Read an Excerpt
Embracing Your Sexuality as God Designed It
By Anthony T. Evans, Christopher Reese
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2012 Anthony T. Evans
All rights reserved.
SEX AS GOD INTENDED IT
The December air greeted us with a chilly embrace as we made our way out of the house, down the hill in the backyard, and across the field. Having grown up in urban Baltimore where concrete was far more prevalent than trees, I had definitely stepped into a foreign environment.
Lois and I were in the middle of enjoying a Christmas getaway with some close friends who lived in a rural area. But on this Christmas, we got much more than the normal holiday brunch and shared conversations. On this trip, I got a lesson in skeet shooting as well.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that skeet shooting and Tony Evans aren't exactly best friends. In fact, prior to this event, I can't recall ever even picking up a gun. I'm a sports man. As the chaplain for both the NBA-Mavericks and the NFL Cowboys, I get to regularly witness competitive sports that involve hand-to-hand contact—or at least body to body from time to time. As a former football player myself, I like my recreational activities to include sweat, guts, and sheer force.
The idea of holding a gun, pulling a trigger, and watching a clay target possibly break apart into pieces didn't do much for me. But as the polite and grateful guest that I am, I went along for the supposed adventure. Anyhow, who doesn't love a challenge? Certainly I could knock those clay birds out of the sky like the best of them.
The first clay bird flew. I aimed. Shot. Got nothing.
Then the next one flew, and I aimed again. Still nothing.
And again. Nothing.
Now, even though the years may have matured me, my vision is still 20/20. And my hands are still steady. I had seen the object in the air. I had aimed. I had pulled the trigger. Yet the clay birds just kept flying.
After a few too many flew away and my friend no doubt saw the perplexity come over my face, he walked over to me and said, "Tony." Placing his hand on my shoulder, he proceeded to explain both the art and science of skeet shooting. "Tony," he said my name again. I think he wanted me to make sure and listen closely. "The clay object is like a bird. When it's released, it is flying across the sky just like a bird. It's moving. So if you want to shoot it out of the sky, you can't aim at it. If you aim at it, by the time your pellets get there, it will be long gone. In order to shoot the skeet out of the sky, you have to get in front of it. You have to be ahead of it. Your aim must always go before it."
I took my friend's advice and decided to apply it. He made sense. So I regrouped and called out, "Pull."
Up flew the clay bird.
This time I squeezed the trigger while aiming out in front of it.
That bird was destroyed! Obliterated. Toast. Pieces of it rained down from the sky.
Now you may be wondering whether this is a book on skeet shooting or sacred sex. Or what could skeet shooting have to do with sex at all. But if you picked up this book looking for a heart-to-heart on God's view on sexual purity, you've done the right thing. Because that's exactly what it's about.
But before we begin looking into the sacredness of sex, I want you to realize the power and pull of sex itself. No other activity consumes us as humans more than sexuality—for good or for bad. And, sadly, it is mostly for bad. Sex is a strong force—a force as we will see that is often driven by physiological and chemical reactions that have the potential to place it in a position of dictating to you what you will do rather than you dictating to it what you will do.
How you handle yourself, or fail to handle yourself sexually will have everything to do with where you aim. You must get out in front of it. If you think that it is something you can decide on in the heat of the moment, that bird will fly. If you think that you can make up your mind where that so-called "invisible line" is that you won't cross when you reach it, that bird will fly. If you choose to dabble here or dabble there in sexually explicit television shows, music, movies, or even porn—that bird is going to fly. A recent study showed that teens who watched a high level of programming with sexual content were twice as likely to get pregnant over the next three years as those who didn't. What we view affects what we do. Guard your eyes and you will guard your actions.
The only way to successfully handle the power and force of this dynamism called sex is to go out before it. You must draw your boundaries ahead of having to use them. You must choose to outwit it and out aim it. You must understand it, take charge over it. And, most importantly, always be in front of it.
YADA AND YOU
One of the most revealing principles I ever discovered about sexuality from the Bible took place when I was preparing to preach a few years back on an entirely different subject. In the middle of studying for and getting ready to dive into a twelve-week sermon series on the subject of knowing God, I came across a powerful reality about sex.
In fact, so powerful was this truth that it became the backdrop in the series for illustrating the depth of the relationship that God desires to have with each one of us. Because as we all know, sexual intimacy involves far more than merely two bodies experiencing contact and exchanging fluids. If that were all that was required for intimacy to occur, then prostitutes would be the most intimate people in the world.
But in the Hebrew language, we discover something incredibly powerful about sexuality. When we uncover the intent of the original language, we learn that sex is designed to involve the plummeting of the depths of another being in such a way as to both know and be known—much more than mere physical contact, and only attainable in an atmosphere of total and deserved trust.
Anytime you study Scripture and you want to discover either the meaning of a term, phrase, doctrine, or principle you come across, it is always best to approach it according to the hermeneutical Law of First Mention. This is important for a number of reasons, but primarily because the concept of origination is significant in Scripture.
For example, the Bible itself begins with the phrase of origin, "In the beginning." Then it proceeds in the book of Genesis to lay out and address the origins of not just the creation of the heavens and the earth but of every foundational theme throughout the remainder of Scripture: sin, worship, covenants, redemption, and even the type, or foreshadowing, of the Savior to come.
The Law of First Mention states that the original meaning or definition of what is being studied is to remain constant throughout one's study unless the text itself tells you to change it at a later point.
Again, what does hermeneutics, skeet shooting, and Genesis have to do with sex? Everything. Because in order to get out in front of your own sexuality where you are dictating to it rather than it dictating to you, you need to understand God's viewpoint and intention in creating it.
So in accordance with the Law of First Mention, we see that the very first time Scripture mentions sexual intimacy is in Genesis 4:1, where we read, "Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth."
The Hebrew term used in the very first account of sexual intimacy for "had relations" is the word yada. It is the same word used a few verses earlier when describing that Adam and Eve's eyes had been opened and they "knew" that they were naked. It is also the same word used when we read, "Then the Lord God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:22).
The word yada is not a word referring to body parts or physical activity. In all definitions of the word yada, which occurs over one thousand times in the Old Testament, it means:
to know, learn to know
to be made known, be revealed
to make oneself known
to cause to know
to reveal oneself
to know by experience
Each time yada is used in connection with relational interaction, it indicates plumbing the depths of the reality of another person—or even plumbing the depths of the reality of God Himself. In fact, it has the capacity to be so intimate a term when applied to relational involvement that God uses it to refer to His own relationship with us when referencing the absolute closest of interactions:
The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know (yada) His covenant. (Psalm 25:14)
"You are My witnesses," declares the Lord, "And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know (yada) and believe Me." (Isaiah 43:10)
I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know (yada) that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. (Isaiah 45:3)
In each of these descriptions, God speaks of His relationship in a close and intimate manner. We read about "treasures of darkness," being "chosen," and God's self-obligatory relationship He establishes called "His covenant." On top of that, twice we read the specific word "secret"—once in reference to God's secrets, "the secret of the Lord," and also in relation to what God will give—"hidden wealth of secret places."
One thing that is always true about secrets is that you have to be pretty close in order to share them. Of course you have to be close intimately by way of trust, but oftentimes that also includes being close in proximity.
When you were younger and you wanted to tell someone a secret, what would you normally do? If you were like me, you would get next to the other person close enough so that you could lean over and with your hand cupped around your mouth, you would whisper in his or her ear.
That is the typical way of sharing a secret.
And that is what God says He will do with those who know (yada) Him. He will be so close that you can hear Him whispering in your ear, telling you the secrets that are reserved for those who have a special relationship of intimacy with Him.
Yet what is essential to realize is that when God chose to yada us, He chose to do so with a people who are perishing (John 3:16), have gone astray (Luke 19:10), and are condemned (John 3:18). God gave the perfection of His yada to those who knew only imperfection (Romans 3:23). He revealed the purity of Himself to those who are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). And He was able to do all of this while maintaining His holiness, because Jesus hung on a cross as a sacrifice for the sins of us all. Jesus not only died, but He died to Himself as we read, "He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8).
Likewise, the very foundation of true yada of one another in the security of the marriage union is rooted in a sacrificial dying to yourself in such a way that means laying your will, pride, and needs on the altar while considering the other as more important than yourself. It is in this sacrifice where both partners die to themselves that what is new can grow and flourish in the soil of biblical love.
This is because in sacred sex the two partners share much more than some moments of passion. They share their secrets, their fears, their hopes, their failures, and even so much as their "treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places." They reveal themselves in a way unlike with any other. And within that revelation, if it is truly yada, they will find the most authentic form of love possible.
In fact, the secret nature of what they share becomes its own treasure.
Because how do you make a secret no longer a secret?
You tell it to others.
It is the same thing with the sacredness of sex. Sex is no longer able to be a sacred shared experience—it is no longer yada—when it is no longer unique between the two who share it. If and when sexual relations become something common—something shared by those other than the ones bound by a yada relationship, it changes from being what God had originally intended into that which Satan corrupted it into—known in Scripture as porneuo or shakab.
Both of these terms refer to the same physical activity as in yada, yet both remove the sacred and replace it with the common—thus removing one of the main purposes and intentions of sexuality, the exclusive unveiling of knowing and being known.
And when this is done, as we see repeatedly through Scripture, it brings with it heartbreak, jealousy, regret, and severe emotional, physical, and even spiritual consequences. For example, we do not read yada in reference to the following, but rather shakab:
David and Bathsheba
Tamar's rape by Amnon
Lot's daughters' sexual activity with him
Shechem defiling Dinah
Reuban and his father's concubine
Even Jacob and the wife he did not choose, Leah
A person can engage in physical relations with another person and not experience yada—not share the intimate and sacred realities of the depths of who they are. That is merely sex, and not sacred sex. Yet this is not what God intended when He originally created the sacred act of sex. This is not how God chose to introduce the concept of sexuality to us in its origin in the garden.
The primary principle to remember and hold on to in guarding your sexual purity and keeping sex sacred is God's original intention for sex—a shared, unveiled revealing involving knowing and being known.
Keep in mind, the very nature of a veil is predicated on keeping something hidden or secret. If not, it becomes a scarf or a head wrap, not a veil. Likewise, yada can quickly deteriorate into shakab or porneuo—carrying with it the inevitable outcomes associated with sex in the absence of a sacredly shared trust.
Sacred sex includes more than just the body—it includes the deepest parts of the soul and the spirit as well. It includes the covenant. This is because the deepest purpose for sex is to inaugurate, or initiate, a covenant. In order to fully comprehend the sacredness surrounding sex, we need to look at it from our Creator's perspective rather than our culture's perspective. It would be easy to think today with the sexual emphasis in our music, movies, and magazines that sex was born in Hollywood rather than birthed in heaven.
But sex was never designed to simply be a mechanism for biological fulfillment. It was not simply designed to address the problem of raging testosterone or elevated hormones. Sex was designed to both inaugurate a covenant and to renew it.
The closest thing in the Bible to sex, as a corollary to the covenant, is baptism and communion. Baptism is the initial public act you take before witnesses to validate your desire to be wedded to Jesus Christ in covenant. And communion is the ongoing action you take that, as often as you do it, renews this commitment to the covenant.
Consummation of a marriage on the wedding night is designed to inaugurate a covenant. And basically, from that point on, as often as you do it, you renew the covenant and commitment that was inaugurated on the wedding night.
In Scripture, covenants were frequently established by blood. For example, God made a covenant with Abraham, the sign of which was circumcision (Genesis 17:10–12). All of the males born in Israel were to come as young boys and have the foreskin of their sexual organ removed to signify that they were part of God's covenant people. In this way, they were to be unlike everybody else.
Why was circumcision chosen as the sign of the Abrahamic covenant, which would establish Israel as God's special people and through which Abraham would become the father of many nations? Because this covenant was fulfilled and expanded as Abraham and his male descendants produced children.
Therefore, their sexual organs would bear the mark of the covenant as a special sign that they and the children they fathered were set apart to the Lord. The rite of circumcision involved blood, which was part of the covenant.
So it is in marriage. Look at Deuteronomy 22:13–15:
If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her, and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, "I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin," then the girl's father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl's virginity to the elders of the city at the gate.
The evidence was the bloodstained sheet or whatever garment was on the bed on which the couple consummated their marriage on the wedding night. Read the following verses and you'll see that if the parents could prove their daughter's virginity, she was acquitted and the husband was fined.
But if there was no blood, meaning the woman was not a virgin prior to her marriage, she could be put to death (Deuteronomy 22:21), because the covenant of marriage was inaugurated by blood. God created a shield around a woman's sex organ, which is called a hymen, that was to cover her until her wedding night when it would be broken and blood would then be shed over the male sex organ. This was designed to consummate a covenant as an unbreakable bond between two people and God.
Excerpted from Sacred Sex by Anthony T. Evans, Christopher Reese. Copyright © 2012 Anthony T. Evans. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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