Not a Grey Area: Why Biblical Sexuality is Private, But Not Prudish
Sex is a tough topic for Christians. Still, Christians (and non-Christians, too, for that matter) need to know the biblical teaching about it. The difficulty lies in finding the line between being private, prudish, and perverse. Between being too vague and too vulgar. However, the secular culture should not own the conversation about sex and sexuality. Christian singles and married couples need to know God’s exciting and proven plan for sexuality.
For today’s youth, what was once considered taboo and odd sexual behavior is quickly becoming not just subtly acceptable, but embraced in mainstream media through movies and books. The truth is that movies and books like 50 Shades of Grey are simply the tip of the iceberg for what future generations of Christian couples will face and be told is “normative” and “healthy sexual behavior.” Christianity has a rich teaching tradition about sexuality—all rooted in the Scriptures—because God created human sexuality and sex as a very good thing between husband and wife. But oftentimes the problem in communicating this is that Christians must be private in order to protect God’s sacred gift of sex and sexuality.
We can join other Christians in reclaiming God’s vision for sex and sexuality. We can start by drawing a line between what the world says is true of “healthy sexual behavior” and what God’s says is true. The following is what I believe to be unique and key distinctions between biblical and worldly sexuality. This is by no means an exhaustive list distinguishing the two, but is rather my own attempt at contributing to a discussion that I believe we desperately need to have.
1. Private, Not Prudish
I’m afraid many look at the private nature of Christian sexuality and confuse being private with being prudish. Just to be clear, God made sex and it is good. Subsequently, sex is not something that believers should be ashamed of, embarrassed about, or silent on. However, one of the things that characterizes the marriage relationship is how beautifully unique each marriage is. The way God takes two individuals and somehow turns them into one flesh is a profound mystery that extends beyond a physical connection (Eph 5:22-33). Married Christian couples do not share specifics of their intimacy because they are ashamed or embarrassed of their relationship, but rather because to share would cheapen and compromise the very nature of their relationship. This level of intimacy within healthy Christian marriages creates a type of excitement that cannot be recreated in any other way. Sharing details about private aspects of any relationship compromises the unique bond between the two individuals. And while there are legitimate times which couples must confide in others about intimate parts of their marriage, it should always be done in a way that still honors and cherishes the private nature of their intimacy.
In other words, healthy Christian sexuality recognizes and prioritizes the need for privacy in a marriage relationship because privacy makes way for better intimacy.
2. Private – and Permanent
The world is lying to us and devastating lives by declaring a great separation between physical intimacy and emotional intimacy. There is no physical unity that does not bring with it emotional unity—for either health or harm. God designed your marriage to be permanent—a covenant that cannot be broken. God wants you and your spouse to be a one-flesh union. You are emotionally and physically tied to your spouse.
The reality of physical intimacy is that it was designed to give way and foster emotional intimacy; and vice versa. God designed physical intimacy to work in such a way that the more you are physically intimate with someone, the more you will become emotionally connected to them. Within a marriage relationship, this is a wonderful blessing! Sex was created to be a good thing, but only within the context of a marriage relationship.
When there is true commitment, there is freedom to go to the deepest levels of intimacy because the relationship frees you from fear and embarrassment.
Like Adam and Eve who were not ashamed of the intimate nature of their relationship, biblical sexuality does not shy away from emotional and physical intimacy, which augment each other.
3. Private, Not Perverse
“Perverse” is an uncomfortable word, but our culture is presenting perversions of sex and sexuality as titillating behavior. The culture is promoting perverse methods of sexual domination and humiliation as ways to rejuvenate one’s sex life and sexuality. This is utterly and completely antithetical to any healthy and fulfilling relationship. When the private nature of our sexuality and marriage bed leads to difficulties, we should seek Christian counsel not the world’s counsel.
From a biblical perspective, Genesis 1-3 clearly teaches that both the husband and the wife were created in the full image of God. Both husband and wife are due a high level of honor and respect within the marriage relationship. The temporary pleasure the world may offer through perverted practices are shallow and empty. More than that, we must always remember that Satan is a liar; always out to steal and destroy (Jn 8:44). The devil’s version of sexuality—in whatever shape or form is popular of the day—is always the original lie from Eden—“Did God really say that? Does God not want what is best for you?” (Gen 3:1-6)
God’s truth tells us in Genesis 1-3 that man and woman were created in equal value and worth, while still being different from each other. God’s truth also shows us in Song of Solomon that there is great pleasure to be found in those differences.
Satan desperately wants people to believe that Christian intimacy is dull and lackluster because when Christian couples embrace God’s plan for marriage—including his design for sex—they begin reflecting Christ in a way that is powerful, profound, and mysterious (Eph 5).
The realities of the world that new young couples are growing up in necessitate that Christian men and women stand and speak to what is true of biblical sexuality. In a culture where families and marriages are so blatantly under attack, it’s time that Christians speak God’s truth regarding His plan for His children. It’s time Christians take back sex and sexuality as God’s creation for His children.