Tag Archives: intimacy

Is It Biblical to Use Birth Control?

The Bible neither advocates nor condemns the use of birth control because it was written long before modern methods of contraception were developed. Consequently, the Bible’s silence cannot be used to argue for or against birth control’s use.

Like many issues in life, God seems to leave it up to us to decide how to honor Him in this matter. God could have plainly stated: “All families must have five children; no more, and no less.” That would have ended the issue. But He chose not to, because He allows for personal choice here. But the freedom to choose necessitates wisdom. Wise couples will take into consideration their emotional, medical, and financial limitations as they seek God’s wisdom when having children.

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Why is it Important Not to Treat Sexual Intimacy Casually?

God intended sexual intimacy to mold a man and a woman physically, emotionally, and spiritually into “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Seeking a “one-flesh relationship” outside of a long-term, committed relationship is like a long-distance runner substituting performance-enhancing drugs for discipline and training or a graduate student hiring someone to write his/her master’s thesis.

Because we are not just animals, the human value of sexual experience is derived mostly from spiritual and emotional intimacy. Casual sexual experiences actually make it harder for people to yoke genuine intimacy with sexual arousal. This is why ordinary married people usually have a more deeply satisfying and long-lasting relationship than promiscuous celebrities who look spectacularly attractive and desirable.

We have fallen far from God’s plan for sexual intimacy. Contraception now allows the wholesale separation of sex from conception, birthing, parenting, and family bonding. Cultural changes have also identified pornography, promiscuity, and sexual relativism with sexual liberation. Consequently, we see unprecedented rates of divorce, family instability, and social problems.

Rather than experimenting with sexual experiences that scar and break hearts, Christians—whether single or married—should focus on establishing and nurturing genuine friendship and intimacy, the kind that will stand them in good stead for a lifetime.

 

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Why Shouldn’t I View Pornography or Sexually Explicit Educational Videos?

Pornography and sexually explicit “educational” videos don’t promote the development of love and intimacy — they undermine it. A married couple may benefit from better knowledge of sexual physiology and technique, but information about sex should be provided in a way that respects the tenderness, mystery, and wonder of marital love. Filmed sex is a crass violation of human dignity and intimacy.

Intimacy is a matter of the heart. It can’t be captured by bright lights and a camera. All that can be captured on film is an illusion of intimacy. Lonely people who watch pornography in hopes of satisfying some of their longing for intimacy will be drawn in the opposite direction — toward voyeurism and self-absorbed lust. In fact,the more a person succeeds in imitating pornography, the more he will fall into the snare of sexual addiction and the further he will be from understanding the nature of real love.

Scripture contains some of the most beautiful erotic literature ever written ( Song Of Solomon 4:9-15; 5:10-16 ). It is clear that God created us as sexual beings, and He intends for us to delight in our sexuality when expressed within the bond of marriage. But Scripture also contains severe warnings against self-absorbed lust ( Exodus 20:17 ; Proverbs 5:3-6; 9:13 ; Matthew 5:28; 15:16-20 ; Colossians 3:4-7 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:2-7 ). In the same epistle in which the apostle Paul wrote his marvelous “love chapter,” he made a striking observation about sexual sin:

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

In these verses Paul indicated what it is about sexual sin that makes it so destructive. He declared that it is a sin “against the body.” This clearly refers to much more than the mere physical effects of sexual sin. Real love and intimacy require a commitment of the heart ( 1 John 2:16; 4:8 ). Human sexuality is designed for much deeper purposes than mere sensual pleasure, release of tension, and self-gratification. It was designed to express the passionate, tender unity of a husband and wife in committed love. The apostle Paul wrote:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself to the Lord is one with Him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:15-17).

“A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery (Ephesians 5:31-32).

If a person commits his body to sex according to the pornographic model, the power of self-absorbed lust is released in full force,untempered by love. The Scriptures warn us that this will produce a darkened mind and an insensitive and hardened heart ( Romans 1:21-24; Ephesians 4:17-19 ). As a hardened heart and darkened mind vainly try to duplicate the joy of an intimacy in counterfeit form,the flames of lust flare with ever greater intensity. As lust grows, so does sexual addiction, diminishing our ability to experience in the body the ecstasy of real intimacy and genuine erotic love.

A book you may find helpful is False Intimacy by Dr. Harry Schaumberg (Navpress).

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Why Are Christians Opposed to Public Nudity?

Sexuality and individuality are sacred gifts. Although nudity is necessary under certain special circumstances, as when a person is examined by a physician1 or taking a shower in a locker room, indiscriminate nudity is degrading.

Humans were created as image-bearers of God. Although we share many characteristics with the animal world, we have been entrusted with a degree of dignity that surpasses our animal kin.

While it’s true that prolonged exposure to nudity tends to make a culture less sensitive to it, no culture could ever be completely desensitized. Indiscriminate nudity is a misguided attempt to recapture an innocence that, since the Fall ( Genesis 3:6-11,23-24 ), is no longer available.

It would be wonderful if lust and wrongful sexual attention weren’t a problem, but realistically, in our imperfect world, there is a tendency to look upon others merely as objects for personal sexual gratification or control (Matthew 5:28). Westerners also place an inappropriately high value on physical attractiveness, as well as setting unrealistic standards for it. To idolize a temporary, culturally defined standard for beauty is destructive. It bases individual worth on physical attractiveness rather than character, objectifies people, promotes exploitative relationships, empowers the pornographic industry, and is doubtlessly an important factor in the modern epidemic of bulimia and anorexia. Indiscriminate nudity would place an even higher value on anatomical perfection, further degrading our human values and making self-esteem even harder for the average person to attain.2

The Bible doesn’t dictate the norms for the type of clothing to be worn in every society, but it requires modesty.3 First Peter 3:3-6, for example, exhorts women to seek the beauty that comes from within (“the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”). Peter said that women should place a greater emphasis on spiritual beauty than on mere physical adornment. They shouldn’t dress merely to accentuate their physical beauty, but be concerned as well with the effect their appearance has on others, using beauty as a means of edification.

The Bible also tells us that our bodies are holy, temples of the Holy Spirit:

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-21).

It isn’t that the nude human body is “dirty” and needs to be covered. This idea is a perversion of Christian teaching. The body isn’t something of which we should be ashamed. It is a creation of God, and, in spite of human irresponsibility, something that we should celebrate and honor. Nearly everyone in the West, including conservative Christians, agrees that Western art would be impoverished without work of great artists who treat nudity with dignity. Exposed skin isn’t the only issue—otherwise we would be in agreement with the strict Muslim view that modesty requires a woman to cover as much of her body as possible.4 It isn’t that the sight of the nude body is “dirty” but that it is holy—too precious to be shared with strangers. Indiscriminate nudity deprives husbands and wives of the joy of reserving the visual part of physical intimacy for each other alone. In our fallen world, the love between husband and wife is the only place where sexual intercourse still expresses the innocence of Eden. Only in a loving marriage—where genuine intimacy is nurtured by fidelity—is the beauty of each individual partner free to bloom.

Working through our culture, our enemy strives to degrade our perception of sexuality to mere expression of animal instinct and pleasure. Christians need to be on guard against anything that degrades the God-ordained dignity of human sexuality—including indiscriminate nudity.


1. Interestingly, under such circumstances, there are specific required procedures and special legal protections shielding patients from sexual advances by caretakers. These laws not only apply to physicians, but also to counselors who have a privileged access to the secrets and intimate facts of a person’s life. Back To Article


2 . Most people realize that besides wearing clothing to protect ourselves from the elements, we clothe ourselves to enhance our appearance and enable modesty. The testimony of thousands of generations of people in nearly every culture is that the world would be a less attractive place if everyone went around naked. Even the most beautiful people know that clothing enhances their attractiveness. But even more important, appropriate attire serves as a shield against voyeurism at the same time it protects others from an uncomfortable sense of being subtly (or not so subtly) manipulated. Back To Article


3 . The Jews were modest people. Jesus’ disciples probably shed their outer garments when working as fishermen, but they, along with other God-fearing Jews, would have been scandalized by public nakedness that was part and parcel (as in the Hellenistic gymnasium) of a Hellenistic culture whose degeneracy easily surpassed the seediest “tenderloin district” of a modern metropolis. Back To Article


4. Strict Islamic culture requires women to wear long gowns and veils in public. Such cultural requirements place an unfair burden on women, requiring them to be the primary guardians of sexual dignity while depriving them of the opportunity to become fully developed persons and full partners with men. Back To Article

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Isn’t It Unjust to Deny the Fulfillment of Sexual Experiences to Single People? 

It isn’t the “Christian ethic” that “denies the sexual experiences and fulfillment to single people that married people enjoy.” It is reality. The Bible and the Christian ethic are based on physiological and psychological fact. Single people engaging in sex can’t possibly experience the same things that married people are capable of experiencing, either in terms of personal pleasure or fulfillment. What they experience is different and destructive, and the Bible rightfully warns of its destructiveness.

The Scriptures make it clear that sexual intimacy is not something to be entered into lightly. (See the ATQ article Why Shouldn’t Sex Be Casual?) Because the natural design of sexual intimacy is to mold two individual people in their physical, emotional, and spiritual entirety into “one flesh,” the uncommitted sexual intimacy of two single people can never be like the sexual experience and fulfillment married people are capable of enjoying. Seeking sexual intimacy outside of its appropriate context of a long-term, committed relationship is like an unscrupulous athlete trying to substitute performance-enhancing drugs for discipline and training. Uncommitted sexual experiences only distort the real meaning of sexual fulfillment. One-bodiedness (genuine sexual intimacy—see Genesis 2:24 ) can only occur in the context of lifelong love.

Contemporary cultural circumstances have confused the purpose of sex. Contraception has separated sex from its natural purpose in conception, childbearing, parenting, and family bonding. The identification of sexual “liberation” with pornography and promiscuity along with a cultural relativism that assumes the equality of all sexual behavior have contributed to unprecedented rates of divorce, family instability, and social problems.

Regardless of the cultural circumstances, Scripture declares that sexual love symbolizes God’s love for us (Ephesians 5:25-33 ). Our fallen nature has resulted in our misusing sex for selfish purposes (lust, power, etc.). Sexuality is linked to a long-term—even eternal—purpose, and requires commitment to that purpose.

It does not matter what the two people . . . have in mind. . . . The reality of the act, unfelt and unnoticed by them, is this: It unites them—body and soul—to each other. It unites them in that strange, impossible to pinpoint sense of “one flesh.” There is no such thing as casual sex, no matter how casual people are about it. The Christian assaults reality in his night out at the brothel. He uses a woman and puts her back in a closet where she can be forgotten; but the reality is that he has put away a person with whom he has done something that was meant to inseparably join them. This is what is at stake for Paul in the question of sexual intercourse between unmarried people.

And now we can see clearly why Paul thought sexual intercourse by unmarried people was wrong. It is wrong because it violates the inner reality of the act; it is wrong because unmarried people thereby engage in a life-uniting act without a life-uniting intent. Whenever two people copulate without a commitment to life-union, they commit fornication.* (Lewis Smedes, Sex for Christians, rev. ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994], pp. 109-10.)

*Fornication is a strong, scriptural word. But the intent of the word is not merely to condemn, but to warn. (Back To Article)

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