God’s Good Gift of Sex
“Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable” 1 Thessalonians 4:4
When our middle son was about four years old, he intentionally climbed on top of the stove to reach a high cupboard where we kept the Flintstone vitamins. Our son liked those Flintstone vitamins. And while he knew he wasn’t supposed to be in that cabinet, those little vitamins were loaded with sugar and they tasted mighty good.
So he ate about 20 of them. They were sure good going down. And they were sure colorful, but not so good coming back up. He was one sick little boy.
Sometimes we’re tempted to treat sex that way. It just seems so tempting, too good to resist, so we get into places we know we shouldn’t be. And it feels so good and so right. Satan whispers in our ear that we deserve it, that we’re not really hurting anyone. We don’t need to wait until we’re married. Our spouse isn’t taking care of our needs. And so we take the bait. And we wind up sick, sin-sick, and broken. It broke my heart to see my four year-old son throwing up those vitamins. And it breaks the heart of God to see his beloved creation abuse his good gift of sex and wind up sin-sick and broken.
Sex is an incredible gift from God, a gift given for procreation and our enjoyment. But this wonderful gift is also incredibly powerful, so powerful that God in his infinite love for us has provided some instructions, some boundaries around the gift because he knew that being selfish people we would be tempted to use this gift for our own selfish purposes. He knew that on our own we would use the gift of sex for destructive and harmful purposes – purposes that the gift-giver never intended.
It’s because of that very tendency that God has graciously given us some guidelines – not to spoil our fun or our desire to have children, but to help us experience God’s gift of sex for us. These guidelines include things like establishing emotional intimacy and a life-long commitment to one another before committing oneself sexually. Some people hear that guideline and think it’s restrictive, but it’s no more restrictive than a parent telling a young child not to play in the street. They are for our safety so that we might experience God’s best. And I’ve learned from experience what a gift these guidelines are.
I have counseled couples whose relationship was based mostly on sex, so when the challenges of the first couple of years of marriage came along, they discovered that they had not built a strong enough relational foundation to weather the storms.
I’ve known people who have had affairs outside of marriage which not only destroyed their families, but also transmitted life-threatening or debilitating diseases to their spouse.
I’ve known people who had sexual partners before marriage and found their marital sex life hindered because they could not help but compare their spouse with previous partners. I’ve seen the same thing happen when people indulge in pornography.
I’ve known married people who have twisted sex into a tool of power or merely personal gratification, and have damaged their relationship.
God has placed boundaries around sex, not to restrict our pleasure or our ability to have children of our own, but because he loves you and me far too much to allow us to risk hurting ourselves with something so powerful and precious.
Sex is a good gift, and it’s wonderful and powerful stuff. Let’s use it well. Let’s use it in ways that honor the Gift-giver. We can trust that the One who gives this gift will also provide power, grace, and forgiveness to those who wrestle with self-control, and those who lose the battle. We would do well to walk alongside one another with encouragement, accountability, and lots of grace in this area of our lives. People who are well-connected relationally with others, who love and care for them, people who are emotionally whole, tend to make much better decisions about using God’s good gift of sex.
Bringing It Home
1. How are you doing at being a good steward of God’s good gift of sex? Consider not only your body, but your heart, mind and eyes.
2. Do you know someone who has been broken by a misuse God’s good gift of sex? Pray that God will bring them healing and hope.
Father, thank you for providing for human procreation and pleasure, and for loving us enough to put boundaries around your good gift of sex. Help me to be a good steward of this gift. Protect me in times of temptation. Fill me with your power and self-control, and surround me with people who will graciously hold me accountable to a way of living that honors and glorifies you. This I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, MN