The second study of our series looked at what the Bible teaches us about sexuality was entitled “Sexuality and the Supremacy of Christ”. We considered how sexuality is “God-designed” as a way to know Him more fully and that knowing Him more fully is the road to purity. All misuses of our sexuality derive from not having the true knowledge of Christ opened up to us through the gospel. If I am honest, the more I have thought about it the more I see how the connection between sexuality and spirituality is incredibly deep and far reaching. Just consider the following quote from the book “Soul Virgins”.
“The creator wanted to demonstrate His essence of love to His creation. After all, God had been enjoying perfect fellowship with Himself in eternity past through the Holy Trinity. He desired His creation to understand that they could find true happiness and completeness only through intimate relationships – first with God, then with others. At this point divine creativity and imagination reached its peak: “Then God said, ‘let us make man in our own image’…Male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27 emphasis added).” Scholars tell us these verses are poetic in style and use a form of parallelism that actually equates the “image of God” with “male and female.” God created our sexuality to display His very image, suggesting that both masculinity and femininity are required to fully mirror the divine character.
God is a deeply relational being who created us to experience and reflect His own image of love and intimacy. Sexuality became his grand demonstration of intimacy. He chose to do this by creating amazingly different but complexly interactive genders (male and female) with two important types of sexual relating: gender and erotic. God gave us a glimpse into His very nature with our masculinity and the magnetic way they attract, complement, and relate with one another. Creating gender produced such concepts as father and mother, brother and sister, initiating and responding, strength and nurturing. God created Adam and Eve to begin the first family and to be the father and mother of us all. He also made Adam and Eve the first lovers, each with erotic longing to complete the other. Can you imagine the excitement and awe Adam felt the first time he gazed upon his Eve and she alluringly touched his very soul? They deeply desired each other spiritually, emotionally, mentally, socially and physically. But that’s not all. Their “naked and unashamed” sexual relationship set the stage for a beautiful illustration that would tell the most remarkable story of all. God artistically formed the marital relationship to display the personal love relationship God desires spiritually with each one of us.” Soul Virgins: Redefining single sexuality, Doug Rosenau & Michael Wilson, pg. 21-22
This is an immensely rich topic though not something that is easy to condense into a neat passage from the Bible. Hence for this study we have been bouncing around some of the ideas that John Piper puts forward on this subject. These things however are taught throughout scripture as time and time again God uses the language of sexuality to describe our relationship with Him. Piper would go so far to say that one of the primary reasons that God made us sexual beings (“as male and female”) was to provide sexual language and imagery in order to make God more deeply knowable. The chapter we primary looked at for this was Ezekiel 16 which records God speaking to Israel. Read it again if you need to, it is a hugely significant passage:
A quick Summary: v1-10 are a picture of God’s utterly free and undeserved mercy; that is how all of us start out in the Christian faith, because of God’s grace and mercy. But then in v13-16, 32-33 we see a picture of faithless Israel. Her idolatry in turning to idols is pictured as the work of a prostitute. v35-37 brings the judgement and it looks like God was finally finished with Israel. But rather than that being the end of the story we’re told that God will make a new covenant in v69-63. Even after giving up His faithless wife into the hands of brutal lovers, God will not only take her back and make a new and everlasting covenant but He will also pay for all her sins. In the New Testament Paul likewise calls all husbands to love their wives in this way. This is the fulfilment of Ezekiel’s vision:
Piper writes “Jesus Christ creates and confirms and purchases with His blood the new covenant and the everlasting joy of our relationship with God. The Bible calls this relationship marriage, and pictures the great day of our final union as ‘the marriage supper of the lamb’. Therefore I say again: God created us in His image, male and female, with personhood and sexual passions, so that when he comes to us in this world there would be these powerful words and images to describe the promises and the pleasures of our covenant relationship with Him through Christ.” (Rev 19:9).
I find it hugely challenging to think about how sexuality serves as both a pointer to God and as a way to know God more fully. If we grasp this then we will also see how all misuses of our sexuality (something we will be delving into over the coming weeks) distort our knowledge of God. However Piper goes further to argue that Knowing God is designed by God as a way of guarding and guiding our sexuality. God wants us to know Him intimately; we clearly do not have sexual relations with God but the intimacy and ecstasy of sexual relations points to what knowing God is meant to be. We saw this demonstrated in passages like Rom 1:23-24, 1:28, 1 Thess 4:3-5, 1 Pet 1;14-15, Eph 4:22 which all make the point that knowing God guards our sexuality from misuse while not knowing God leaves us mastered to our passions.
So how does all this work out in practice? All that we have talked about culminates in this: the importance of knowing and experiencing the supremacy of Christ. For Piper the key to the road to purity is not getting the right balance of strategies for sexual purity but rather the supremacy of Christ. It is only then he says that our soul will be so enlarged so that “sex and its thrills become as small as they really are”. Why not try spending some concentrated time this coming week thinking about how the Bible uses the language and imagery of sexuality (e.g. Hosea, Ezekiel 16) to point to our relationship with God? I would also encourage you to spend some time savouring the supremacy of Christ, perhaps starting with that passage in Colossians 1:15-23?
Piper quotes Hosea 6:3 which says “Let us know the LORD; let us press on to know the LORD” and then comments “It will not be easy. It may cost you your life but if you keep the supremacy of Christ before your eyes as an infinite prise, you will find the strength to suffer and press on to love and purity with joy.” John Piper, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, pg 46
Excited about the next study…God bless