This blog series is following my church’s series, “What’s Missing From Sex” as my pastor preaches about a topic the church has mostly avoided. This particular post goes with the second sermon in the series and can be found on my church’s website here. I urge you to listen! The sermon begins about 18:00 minutes into the video.
I was having an e-mail conversation with an ex, and he was telling me about his sister’s recent heartbreak. His sister had dated a man who, after a year-long relationship, broke her heart by confessing that for the last eight months, he had also been seeing someone else and was now going to marry this other woman. My ex’s sister was devastated. “I keep trying to console her,” my ex said, “but she hasn’t experienced heartbreak like this before. It’s like losing her first pet.” I nearly choked on my water. Like losing her first pet? I thought to myself. No…it’s nothing like that. Pets don’t have human reasoning capabilities and make decisions to intentionally hurt you. She loved this man and believed that he loved her in return—but it turns out he didn’t. As I tried to explain this to him, I realized something very profound about this man who I had (stupidly) previously chosen to get involved with: he did not understand.
You may be thinking, “what is there to understand about sex? It’s a simple deed, done in different ways. I can figure it out.” However, we must move beyond simply the act of sex and into what sex is as God intended. And in a series titled, “What’s Missing from Sex,” we have to discuss our understanding about the one thing that is tied to sex, even if we haven’t always included it in sex: love. In order to truly get the most pleasure from sex, we must first have true understanding about sex and love together in the context that God intended for them (marriage). Here are a couple of things we need to understand about love:
We must understand what godly love is. My ex didn’t understand what godly love is, so he couldn’t comprehend why his sister was suffering such heartbreak. Jesus said that true, great love was characterized by “laying one’s life down for a friend” (John 15:13). Jesus spoke this prophetically, knowing that He was going to lay down His life for us. But He also told us to love others as He had loved us (John 13:34). So really, He was saying that true, godly love is selfless. Godly love thinks of the other person before thinking of yourself. It is so easy to think that a relationship is all about you: your needs, your desires, your wishes being fulfilled. However, Jesus tells us something completely different about love: that it is not a feeling or an emotion, but an action: a selfless action that is completely against our fleshly nature in every way (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Love is a commitment to the other person’s well-being regardless of the impact on you.
We must understand that godly love and sex walk hand in hand. While it is possible to have sex without love, sex was never meant to be experienced without godly love. 1 Corinthians 6:16-17 (The Message) says, “There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” Experiencing sex without godly love is like taking exams without attending classes or reading the materials: disaster is imminent. God created marriage as a safe haven to explore our sexuality while experiencing Godly love. When you have sex without godly love, you are removing essential parts from sex and reducing it to less than God intended. They were created to be together, within the safety of marriage.
We have all made mistakes in these areas, but we are so lucky to have a God that loves us! He didn’t just lay down his life for us, His death and resurrection paid the penalty for our mistakes, giving us a clean slate if we will only accept it. You can begin to understand what true love is by getting to know God: for love is from God and God IS love (1 John 4:7-8). Know God, know love—and that is the first step to bringing understanding back into sex.