Christian Idolatry of Sex
Recently my Pastor, Steve Fry, shared a 4-part sermon series entitled: God’s Thoughts on Sexuality, Intimacy and a Whole New World of Pleasure (I highly recommend). At the end of his second sermon, during a responsive ministry time, he paused and shared something incredibly profound (no surprise, when you know Steve). Here’s what he said:
Jesus is the perfect example of a man who never experienced sex; and who of us would say that He did not lead the most fulfilling life possible?
This reflection on Jesus’ life gripped me. It exposed a falsehood I didn't know I carried. It was as though a plumb line dropped straight into my heart revealing hidden and imbalanced sexualized values, reminding me of something that I knew was true intellectually but didn’t truly believe practically:
True fulfillment in life does not necessarily require sex.
I confess, I have believed the lie that sex is a necessary ingredient of a truly fulfilled life. While I have never affirmed that statement outright, I have certainly embraced it internally--there is evidence for that. I was the teenage christian praying that Jesus wouldn’t return until after I got married (and had sex!). Full disclosure, as a married adult I have, at times (even recently), marveled how some single adult christian friends have made it without sex. I see now what I was doing in that: I was interpreting their journey through the lens of my own idolatry of sex.
Equating fulfillment in life with sexual experience is sign of an idolatrous view of sex. It is idolatrous because it means we have elevated sexual pleasure to the highest place—where only God belongs.
Jesus’ model of total fulfillment without sexual experience not only reproves us by exposing an idolatry of sex; it corrects us by realigning us to radical hope—a supernatural expectation that yielding to the kingdom of God means ABUNDANT LIFE, regardless of sexual experience. Afterall, Jesus is the most joyful human ever (Heb. 1:9) and he's never had sex. Abundant life is not reserved for the heterosexual married christian elite who enjoy an active sex life; it is available to every Jesus-follower in every season of life!
Young people who, during very hormonal years, are continually challenged by idolatrous ideas about sex;
Single adults who hope to marry and are in waiting;
Those who have embraced a life of celibacy (including those who have chosen celibacy due to same sex attraction);
Divorced and widowed individuals who may or may not wish to marry;
Married professionals who, by virtue of their job, are apart from their spouse often and continually need grace for sexual purity and fidelity;
- Married couples who, for health reasons, are unable to enjoy sex.
Jesus’ model strengthens us as we pursue sexual purity and renews us with the promise of freedom, peace and joy (Rom. 14:17). As well, Jesus’ model shows us that we have been created for many pleasures in life that do not involve sex. These pleasures (often marked by what scripture calls “blessed”) are unique to the christian experience; we would be wise to seek them!
The pleasures of God’s presence (Ps. 16:11; 27:4; 46:4).
The pleasures of hearing God in His word (Ps. 19:7–10; 119:14–16; Jer. 15:16).
The pleasures of true unity with other believers (Ps. 133; Acts 2:42–47).
The pleasures of intimacy with God (Ps. 16:5-6, 8-9; 63:1-8; Jn. 15:1–11).
The pleasures of a life aligned to God’s ways (Matt. 5:2–12).
The pleasures of generosity (Lk. 6:38; Acts 20:35).
The pleasure of partnering with God in His mission in the world (Lk. 10:17; 2 Cor. 5:16—6:10).