Christian Sexuality as Resistance
In a consumerist age, a believer’s call to Christian sexuality is a call to resistance. This concept is not new with me; in a book on family ethics, Kiernan Scott is quoted as saying that the Christian practice of marriage can be “a protest against a meaningless, self-centered, commodity-driven life.”
For the unmarried person, to abstain from sexual intimacy protests our consumer culture which treats relationships and intimacy as something to be used and discarded. For the married person, to live in faithfulness to their spouse does the same. Christian sexuality calls all believers, married and unmarried, to live out the call of the Gospel in resistance to the world.
What is Christian Sexuality?
Since it is not altogether clear in our culture what Christian sexuality means, I will define it. Christian sexuality, in short, is the belief that God made humans in His image, male and female, and that He called them to be fruitful and multiply by means of a one-man, one-woman marriage (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:24-25). Additionally, singleness can be fruitful through celibate living (Matt. 19:12; 1 Cor. 7:25-31).
All believers are called to practice “married sexuality,” which is to practice sex only within the confines of a marriage biblically defined.
What About My Desires?
A consumer culture assumes that desires are inherently neutral, and their satisfaction should always be pursued. However, this is contrary to the truth of Scripture (1 Pet. 1:14; 2:11; 4:2). For a single person, abstaining from sexual intimacy disciplines us to put others ahead of ourselves, which is the will of God (Phil. 2:3). That discipline will be necessary if one gets married too. For to practice sexual fidelity in marriage also requires putting one’s spouse ahead of him/herself.
Dallas Willard describes the difference between desire and love well:
“Love is not the same thing as desire, for I may desire something without even wishing it well, much less willing its good. I might desire a chocolate ice cream cone, for example. But I do not wish it well; I wish to eat it. This is the difference between lusts (mere desire) and love, as between a man and a woman. Desire and love are, of course, compatible when desire is ruled by love; but most people today would, unfortunately, not even know the difference between them. Hence, in our world, love constantly falls prey to lust. That is a major part of the deep sickness of contemporary life” (Renovation of the Heart, 130-31).
Christ Calls Us to Risk Our Desires
Both singleness and marriage risk the satisfaction of one’s desires. The single person’s desires await another day, which requires faith. That may be the Day of the Lord for the committed celibate, or it may be the day when God brings a spouse for the single in waiting. This too is an act of faith.
Both singleness and marriage risk the satisfaction of one’s desires.
By entering Christian marriage, a follower of Jesus is committing to a lifetime of fidelity with one person without knowing (and one cannot truly know) whether their desires will be satisfied. Even married persons frequently find themselves having to put their desires to death as they walk out their commitment to their spouse. Your spouse was not given to you by God to fulfill all your desires.
Our desires, whether we are believers or not, are often not in line with how God created things to be in the beginning. Our desires have been impacted by the Fall (humanity’s rebellion against God described in Genesis 3 and expounded on in Romans 5:12ff). Faithfulness to Christ will always call us to live in ways contrary to our desires. Faithfulness to Christ is a call to live now in a way consistent with the New Creation which began in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead but is not fully experienced yet.
Marriage, Singleness and Our Witness to the Lordship of Christ
If marriage wasn’t intended to fulfill all that one desires, what was it designed for? It is a place for displaying the self-giving of the Gospel; a place for practicing forgiveness, patience, forbearance, kindness, mutually edifying speech, and love. In other words, it is a place where the relationships to which the church is called can be put into practice in the most intimate of relationships. Where vulnerability is taken to a whole new level (Gen. 2:25). Where fulfillment is not found in any one moment but forged over a lifetime of commitments that are carried out in the grind of daily life.
Marriage is where fulfillment is not found in any one moment but forged over a lifetime of commitments that are carried out in the grind of daily life.
When believers resist the consumerism of our age by living out a Christian view of sexuality (whether married or single), it will require us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” for we have “set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Pet. 3:15). In other words, it may turn into an opportunity to share your faith. When that happens, the practice of Christian sexuality results in glory to God!
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,