Sex, Love, and Intimacy

The news is rife with stories of sexual abuse.  Many of these actions have resulted in punishment by civil authorities.  Many Christians “criminalize” sex actions using the Bible as a law book.  The Bible is rather a storybook of relationships between fellow humans; relationships between humans and God; and also the love relationships within God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Bible says, “God is love”, yet many Christians treat sexual matters as if they were settled by citing a law – ignoring Jesus and ignoring the Trinity.  Here are two examples:  1) In discussing sex and marriage with a fellow Christian I mentioned something about the custom of cohabitation before marriage.   The man said, “Yes, the Bible does speak of fornication as a sin.”  All that this man needed to know was that fornication is a sin – and he interpreted sin as lawbreaking.   2) In a discussion with two Christian fathers of two families I was asked, “Do you think abortion is murder?”   I was given only two choices – “yes” or “no”.  I couldn’t answer the question because my wife had to abort an ectopic pregnancy.   If we were talking about an abortion because of thoughtless sex, I might say, “Yes, in that situation, abortion would be murder.”  But I would want to say more than that.  I would want to bring love relationships into my answer – horizontal relationships between the man and the woman and vertical relationships between the couple and God.

I think that many non-Christians, and even Christians, don’t know or appreciate the God we worship.    Christian writer Philip Yancy says this:  “On our own, would any of us come up with the notion of a God who loves and yearns to be loved? has never been a normal way of describing what happens between human beings and their God. Not once does the Qur'an apply the word love to God. Aristotle stated bluntly, ‘It would be eccentric for anyone to claim that he loved Zeus’—or that Zeus loved a human being, for that matter. In dazzling contrast, the Christian Bible affirms, ‘God is love’ and cites love as the main reason Jesus came to earth:” (“Unwrapping Jesus”, Christianity Today, June 17, 1996)

Note the last line: Love is “the main reason Jesus came to earth”.  Love is also the reason God created humanity.  In the Genesis creation story, the first directive that God said to the first man and woman was, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  (Gen 2:24)   This verse is quoted five times in the New Testament.  This verse is much more that the first “sex education”.  In the words “one flesh” we have the image of a word that is more radical than the word “love”.  Love can be in one direction, as in “I love chocolate”.    The “one flesh” expression denotes intimacy, and that is a better expression of marital love and love between God and humans.

Furthermore, God displays intimacy within the Triune God – the Father-Son-Holy-Spirit-God.  The whole 8th chapter of Paul’s letter to Rome is full of “intimacy talk” – intimacy between the Trinity and humanity. 

This verse from Romans 8 shows intimacy in all our praying:  “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  (Verse 26)  God is all about intimacy. That truth is the core of the Gospel.  The word “Gospel” means  “good news”.

It’s too late for the people who have been recently demoted from positions of power due to sexual indiscretions.   For parents of young people, it is not too late.  If parents “lay down the law” on sexual matters, they may have some success in passing on their values.  But I am praying that parents will pass on the Gospel to the next generation – and seceding generations afterward – so that what Isaiah wrote centuries ago will come to pass:  “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

Published in the Wisconsin Dells Events newspaper Oct 4, 2018