because they honored Him with their lips but their hearts were far from Him (Mt 15:8), He might as well have said, “You’ve honored Me by surrendering your foreskin, but you haven’t surrendered your heart.”  Going through the motions is not what God desires.  He wants our external and internal selves to come into alignment.   (Michael John Cusick, Surfing for God, 181)

 

If we regard ourselves merely as bodies and if we therefore want more than anything else to find some way to feel physically good, then sex is the ticket.  And the pursuit of sexual pleasure can become a strong preoccupation.  The compulsive craving for erotic excitement prevalent in our society is rooted in our denial of ourselves as real persons made for personal fellowship with God and others.  (Dr. Larry Crabb, The Marriage Builder, 91)

 

It is evident from these Scripture passages that the only taboos in the sex relationship are outside the bonds of marriage.  (Tim LaHaye, How to Be Happy Though Married, 62)

 

To ask a spouse to perform a sexual act that is wrong or repulsive to him or her is to show at least a degree of insensitivity or even a lack of love.  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 156)

 

In certain circles, one almost gets the impression that to know of the intricacies of sexual functioning and to be a romantic, skilled sexual partner is somehow less than spiritual.  But ignorance of how to sexually arouse and satisfy one’s spouse brings no glory to the One who created sex in the first place.

It is surprising how many men simply do not know what arouses and satisfies a woman.  They lack awareness that the clitoris and not the vagina is her primary organ of sexual sensitivity, lack understanding of her need for warm and tender caresses, and lack appreciation for her desire for a romantic prelude rather than the “let’s-go-do-it approach.

On the other hand, many women fail to recognize the impact of visual stimuli such as provocative clothing.  They do not understand the threat implied in their bored consent, mechanical servicing, or irritated turndowns.  They may be ignorant of technical matters such as how to help a man delay his ejaculation.  (Dr. Larry Crabb, The Marriage Builder, 100)

 

Paul affirmed celibacy but not the eschatological assumptions or the elitism of the enthusiasts.  Celibacy is “better,” not because the celibate may boast about full participation in the new age, but because of the “not yet” character of our existence (vv. 26-35); and for that very reason–the continuing power of evil (v. 2)–marriage must remain an option and be recognized as “gift” (v. 7).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, 436)

 

Spiritual orientation affects the sexual.  The rendezvous of “god” and “sex” shows us what is on the horizon.  If homosexuality gains global acceptance as part of the agenda to bring “peace and understanding to the earth,” the future moral and spiritual arbiter of the planet will be pagan religion, and homosexuality will be its sexual sacrament.  (Peter Jones, The God of Sex, 72)

 

Any religion that contains in its canonical scriptures such an erotic yet holy expression of sexuality can hardly be accused of guilt-ridden sexlessness.  (Peter Jones, The God of Sex, 120)

 

Body Oneness is:

 

  • Sexual pleasure between a couple who depend on the Lord to meet their needs and are committed to being used of God in meeting each other’s needs;
  • Sexual pleasure that grows out of a commitment to minister to one’s spouse in the physical realm by giving maximum sexual pleasure;
  • Sexual pleasure that provides a shared experience of sensual excitement and sexual satisfaction;
  • Sexual pleasure that heightens each partner’s awareness of their unbreakable bond.  (Dr. Larry Crabb, The Marriage Builder, 94)

 

A society in which conjugal infidelity is tolerated must always be in the long run a society adverse to women.   Women, whatever male songs and satires may say to the contrary, are more naturally monogamous than men; it is a biological  necessity.    Where promiscuity prevails, they will therefore always be more often the victims than the culprits.   Also, domestic happiness is more necessary to them than to men.   And the quality by which they most easily hold a man, their beauty,  decreases every year after they have come to maturity, but this does not happen to those qualities of personality—women don’t really care twopence about a man’s looks—by which men hold women.  Thus in the ruthless war of promiscuity women are at a double disadvantage.   They play for higher stakes and are also more likely to lose.   I have no sympathy with moralists who frown at the increasing crudity of female provocativeness.   These signs of desperate competition fill me with pity.   (C. S. Lewis; God in the Dock, “We have no Right to Happiness,” 321-22)

 

God is more intimate to me than I am to myself.

—David Schindler

 

Christ:

Incarnated Passion

 

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