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People were created in God’s image. This means most basically that everything about people in the order of creation is to be a picture of God in God’s relationship with His creation. By inserting His own image into His creation, God not only receives glory for creation but also in creation. In Genesis 1:28, we read that God instructed His image to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Sex was the method God designed to fill the earth with His own image for His own glory. Everything about this relationship between man and woman was to glorify God and perpetuate the image of God in God’s own creation for God’s glory, even down to the physiology of the man and woman.
The questions arise, how does the act of sex glorify God, and what does the act of sex reveal about God for His glory alone?
Sex is obviously seen in the Bible as a glorious, beautiful, desirable, pleasurable, and satisfying thing. It is something that people long for. King Solomon even wrote an erotic poem that was included in God’s Scripture. I often wonder how I will preach Solomon’s Song when we get there walking through Scripture because we are to receive the whole counsel of Scripture. That book would be rated “X” or have the “Explicit” label on the front of the case.
The act of sex reveals much about God’s own character and much about God’s relationship with His creation. Please don’t read too much into that statement and please refrain from those childish snickers. God is not a pervert. God is not sexual with His creation. God is sovereign. He is transcendent. We were given sex so that we might understand something about God’s eternal character. Unfortunately, we are oblivious to this fact because the only message we heard from the church while growing up was, “Don’t have sex! Don’t be sexual. Definitely don’t be homosexual or transexual!” Sex was a bad word, and because we weren’t taught how sex glorifies and reveals God most of us were left to experiment on our own, using sex to try and glorify or exalt ourselves. I know because there was a time when I was addicted to the drug of pornography. By grace God brought me out of that and for a long time, even after I got married, I did not really enjoy sex. God also rescued me from that. The sexual confusion of our day, which almost every person now suffers in a different way, is the fault of the church because God’s explicit Scripture wasn’t taught. It is also the fault of those who suffer any number of sexual confusions because we did not look to God’s explicit word to discover the absolute beauty of sex. Instead, we listened to philosophers and activists while ignoring the warnings of psychology and while contradicting even our own sciences in order to find some type of satisfaction. It became about our happiness and our own pleasure.
Shall we think about the real beauty of sex? In Genesis 1-2, we see the story of creation. God created one man. From the man He created one woman. God established marriage and instructed the man and woman to multiply and fill the earth. In this text we learn something about the role of the man and the woman. For a fuller exposition on these roles please click here or watch the sermon below.
How the Bible describes men:
- Men are created by God,
- to represent His authority in creation,
- to steward and cultivate creation,
- being the glory of God in creation,
- so that all of creation might dwell in God’s glory alone.
Biblical manhood is about self-sacrifice, selflessness, and leading all of creation to know God more and to dwell in His glory. If Jesus sacrificed Himself for the redemption of His creation and men are the glory of God in His creation, then we are to give up our preferences, comfort, and our very lives for the redemption of the world, especially our wives.
How the Bible describes women:
- Created by God from man
- to be a companion to man,
- to be man’s suitable helper in cultivating creation,
- as his equal,
- to represent the wonder of all creation,
- as the object of God’s redemptive and unconditional love.
What makes a woman a woman is that she is the picture of creation’s relationship to the God of the universe, and the way that a woman is built physiologically is purposefully done in order to enable her to fulfill God’s design in God’s own creation for the Glory of God alone.
Sex is a parable
If everything about the human person, including the physiology of men and women, is a picture of God, then everything that God designed people to do reveals God’s character.
The sheer beauty of any sexual relationship cannot be realized outside of the everlasting commitment of a man to a woman. If God is patient and kind and if God Himself loves unconditionally and keeps His people secure in Christ, then this revelation is the most important aspect of any marital relationship. This is why Scripture states that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). God has been faithful to His people from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-8) and men are designed to be, in marriage, the explicit picture of God’s faithfulness to God’s chosen people (Hosea 2:23). Women are designed, in marriage, to be the picture of Christ’s bride or the church (Ephesians 5:22-30). This is why the commitment of marriage precedes sexual activity in the Biblical worldview. Without a firm resolve toward this sort of relentless, patient-enduring, forgiving, and redeeming love, sex is nothing more than a temporary pleasure.
There are many advantages, then, to marrying young according to the Biblical worldview. How can we possibly be the picture of God relentless, patient-enduring, and redeeming love as married couples if we are only committed for the short-term or if we are more concerned with our own careers or with living it up while we are young? Furthermore, how can we possibly be the image of God’s relationship with His creation if we have multiple sexual partners or if we unsex ourselves in any number of ways?
We committed a great crime against God when we made sexual purity about our working to stand blameless before God. Salvation is by grace and only achieved by God’s righteousness for His glory. Commitment and purity in marriage is a picture of this salvation by grace, not a means to earn some form of salvation or righteousness. For those who do sin sexually, we see in God’s design for sex that people are saved by grace because God has this sort of committed love for His chosen people. God alone redeems His people. Marriage is not a picture of works-based righteousness but a clear and perlocutionary picture of God’s amazing grace, particularly His saving grace that is for His bride.
Song of Solomon is almost all foreplay. There is a man who dotes upon the woman he loves, compliments her beauty as he describes it in detail, and even speaks using sexual innuendoes. The man, who represents God’s faithfulness and pursuit of His bride, pursues the woman he loves and draws her to himself in a very sexual way.
As I stated before, God is not sexual with His creation or with His people. Sex is a parable. In this parable, foreplay represents God’s endless and relentless wooing of His chosen people. The Gospel is such that God chooses a people for Himself (Ephesians 1:4) and that God does not lose any of those He has chosen for Himself (John 6:39, 18:9). God creates our yearning for Him and He satisfies that yearning in salvation, sanctification, and ultimately glorification.
The man’s sexual pursuit of the woman is a parable of God’s redemptive pursuit of His elect.
We were designed to be stimulated by nakedness. Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden and they felt no shame. When we are naked with our perspective partners alone, we are drawn even more to each other. Every wrinkle, every imperfection, every spot, every part, every proportion, every sound, and every insecurity is laid out before another. While the world tells us we “have to perform” or that our partner “has to perform,” we find that we are actually at the mercy and grace of our perspective partners.
This is part of the sex parable. Again, God is not sexual. He is not stimulated by our physical nakedness. We are exposed before God. All of our sin and shame is laid out before Him and we are at His mercy. As God takes every sin and every inadequacy upon Himself, we are drawn to Him more and more by His grace and mercy. This is the picture of sanctification and God is pleased to take our sin and shame upon Himself (Isaiah 53:10). As a result He will justify the many as He bears their iniquities (Isaiah 53:11). This is what brings satisfaction to God (Isaiah 53:11).
I think that our first downfall is not that we pursue sex in ways that are unwholesome. Our first downfall is that we make sex out to be all about our pleasure. I heard it said once that men are microwaves and women are ovens. If men are having sex to be pleasured, women will always be left wanting and couples will always be thinking about the insufficiencies of the other. Instead, we see Biblically that true, unadulterated, sex is a selfless act. It has nothing to do with our preferences and everything to do with practicing and putting on display the redemptive love of God as described above. This is why both the Old and New Testaments speak so explicitly in opposition to types of sexual relationships that have so much to do with the selfish preferences of people who assume that sex is merely about their pleasure. In reality, sex is the most selfless and sacrificial act that is regularly practiced in the context of marriage. If men are concerned with redeeming their wives, they have to keep going even when the microwave beeps. The woman, who was created to be the picture of redeemed creation, are submitted to the sexually redeeming work of the man.
I understand the temptation to be self-satisfying by masturbating and by using the new drug, pornography. The reason this is so deplorable is not only because it objectifies women, but because the Gospel, which is the picture painted in the parable of sex, states that we cannot be self redeeming or self-righteous. God is to receive all glory. This truth is worth repeating: This is the picture of sanctification and God is pleased to take our sin and shame upon Himself (Isaiah 53:10). As a result He will justify the many as He bears their iniquities (Isaiah 53:11). This is what brings satisfaction to God (Isaiah 53:11).
Sex, not the most important thing
God works all things together, this includes the parable of selfless, beautiful, pure, and holy sex, not only for His glory but for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). God is glorified in His own redemptive work. Our ultimate satisfaction is in Him. The pinnacle of human existence and satisfaction is not sex, though the world might have us believe that it is. The pinnacle of human existence and satisfaction is redemption- the glory of God (represented by the man in a sexual relationship) and the fulfillment of our every longing (represented by the woman). Sex is the parable. Redemption is the eternal truth coming from God’s own character and established in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
Where we fail in divorce, self-satisfaction, or selfishness, God’s redemptive love has already redeemed His people in Christ. If we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). If we fail to represent God’s perfect redemption, God Himself redeems His people. That is the point of redemption. That is the point of the true Gospel. This is why when there is an attack against the true Gospel, there is always also an attack against the Biblical view of sexuality.