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Chapter 1 The Sex Drive
Sex should be used, but in its proper place and time, according to God's plan. Within that plan the sexual instinct is a good thing, a powerful source of life and unity between two beings. Outside of God's plan, it quickly becomes a means of division, a source of cruelty, perversion, and death. Walter Trobisch
The Bible is a book about sex. It is a book about God's creation of humankind and His ongoing relationship with us, touching every aspect of our lives. It is a book about birth, growth, maturity, and death. A book about love, hate, despair, and hope. A book about hunger, pain, pleasure, and ecstasy. And a book about sex.
The Bible talks honestly about the human sex drive. In fact, it is more forthright and honest in describing the sex drive than many of the so-called sex manuals published in recent years. For example, take a look at Judges 14:1, 2. This passage describes how a young Israelite named Samson visited the Philistine territory of Timnath. Notice what happened when Samson went back home. As soon as he met his mother and father, he said, "I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife" (v. 2).
Doesn't that sound familiar? A young man sees an attractive young woman and on first impulse he says, "I want her!"
It reminds me of the story about an old hermit and his son who lived far back in the mountains, away from any other human beings. The boy had never seen another person besides his father. Finally, the old hermit decided to take the boy into town on his birthday to give him his first taste of civilization. Walking down the street, they passed a couple of pretty girls and the boy said, "What in the world are those?"
The old hermit was caught off guard. "Er, uh ... That's nothing, Son," he said. "Just a couple of geese." The boy seemed to accept that explanation, so they went on.
The pair spent a full day browsing around town, visiting the different shops. Some of the places they stopped were the livery stables, the sawmill, and the blacksmith shop. At last they decided to head for home. But before they left, the old hermit said, "Son, I'd like to get you a birthday present. Did you see anything here that you'd like to have?"
"Sure!" the boy said. "I want a couple of geese!"
No matter who you are, no matter what your background is, something inside you draws you to the opposite sex. God made you that way. All of His creation is interrelated. All of His creatures have mates designed especially for them.
Consider the plant kingdom. Any farmer will tell you that plants must have male and female organs in order to reproduce. Unless the pollen touches the stamen, unless the sperm reaches the seed, the plant cannot reproduce itself and there will be no crop the next year.
Or consider the animal kingdom. For every male there is a female, and vice versa. When you find a peacock in the wild, you can expect to find a peahen nearby. When you find a lion, a lioness won't be far away. The two sexes live together, protect one another, and bring new life into the world. This is the pattern God established when He created the world.
The same is true of human beings. God created us as males and females, and He intended for us to be attracted to one another. God gave each person an endowment of physical forces-psychologists call them "drives"-that enable him or her to live and grow. One is the drive for self-preservation, the compulsion to protect oneself, find food for oneself, and find shelter from bad weather. Another is the drive for religion, a way to satisfy one's awareness of the spiritual realm. Yet another strong drive, and perhaps the one that is most misunderstood, is the human desire for sex. This is the compulsion to seek out and mate with a member of the opposite sex, to enjoy the physical pleasure of sex, and to produce offspring.
Many Christians believe that the sex drive is evil, so they attempt to repress or ignore it. Some even believe that sexual intercourse was the original sin. That idea deserves special attention, because it has affected the sexual behavior of Christian people for centuries.
St. Augustine, one of the great theologians of the early church, felt that sex was sinful. Augustine believed that the account of Adam and Eve's sin against God (Gen. 3) uses symbolic language that the "forbidden fruit" actually stands for sex. He thought that Eve conceived and bore children in pain (Gen. 3:16) because sex is sinful, and any kind of sexual activity brings pain. According to Augustine, human beings should ask God's forgiveness for even thinking about sex and abstain whenever possible. In fact, Augustine said, men and women who want to be righteous in God's sight should live in celibacy (i.e., without any sexual contact); his adherents believed their leaders should live in church monasteries and convents, without even conversing with the opposite sex.
Augustine was a keen theologians and his ideas were well-respected. His understanding of sex became a standard church doctrine, and we are still feeling the effects of his teaching. In his book on Western sexual morality, C. W. Lloyd says: Augustine's writings have probably exerted more in-fluence in the West on love and sexual practice than those of any other man. The clearest expression of the innate evil in sexual passion, even within marriage, is set forth. These teachings gave theological structure to feelings of guilt and shame in a biological drive. However, the enforcement of the doctrine of sexual guilt was difficult. The struggle to impose celibacy on the clergy was only moderately successful until well into the Middle Ages.
In other words, Christians had a hard time accepting Augustine's ideas about sex. They weren't certain that God wanted them to live in celibacy. The church had to struggle to keep its leaders obedient to this rule; in fact, the sexual prohibition was one of the first. doctrines that Martin Luther and the other great Reformers broke away from. (Luther himself left a. monastery to marry a nun.)
Either Augustine was wrong, Luther was wrong, or both of them were terribly confused about sex. Was sex the original sin? Is the sex drive something evil? Notice what God says:
This passage indicates that the creation of man was very special in God's sight. God used His hands to make man (Gen. 2:7), which also manifests how important and precious we are to God. Everything else He created by giving His command: He spoke the stars into existence; He spoke the sun, the moon, and earth into existence; He spoke the plants and animals into existence. But He made man with His own hands, shaping him out of the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into man's nostrils. He created a beautiful garden where man could live (Gen. 2:8). Obviously, God was pleased with the person He had made. He set out to make man in His own image, and He was satisfied with the results; He felt that man was "very good."
What else does the Bible tell us about this person whom God created "in his own image"? We learn that He created two people; people of opposite sexes. And right after God created the first man and woman, He told them, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." God commanded the man and woman to have sexual relations with one another to bring children into the world. It would have been sinful for them not to have intercourse. They would have been disobeying a direct order from God if they had not conceived children through sex.
No other creature in the universe can bring another human being into existence. Angels cannot do it, animals cannot do it, no creature of any kind can do it-except man and woman. God gave us this special distinction. We are the only creatures who can bring into this world another creature with an immortal soul. We are God's partners in spiritual creation. Isn't that awesome? And it should impress us once again with God's divine purpose in giving human beings a sexual nature, a sex drive.
Never forget: The sex drive is God-given. You did not create your own sex drive. It was not made by TV, the movies, or dirty magazines. God made it! And God made it "very good"!
Controlling the Sex Drive
Even though the sex drive is good, it must be controlled. This is true of any biological or psychological drive that God has given us. Imagine what would happen if you did not control the drive to eat. You would be eating constantly, indiscriminately. I've heard it jokingly said that some people "eat anything that doesn't eat them first"; well, if you didn't control your drive for food that would literally be true. You would pile your plate high repeatedly, and you might even try to eat the plate itself. You would be obsessed with eating. Even though hunger is a healthy drive-a drive we must satisfy in order to survive-it can destroy us if we let it run out of control. The same is true of the sex drive.
Carnally minded humanity would like to give free rein to the sex drive, as can be seen in much of society today. Nearly every town has a strip of massage parlors, peep shows, and brothels where people go to indulge themselves sexually without inhibition or control. They would let their sex drive run wild day after day, twenty-four hours a day, if they could. One British writer wistfully concluded:
It would be much easier if, like our monkey relatives, we ... were more truly biologically promiscuous. Then we could extend and intensify our sexual activities with the same facility that we magnify our body-cleaning behavior. Just as we harmlessly spend hours in the bathroom, visit masseurs, beauty parlors, hairdressers, Turkish baths, swimming pools, sauna baths, or Oriental bath-houses, so we could indulge in lengthy erotic escapades with anyone, at any time, without the slightest repercussions.
God's word condemns this kind of thinking. An uncontrolled physical drive will destroy the body. At first such indulgence may seem enjoyable; in the end, it will destroy you.
We will come back to, this matter of promiscuity letting the sex drive run uncontrolled-in a later chapter. For now let us consider why the sex drive should be controlled and how it can be controlled.
We have already seen that God says sex is a very beautiful and wholesome thing. He intended from the very beginning for us to have a sex drive. But He also tells us that the sex drive must be used for the purposes He intended:
Here God deals with sexual intercourse between two unmarried people who mutually agree to have intercourse. Today we hear some people say that "consenting adults" should be free to engage in any kind of sexual activity they want, even though they are not married; but God says no. Why? Because this kind of sexual relation "humbles" the woman. (The Revised Standard Version translates the word as "violated"; it would be just as accurate to say that the woman is "humiliated.") Her integrity is destroyed; her self-worth is cheapened by having sexual relations with a man who is not her husband and who refuses to become her husband. Such a man treats her as just another morsel for his sexual appetite. He does not love her; he loves the pleasure he gets from her. God says this is not what He expects a man and woman to do with their sex drives.
Dwight Hervey Small, a pastor and counselor who has taught for many years at Wheaton College, sheds more light on the problem:
Sexual intercourse is an act which affects the whole personality, a personal encounter between a man and a woman in the depths of their being, which does something permanent to each, for good or for ill.