Preaching and Worship Resources about Sexuality
Sex seems to be our most animal desire, yet its intimacy, ecstasy, mystery, and fruitfulness point to our union with Christ (Eph. 5:28). Nevertheless, the church has long misunderstood human sexuality, seeing it as inherently sinful and unholy, something to be repressed and denied rather than embraced and blessed.
Biblical Understanding of Sex The story of Adam and Eve's "marriage" in Genesis 2 provides us with a biblical understanding of sex: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). The expression "one flesh" points to sexual intercourse that marks the consummation of a marriage.
Sex Has Two Purposes In Genesis, sex has at least two purposes; one is the conception of children ("be fruitful and multiply"), and the other is the expression of love and oneness (one flesh). To overemphasize either endangers the meaning and the full enjoyment of sexuality.
The Mosaic law condemns many aberrant forms of sexual activity such as incest, sex with animals, and sex between same-sex partners (Lev. 20). The apparent biblical condemnation of homosexual activity is being questioned today by those who say that we understand homosexuality differently now — as an innate orientation rather than a perverse choice.
Hebrew Word "know" (yada) Interestingly, the Hebrew word "know" (yada) is used for sexual intercourse (Gen. 4:1, 17, 25) and for knowing God (Jer. 2:16). This not only displays the breadth of the word, but the closeness of faith and sexuality.
In the Context of Marriage The Bible consistently places sex within the context of the committed relationship of marriage. This is not so much to restrict sex as to guard it. It is within a relationship of love and fidelity that sex can be best enjoyed and its purposes of childbearing and intimacy fulfilled.
The Song of Solomon or Song of Songs is the most sexually explicit book in the Bible, and as such it provides a challenge for its interpreters. For most of its history it was interpreted as an allegory of the love between God and his people; more recently it has been viewed as a straightforward celebration of love and sexuality. Following the example of Paul (Eph. 5:28-32), there seems to be room for both.
Sexuality and the Union of Christ and the Church Besides recognizing the analogical relationship between sexuality and the union of Christ and the church, Paul also recognized the inherent power of the sex drive. While he advocated celibacy as a general norm, he also advised that it is "better to marry than to be aflame with passion" (1 Cor. 7:9).
Points to Ponder
The closeness of religion to sexuality is illustrated in the practices of many ancient and pagan religions, in which some form of sexual activity was tied to the temple worship of the gods.
Sex is the ultimate physical expression of human love. That is why we talk about it as the consummation of marriage. It is a kind of sacrament in which the physical action points to the deeper reality. Apart from love and its inherent demand of fidelity, sex can stain, tear, and even destroy the fabric of human relationships.
St. Augustine "So if you can manage it, you shouldn't touch your partner, except for the sake of having children."
Woody Allen "Love is the answer. But while you're waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions."
G.K. Chesterton "Sex is an instinct that produces an institution; and it is positive and not negative, noble and not base, creative and not destructive, because it produces this institution. That institution is the family; a small state or commonwealth which has hundreds of aspects, when it is once started, that are not sexual at all. It includes worship, justice, festivity, decoration, instruction, comradeship, repose. Sex is the gate of that house; and romantic and imaginative people naturally like looking through a gateway. But the house is very much larger than the gate. There are indeed a certain number of people who like to hang about the gate and never get any further."
G.K. Chesterton "The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God."
"The Message" by Eugene Peterson "There is more to sex than mere skin to skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, `The two shall become one' . . . We must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever — the kind of sex that can never "become one." There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for `becoming one' with another."
|Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.|