Is Sex a Private Matter Between Two Persons?

Is Sex a Private Matter Between Two Persons?

For the Christian, the distinction between a private life and a public life does not exist. Our thoughts, feelings, emotions, fantasies, and actions are a help or hindrance to the people we live among.

To say that sex is a private matter between two persons is a misunderstanding of Christianity. What we do is everybody’s business!

The health of our relationships depends largely on the way we live our most personal lives. As I understand scripture, God via the church has the responsibility to tell us what to do with our money, time, and genitals.

Most Christians have not yet comprehended this. Early in our walk with God, we assume there is an ethical difference between deeds done in public and private, and we place primary emphasis on public deeds while minimizing the impact of private deeds. But what a Christian does in private is everybody’s business. Now I am not making the case for total vulnerability to the paparazzi, removal of curtains and boundaries, or the tell-all rags that adorn the grocery store checkouts. Privacy is to be respected as an act of human decency. What I’m suggesting is that our private lives have public consequences.

Sin says, “My life is mine, and I can live it the way I want, and it’s nobody’s business what I do with my own private body in my own private time.” If you believe this, the discipline of sexual abstinence until marriage will make absolutely no sense to you. You will consider it an imposition infringing on your personal freedom. Sin rises in us all to defend our self-sovereignty. The narrative of sin is the exact opposite of the Christian story. To enter the kingdom of God requires that we die to self-sovereignty and yield to an authority rooted in something very different than living for the self.

Some excuse their sin by declaring that we are no longer under law but under grace. They rationalize the law as ancient, rearview-mirror commands, now superseded by grace and no longer authoritative. This is a gross misunderstanding of both law and grace. Law is not where our Christian story begins. God’s first saving move was not stone tablets on a holy mountain. God didn’t jet in, lay down law, and leave, saying, “Here are the rules. No adultery, no cheating on your wife, no rape, no lusting after women, no sexual immorality, and no sex before marriage. I’m gone, but I’ll be back to judge you on these rules.” This is not how law came to us. Law is part of a larger story of a creator’s loving care for creatures. The story goes like this:

Once upon a time Creator created creation.
Creator loved his creatures stubbornly.
These creatures violated the relationship they had with their Creator.
They seized what they wanted instead of respecting the relationship.
Creator refused to dump them, overpower them, or manipulate them.

Later, Creator saw them enslaved to powers that used them.
He moved heaven and earth to provide an exodus from this life-draining slavery.
He opened a way for them through the sea.
He led them through wilderness to the foot of a holy mountain.
There he declared his holy love for them and gave them the law as a better way, a living way.
He tabernacled among them, camped out with them, and resided in their midst
as the God of liberation.

In the fullness of time, Creator came even closer.
He became a creature – flesh and blood – and lived lovingly alongside them until they crucified him.
But this did not exhaust his love for them.
Creator’s love continued and formed a community called church.
And in this church, Creator taught people to live and love as Creator himself had lived and loved among the people.

And in this community there was no lusting, no using, no breaking promises, no violating—
only faithful bonding in family and Godlike intimacy.
Law was fulfilled in the context of a loving community.

This is our story. The law is a snapshot of the love of God. It is a movie of what life in Christian community is to be like.

Beneath every law is a covered promise full of life.

And everything we do, in public and private, is an expression of the life of this God. In private, we are practicing the person who lives publicly.

Today’s post is an excerpt from Human Sexuality: A Primer for Christians.

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