How might an emphasized identity as a “sexual being” influence a single man or woman? What impact might years and years of sex education (or even abstinence education with a focus on “waiting” for the “joys of marital sex”) have on a person who is not married?
The unmarried man or woman might ask, “If God created me to be a sexual being, am I not fully human?” The mistaken identity of “sexual from birth” might tempt a man or woman to believe that they’ll never be all they were meant to be if they don’t marry and enjoy sexual intimacy.
Jesus Christ was not married and yet He was fully human. It is our personhood that defines us and not our sexual desires or urges. Oh, but some insist, our sexuality is part of our personhood; we would be incomplete without it. But Jesus Christ, fully human, never entered into a sexually intimate relationship. There is liberation in this truth for the single man or woman.
Knowing who we will be in heaven is also liberating for the single man or woman. Some men once posed a question of Jesus. “Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her” (Matt. 22:25-28). How did Jesus answer? “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage . . . .” (vv. 29-30). If earthly marriages are no longer binding in heaven; if, indeed, we “neither marry nor are given in marriage,” wouldn’t we also be able to say that identity for a male or female is not sexually-bound? In heaven, we will be the person— body and soul—that we were on earth only perfect in every way. But it does not appear that sex or “sexuality” is part of our eternal personhood.
The exaggerated place of sexuality in cradle to grave sex education is destructive to all relationships between men and women, married or single. It takes our focus off the identity bestowed upon us at Baptism. For Christians, mature manhood and womanhood is about relating to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, being thankful for the gift of self-control and enjoying the respectful interaction of male and female perspectives on life. It means men assume the role of leader and protector but in ways that vary from how a husband would lead and protect his wife. It means that women assume the role of helper, ally and even counselor but in ways that vary from how a wife would submissively yet confidently help her husband. Personally, I find it humorous, productive and comforting to interact with my brothers in Christ. Seeing my identity as fundamentally “sexual” would potentially change every relationship I have with the men in my life. That would be a tragic loss for me.
The baptized child of God in Christ can live fully as a male or female without ever being sexually intimate. Self-control, as evidenced by the Apostle Paul (1 Co. 7:7) is a gift. We can say that with the gift of self-control comes order and strength for life. Mature manhood and womanhood receive the gift of self-control and are not dependent upon sexual intimacy. Man does not become man by getting married and being “one flesh” with his wife, nor does woman become woman by getting married and being “one flesh” with her husband.
From The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, pp 106-107
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)
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