This is the second article in a three-part series on God’s design for sexuality. Click here to read part one, and click here to read part three.
I was born in 1956, two days after Elvis recorded "Heartbreak Hotel" in Nashville. By the time I became a teenager, America had experienced a huge cultural revolution. That revolution affected fashion, hairstyles, and the music we listened to. But maybe the most significant aspect of that cultural revolution was the impact it had on how we look at sex and morality.
Teenagers in the '60s had a sure way to know if something was right or wrong: If their parents were for it, it was wrong. My generation saw life differently. We believed that we knew better than our parents about life.
Sexual sin was not new in the '60s. People have been sinning with their bodies since the beginning of time. What was new a generation ago was that we didn’t call it sin anymore. All of a sudden there were no taboos. Suddenly, the idea that sex before marriage or sex outside of marriage was wrong started to evaporate. Sex anytime was groovy; it was natural. If you can’t be with the one you love, we were told, love the one you’re with.
Several decades have passed since the sexual revolution. We now live in a culture where sexual sin is celebrated. It’s normalized. It’s made to look attractive and glamorous. The temptation to sexual sin is more intense than it’s ever been. It is more constant. It’s more accessible than ever. All around you are people—even Christians—who are disregarding God’s design for sexual purity.
The culture tells us that we should be liberated and free about sexuality—that those who follow biblical standards are uptight and repressed. You may think, “I don’t want to be repressed. Why should I obey God in this area?”
Here’s why: Because God, who created you, has designed sex as a good gift and a blessing if you enjoy it as He intended.
When you pull sex out of its original design, you will do damage to your soul. It will degrade you, it will cheapen you, it will wound you. It will rob you of a sense of who you are.
Naked and unashamed
In the first article of this series, I looked at the creation account in Genesis and what it tells us about God’s purposes for marriage and sexuality. Genesis 2 ends with a glorious declaration that the husband and wife come together and become one flesh. Then it says, “The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” The man and woman were transparent with each other and with God; they felt safe and protected. Nothing was broken. Yet.
But look what happens in Genesis 3, as the man and the woman succumb to the serpent’s temptation and declare their independence from God: “Then the eyes of both were opened and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (verse 7).
What God brought together—the pinnacle of His creative work, joining the man and the woman together in marriage and uniting them in one flesh—now began to unravel. Suddenly there was shame, and the shame was directly related to their sexuality in their marital union.
It’s important for us to recognize that our enemy’s first point of attack was the marriage of Adam and Eve. He divided them, and the first thing they realized after their rebellion was that what God had made perfect had now become damaged.
Usually we call this story the “the fall.” I think the term is too passive. Adam and Eve did more than fall. They rebelled. They committed divine treason. They declared their independence and rejected their Creator.
And here is what we need to understand: This rebellion continues to have an impact on all of creation. It has left every human being broken. And that brokenness has affected every aspect of creation, including our sexuality.
Here’s the bottom line: Because of our rebellion against God, all of us have some type of disordered and ungodly sexual desire.
All in the same boat
Before sin came into the world, there was no lust. Adam never lusted. There was no adultery. There was no fornication. There was no pornography. There was no homosexuality. But when sin came into the world, sex was broken.
Your disordered sexual desire may be different than mine, but we’re all in the same boat. Sexual brokenness may manifest itself as sexual selfishness, where sex is used as a way to control or manipulate someone else. It may be sexual indifference in marriage—a lack of desire to be intimate with the spouse God has given you. It can be the desire to watch movies or television shows that stir up lustful, sexual passion inside of you. These are all ways that broken people demonstrate their ongoing rebellion against God’s design for human sexuality.
Men and women who continually seek sexual conquest are manifesting their sexual brokenness and rebellion. We see it in solo sex, in the widespread use of pornography, and in any variety of sexual addictions, or anonymous sex, or homosexuality, or other activities that reveal just how deeply broken and rebellious we are in this area.
Any time you engage in any kind of passion-stirring sexual behavior outside of marriage, you are declaring to God that you are going your own way. God tells us, “Look, I’ve got a gift for you. But it is a good gift only within these boundaries.” But we say, “No, I want to use it over here!” What we’re really saying to God is, “I know better than You.”
If it’s broken, can we fix it?
There are three important points to understand here:
First, just because sexual brokenness is part of our fallen nature, this does not give us an excuse for engaging in sinful behavior. You can’t say, “I’m broken in this area, so I’m not responsible.” As with any other sinful behavior, we have a choice about our actions.
Second, we can’t “fix” our brokenness on our own. Healing can only occur through the saving grace of Christ. Forgiveness and salvation are possible only through Him. Only He can cure our rebellious nature.
Finally, as we live daily with sexual brokenness, we must keep short accounts with God and repeatedly repent of sin and reaffirm our belief in the gospel. First John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is not a one-time cleansing; because we sin regularly, we must repent regularly.
The longing of your soul
Our souls crave the intimacy and the rightness of the sexual experience God created us for, but we settle for cheap substitutes. And in the end those substitutes always disappoint, because they fall short of what God intended.
What’s most important is being in a right relationship with God, where He satisfies the longing of our souls, and provides the sanctifying grace that we need. Only as we yield to Him and trust Him will we recognize the goodness of His gift of sex.
1. To learn more about knowing and experiencing God's design for sex within marriage, try reading Bob Lepine’s article, "7 Things to Remember About Sex."
2. Listen to the FamilyLife Today® series, "Do Christians Have It Wrong on Sexuality?"
3. Looking for a great way to teach your pre-teen child about what God’s Word has to say about topics like sex, dating, and peer pressure? Plan a getaway using Passport2Purity®.
This article is adapted from a message Bob Lepine delivered at Redeemer Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Copyright © 2013 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.