Friday, July 20, 2012

SEX IS CENTRAL TO GOD’S SALVATION PLAN

Evangelical pulpiteers can shout louder than ever about sexual morality, but most are still reluctant to frankly address the physical aspects of human sexuality, even at a time when society desperately needs to hear a Christian voice. Why this characteristic shyness about sex? Believers have no biblical warrant for it. Such a squeamish attitude certainly didn’t come from our Maker. Neither in Scripture nor in orthodox Christian theology is there even a shred of support for our long history of embarrassment about the body’s sexual nature. In fact, a careful review of the Bible itself—done in the fear of God and not in the fear of tradition—will actually show that our reasons for avoiding the anatomy of gender and its physiological purposes in sexuality are not only unscriptural but may have heretical roots.

Why not boldness rather than bashfulness in our approach to sex? Christians, of all people, should be so open about the physical wonders of human gender and reproduction that it makes the world’s treatment of these subjects seem prudish in comparison. We owed it to the Designer of the human body to have developed such expertise and excellence in the realm of sex education that secular authorities would resort to us for in-depth informational and audio-visual teaching materials, rather than vice versa. In this crucial area of stewardship, the church has not only failed our Lord but left a promiscuous modern society to flounder in a more diabolical degree of sexual confusion than history has ever known.

Why didn’t we take our cue from God’s Word in this area? The very first words God uses to state how humans reflects His image are not the commonly assumed aspects of personality (ie., reason, emotion, volition, etc.), but physical gender! (Re-read Genesis 1:27, and if you don’t say “Ouch!” you’re in theological denial!) Yes, He did equip us rationally for the task of governing creation, but His very first command to us in Genesis 1:28 was what? To reproduce!

If God’s very first words about His purpose for humans—that is, procreativity from sexual union between complementary genders—aren’t sufficient to gain our attention, maybe we’ll listen to His last words. There’s someone who joins the Holy Spirit in the last few sentences of Scripture (Revelation 22:17) to invite sinners to salvation? It’s “the Bride,” the Church, the corporate “wife of the Lamb.” The present symbolism of gender and sexual union ultimately find fulfillment in our spiritual union with Christ the Bridegroom. But until then, God has placed marriage as the Bible’s bookends for the redemption story, and right in the middle of it all is an erotic drama portraying just how sensually passionate He means for His symbolism to be (Song of Songs)! If both temporal and eternal marriage have such centrality in God’s mind, where have our minds been? When it comes to dealing with the fleshly dust from which God fashioned sexual body parts and their physical union, it’s obvious that our minds have been in the gutter.

Far from honoring the human body and it’s gender distinctions as sacred ground, we’ve religiously depicted them as avenues of temptation and lust. Our confident legalisms and manmade scruples to insure purity and morality have basically pornified the body! By redefining our physical forms and our sex organs as obscenities, we’ve paved the way for pornographers to defile that which was meant to be part of our Trinitarian Maker’s Self-portrait. With a prudish brush we’ve painted a lewd image of the sexuality through which God intended to proclaim His message of redemption. If this theological error is not sin, then missing the mark has lost its meaning!

Sexuality wasn’t created as an end in itself. It was intended, first, to image the Trinity’s unity in divine love and cosmic creativity through marital love and human procreativity. The sexuality of our complementary genders was meant to prophetically display the future one-flesh union we will enjoy with the incarnate Son of God, our Bridegroom. Why have we neglected or ignored these aspects of God’s emphasis on sexuality in Scripture? Perhaps they would have been more easily recognized, if Christian minds had not been culturally mesmerized through early Gnostic influences that heretically despised the material world and the physical body. But just as heretical, and even more blinding, has been the Protestant church’s wholesale religious embrace of the false standards of Victorian prudery.

It’s way past time for Christian repentance in this area. The need for reformation in the church’s view and treatment of the body’s gender and sexuality has never been greater nor more urgent. Embarrassing as it may be for Christian leaders to confess to bowing down for so long before the idol of cultural Victorianism—difficult as it may be for the average believer’s mind to be purged of the rituals of such idolatry—we can still return to the healing Word of God. The truth in Scripture about our bodies and their gendered sexuality has the power to set the church free from an unholy prudery and to equip saints with the transforming message our sex-obsessed, gender-confused, marriage-deforming world needs to hear.

[For an even more thorough critique of our failure to deal properly with the human body and its sexuality, I challenge you to read my doctrinal paper on this subject: “Incarnational Truth about Humanity’s Sexual Nature (Doing Body-friendly Theology Free from Gnostic Prudery).”]