The Church and Sex
A friend posted the following link on the ubiquitous facebook: “$28-Billion-Crime: New film shows the dark connection between sex addiction and sex trafficking.” I had to really think through whether and how to cover this deep of a subject without diluting it by overhype or platitudes. The topic of sex and sexual sin is both over- and under-exposed in the Church. Because the topic seems so private, it can be hard to realize the global implications of one’s personal choices.
C.S. Lewis put the topic of lust and pornography in his typically unique way by comparing it to gluttony. He described both hunger and the sex drive as natural God-given aspects of being corporeally human, yet, we would think it quite odd for someone to drop a coin in a machine to have pictures of a roast turkey or ice cream or pizza pop up in a titillating fashion for a few seconds before disappearing until the arrival of the next coin. Such a person would rightly be viewed as mentally unstable or not quite right in the head, needing professional help. Why would we consider porn any different?
It is, in some ways, but Lewis is fundamentally correct. Sexual issues are more relational, so involve other people, even in one’s thoughts. Thus, it does have a broader impact. Also, eating is often a communal activity, a sign of fellowship with others and celebrated publicly. Sex is quite the opposite and for good reason. However, it is fundamentally a biological drive like eating or sleeping, so looking at it in this way helps take away some of the weird notions we tend to give it.
In the Church, there are a variety of responses to the topic. Certain sexual issues have celebrity status if you will, gaining special attention and usually notoriety. Others seem to get tacit approval by the vast amount of silence spent on them. We have ranked them in terms of acceptability or heinousness.
How does God view sex? He created it for one thing. “Why” is the more important question. When you understand why God created sex and marriage, there is a very good chance you will never think of the topic in the same way again.
Regardless of whether you take Genesis 1-3 as literal (in some fashion) or a nice story to illustrate some spiritual principles, there are some real spiritual issues God is trying to communicate to us. (Important aside: God reveals Himself as a He in Scripture for specific reasons. It is not because the Hebrews were a patriarchal society—God is big enough to dictate otherwise if being portrayed primarily in the feminine was important. As both masculinity and femininity come from His nature, by choosing to relate to us in a primarily paternal manner instead of neuter or maternal, He is communicating something to us. It would be wise to pay attention.)
By creating humanity last, He is showing that we are the goal of Creation, the main point. Furthermore, by creating Adam first, He is telling a story. Adam was created and after looking throughout Creation, there was not a fit helper for him. Through Adam, God is telling us about Himself. In all of His Creation, He had not found anyone with whom He could relate in the spiritual intimacy He desired.
So, for Adam, God created Eve, who represents all of humanity to Adam’s God. In case anyone might miss this point, Scripture is careful to point out that Adam named his wife Eve because she was to be the mother of all humanity. In a literary sense, she is the human race.
Thus, we see that Adam and Eve are a type that represents God and humanity, and their marital intimacy is the most intimate demonstration of relationship we have. This is no accident because God is trying to make it crystal clear to us that this is the depth of intimacy He wants with us on a spiritual level. Next to the Sabbath, marriage is actually the last thing God creates in the Genesis week. Typically the last things are the most important, and what we are to remember most. Marriage and marital sex are holy and sacred because they are designed to be the best and clearest picture of God’s desire for us. What’s more, it is a universal picture accessible to all of humanity, not just the Judeo-Christians. And within those faiths, the picture is made even more obvious by the imagery of Israel as God’s wife and the Church as Christ’s Bride. He really wants us to get this picture in our heads.
If that is the case, then it makes sense that anything that distorts that picture is going to be opposed severely and strongly by God. He speaks out against all of it, consistently and equally throughout Scripture. When we assign degrees of badness to departures from this picture, it is inconsistent with God’s message and we contribute to the distortion, pain and hurt of those involved and the culture as a whole.
To get back to the original article, another puzzle piece falls into place when we look at one of the main problems with porn and sex trafficking being how it objectifies women, treating them as less than human. Remember, Eve (and with her, all women) is the literary type for humanity. When we objectify women, we are devaluing humanity as a whole.
As long as the Church turns a blind eye, corporately and individually, to porn addiction, she acknowledges and tacitly agrees that the humanity Christ died for isn’t worth it.
As faculty, we have the opportunity to educate our students about human worth. Our students have their hormones at full throttle, and the connection isn’t obvious, but the habits they (especially the guys) form in college have a sneaky way of persisting through life. If we can at least give them something to think about human worth in a new way, then perhaps the deceptiveness of porn can become more obvious to them sooner. It doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be a Sunday School lesson, it just needs to be an additional thing to consider along with the other cultural messages they receive. The Holy Spirit will take care of the seed. We just need to plant it.