SEXUALITY: GIFT OR CURSE?
Sex, I am told, is everyone's favourite subject. God created humans to be
sexual. Since Adam and Eve first knew they were naked, humans have been
embarrassed and have tried to get rid of their sexuality. Children sneak
into the barn or bushes to play "doctor". After adolescents learn about
sex from their friends, parents embarrassingly explain it, often leaving
the impression that is is something dirty you do with the one you love.
Sex is bad, feeling sexual is worse. We say that sex is a gift from God,
but our attitude says it is the ultimate curse.
To Be a Good Christian, I Could Not Be Sexual
As I became aware of my sexuality and as I understood the church's
teachings on sexuality, I knew I had a problem. For me to be a good
Christian, I could not be sexual. I had discovered the joys of
masturbation - along with its bondage. Others were in the same battle, but
it wasn't discussed, If only I could be free from my sexuality.
Uncontrolled masturbation and fears of getting a girl pregnant deeply
affected my interpersonal relationships. If only I weren't sexual, if only
I could get rid of it, if only . . .
Throughout Christian history, people have been taught that sexuality is
bad, or at best, a necessary evil. St. Augustine believed that the less
one was driven toward sex, and the less pleasure he received from it, the
more sure he could be of his sanctification. St. Thomas Aquinas believed
that the sexual act was only for procreation. If intercourse was engaged
in for any other reason, it was sin. By the Middle Ages, celibacy was the
greatest religious self-work. It was not until Martin Luther declared "We
are justified by faith" that Christians began to realize other dimensions
of our sexual nature. Before looking at these dimensions, let us look at
some results of the misunderstanding of sexuality - results which still
affect our attitudes toward sex.
Consequences of Misunderstanding Sexuality.
One result of misunderstanding sexuality is sexual alienation. By sexual
alienation we mean the splitting apart of ourselves into a false division
of body versus spirit. These two elements of our nature then live together
in an uneasy truce. Often our spiritual being is relegated more importance
than the physical being, resulting in our body becoming only a tool to be
used. Thus, the door is opened to all forms of sexual promiscuity.
A second result is genitalization. Emphasis is placed on genital / orgasm
size. Bigger means better. A quick look at our society reveals the
emphasis placed here. "Bigger is better" is the Playboy Bunny. "Bigger is
better" is the theme of many magazine articles. Ezekiel, the Old Testament
prophet was familiar with this also, for he wrote "There she lusted after
her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission
was like that of horses" (Ezekiel 23:20). When emphasis is placed on
genital / orgasm size, too great an importance is placed on performance.
This reduces one's ability to be giving, tender, and sensitive to the needs
of one's partner and diminishes the joy and fun of sex.
A third result is alienation from others. As individuals engage in sexual
relationships outside of marriage, walls of alienation are built. Whenever
two people engage in genital relationships, the one-flesh bond is formed.
When this bonding is not protected by marriage vows, it eventually is torn
apart through rejection, guilt, fear of discovery, fear of pregnancy, or
fear of venereal disease. What began as a wonderful relationship often
results in a tormented death of unmet expectations. The individuals
involved are alienated from their lovers, families, and friends.
Another result of misunderstanding sexuality is attempting to deaden or be
rid of sexual feelings and/or organs. Women may hate their bodies and
menstrual cycles. Some consider a hysterectomy as a possible solution. By
misapplying Jesus' advice in Matthew 5:27-30, many men have threatened to
castrate themselves. I am aware of someone who attempted to do so, and of
others who have threatened to do the same. If this becomes our method of
dealing with our sexuality, we will never experience the joy of being
sexual human beings.
Sensuality vs. Sexuality.
Why then did God create humans to be sexual, especially if it seems to
cause so much trouble and pain? Before we answer this question, it must be
noted that sexuality is different from sensuality. The word "sex-uality"
is often used when sensuality is meant. Sexuality refers to the basic
drives and yearnings within a person to know and to be known. It is a
yearning for communion and oneness. Sensuality, on the other hand, is the
self-indulgence of our basic appetites, especially food and sex. The
advertising industry, for example, uses sensuality, NOT sexuality, as a
motivating force leading the consumer to buy. Sensuality lures us through
titillating our appetites and has relatively little to do with sexuality.
A Yearning For Communion
Sexuality is part of our God-given nature. We were sexual before the fall
of man. If we really believe this then we know that sexuality is a good
gift from God. Although sin has soiled the gift, it has not been
destroyed. It is a blessing, given by God for our use and His glory. But
sin brought division and alienation. When man sinned, it resulted in
alienation between man and God, man and man, man and himself, and man and
nature. Man was created to live in union and at peace within these
relationships. Sexuality is that basic drive within each person which
propels him to seek unity and peace in these four areas, just as sin is
that wedge which causes separation and alienation. Sexuality then is not
only a physical drive -- even though that is where we feel its pull the
most -- but it involves the whole being of man. It is that yearning for
communion with God, man, self, and nature through the tri-unity of man --
his spiritual, emotional, and physical aspects.
On a spiritual level, sexuality functions as that yearning within all
people to know a spiritual being or power. It is this yearning which has
led to the development of all religions throughout history. Our sexuality
is that part of our nature which propels us to seek and know God, thus
bringing us into a personal relationship with Him.
On an emotional level, sexuality functions as that yearning within all
people to know others. This expression of sexuality is most readily seen
in friendship. In daily activities, individuals come together to
accomplish a task or to enjoy each other's fellowship. It is a uniting of
persons. One example of this function of sexuality occurs when two
Christians meet for the first time and they experience the feeling of
always having known each other.
In this area, our sexuality also motivates us to fulfil the law of God --
love God above all, and our neighbours as ourself. This expression of
sexuality is in one sense the most difficult for it calls us to be at peace
with those whom we may not even have any desire to be with.
On a physical level, sexuality functions as that yearning within to know
one special person intimately. This is the level we are most familiar with
when thinking of the word sexuality. This expression of sexuality is most
readily seen in the marital relationship, when, through sexual intercourse,
the two become one. But when total focus is placed solely on genital
activity, marital breakdown is sure to occur. Such a focus on sex in
unsanctified relationships also results in relationship breakdown. There
are other legitimate and socially acceptable ways of expressing one's
sexuality: handshakes, a pat on the back, a hug, wrestling, and holding
The yearning for oneness in nature is a compelling drive that fuels trips
to the mountains to stand in awe and walks at sunset along the pounding
surf. This is also a function of sexuality, and on an emotional and
spiritual level, can bring healing and peace. God announces His presence
in His handiwork, and the spirit in man leaps at the acknowledgement.
But sin has brought alienation here, too, and man's sins against the earth
have resulted in health hazards to all living things. The desire to care
for and heal the earth, purging it of pollutants, protecting endangered
animals, establishing national parks and wildlife preserves are all efforts
born of the need to be one with nature
Sexuality: A Good Gift.
Sexuality, then, is that yearning for communion with God, others, self, and
nature. Its purpose is to call us into a deeper "oneness" relationship
with our God. It enables us to express that love to others. When sin is
allowed to alienate man from God, others, self, and nature, and when
sexuality is prevented from bringing one into unity, the yearning for
communion is placed in a pressure cooker until it erupts -- often through
the release valve of sexual expression. When a person is outside of a
"wholeness" relationship with Jesus Christ, his relationships in other
areas being to crumble, and genital urges seek to take over and control the
being. It is at that point that a person may enter one or more of the four
states mentioned before -- sexual alienation, genitalization, alienation
from others, and attempts to be rid of sexuality.
In addition to being a yearning for communion, sexuality is also the
yearning for creation. Procreation, an expression of one's desire and
ability to know and to be known, is perhaps the most obvious result of this
yearning. Sublimated, this yearning is the source of artistic flow within
each person, whether it be in painting, poetry, song, dance, or one of
thousands of other expressions of creative ability. Through pro-creation,
"nothingness" is brought to life -- that which was not before, now is. In
physical pro-creation just as God created heaven and earth out of nothing,
so an egg and sperm, "nothingness" by themselves, create life in their
Thus sexuality is a good gift from God. It is through one's sexual nature
that the yearning to know God, others, self, and this world is grounded.
Without it, we would be robots -- beings which could merely perform, but
having no life. Sexuality is that yearning for communion and creation. It
is a blessing.
God created and intended it for pleasure, not indiscriminate use. The
desire to express sexuality in a sinful way that doesn't glorify God still
surfaces, sometimes leaving one with the temporary desire to be a non-
sexual being. Satan will continue to attack all of us in this area, for it
is here that he can drive the wedge of separation and alienation so deeply.
But, Satan and the power of sin have been defeated! Our sexuality
understood correctly does not need to be feared, but rather experienced as
a gift of communion with our God, others, our world and ourselves.
I praise God that He created me sexual, and also realize that it is a
mystery. The are intangibles to it that cannot be grasped. The writer of
Proverbs exclaims, "There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a
snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man
with a maiden." (Proverbs 30:19-19 NIV). It is this mystery that suggests
that sexuality is intrinsic to us and plays a powerful part in all we are
and all we do.
- - Douglas A. Houck
For further information about homosexuality or about other areas of sexual
brokenness, please contact:
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