Sex is a topic we all think we know about. But how much do we actually know? Well, we know the mechanics, the anatomy involved, its practical applications, and the not-so-practical-but-still-pleasurable ones. However, it seems that we have a difficult time when it comes to sitting down and discussing sex, or how sex should be. It’s as human as breathing and eating, yet why is it so taboo? It’s because sex in its very nature is a relationship, a communication between two people, a sharing of emotions, ideas, and thoughts. By adding one more person, it makes it so much more complicated because morality is brought into the fray. But what is morality anyway?
There is a fine line between morality and what society deems acceptable. Morality is defined as the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong. If this is true, then sexual morality is how we as humans define what is right and wrong to do with a partner when it comes to sex. Of course, we have collectively agreed that, for the most part, things like rape, incest, bestiality, and pedophilia are things that we, as a society, shun and have set up rules against. But there are finer issues at hand – premarital sex, impure thoughts/fantasies, pornography and masturbation, fetishes, homosexuality – these are the core issues. Who are we to judge morality, though? We have eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so we have a good idea for the most part, but this judgment was never meant to be ours. Therefore, these issues need to be discussed, not by us, but with God.
When God is brought into any debate concerning morality, eyes start to roll and ears shut, as what’s coming next is surely “No premarital sex! Abstinence only! No homosexuality! Repent sinners, judgment day is here! You’re going to hell!” It’s a general yeah-we’ve-heard-this-all-before-can-we-just-get-on-with-our-lives attitude. Jesus himself predicted there would be false prophets, such as the people who say this stuff, and told us not to listen to them. What God truly has to say may surprise you. Organized religion doesn’t teach us much about sex in church, so that leaves it to us to decide. For now, I want you to forget all those stereotypes you’ve heard about what God has to say about sex, and let me try to give you a more accurate account (and please do not take this as what God actually said, either; this is how I understand it). The only real way to find out God’s word is to actually read the Bible (and before you freak out: yes, my viewpoint is of the Christian variety, but I would love to hear other viewpoints from other religions).
As a rule of thumb, the way we know something is enjoyable is that God is against it. People like to associate sex and sin very closely, so of course God hates it. I’ll explain later that this is not the case. There are many stereotypes of religion being tied to conservatism, but my viewpoint is not of one of religion, but of logic and faith (not an oxymoron), and nothing to do with politics. The Bible tells us to “flee from sexual immorality.” (1 Corinthians 16:18) What does that even mean? What is this sexual immorality we are fleeing from? Premarital sex seems like the big thing the Bible tells us not to do, but does it really? Well, no, not exactly. But first, what is marriage?
When we think of marriage, we think of white weddings, huge ceremonies, flower girls, receptions and drunken relatives. Marriage was a lot simpler back then, nothing of the highly commercialized stuff we see today. Marriage was just a union of two people, kind of like sex is, and the union would serve to glorify God, just like sex, and if you see where I’m going here, a marriage was only an official union of two people if they had sex. In short, marriage and sex carried the same weight to our Jewish brethren of old; that meant your first sexual partner was your spouse! Imagine if it was like that today – that sex was a binding contract between two people that held legal tenure. We’d probably think more carefully about whom we would sleep with! Also, people were getting married very young back then, so they did not have as long to wait as we do today (on average putting off marriage until at least late twenties; who can go so long without sex?). Indirectly, this means that virginity doesn’t make you any more or less holy than anyone else. God calls us to be in committed relationships; it’s through our relationships that we can become closer to God, so if a relationship does not serve God, then it is not worthy of sex. The reason people tend to not want to get married is that they are afraid of commitment, and rightly so! Marriage is the ultimate commitment and is deserving of sex! Some say, “Oh, well me and my girlfriend have been dating for years now and we are committed to each other, so we can have sex. Right?” Well, how do you know that nothing will happen between now and the time you get married? I’ve seen relationships fall apart after years of dating, even right before a wedding. The only way to be sure of commitment is to marry, but as the saying goes, “Why buy the cow if you get the milk for free?”
Seriously, if you are already having sex, then there is no pressure to commit. If you do wait until marriage then how good that sex would be! It’s pretty much God’s wedding gift. But who can wait until their late twenties now? We push back marriage in order to pursue our careers, but is this right? Is money more important than a relationship with God? Some say yes, but those with money are hardly ever happy, as those with God know, and, unlike money, God never runs out and is non-taxable. Go and seek a spouse, do not be afraid to commit, for if God is there, the marriage will not fail. God made man and woman both in his image; the interface of which is a testament to God’s love, as that is when we most closely resemble God. This is why we consummate a marriage (honeymoon vacations are arguably the best part of a wedding), and in fact the very definition of consummate is to make perfect. “The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:4). Through marriage and sex, two people are one in God’s eyes. Amazing, isn’t it? Through sex, marriage is made perfect.
That being said, sex is God’s invention, his gift to us. It actually means more to him than it does to us; a perfect expression of love. He didn’t even have to make it enjoyable (it isn’t for all animals except dolphins), but he sure did do a good job of that, so much so that we strive for it. Why would God do this if he wanted it only to be used for procreation? It was St. Augustine who came up with the doctrines of missionary position and sex for procreation only, so not exactly the word of God. Studies have even shown that people who have sex more often tend to be healthier and more positive people, warranting phrases like “Man, someone needs to get laid.” However, this does not mean go out and have sex with everything that moves. As with every gift, it can be taken for granted and abused. We have taken this gift and stripped it down, built it up again and painted it so it kind of looks like what it was but with none of the functions in the name of meaningless fun. Those who seek only the pleasure of sex will receive their reward in full on earth, but as God sees you treat his gift with the respect and care it deserves He will reward you even more.
Sex is supposed to be a testament of love for God, so shouldn’t there be love between the people having it? Sex is not for recreation or for entertainment; that degrades sex to its most base physical attributes, into nothing more than a pastime. Sex is supposed to be a tool in building a relationship not only with your significant other, but with God as well. It is the symbol of the deepest commitment one can possibly make with a person, not marriage. You don’t go out and marry just anybody because you think they are sexy, now do you? Treating sex immorally and haphazardly is a shame. Some people go out and are constantly searching for a partner, looking for the benefits they can receive from another person, and they are miserable when they don’t find one. If you have only your own needs in mind, then maybe that could be time better spent looking at yourself to see how you would provide for the needs of your partner. I understand the need to find someone so that we would not be lonely, but there are worse things than being alone. God understands our needs well and will provide for us if we depend on Him. Some cannot wait for just the right one so they will have sex with whomever to fill a void they feel, and that is also immoral. A dependency on sex to fill some part of our lives is like being a drug addict, not healthy for us mentally and thus devoting yourself to a drug rather than to God. Speaking of addictions, this next topic is a bit touchy.
Masturbation’s older definition was self-abuse, but that is a definition that is no longer carried. It may also be the most asked about topic pertaining to what God has to say about it. The main argument for masturbation is that it is natural, just like the sexual urges that come with it. But sexual urges you cannot control as you can choose to masturbate. But isn’t it better to masturbate than to commit adultery, which would jeopardize two people? Actually, the answer is yes, but even though masturbation relieves sexual urges temporarily, it only works to deepen sexual desire in the long run, leading to more masturbation of course. The Bible says nothing about masturbation, or that it is wrong, but I think the lesson here is that you should not fall victim to being addicted to it, and the things it usually comes along with (pornography, sexual fantasies, lustful thoughts). It has been said that “…I [Jesus] tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Obviously this can easily apply to women as well. Those are strong words coming from Jesus, especially since adultery was about the worst thing you could do in those times (on par with murder). Doesn’t that seem impossible? Who can masturbate without lust? Who can control their thoughts like that? Jesus calls us to be perfect like the Father, and alone yes it is impossible. But God does not call us to do things we can’t do, and that is the gospel, or the good news. Jesus came down to tell us how to do the impossible. He came to say that He is “the way” through which we are redeemed. So I conclude this: masturbation is not wrong, but adultery (having sex or thoughts of sex outside of marriage or with anyone not your spouse) is, and through Jesus we can overcome adultery.
What about homosexuality? I struggle with this issue because I know God loves everyone, and it makes me angry to see those using the words of God to back their hateful rhetoric towards homosexuality. But the question lies, is homosexuality God’s will or humanity’s free will; were they created this way or chosen to be this way? Can a homosexual ever truly follow in Christ? In most cases, I believe it is inherent to a person, that there actually could be a “gay gene” or the lack of a gene that tells you to feel attracted to opposite sex, or even quite possibly homosexuality could be a misinterpretation/distortion of the deep feelings of respect and admiration we do have for our brethren into feelings of love and lust. These things are out of our control, so it bothers me that God would make someone predisposed to sin. He does not, so either homosexuality is not a sin or it is not inherent at birth and is a choice and error by man. This is not a question we can answer, but that’s okay, as we don’t have to. God has it already all planned out and we can love gay people all the same. I’m not saying that you have to agree with homosexuality, but know that if gay people weren’t oppressed and hated, you wouldn’t see advocacy/awareness groups and gay pride parades, but you would see regular everyday people.
But clearly you can argue that sodomy is a sin, and there are various passages in the Bible indicating this, but for what reason? Sodomy back then was not about men loving other men, it was about humiliating soldiers on the battlefield, about disgracing a person you didn’t like. That’s what was happening in Sodom and Gomorrah (two towns God razed after seeing their wickedness) – they treated outsiders with contempt and sodomized them (yes that is where the word comes from). It’s not that they were all gay, but these were generally wicked people. It was sodomy that was being used to mistreat His children that God hates, not the people. But it also says in the Bible “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (Leviticus 18:22). But doesn’t anal sex exist in this world with women as well? Technically, if we are talking vaginal intercourse, then you can’t do that with another man. Of course this could totally mean telling falsehoods out of context if the chapter wasn’t titled “Unlawful Sexual Relations.” So we can in no way say that God hates gay people. However, if marriage is the union of a man and a woman, does that mean all homosexual acts are counted as adultery? Does this mean that homosexuality is okay if they do not engage in sodomy? I don’t know.
What is sex anyway? Does oral/anal sex count? This is what I mean by, “we have taken the gift that God gave us and modified it for our own personal gratification,” for this does not please God. You could argue that this is our gift and we can do whatever we want with it, and that is true – God intended sex to be enjoyed – but it’s not sex anymore after you change it. Sex perfects a marriage; not blow jobs, not sodomy, – those are perversions. We messed up sex and these are just examples.
I don’t mean to preach like I know everything. I do know what I believe though, and it’s more than enough for me. There are so many more questions I have, now that I tried to answer just one, and I can only ask God to answer me. I see sex today as much more relaxed, more casual in the media and more nonchalant attitudes towards it. I don’t mean to sound like a prude, but one who values sex on a much deeper, more meaningful level. One could say I was putting a certain something on a pedestal, but it’s not what you think. I have God on a pedestal. My only hope is that we as a society continue to talk about sex and have discussions of sexual morality, and not let what we perceive to be truth around us lead us to lax standards of sex. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to talk about, and yes, it’s personal. However, if we don’t get over these hurdles, then how are we going to cope with these issues of morality?
You cannot grow if you are stagnant in your comfort zone. I do not preach abstinence, nor do I condone sex without God, (by which I mean without his love present). Sex perfects, so it’s natural that we seek it, but the only catch is that you are only perfected with another person, so choose carefully. If you want to know more without reading the Bible, try asking your local priest about it. Please, if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it, and if you disagree with me, that’s fine as well. Actually if you hate what I have to say, that’s alright too, because in the end, it all comes down to what you believe. However, judgment day does seem to be right around the corner… just kidding. I would really like to talk about this with anyone, and I’m very open-minded. I want to know what Lehigh thinks.