Can there be any connection between these two? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
Generally today, if you talk about religion, you won’t get people’s attention too much. However, once sex enters the picture, people are suddenly interested. At a job I once worked at, I came into the break room one day reading the book “Smart Sex: Lifelong Love In A Hook-Up World” by Jennifer Roback Morse. The books I’d read hadn’t got too much attention but suddenly that day the talk in there was “Nick’s reading a book about sex!”
So what does the resurrection then have to do with the national obsession?
The first place is that as we learned recently, our bodies matter. That means that what you do with the body matters. Paul tells us about this in 1 Cor. 6. Some people were of the mindset that the body will pass away so it does not matter. What you do sexually is not much different from what you eat. Paul is aghast at the very notion! He tells the Corinthians that their bodies are part of the body of Christ. How can one join Christ with a prostitute?
In other words, in the resurrection, one’s whole being is to be caught up in the identity of Christ. It is not just that you give Christ your soul, spirit, what have you, and then your body doesn’t really matter. Your body matters because Christ rose in His body and your body is to rise one day and to be transformed to be fully like His body. Your body should be being prepared for that day just as your soul, spirit, etc. are being prepared. (I use different terminology since I’m sure people have different beliefs on the nature of man in that area. I do not wish to argue for any one at this point)
If your body is to be the body of Christ, you are not to join them with a prostitute. It is important to notice that right after this, Paul does go on to address questions on marriage and despite what some people say, he is not a prude. He does not condemn the coming together of the man and woman. In fact, he says that the husband and wife should only withhold themselves from one another by mutual consent and then to devote themselves to prayer and come back quickly lest they be led astray. In other words, Paul knows how strong the desire is between husband and wife and he does not condemn that desire.
Even more radically, he says that a man’s body belongs to his wife. Of course, that goes the other way as well, but such a thought would have been unheard of in Paul’s time. It was the man alone who were in charge. Now I do hold to the position that a man does lead his household, but the man does not live for himself alone. The man is to live for his wife and that includes living bodily. His sexual energies are to be spent on her.
Just shortly before writing this, I was even debating this with someone who was telling me I should not worry about fantasizing and looking elsewhere. Faithfulness should be a choice and not an obligation. If you are married, faithfulness is an obligation you have chosen. It is not an added bonus. It is essential to your marriage. What good is it for you to say “I have remained sexually faithful to my spouse” in your body, but have not done so in your mind and fantasy life?
Does this take hard work? Absolutely, especially for us men who tend to look for many partners by nature. When we are out together, the Mrs. knows that I will regularly look away at times just so I can make sure that my mind stays pure. I have to be very careful with what I watch on TV and if a program is getting to be too showy at one scene, I can look away or else just cover my eyes at that point. Faithfulness is a choice, it is an obligation, it is a battle, and it is totally worth it.
The resurrection also shows us that sex is not to be avoided as a punishment like the Gnostics would have thought. There is no harm in bringing new life into the world. This does not mean that every married couple will do so or even want to do so, but it certainly means that the Gnostics were wrong in their position. Even those Christian couples who choose to not have children would not say that other couples are ipso facto wrong for wanting to do so.
It also means that since this is part of the creation, and since God is in the business of re-creating through the resurrection, a point we will get to lately, we should celebrate the good gift that He has given. Christians are not to be prudes about sex. There is a time and place to talk about it of course, but we Christians have often acted like we cannot say anything about it. The reality is the non-Christian world has a message about sex just as much as we do and if we do not share our message, then a questioning world will only get one message and it is a message they will be quite eager to hear and obey.
If anything, we should be leading the world in this just as we should in environmentalism. I am not saying we go to results alone, but if the message is true from Christ, the results should be good. If we are the ones that uphold sex as the good gift of the creator, then we should be the ones who treasure and value it the most and treat it as the sacred activity that it really is. We often can watch TV and movies thinking the world is really getting in some exciting sex. Would that they heard about what goes on in our marriages and thought “Dang. The Christians really know how to get the most out of sex.”
If the body is good, then what is done with the body in marriage is also good when done rightly. (No. I am not talking about technique here, although I am not objecting to that) Keep in mind however that this requires more than just the physical aspect of sex. It has been said that sex begins in the kitchen. What this means is that a marriage that enjoys God’s gift of sex should be shown in all aspects of that marriage. It should be the case that the husband is seeking to love and honor the wife in all ways and the wife is seeking to honor and respect the husband in all ways. (Men appreciate more the language of respect than love. Vice-versa for women)
We dare not have the idea that we are just to have sex and not worry about everything else. Being a faithful spouse as has been said is more than just something that happens in one room of the house. It’s more than just something that happens in the house. Being a good spouse is something that takes place wherever one is and no matter how far away the other person might be at the time. If I, for instance, am one day speaking at a conference while my wife is home for some reason, and though I cannot call her or receive a call from her at the time, I am still to be a good spouse just as she is to be to me.
For those of us today who are concerned about defending true marriage and seeing what the world has done to it, let me say as I’ve said several times before, that if we complain about the way the world is treating marriage, I firmly believe it is because the church led the way. We dropped our guard and made our own justifications and what a shock that the world around us followed suit. (For those who wonder about how the new atheists abandoned rationality as another example, it is also because the church abandoned its intellectual grounds first)
Perhaps the world will treat marriage more seriously when the church does the same thing?
For now, celebrate sex as if the body matters, because it does, and your body and the body of your spouse are good things. Both of you will enjoy resurrected life together some day. You might as well enjoy your life together right now!