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Redeeming Sex

Learn about the ways in which Scripture should shape our beliefs about sex. By Joy Mikles

When I was growing up and got to an age where I could officially go on dates, I remember my daddy carrying around an “application to date my daughter” in his wallet. I believe one of the questions was more of a statement about how my daddy owned a shot gun and if a “date” brought me home after midnight, he should not walk me to the door, but rather duck his head and run away in a serpentine-like fashion to avoid the gun shots. It was a silly document he would pull out at dinner parties to make other people laugh and, at the same time, he probably meant some of it. As I got older, I remember him saying to me, “You can get married when you’re 35, but you can’t have sex until I’m dead!” Well okay then. 

As anyone can probably figure out by now, I grew up in a conservative home with protective parents who wanted what was and is best for me. I love them for that. I also grew up in a conservative church culture where the narrative regarding sex at-large was simply, “don’t do it until you’re married…or else!” And while I know my church meant that message for my good, with it comes fear and the idea that even when sex is technically allowed upon marriage, it’s still dirty and should not be talked about… EVER!!! Except we, as the church, SHOULD be talking about sex. We should be talking about sex so that we can:

  1. Name the myths and lies that exist in our culture
  2. Begin to build a solid theology about sex
  3. Live in the fullness of what it means to be one with Christ and one with our spouse (even if we’re not married yet)

History of Sex

When we talk about sex, we should understand some of the cultural context and history surrounding it, to know how we got where we are today. Throughout history, sex has been a popular topic. A few of the notable, historical figures in the recent past who studied sex were Richard Von Krafft-Ebbing, Sigmund Freud, and Alfred Kinsey. In the late 1800s, Von Krafft-Ebbing wrote Psychopathia Sexualis, in which he wrote on over 200 of his own case studies. His work was the first to study female sexuality, as well as hemophilia (as it was called then), necrophilia, and pedophilia. He was the first to bring sexual variant acts into the public sphere. Sigmund Freud followed with his work around the id, ego, and superego. Freud believed that all life stemmed from two basic biological instincts—Thanatos (violence) and Eros (love and sex). From Freud we have the idea that all life is driven by either violence or sex. Last in our list of historical figures is Alfred Kinsey who published the Kinsey Reports. Kinsey pushed past the limits of sexual boundaries to test the limits of sexual behavior. Kinsey’s research included himself, his co-workers, and others whom he filmed to use as data. In Kinsey’s work on male sexuality, he includes information on adolescent orgasm and sites observations from over 300 case studies of orgasms of children two months to 15 years. 

Societal and cultural contexts were greatly changed due to these individuals’ studies. In their wake, we have Hugh Hefner and his Playboy empire. We also have organizations such as the NAMBLA—the North American Man/Boy Love Association. David Thorstad, founder of NAMBLA, writes “Freedom is indivisible. The liberation of children, women, boy-lovers, and homosexuals in general, can occur only as complementary facets of the same dream.” Essentially, Thorstad and the members of NAMBLA were and are pushing to have the legal right to have sex with whomever they like—including minors, specifically boys. Their goal is to remove any moral line that prohibits such behavior. 

A Sexual Culture

What we see as a result of moral lines being withdrawn are effects on the public. In music, television, film, and on the internet, our culture is experiencing an increase in sexual content overall. On television alone, sex makes up a large percentage of the content. Rarely, however, do TV shows indicate any negative effects concerned with engaging in sex outside of a committed, monogamous relationship (such as contraction of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, unwanted pregnancy, and the emotional toll sex without commitment can have on individuals). This is just the current situation in television. The internet, which is neither good nor bad but a tool, has seen an increase in the viewing of pornography in the past decade. Between “2001 and 2007, the internet porn industry went from a $1-billion-a-year industry to a $3-billion-a-yearindustry in just the U.S. alone” ( And now we have the ability to text pornographic images to anyone. Once we recognize how pervasive the topic of sex is, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel as if the choice has to be made—as some of the church’s founding fathers did—to become silent or to begin screaming, “Don’t do it,” without offering any alternatives.  

The Church

The church’s response throughout history has vacillated between silence, a “don’t do it” stance, to full-on license. St. Augustine wrote in Confessions, “Give me chastity—but not yet” (Book VII, Chapter 7). Martin Luther believed that no “marital duty” (meaning sex) could be performed without sin. Calvin believed that marriage was for companionship and that sex should be performed when mutually agreed upon, but never enjoyed. Even the church’s founding fathers were all over the place when it came to the topic of sex. Each one had his own theology regarding what was accurate with regards to sex. What I am presenting today is my own theology regarding sex. This is my belief that I have come to with the help of professors and pastors over the years. I present it here, now, as one theology regarding sex. My hope in putting this down in writing is that others would begin to see a bigger picture regarding sex. My hope is that a few begin to really look to Scripture to determine what he or she believes about sex. Finally, my hope is that some light can be shed upon a topic that can be perceived negatively, so that we can begin to raise up a generation of believers who respect sex and redeem it just as Christ redeems His bride. 

Male & Female 

There isn’t a more incredible picture, to me, than imagining God—the Triune God—being so full of love, joy, mutual submission, and union that the desire was to invite people into His dance. People were created in the image of God, male and female (Genesis 1:26-27). It’s interesting, isn’t it? Even in our differences as males and females we reflect God. We are created in His image—our gender reflects His image. We are created as sexual beings—identified by our sexual organs and our gender, to reflect God and be His image bearers. As a Triune Being—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—that love overflowed and humans were created! Individually we have the hope, privilege, and responsibility to reflect Him to the world, and once married, we have the same hope—to reflect Him. He created us to reflect Him in holiness, in creativity, in our actions, and in our bodies. He also created us to be united into one. We were created to be able to stand naked and unashamed in front of our spouse—mentally, physically, and emotionally—without shame (Genesis 2:24-25). But sin. Sin entered the world and everything, including our understanding of sex, became distorted. Now we believe the myths that Satan uses to keep us from reflecting God in our bodies and our relationships. For example, somehow Satan has convinced us that sex is only and always about physical pleasure. We also begin to concentrate on parts and performance and use ungodly means to try and achieve what was created to be holy. 


What if we were able to recapture God’s intentions for us within marriage and dating relationships? In the Old Testament, there are several references to a specific word that becomes translated into the word “knew” or “know.” The word in Hebrew is yadaGenesis 4:1 indicates that the man [Adam] yada Eve, and in doing so, they brought forth a son. In another incident, Cain yada his wife and she bore him a son (Genesis 4:17). Later in Genesis, Adam yada Eve again and she bore him Seth (Genesis 4:25). Yada is not just a casual term used to describe a “get to know you” party. Yada comes from a root word that means to know, to be made known, to be instructed, to make oneself known. Yada is a word that connotes experience and a two-way knowing. It cannot be used with false things like pornography. What if our true potential, as broken people living in a broken world trying to reflect God’s image, is that of yada sex? As in: fully knowing, fully sensuous, fully known, fully receiving, fully entering, fully becoming “one?” In light of this understanding, all of our preconceived ideas of sex, dating, and marriage shift. Sex is no longer goal-oriented with orgasm as the chief accomplishment. Sex is no longer about parts and how “good” one performs. In light of yada, we can begin to understand sex as holy, as good, as owed to one another (within the confines of marriage), and as fun. 

Sex is Holy

“Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex”(Hebrews 13:4, The Message). God does not leave the room when we enter the bedroom. God is in on what we do with our bodies. Scripture calls our bodies the temple of the Holy Spirit. We cannot separate our souls from our skin. What our bodies do, our souls also do. Sex is a holy act between wife and husband and should be honored and treated as holy because it is. Sex should not be abused. Sex should have boundaries. When we go outside of those boundaries, we misuse our body, God’s temple, and the consequences of sin can create pain, hurt, embarrassment, and harm. 

Sex is Good

When God created us, He created all of us, our genitalia included, and He called us “very good.” God’s opinion about us is that we are good. He didn’t glance over the parts we cover because they embarrass Him. He calls them good. He created sex, sexual response, and orgasm. He calls them good. God also created interdependence—we cannot survive without one another. As it turns out, sex is part of that process: the uniting, the interdependence.

Sex is Owed

“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). God is not going to provide someone else to meet a spouse’s sexual need. The Greek word used in the verse above for “give” is apodidimi, which means to fulfill one’s duty to, to give back, recompense, give what is due, restore. Sex is not a bargaining chip or an opportunity to hold authority over another. Sex is mutually owed between husband and wife and should be treated as a gift. 

Sex is Fun

Although pleasure is not the sole purpose of sex, sex is for pleasure. One entire book of the Bible, Song of Songs, is full of stories about the joy of sex. We read in Proverbs how men are supposed to “rejoice in the wife of [their] youth”! 

Sex has been misunderstood, taught incorrectly, and most often we have been uninformed or misinformed. Perhaps it is time for the church to begin a healthy dialogue regarding sex, so that married people, single people, adolescents, young adults, adults, and seniors, can begin to live fully into all God has intended for us, including a healthy view of sex and sexuality. Our belief about sex should be informed by Scripture and our behaviors should be shaped by our beliefs, not the other way around. May we, as the church, begin to seek God about the topic of sex in order to reflect Him to the world, individually and as married people.  

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