The “Yes” of Sex

moments-of-loveAdult catechesis at SOTHLC begins with a study of the Small Catechism.  After that, the instruction is individualized based on one’s questions, experiences, and the “baggage” he brings with him.  This lesson is part of that individualized instruction.


From conception on, each human is a sexual being created male or female in the image and likeness of God.  All “gender identity” issues aside, no generic person exists.  We are binary beings, and we live embodied, physical lives with developing and developed sexual organs from conception onward.


Yes, Number 1: Christians find their identity in God, not this fallen world

What passes for acceptable sexual behavior in our culture may or may not match up with Christianity.  Today, our sexual, cultural customs are not only non-Christian but anti-Christian.  As Christians, we are not to let the world define us.  Yes, we live lives in the world, not hidden behind monastery walls, but we are not of the world (John 15:19, 17:14).

The book of Philippians reminds the Church that those who live only according to their sinful impulses are enemies of the cross of Christ.  “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame because their thoughts focus on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).  We are physical beings—but not only physical beings!

Neither are we disembodied spirits, but beings with both a body and a soul.  In matters of sex, we have a physicality to our sexual lives.  Describing the challenges Christians face in this world, 2 Corinthians 4 reveals, “We always carry the death of Jesus in our bodies so the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our bodies” (vs. 10).  What we do with our bodies reflects (or should reflect) the Jesus in us.

The body is not a tool for self-gratification, but a creation of God redeemed from sin for salvation by His Son and made holy by His Spirit.  For “God made the One who did not know sin [Jesus] to be sin for us so, in Him, we would become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  We also live this out sexually through our bodies.

As those brought into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), we live in our bodies, aware of the fullness of our physical existence yet to come when Jesus returns at the end of time.  “He will transform our lowly bodies into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His authority” (Philippians 3:21). Yes, we live in a fallen world, but we find our true identity in Christ and the creation to come!


Yes, Number 2: Sexual identity is not a human construct but comes to us from God

Who we are goes back to creation—but even more!  Our identity is also baptismal, where our old self dies and a new one is born (John 3:3-5).  But the death of our old self is delayed, not becoming an experienced reality until death, with the new self not becoming a physical reality until the body’s resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).  Until then, we live by faith, not by what we experience.  “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

We are baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5); thus, our identity receives its reality in Christ.  But this is more than Christ, for the baptism He commanded for His Church is in the “name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20).  So, even the Christian’s sexual life grounds itself in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.  Yes, even sex becomes a sacred act!

A man’s penis and a woman’s vagina with other body organs, personality, and intellect are not the result of random, blind chance but are created, in love, by God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.  “I praise You [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Your works are astonishing, and this I know full well” (Psalm 139:14).  Of course, we are aware that who are now suffers from sin’s corruption and is bent toward sin and deviance (Ephesians 2:1).

Since God made us in His image, we do not get to define our personal, sexual identity or culture.   We inherit it.  God created and ordained sex for His purposes.  Our new self in Christ will want to honor God’s ways, even while our sinful nature will still want to do what it wants to do (Romans 7:15-10).

When we “try” to define our identity, including sexual, it is a rebellion against God, carried out by the sins we commit (Romans 7:20) against who we already are in Christ: “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).


Yes, Number 3: Christ ransomed us from sin, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies us

Christians recognize that our bodies are not our personal property, which sounds un-American to us, or maybe even unpatriotic.  “Don’t you know that your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought at a price, so honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Whatever we do, whether we eat or drink, we do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).  And whatever we do, we don’t do as generic beings, but as either a man or a woman (barring the few genetic exceptions).  Creation, redemption, and sanctification of the body frees sex from the narrow confines of sexual appeal to find its proper place as an important force in the life we live in this world as “enfleshed” spirits (or souls) and spiritualized bodies (Genesis 2:7).

God created the intense power of our sexual drive as a gift to join man and woman together in a physical union as husband and wife for their mutual joy and support (and for the procreation of children when younger).


Yes, Number 4: For the Christian, sex is a holy vocation

Sex is God’s idea, which His entire creation reflects in both the plant and animal kingdoms.  After creating the world, including the sex that came with it, God declared it “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Growing up, most of us only learned the “no” of sex: “Don’t have sex before marriage.”  And we did well until we had sex.  “Hey, I like this!”  The “no” of sex was not enough to restrain us because it was enjoyable and our sexual drives were powerful.  Having never learned the “yes” of sex, we did not have a wholesome understanding of sexual activity.  We took in the “no,” but the lack of God’s “yes,” which was to become part of our worldview, was replaced by the self-pleasure and deviancy we picked up from the culture.

The life-creating and life-changing Truth of what God did, does, and will do to save us, defines who we are in Creation and Redemption.  Our given, inherited identity gives us our path in life—who we are sets forth what we do!

Our sexual longing remains a force within us most of our lives.  We must not ignore this reality but should, instead, learn to direct and channel those desires for a godly purpose.  God created our sexual urges (although now bent and fallen) to bring a man and woman together in a physical union.  As Adam rejoiced when seeing Eve: “At last—bone of my bones, flesh and of my flesh!” (Genesis 2:23).

God created us to express our sexual activity within the context of marriage.  That is why marriage is not a secular or political institution, but a “holy estate.”  God began marriage before our fall into sin.  So, marriage predates human culture and is an expression of God’s culture for us, which makes sex a physical expression of the eternal, spiritual unity of the Holy Trinity!


What do we do?  The struggle

Then why are we so miserable at being faithful in matters of sex (if not acted out, then within the imagination of our minds)?  What the Christian wants to do according to the renewed mind, he finds himself unable to do because of the temptations of the flesh.  Delighting in what God wants for him, he finds himself drawn to what pleases him, whether wholesome or destructive.  As the Apostle Paul put it: “I see a different law at work in me, waging war against the law of my [renewed] mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body” (Romans 7:23).

Jesus, the Son of God, became human to undo the effects of sin and our bondage to the devil.  Taking on our humanity, He was born as a male, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary to break the bonds of our slavery to sin.  “He does not reach out to help angels, but to help Abraham’s offspring” (Hebrews 2:16).

“Because He Himself was tested and suffered, He can help those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).  Jesus can sympathize with us in our weakness because He endured temptation like us―including sexually—yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  For that to be true, Jesus had to have male parts like every other male, have the spontaneous erections of a teenager, experience the burning of sexual attraction, and so on.

Jesus didn’t just redeem us spiritually but endured physical flogging, crucifixion, and death.  That’s the point.  In His body, He bore all sin, carried our iniquity, and covered our shame.  Repeating this verse again: “God [even] made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us so, in Him, we would become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

This same Jesus is our righteousness and holiness.  He is our covering for both sin and shame.  Buried with him by baptism into His death, through the same washing, we will rise with Him in His resurrection (Romans 6:3-5).  Jesus not only raises us in the spirit but also in the body!  That’s the point!

Understanding this, we try to live out this physical reality despite the weaknesses of our fallen nature.  What we don’t do is willingly choose to sin and institutionalize such sin in our lives.  “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).

Your body is a marvelous creation of a loving, heavenly Father.  Despite the sin rampant everywhere around us and the lust that continually tugs at you from within, you live a new and different life by the grace and mercy of God.  Yes, you are tempted, walking in the faith God gives you; you are also redeemed and sanctified.  Faith believes this and lives this.