Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sex As Salvation

Some things in my life lately have caused me to reflect a lot on the issue of sex. Some of the reflections have been personal, and some of them have been sort of mental commentary on things I have seen on television or heard discussed from others. Sex can certainly be a touchy topic, but before I get to it, let me back up first and lay a little ground-work.

A bit of truth that has hit really home with me is that we, as humans, have a deep insecurity inside which causes us to constantly seek to justify ourselves. It is undoubtedly an artifact of the fall -a sense of inner shame combined with our active rebellion against God ("I want to live apart from you, God. I want to define myself and my worth apart from you, God.") and the scars we experience in this life from our own sins and the sins of others.

This inner craving to self justify expresses itself in many ways. We are professional at creating mini self-salvation systems: schemes we devise or live by to fill the empty, undeniable holes that exist in our soul and say aloud, and to ourselves, "I am OK. I matter. I am someone. I have worth!"

We believe the enemy's lies that our worth or "OK-ness" is built upon our performance and/or the opinion of others. If we are Christians, we know we can't work our way to heaven, yet we live like we need to work to establish ourselves in our eyes, everyone else's eyes, and God's eyes more than we know. In other words, although we are certainly saved through faith in Christ (it is not the perfection or strength of our faith which saves but Christ's perfect work which faith clings to), we live as though we don't believe the Gospel in many areas of our lives. We still don't really believe we are "OK" as humans.

So, we end up slaves, and often we don't know it. We live in a perpetual court-room, trying to evade the emptiness within by performing more, avoiding failure like the plague, trying to please certain people in our lives or seek their approval at any cost, and seeking out things to make us feel important, special, desired, pretty, significant, worthy, justified. "If I do this, I am OK." "If this person is pleased with me this time, I will be OK." "If I fail, I need to find a way to succeed, or I will never be OK." We endlessly plead our case, and it never works. Often our tune changes to, "I am hopeless, and things will never change." The enemy has us right where he wants us... ignoring the fact that our case has already been settled in court by a bloody cross and an empty tomb.

Sex is one of those things we pervert and use as a self-salvation system. Maybe it is how some guys high-five when they "hook up" with some "chick" or pat themselves on the back after a dry patch by going out and sleeping with some girl, later glorying in their sexual accomplishment and performance. Maybe it is how some girls view certain men as a conquest, because not only does the experience promise to be pleasurable, but that guy is "so hot" that it would make them feel very good and pretty about themselves. Quite an achievement!

On the opposite end of the spectrum silently live people who are terrified of sex. The problem is the same, though. They have bought into the lie that sex is a means to self-justify or prove oneself to be a "man" or "woman." They have bought the lie that sex is a means of defining oneself as having worth. So, due to some bad relationships, bad sexual experiences, or simply a fear of not measuring up to some nebulous standard or opinion, sex is gutted of its true meaning as the lie enslaves one more person, causing them, this time, to resent sex, awkwardly flee from it, and withdraw from sexual intimacy. This kinda of thing may not be shown and glorifed on television and amongst friends like the former manifestation of "sex as salvation," but again the issue is the same.

Sex was never meant to be a means to establish our identity or worth. The moment we do that, we enslave ourselves and dishonor the Lord. Instead, the God of the universe wants us to turn to Him and listen to and believe how He defines us. In Christ, we are deeply loved, fully accepted, and eternally justified. We are more than OK, and that acceptance is where it truly counts: in the eyes of our Maker, the One who loves us more than any human ever could and the One whose view of us defines everything. The doors to the courtroom have been closed forever. The Lord has won our case, and we are vindicated. We don't need to victimize people, use them as conquests to try to establish our worth, or fear something that God made to be a wonderful expression of intimacy and acceptance between a husband and wife. Believe the truth and resist the lie. Have sex with your spouse, and go wild, because it is meant for your enjoyment, not your justification!