The sex drive is surely one of the strongest drives in all of nature. The Creator probably fashioned it this way because the burden of parenthood is not something everyone is eager to shoulder. The Lord must have felt that mankind needed a little nudge from nature. However, this godly gift of sex has become greatly misunderstood and misused. Added to this are the many negative influences of our culture, particularly that of Hollywood. As a result, in the last few generations our whole society has become “sex-crazed.” In light of this abuse let us try to make some sense of sex by looking at what the Creator originally had in mind.
PARTICIPATION IN CREATION
Through the sexual union and childbirth, the Creator allows mankind to participate in the act of creation. Thus, reproduction is the primary purpose of sex, as we see demonstrated uniformly throughout all of nature. In fact, it seems like nature is in an almost constant frenzy to reproduce. Jewish teachers make much of the Hebrew expression found in Genesis 1:28. It is God‘s first command to the human race. That command is “pe-ru u-re-vu,” or “…Be fruitful and increase in number…” Of course, reproduction must be according to God’s word and within the bounds of marriage.
Standing in direct opposition to this divine purpose are some of our modern and postmodern concepts, teaching us that sex is basically for our own selfish enjoyment – a sort of social sport. Moderns have many inventions to countermand reproduction, and even when a child is conceived it is often coldly aborted. Nothing must be allowed to stand in the way of selfish pleasure. Adding to the confusion and loss of divine purpose is also the modern and fast growing emphasis upon homosexuality and lesbianism. Those who promote such activities do not seem to realize that these practices are unknown elsewhere in nature. Of course, neither do they understand or accept the fact that homosexuality in all its forms is strongly condemned by the Creator. We see this condemnation throughout the Bible and especially in places like Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 and in Romans 1:26-27. God minces no words in condemning it.
So the pattern we see in the Bible is this: husband, wife, father, mother and children, all living in obedience to the divine pattern. In biblical times one of the most dreadful things that could befall a woman was to be childless. We see the agony caused by this in the lives of Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth and others. Childlessness was such a disgrace that aged Sarah lent her handmaiden to Abraham in order that she could by this means produce an offspring. Childless Hannah refused to join the holy festivities with her husband. Instead she waited in bitterness of soul at the Tabernacle until the priest of God assured her that her prayer for a child was heard.
God has a further purpose in reproduction. In Malachi 2:15 we read of marriage: “Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” Here it is revealed that the Lord is looking for godly children. For that reason, marriages are to stay together and we are told to train up children in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). We are told to impress God’s word on our children when we sit at the table or walk in the way (Deut. 6:7). God is not only involved in creation but in re-creation as well. He desires that we also join him in this.
PHYSICAL UNION AND COMPANIONSHIP
But there is still more to marriage. God in his wisdom originally spoke concerning the man he had just made: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (Gen. 2:18). Woman was made as a companion, helper and wife for man. She was created in order to complete him physically. We read in Genesis 2:24 that “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
God desires that there be immense sexual enjoyment within the bounds of marriage. The Bible generally looks at the sexual relationship as good, wholesome and normal. The Hebrew people have always looked at it this way too. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:5, gives this advice to the married concerning sexual relationship: “Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer…” Unfortunately, during the early centuries of Christianity, the Church’s understanding of sex became greatly influenced by the pagan Greek culture. We began to look upon sex as something ugly and evil. At times it was barely tolerated even for reproductive purposes.
While the sexual union of man and woman is blessed by God, sexual experimentation outside marriage has neither his approval nor his blessing. It cannot have, because it works against the divine purpose. There are two basic names for this type experimentation in scripture. They are “fornication” and “adultery.” The first seems more related to sexual experimentation prior to marriage and the latter is more concerned with extra-marital sexual unfaithfulness. These sins were treated with great seriousness in ancient Israel. The fornicator and adulterer were simply stoned to death (Lev. 20:10). Today, people try to tailor God’s creation to meet their own selfish purposes. They have invented several pleasant-sounding expressions as cover-ups for these dreadful offenses against God and his creation. Yet, the nature of these relationships remains greatly opposed to God’s plan and they will be eventually merit his severe judgment (Heb.13:4).
THE MODERN BREAKUP OF MARRIAGE
Today we are constantly bombarded with concepts of sex and marriage that are foreign not only to the Bible but to nature as well. They spring from this present evil age or the fallen and depraved world system. With the vast influence of TV, movies and other media, the original plan of the Creator is not only mocked and ridiculed but is greatly perverted. Hollywood presents us with many pictures of its wonderful ideal: Marriage is not to be taken too seriously; premarital sex is OK and is the norm; extramarital affairs are fun and innocent; homosexuality is harmless and normal. While these idyllic concepts work on the silver screen they do not work in real life. In fact, they are a complete myth; a fabrication; a false portrayal of reality.
In the midst of all this confusion, it seems that some may be coming to their senses. A few years ago the prestigious Cosmopolitan magazine came out with a warning that living together could sink couples’ chances of having a good marriage. Cosmopolitan headlined the article as “The Trap of Living Together.” The article presented studies showing that unwed couples living together had a higher divorce rate. Charles Colson in commenting on this article remarks how things have changed with Cosmopolitan. Thirty years ago its editor-in-chief was Helen Gurley Brown, who then wrote the best-selling book Sex and the Single Girl. Colson remarks how even Cosmopolitan seems to be moving back toward a biblical understanding of morality.
Nevertheless, the new trends still seem to be taking their toll on traditional and biblical concepts. The number of unmarried couples in the US nearly doubled in the 1990s. Today the national average stands at 5.2% and is growing. Also, same-sex unmarried partners now number close to 1% of households. When these statistics are coupled with the tragic number of broken homes now managed by single parents, it all becomes alarming. It means that the traditional family concept of father, mother, and children is almost in the minority in many of our cities. Added to these heartbreaks is the international spread of sexually transmitted diseases, particularly the HIV virus. According to the Joint UN Program on Aids at the end of 2001, the number of those infected globally now stands at 40 million. What a price the world is already paying for its supposed sexual freedom!
BACK TO THE BIBLE
We need to quickly move back to a sane and biblical understanding of marriage and family while there is still time. As Hollywood incessantly hawks its false ideas of “love” which might be better understood as “free love,” let us get back to what real love is all about. Real love is covenant love. It has at its heart a covenant relationship between man, woman and the Creator. Hollywood love lasts for but a moment as is evidenced even by the astronomical marriage breakup among movie stars. One can “fall in love” and just as easily “fall out of love,” but falling out of covenant is a different matter.
The Bible speaks of covenant marriage in Malachi 2:14, where it is said: “…the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.” In covenant marriage, couples take each other “for better or for worse.” With the help of God they vow to make a go of it, and to stand by each other “in sickness and health; in poverty and in wealth; till death do us part,” as the old ceremonies go. In this kind of atmosphere of absolute commitment, real love can grow and flourish. As a divine bonus to this godly arrangement, real sexual satisfaction is gradually added by the Creator.