I’ve had a busy night and I have to get up early tomorrow morning. Tonight’s blog is going to be an article I wrote a long time ago called “A Theology of Sex.” It can be found on TheologyWeb also. Enjoy.
Perhaps one of the great developments of modern theology, and a witness to our age, which needs it so desperately, will be a glorious new theology of sex. (Kreeft TGWLY 153)
I was rather pleased when I read that sentence in Kreeft’s book. Kreeft has been a philosopher that has put the finishing touches on something I had pondered for so long. As a Christian, I do not believe God created characteristics of this world on accident, and that includes sexuality. Being a young man thinking about sex, I kept pondering why God did things the way he did and if he’s revealing something of his nature, especially since Scripture is replete of terminology of a marriage relationship such as the bride of Christ and Hosea and Ezekiel 16 and the entire Song of Solomon.
Thus, I am here to present a theology of sex. I will be looking at what I see in the Scriptures and in general revelation. If God is revealing himself in both places, it behooves us to understand what message he is given us. In modern American culture, one would have to be blind to deny that sex is the national obsession. Perchance a good theology of sex will help us realize the beauty that God intended sex to be and the shameful way the world treats it.
Already, some who know me may be raising an objection. “You’re a virgin! What can you tell us about sex?!” At first, this seems to have weight, except that I also parallel sex with Heaven, something else I have not experienced, but I believe through Scriptural revelation and through the desires placed in our heart, such as C.S. Lewis has done in such works as “Surprised By Joy,” we can get clues as to the nature of Heaven. By looking at desire and what little I do know, I could give an alternative view that more parallels mystery and wonder.
To begin with, I would like to suggest that we start talking about what sex is. We often look at it is as something that you do, when in reality, it is something that you are. If you will consider a nun or a monk, both of them are sexual creatures. The nun does all that she does as a woman and the monk does all that he does as a man. That neither of them function in a sexual way does not deprive from either of them being fully male or fully female. We cannot say that the lover on his honeymoon acts and then he becomes a sexual being. He acts, because he is already a sexual being. Thus, I will be referring in the future to the act itself as intercourse and the status of the person as sex.
Now that the terms are defined, it is time to look at where this wonder came from. Christians will agree that sex was first the idea of God. However, could it be that sexuality comes closer to the heart of God than we realize? Could it be that what we consider sexuality is actually an aspect of the nature of God?
Let me be clear to the first argument I anticipate. John 4:24 says that God is Spirit. Are you describing God in physical terms? The problem with such an argument is that it views sex as purely physical. I am not in anyway describing the Trinity as having male or female genitalia. While intercourse is a physical act no doubt, I believe it’s an act of the soul as well. I believe that while there are male and female characteristics of our bodies, we also have souls that are male and female. Based on the doctrine of traducianism, I would say that our bodies are often matched to correspond to our souls.
Is there any biblical evidence for saying that sexuality belongs at the heart of God? There is. In Genesis 1:26-27, we are told that God created man and woman in his image. Christians do not believe that the image is something physical. While there may be differing interpretations, I see the image of God as humanity bearing many attributes of God though in a far lesser sense. We are rational, have a spiritual sense, possess morality, have an implicit understanding of logic, etc. Along these lines, I will include sexuality.
This shouldn’t be a shock. We know that masculinity and femininity is more than how the body is built. One can be a heavyweight bodybuilder and still not be a man at heart. A female could be a supermodel dazzling every male onlooker with her beauty, and still not be a woman at heart. Instead, we see certain traits that embody each gender. For instance, the masculine gender is a warrior gender that longs to be the breadwinner for the woman, to conquer the world for her, to defeat the enemy, and to protect her from all evil. The feminine gender we tend to picture as the caring and sensitive one, the nurturer for the wounded child, the heart for those who are downcast, and the sustainer of life.
All of these characteristics come from God and God put the male and female together with each embodying some of the characteristics that he possesses in unique strength. When we look at God though, we have to realize that while he possess attributes that we would consider masculine and feminine, he also transcends them. I believe that God identifies himself in male roles simply because leadership was to be the responsibility of the man. Having the first person of the Trinity describe himself as Father and the second reveal himself as Son shows us the value that masculinity plays, while not downgrading the role of the feminine.
What do I mean by this? Now is the time to start explaining with romance. The idea of dating is a new phenomenon. However, I do believe that our desires still indicate much of the truth of what God intended. Of course, I can only speak entirely from a guy’s perspective, but this is probably for the best since it will parallel how God pursues his bride in Scripture.
The romance starts with seeing the beauty. Something about her stands out and before too long, one is thinking of Song of Songs 4:7. “You are altogether beautiful my darling, and there is no blemish in you.” The sight of the beauty leads to the desire. Before too long, the beauty is all that can be thought about and every moment of the day is spent wondering what can be done to win over the heart of the beauty. Dante will not allow anyone to tell him that Beatrice is just a peasant girl and neither will the man longing for the desire of his eyes.
For the true man who is seeking to win her heart, while he is no doubt thinking about intercourse, he wants more than that. He can’t describe it. He wants her. He cannot separate her beauty from her or her sexuality from her. It is built into her just as her DNA is. If he just wanted her body, we could present him with a corpse. He wants more. He wants body and soul.
Let us suppose this man is blessed and wins the beauty. What a night this must be! The beauty reveals herself little by little inviting the man to go to places he’s never been before and experience wonders he’s never experienced before. She is ready to trust him and she must be. She has to expose herself fully and make herself vulnerable for the act to be true. Nudity is not essential, but it would lessen the mood as it would make one think that something was being held back. No. Nothing must be held back at this moment.
So, the woman invites the man to come into her. He is invited to release his strength and his life into her and the woman receives with expectation. He gives her all that he has and she willingly receives. The woman does not have to give anything back as simply her trust and love of him is enough. All he asks at that moment is for her.
Such a beautiful scene this is and how it rages up desire within the soul, especially for those of us who still wait for this. We are truly getting a portion of eternity within this moment. Intercourse is a picture of the most powerful commitment on Earth and is a reflection of the love of God. How much we must respect this sacred and holy gift!
Too many today though are not respecting this gift though. Instead, intercourse is seen as merely a tool for pleasure. Indeed, many a man in our society says he is looking for a woman, but that is the last thing he wants to find. He is looking for pleasure and he just wants a female body to be the tool to bring about that pleasure.
I recently thought about this more as I have a situation where I think a friend of mine might be living with his girlfriend. Picture if this is true the pressure each is put under. The woman realizes that she is being tested for marriage so she must perform sexually to please. There is no freedom to be who she is. She has to perform or she doesn’t get the commitment. The man also is lowering himself. Does he just believe that he’s not sure if he can please the woman? Is he not testing himself as well?
Intercourse must take place in the proper order. Trust must be given before there is fellowship. How romantic is it to be giving all of yourself to someone of the opposite sex realizing that they just aren’t willing to commit to you? We cannot reduce sexuality to a mere function. It is the nature of our souls and we only lower ourselves in the process.
Furthermore, consider the spiritual implications. When we split apart the atom, we end up with Hiroshima and Nagasaki ruins. If we cause that much damage in the physical realm for treating physical bonds lightly, will we not suffer for treating spiritual bonds lightly in the spiritual realm? When we come to see sex as sacred though, we will honor it more and hopefully, enjoy it more.
This is truly something beautiful on Earth, but what if we took it further. Consider that in Genesis 2:24, the man and woman are described as echad. In the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4, the same word is used to describe God as one. This refers to a one that is a unity. Unity in diversity in fact, is a strong philosophical argument for belief in the Trinity.
What if this love is a picture of the relationship within the Trinity? We have to remember that we cannot label the persons of the Godhead as purely male or female. Instead, they transcend both. This is where the Filoque clause comes into such importance. The Son we say in Trinitarian theology is eternally begotten. There has always been love going on then between the Father and the Son and from the love of the Father and Son proceeds the Holy Spirit. Is it any wonder that when we have the love of man and woman on Earth, that out of that love proceeds new life?
Thus, the most intimate of relationships on Earth is a picture of the intimate love that goes on in the Trinity. The physical act has a spiritual counterpart. This doesn’t downplay the physical. The physical is good. God created it after all and God has blessed the marriage union within the context of marriages. It should not come as a surprise since it’s picture of the love that we are invited to partake of.
Could this be what our great desire of? Could this be what the human heart entirely is longing for? We are looking for the awesome love of God and too often, are trying to find it in casual intercourse. Even marriage will not totally satisfy this desire, but it will get us closer. Also, if we consider this pleasure as a picture of Heaven while being the experiencing and two persons coming together in union, then we could say that this is a correspondence to Heaven. In the latter case, we desire to be with God and be in him and he in us.
Could it also be that God is showing us some of this in miracles? God is releasing his love into the world and new life comes in as a result. Miracles are indeed heaven sent as God sends his love down to us each time, with the greatest of all taking place in the resurrection, where God showed us exactly how much he loves us and desires to be with us, the strongest of romantic gestures.
We should also learn from this that sex is to be relational. God is relational at his very heart and we should be relational as well. Christianity has no place for someone to be a lone wolf. This would lead to us being confessing Trinitarians and practicing Arians. We are to be relation in our existence as the Trinity is relational.
This also tells us then how to love others which effects how we love sexually. We are to love each other for who they are not for what they do. The Father loves the Son simply because he’s the Son. So, we should love our fellow man simply because they bear the image of God. Today, we often love people based on what they do, a contradiction to what we see in the Trinity.
In conclusion, I would like to suggest that we take sexuality more seriously. We cannot shame this as a disgusting part of the creation. On the other hand, we cannot fully indulge in it carelessly as a small part of our being merely for pleasure. Sex too is a revelation of God and we should thank him for it and enjoy it.