I have to admit that lately, I've been thinking a lot about sex... Wait!
let me rephrase that.
I've been contemplating several discussions which I've been involved in recently that have to do with sex, and sexuality, on several different levels.
Yeah... That sounds better.
The topic of sex, or sexuality, just seems to be one of those things that always makes an appearance in conversations among friends. It has been discussed between JT
, 'becca and myself during our Tuesday Night Chats
. It has been seriously spoken of (as well as seriously joked
about) by my co-workers and I. There is even an on-going discussion of such matters between Faith
and me - selected excerpts
of which can be read at her Search For God
blog. And among the conversations which I've been having, I've noticed that the topic of sex just seems to elicit so many varying thoughts and attitudes. But there is one thing in particular that I find to be most intriguing. Of all the things that we recognize as being a sin, or sinful, we are most contentious with God over His rules regarding sex.
I've noticed that if you make a quick list of, shall we say "popular", or "common" sins, most of us have no problem admitting that many of the acts that are listed are sins. Likewise, we are usually willing to admit that we've engaged in that sin, and are sorry for it, acknowledging our sinfulness and a genuine desire to repent of it. We have no problem with the idea that we're supposed to stop doing that particular sin after we've repented of it. Still, for some odd reason, we don't respond the same way when it comes to sex. I've noticed that people get defensive about their sexual behaviors. People tend to try to justify their sexual sins. And I've been wondering why that is.
While I certainly agree that sex is natural, and it is a good thing. And I also agree that sex is something that can be enjoyed for it's own sake, and not always for the sole purpose of propagating the species. I also believe that we exhaust too much of our intellectual energy to defend our shortcomings on this subject.
We are constantly bombarded by "studies" from scientists, and psychologists, on why we look for certain types of people to partner with. We see every major "womens" magazine at the checkout counter flaunting "How to..." articles on the topic. And all of it so that we can say "See! It's only natural for us to be this way!". BULL!!! We are being conditioned. We're having our egos stroked, and our consciences soothed for behaviors that we recognize as being sinful.
It's easy to look at most of the other "popular", or more obvious, sins and recognize why they are sins. Nobody likes to be lied to. Nobody wants to be cheated. Nobody enjoys having their belongings stolen. And we all agree that the unwarranted taking of another human life is plainly wrong. But the issue of sex isn't quite so easy to explain. Believe me, if I had a nickle for every time I've heard someone ask the question "But why
is it a sin?", I'd be retired by now.
It is unfortunate that many Christians are unable to answer this question in a fashion that is satisfactory to the person who is asking. While many Christians are willing to accept the Bible at face value, and believe what it says as true, most non-Christians are not so easily persuaded. We need a better answer than "Because, God said so.". It's not so simple for unbelievers, and it shouldn't be for Christians either.
When you consider the other sins that we commonly find ourselves wrapped up in, we see that they all require a certain amount of intellectual direction. They are not so impulsive, or instinctual, as our sexual appetite. We lie because we either want to "protect" someone from the pain of something that they may not want to hear. Or we do it to "protect" ourselves from having to deal with an unfavorable situation. We steal, or cheat, because we have a desire to possess something that doesn't already belong to us. But our desire for sex comes from somewhere deeper inside of us. It is stimulated by something that can't always be explained, at least not on the surface. It is primal. It doesn't come from our intellect, but from our instincts. And while we may expend a great deal of our intellect trying to respond to that urge, it is that urge that separates our sexual sins from all of the rest. Our sexual sins reduce us to our basest nature.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:18 "... he that sins sexually sins against his own body.". He then reminds us in the next verse that our bodies are temples. So, what is Paul getting at in this passage?
He is reminding us that we are not base creatures. We are not mere animals acting on our instincts. We are more than that. We are made in the image of God. We have been given intellect, and freewill, by which we are to make intelligent decisions regarding our lives and how we conduct ourselves. We aren't meant to simply act upon our instinctive natural impulses in the same way that animals do. Especially not those of us who are believers. Believers are told "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2). But this position, or a similar one, can be applied to respond to evolutionary thought as well.
If our intellect, and our ability to reason, are the pinacle of millions of years of human evolution, then why would we want to allow ourselves to be ruled by our most primal desires? We can see in the animal kingdom how they are ruled by their instincts. They hunt for food only when they are hungry. They kill only when they have to. And their sexual instinct is based upon such things as the scent that a female gives off, or by the changing of the seasons, and almost exclusively for procreation. We, however, are supposed to be above that.
So, why would God want for us to retain a standard of sexual purity if our desires are only natural? Perhaps it is because we have the wherewithal to do so. Unlike the animals, which are simply responding to their instincts, the scent or seasons, we have the ability to reason, and the intellect to bring our bodies under our own self-control. Whether we do so to honor God, in whose image we are created, or because it is the perfect demonstration of our evolved status. Shouldn't we be willing to put greater effort into meeting that higher standard, instead of trying to hide behind excuses?
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't have this battle won yet. I am probably the least likely person to be addressing this issue, but then again - who better than someone who's going through the hard struggle.
I have to admit that I'm not happy with the rules myself. After 17 years of marriage, I've grown fond
of sex. But now that my marriage is coming to an end, I have to deal with the fact that sex is now off-limits to me. And that really sucks!
Still, I'll make the effort to stay pure... for as long as God wants me to. Even though I know that I'll probably have my fair share of slip-ups and failures. But I know that there is grace enough for such failings, but I have to be willing to admit that I failed, and not just dismiss those failures as "only natural"
Labels: faith, Reflection