Today everyone seems to be obsessed with sex. Commercials, TV shows, sermons … everything will bring it up. After all, sex sells, right? And that’s really the problem. Intimacy is certainly a beautiful, and necessary thing … but all good things lose their luster when they serve as ‘click bait.’
I’ve taken my family to a new church for the past four weeks and–without fail–the pastor speaking (there have been 3) each make some mention of physical intimacy or sexual attraction.
I’m not going to delve into the details of what was said because I didn’t feel the comments were appropriate for a wide audience. In our home we’ve had “the talk” with our kids, explaining the mechanism and the philosophy of intimacy and how God has given it to a married couple to draw them closer to one another. My wife and I have explained that outside of this context–even within marriage–it can be hurtful and destructive.
It’s true that Christianity has taken a Puritan approach that is an overreaction to the smut that is in the world. So much so that there are Christians who believe that physical intimacy within marriage is only given for procreation.
The problem is that, in our fallen condition, we end up placing too strong an emphasis on things we enjoy. It’s probably self-evident that humanity’s biggest struggle is its craving for acceptance and love.
Hence, we find ourselves addicted to anything that will give us the feeling of intimacy, love and pleasure … no matter if it is just an illusion.
The Bible teaches that we should find true love from God’s gracious provision of His Son’s sacrifice in our place and the forgiveness of our sin. We should devote our praise and affection first to Him, above all. Learning this, we will find true peace, love, joy, etc.
But that seems like a lot of work. Isn’t there a quick way to do this?
That’s where our whole fallen culture which brings us to the altar of self comes in. It advocates an anything goes mentality. ‘If it feels good, do it!’ with the small print, “so long as you’re not hurting anyone.”
It’s very easy for us to be drawn into this. Our very flesh is at war with the Spirit, and we tend to overreact. instead of recognizing intimacy as a wonderful thing within God’s boundaries, we try to make the boundaries smaller, as if we might really keep ourselves from sin.
It’s like dieting. I need to lose 10 pounds. So, I cut out all the foods with fat, sugar, calories, etc. I starve myself of anything good and eat kale and whole wheat bread.
I’ll certainly lose weight. But, I’ll be miserable and ultimately give up the ‘diet.’
On the other hand, if I simply amend my diet to take in healthy foods and allow smaller portions of the sweets and fats, I won’t feel deprived and will tend to stay the course.
No analogy is perfect, so please don’t try to make this a one-to-one comparison. The point is, God has given intimacy to married couples as a beautiful expression of love, which is giving of self, vulnerability, trust and exclusivity. Nobody else gets to be this close. Ever.
Talking about your intimacy with others outside of marriage violates this principle. Of course, there may be situations where a therapist is there to help, but I’m thinking of what people call “locker room talk,” or generally “gossip among friends.”
If a husband fears his wife is telling all her friends about their intimate life, he will feel less open and his ability to trust her will take a hit.
Likewise, if a wife fears her husband only sees her as some form of release for his lust, she’s not going to feel valued, which will damage her trust in him.
Getting back to the issue of all this talk in our culture, I fear that Christianity has been roped into the same click-bait sensationalism as the world. I feel that the backlash against the Puritanical model has become one of license.
Some churches had ratings for their sermons, like the movies or TV. Just imagine, a church service rated NC-17 or TV-MA.
Do we need someone telling us this is crazy?
Certain things are best discussed discretely. Not because they’re “dirty,” but because they are of an intimate nature.
And if we’re using intimate things to make ourselves look “relevant” or to tear down some wall of puritanism, then we’re indulging the culture around us.