Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sexual Love and Intimacy

Dina's Rant on Human Sexuality
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The Bill of Rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of sexual gratification. Oh, wait a minute, did I get that wrong? Well, look around you. Everything in our culture suggests that sexual gratification is an inherent right of humankind. Promiscuity, teen-aged sexuality, homosexuality, bi-sexuality, whatever it takes to fulfill your sexual needs short of forcing another or abusing a minor is fair game. Does the Bible support such a sexual bill of rights? What does God have to say about our sexuality?

Before I move on, I would like to define my terms. Often when discussing the Bible and sexuality the concept of “sin” rears its ugly head. “Sin” is such a charged word, and means different things to different people. I would prefer to break “sin” into two terms. For the first, I will use “wickedness.” We understand wickedness. It is pure evil. There is nothing justifiable about wickedness, nothing redeeming hidden within it.

Now, let’s look at the second word. In the Hebrew it is “cheit” or “het.” We don’t have a simple one-word translation in English, but the closest phrase would be “missing the mark,” or perhaps “veering off the path.” This word “het” is one of three Hebrew words for sin. Quite different than what often comes to mind upon hearing the term.

So, in order to discover how to miss the mark with our sexuality, we must first ask, what is the mark? What is God’s plan, God’s path for our human sexuality? In Genesis we learn that God made man, male and female, in His image. God took woman out of the side of man. There seems to be an inference here that together male and female attained the image of God, but that God separated them into two entities. When male and female come together in relationship, and yes, in sex, the complete image of God is brought back into focus. The anatomical parts fit together, biology is fulfilled, ecstasy is achieved, and new life is formed. We are two sides of God, the yin and the yang to borrow terms from a different religion.

In that dichotomy, we create meaning.

But at what cost? Since the first sin, the male/female relationship has been a rocky one. We are so different, yet in those differences, in that coming together and learning to understand one another, to function as a team, we learn so much about our relationship with God. God and mankind are similar in many ways, and at the same time, so very different.

While God may understand us perfectly, it is difficult for us to understand Him, and still, we are an ideal match, created to live in intimacy, in unity with our creator. Through the male/female relationship, we come to learn much about the human relationship with God. He is the bridegroom. We are the bride. Is the road a rocky one? In the beginning, absolutely, but over time we gain understanding and intimacy. Things begin to flow into the natural rhythms that God established for them.

Of course, we are all the body of Christ, and we have much to learn from every other member of the body that will bring us closer to God, help us to better understand the full and complete nature of our Heavenly Father. We may have any number of “intimate” friends and family members, but only the marriage relationship is intended to culminate in the physical act of intimacy known as sex. Why? I think the answer lies in this phrase: pleasure with boundaries.

God is not an anything goes sort of God. We can’t just live our lives in any manner we wish and hope to be intimate with Him. God is a never changing God, and He is a holy God. We must meet with him on His terms. Sexual fulfillment within a committed heterosexual marriage teaches us pleasure with boundaries. I think of sex within marriage as a sort of reward: a reward for a life well lived, a reward for taking the hard road, for working through relationship, for learning to cope with someone so dissimilar, for developing intimacy. It is both incentive and reward for walking the narrow path.

Physical sexuality alone is a cheap form of intimacy. It is an intimacy that fulfills only the flesh, the base animal nature of mankind. As we move on to affection and companionship, we begin to fulfill the soul, but only in spiritual intimacy is the truest part of ourselves, the part fashioned in God’s image, fulfilled. Marriage is the one relationship intended to achieve all three.

So, why is our culture missing the mark? Why is it promoting sexuality outside of God’s plan? My answer is this, we have confused sexuality for intimacy. Because we are made in the image of God, we all desire intimacy. God created us to be in personal and intimate relationship with Himself and His human representatives. God longs for intimacy with His creation, and we long for intimacy, as well. Yet, our culture points us to the physical act of sex as a cheap substitute for true intimacy.

While sex and intimacy interrelate, they remain separate. We can have sex without intimacy and intimacy without sex. The Bible gives many examples of nonsexual, loving, intimate relationships: in families, between male friends, and between female friends. Is part of our missing the mark our confusion that intimacy must equate with, therefore, result in sex?

I’m amused by the new concept of a “bro-mance” being explored on television and in movies. We need to relearn how to be close, personal, intimate friends with members of the same sex. Notice I have not mentioned intimate friendships with members of the opposite sex. Why, because these often lead to marriage and/or sex, as is the natural result of such relationships.

In fact, what we now call "dating" should actually be the pursuit of a male/female intimate friendship with a future goal of marriage. Probably the biggest mistake that can be made in this area is for a married person to think they can develop additional intimate relationships with members of the opposite sex. This often leads to problems. Of course, homosexuality complicates matters, but before we explore that issue, let’s review.

God has a plan for intimacy. God has a plan for human sexuality. God has a plan for marriage and lifelong commitment between the sexes that includes both intimacy and sexuality.

What about committed homosexual relationships? What about multiple intimate sexual relationships? What about serial monogamy among heterosexuals?

All of these forms of sexuality in some way cheat God’s plan. In each, you lose some aspect of the struggle and hard work required to make a heterosexual marriage work. One woman was taken out of one man, and it takes a lifetime to knit them back together.

That is why all sexuality outside of a heterosexual marriage is listed in numerous scriptures as “sin.” I for one do not believe that serial monogamists of either the homosexual or heterosexual variety are “wicked” or “evil,” simply that they are missing the mark. In fact, I hold them in the utmost love and respect. Each of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I probably do so everyday. Yet the fact remains, God has a plan, and they have chosen a different path. Those paths will always lead to some degree of separation from God. They will most certainly pull us away from His kingdom here on earth. If continued as an unrepentant lifestyle, such sin might cause us to harden our hearts toward God to the degree that it could even separate us from Him eternally.

Of course, many Christians would like to declare all forms of homosexuality wicked. Sodom and Gomorrah and all that, right. Sex can be wicked: rampant, promiscuous, perverse sexuality is wicked. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were not zapped because one nice man wanted to pursue a monogamous relationship with one other nice man. The story leading up to their destruction was about a group of men wanting to gang rape a stranger as a sort of “Welcome to the Community” gesture. Yes, from a Biblical perspective homosexuality is missing the mark, it is “het,” “sin,” but let’s be fair and stop equating it with the fiery demise of humankind.

What about celibacy? Well, from all I read in my Bible, God is totally cool with celibacy. It allows us to focus on Him more freely. It allows us to serve Him without entanglements. My assessment is, that what a celibate person might miss discovering through marital intimacy, they will make up for through greater ministry and intimacy with God.

Now back to the “Sexual Bill of Rights.” Here’s what God has to say about the issue. “If it offends you, cut it off.” Jesus clearly tells us in Matthew 5:30, anything that separates us from God must be removed. I prefer to think of this as a metaphorical removal, but then again, if you can’t metaphorically cut something out of your life, well…

The point is this. There is nothing on earth, including our sexuality that is worth separating ourselves from God and from His plan for our lives. More importantly, there is nothing worth separating us from His love and intimacy for all eternity.

Hmm, so what would be an appropriate question for today? That's a tough one. I think I'll just leave it to everyone to share what they would like to share, but please do share your thoughts on this subject, and don't be afraid to disagree.


  1. I actually agree a lot with what you said. It was nice to see it written out and made sense of. Good post.

  2. Thanks Adge. It made me a little nervous to post this, but I hoped that it would help people to make sense of a complicated issues, so your comment means a lot to me.

  3. A subject close to my heart (as you well know given my writing). There was one time in college when I actually broke down in tears (rare, for me) over the way my roommate cheapened what should have been the ultimate act of unity and intimacy by subscribing to what you call "The Sexual Bill of Rights." I was a few months away from my wedding at the time and supremely aware of both the challenge and importance of waiting.

    What people don't seem to understand is that when they use something like sex in a way other than what God intended, it ceases to mean what it should. Which is so, so sorrowful to me. Sex is a critical, blessed part of marriage--and I think the cavalier attitude so many people apply to it has weakened the very foundation of the institution.

    Of course, the beauty is that we serve a Lord who is a Restorer--if we seek Him.

  4. Celibacy is great when you're single. Not so great when you're married.

    I'm always amazed when I'm in the checkout line at the grocery store and see a women's magazine (or three) promoting an article about how to improve your sexual experiences.

    When you've had mutiple sexual partners, you need more than an article to help you.


    Because the problem isn't a physical issue. It's emotional.

    When "two become one," that's more than just physical oneness. There's a bonding of the spirit. So when you've had multiple sexual partners, you've divided your spirit like a person divides a pie.

    If you are someone who's been sexually active outside the bonds of marriage, to truly enhance your sexual experience within marriage or to find contentment with celibacy, you need to do more than repent.

    You need to break the spiritual bonds that connect you with your past sexual partners. Only you don't have the power to do that. God does.

    Ask Him.

    List names and admit what you did was wrong, was sin. Ask God to break that spiritual bond you have with ____ so you can give your whole spirit to your husband or, if you're single, that your spirit would be made whole for your future husband or made whole for a life of celibacy.

    An excellent book on sex and sexual issues, is INTIMATE ISSUES by Linda Dillow and Linda Pintus.

    Thanks, Dina, for having the boldness in the spirit to tackle this touchy (no pun intended) subject. I love you for you, but also for your honesty.

  5. Not to sound like a broken record (or scratched CD) but Roseanna's novel, A Stray Drop of Blood does an amazing job at looking at sexual brokeness and restoration. Probably the best I've ever read on this issue.

    Love you Roseanna. Glad you're a regular visitor.

  6. Gina, I agree with everything you said. This topic was so huge that I only had time to gloss the surface. We could probably do an entire week on this topic.

    I actually wrote this article last year for a friend of mine who is a sailor on a navy ship. She says that when they leave port full scale "Sodom and Gomarrah" erupts aboard the ship. I wrote this so that she would have an organized and balanced account of the Christian view to share with them when the opportunity arose.

    Oh, and very funny about the celibacy. Yes, I should clarify, celibacy is good for single people. I also think it is an honorable and Godly option for individuals with strong homosexual tendencies.

  7. Sex, our sexuality, is horribly confusing. It is used and abused and used to abuse. I guess I still need to have a few conversations with God. Thanks for your words today - tough topic, but so important.

  8. Dina, I just soooooo want to post my Friday's blog. But clearly God has something for Niki to share first.

    I like talking sex.

  9. Mary, I couldn't agree more. I incorporated this article into my nonfiction book, and I do point out how sex is very powerful and confusing. I say several times, "I don't have it all figured out. I'm still a little bit confused."

    In fact, in the book I take this article which is very logical and methodical and break it up with heart wrenching, emotional, real life stories to illustrate that I do indeed understand how difficult this issue is. I share stories of friends who have been homosexuals, and my own temptations even after being married. For me the biggest temptations have been to continue forming intimate friendships with men. I can only thank God that he has kept me from making any huge mistakes in that area.

    But, I feel this article does state the stuff I do understand, even if it's hard to live it out sometimes.

  10. Gina, sounds like I'll be looking forward to Friday.

  11. Yes, you are, Dina. You are. ;-)

  12. Thank you, Dina for explaining this is such a simple and forthright way. I'm going to tweet this and hope some Youth Leaders out there grab a copy of it. Well done.

  13. Thanks Anita. I hope they look at the comments too since some of these ladies have shared some great insights as well.

  14. I'm thinking a lot of parents might want to bookmark this or print out for use with their teens. What a wonderful discourse on sexuality and intimacy from a godly point of view.

  15. Wow thanks, Patricia. I guess I should make my own teenagers read it ;)

  16. I keep thinking about what you said about forming intimate friendships with men.

    When I was in the military, I worked side-by-side with the men in close quarters. In my communication trade, I worked in an enclosed room(s) with painted over security windows. One door to enter/leave and it was locked at all hours. We had this one foot square window in the door with mesh for when someone came knocking. And because the men outnumbered us women, we always worked with a member of the opposite sex for an eight hr shift. Now this is where you think I'm going to jump in and say I had a problem with temptation, right? Wrong. None of my male co-workers appealed to me on that level although some of them became good friends of mine.

    The problem was my insecure newlywed husband. He would see me and my co-workers laughing and drinking (yes at that time, sigh) at the mess or BBQ’s. I didn't realize what was going through his head until one night when we had a fight and he said I could be doing anything down in the Commcen behind locked doors all night. I was floored. And hurt. He hadn't been raised in the faith and it took a long time for him to realize I had what I wanted at home and wasn't looking for anything else.

  17. I like what you said here, "One woman was taken out of one man, and it takes a lifetime to knit them back together."

    There is a special "blood covenant" that is part of God's plan for physical intimacy that can only be had by a man and a woman. God's perfect plan and a beautiful symbol of the blood covenant we have with him through his son Christ Jesus, our bridegroom.

  18. Anita, I realize it's impossible to make blanket statements about whether or not you should have friends of the opposite sex. I will make this statement though, for nice Christian people, affairs always begin with friendships. That's why we must be cautious and wise in this area. If there are any "feelings" or "chemistry" involved, it would be wiser to "cut off" the intimacy than to test your self-control and will power.

    It reminds me of when I used to watch children afterschool. The moms would say, "How do you have the patience?" My answer was, "Oh, you just can't let them test your patience in the first place."

    Also, I would say that if a spouse is jealous or uncomfortable, my opinion is that if at all possible you should honor them in love and pull back from the friendship.

  19. Carla, I imagine I first heard that comment about the woman being taken out of the man somewhere else, but I have no idea where now.

    Very beautiful thoughts about the blood covenant. Thank you for stopping by and adding to the discussion today.


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