Sexual Ethics (Part 5)
Two Clashing Perspectives. One of the reasons, if not the fundamental reason why a Christian sexual ethic clashes with that of our culture is because we each start at completely different points. Essentially, a non-Christian sexual ethic is “me-centered.” It’s out to enjoy, please and pleasure itself. If sex is indeed treated like a commodity, then it’s something that we get from people, a service.
In contradiction to this view is the “other-centered” Christian understanding of sex and sexuality. The logic behind the Christian position on chastity until marriage is this, You shouldn’t become one with somebody physically until you’re also ready to become one with them socially, financial, and spiritually. After all, isn’t that what marriage is? God never intended sexuality to be expressed in a relationship that says, “I’ll have your body, but my bank account is mine. You can have my body, but you can’t have my heart, etc.” This is gnostic sex, a view that seperates the body for the rest of the person. True love makes itself vulnerable.
But this is all difficult stuff to put into practice. How are we going to be able to become people that can show the world what real love is all about? I’m not just talking about getting married. Saying a few vows is easy enough. I’m talking about living the life. Living the way God designed sexuality to function. How can we express our love in an “other-centered” way? Where do we get the power?
The truth is, we can’t do it. Left to myself, I’m as self-centered as any body else. I don’t have what it takes. Ah ha! But this is where the Gospel comes in! You see, if sexuality is given to us by God as a means of bonding two people in a covenant relationship, then those in it must make themselves vulnerable. God loved His Church and decided to enter into a covenant relationship with us as well. So, did He do it in a way different than how He expects us to? No, He came in person, in the flesh. Jesus is the ultimate example of a covenantal love that gives itself totally for the benefit of the beloved. Though Christ was always with the Father, He came down to our broken world. Though He was Rich, yet for our sakes He became poor. Though He was our master, He became the servant.
So, we’re not asked to follow the commands of a God who is detached. Our God got His boots dirty. He’s “walked the walk.” He loved the way we should love. He perfectly loved God, and as a result He perfectly loved others. In fact, the way He showed my His covenantal love was too pain the price for all my failures, shortcomings, and spiritual rebellions, and He did this all in my place (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ has won the victory for me, and Has given me His Holy Spirit to empower me to follow His example.
Now, I express my sexuality in a way that pleases God. I don’t have to overvalue sex because I understand that sexuality doesn’t have to define me. Christ was fully and perfectly human and was a virgin His entire earthly life. Likewise, I don’t have to undervalue sex because Scripture teaches that sexuality is best when expressed according to it’s design. The full power of sex is unleashed in committed, self-sacrificial, covenantal relationships.