Sex Matters, But Marriage Matters More

older couple's hands

We are witnessing the deconstruction of marriage. But, how did it happen and why? Can we place the blame on those who advocate same-sex “marriage”? Are they the only ones chipping away at the institution of marriage?

Long before society began to tolerate the “marriage” of two men or two women, it accepted cohabitation, adultery, and no-fault divorce. It accepted the lie that we are, first and foremost, sexual beings who have the “right” to love, be loved, and have our needs met. Society, however, would not be left in such darkness if we in the Church had trusted the Light and resisted the sexualization of marriage.

What does this mean? In 1961, Mary Calderone, the co-founder of SIECUS (Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S.) and former medical director of Planned Parenthood, lectured on the role of churches in sex education to 500 delegates from 38 Protestant denominations. Calderone worked her way into churches and homes because she feared that parents did a poor job of teaching their children about “sexuality.” She wanted parents to teach children the “yeses” of sex instead of so many “thou shalt nots.” She wanted boundaries and inhibitions removed. Calderone wanted children to experience the “wow” factor of sex. There were those in the Church who embraced this thinking. It was their hope that talking about sex with children beginning at an early age would help boys and girls grow up to be husbands and wives who would experience the “wow” factor of sex.

And so, for half a century and from kindergarten on, children hear: “God created sex to be beautiful within marriage.” “Sex in marriage is the best thing ever.” “Sex is worth waiting for.” “Sex within marriage is when we are the closest to God.” “Sex is so amazing, my dear child, that we are going to talk about it a lot.”

Because sin permeates all relationships, including marriage, is it possible that years of fantasizing on the ecstasy of sex might have an impact on a husband and wife? Might sexual expectations be so high that when marriage is put to the everyday challenges of real life, husbands and wives are disappointed? Might they be so disappointed that they are tempted to believe that sex with someone else might be better, maybe even with someone of the same gender who might better understand their partner’s needs?
Has marriage been sexualized?

Consider the husband and wife who desire to bring new life into the world, but are barren. Rebecca Mayes writes, “One of the aspects of barrenness that is so awkward is the fact that the ‘success’ of your marital relations (more modernly called your ‘sex life’) with your spouse is often scrutinized by those around you, either privately in their own minds, or quite publicly to your face. The joining of two fleshes into one in the bonds of holy matrimony used to be treated with such modesty and respect. No one would dare ask you whether you’re ‘doing it’ right or if you’ve tried such-and-such a method. But the sexual revolution has changed all that, and in numerous Christian publications we read that the act is a beautiful, natural part of marriage and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We should celebrate our ‘gift of sexuality’ and teach children in our Church all they need to know to be prepared for utilizing this ‘gift.’ But is this what the Bible says? When we blush at the questions about what’s wrong with our reproductive organs, is that for a good reason, or are we just prudes?” (He Remembers the Barren, 6-15-2014)

Sex matters, but marriage matters more. Some pastors take care during pre-marital instruction not to overemphasize sexuality because they believe that it could threaten the hierarchy of values in marriage and assume too predominant a place in terms of producing a well-grounded and joyful marriage. The “wow” factor of sex can be wonderful, but it is the friendship, trusted companionship, communication, and agape love of a husband and wife that carries them through good times and bad, sickness and health. With an identity that is primarily “sexual,” we are limited in the ways we can serve others. Not so with our holy identity; for indeed, when we see ourselves as “uncommon” and set apart for use not just by anyone but by God, our opportunities to serve are multiplied.

Instead of detailed sex talk, parents do better—with the support of the Church—to help boys understand the vocation of manhood and girls to understand the vocation of womanhood. Boys need to know how they, as the stewards and defenders of life, should regard women, most especially their someday wives. Girls need to know how they, as the co-stewards and nurturers of life, should regard men, most especially their someday husbands. Parents go a long way in preparing sons and daughters for marriage by mentoring respect, patience, selflessness, and forgiveness. Parents also do well in preparing young men and women for the realities of married life. Because of the Fall, marriage is hard work. It requires appreciation of our differences as male and female, the commitment to work together, trust, friendship, and more agape than eros love. Marriage can be a beautiful relationship, not just because of the sexual union, but sometimes even in spite of it.

It is God’s design that the marital union of man and woman become the nest for new life; the foundation for home and family. Sin has distorted God’s perfect design but, even in disappointment and difficulty, a faithful marriage is the bedrock of a finely-tuned and healthy society. Marriage is the amazing teamwork of male and female; indeed, the two eyes of the human race. Both eyes are needed for a proper perspective on all matters of life.  Biblical marriage is the only pairing that allows a man formed from the dust of the ground to welcome the help of a woman made from his rib. The world is better for it.

Intimacy in marriage is not all about the sexual act. It is the most perfect trust, companionship and loving faithfulness this side of heaven. It is the unity of two spirits in this life—male and female, each encouraging the other to journey well to a sure and certain destination.

Linda Bartlett strives to help mentor
biblical womanhood through Titus 2 for Life .
She is the author of The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (Amazon.com)
Visit: Our Identity Matters
Photo credit: dreamstime.com

Sexual Describes Male or Female, Right?

children painting

When Christians use the phrases “sexual from birth” or “sexual beings,” we’re simply describing our maleness or femaleness, aren’t we?

This is likely how many sincere Christians understand it.  Remember, however, that male or female describes the kind of human we are.  You may never have heard it explained this way before, so it bears repeating.  Male or female has more than a sexual connotation; it is our divinely appointed vocation.  It is a way to engage life.  The vocations of male and female are God-given roles rooted in God’s creation of each individual human, as opposed to the kinds of vocations that men and women choose or take up later in life (such as father, mother, teacher, or pastor).  Those who oppose God don’t care about this because, like Kinsey, they have no respect for male or female.  God does.  So, let’s consider this in light of His Word.

God did not make male and female at the same time, in the same way or for the same purpose (Gn. 2:7, 15, 18-22).  Their differences did not conflict, but were complementary.  As husband and wife, Adam and Eve were lovers, that is, they were sexually intimate.  The human race came from their procreative sexual union; Eve because the “mother of all the living” (Gn. 3:20).  But, not every complementary man or woman marries and thus, becomes a lover or sexually active.

There is sexual love and there is agape love.  Husbands and wives share sexual intimacy, but all males and females of any age can share (and practice) agape love.  Scripture says it is the “will of God, your sanctification,” that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his [or her] own boy in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like [those] who do not know God” (1 Thes. 4:3-5).  Scripture is clear.  The sexual part of us is designed for use within the parameters of marriage.

To be lovers or, in other words, to share sexual intimacy and literally fit together in the procreational act of sex, is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman.  To be male or female, however, is a design and vocation for daily use in glorifying God.  God does not tell us to abstain from being male or female.  God does not tell us to abstain from being the human beings He created us to be, but He does tell us to abstain from sexual activity except within marriage.  Sexual activity is not an intrinsic part of what it means to be human.  We don’t do battle with the attributes of maleness or femaleness, but with “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry . . . [T]hose who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:19-24).  Unmarried males and females, of any age, are not to be lovers, but they are free to practice agape love which is this:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Co. 13:4-).

From The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (pp. 94-95)
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)