This past week I had the privilege of partnering with a local Christian school to educate their 8th grade students on God's plan for sex and marriage. In addition to lending a hand with their curriculum, I got a chance to speak to the girls on a variety of topics including how God has made their bodies, and His plan for love, marriage, and sex. It was truly an experience to remember! I had so much fun giggling and sharing with those girls, and it was so rewarding to fight for their hearts and minds in an area that has become, in many ways, a cultural and spiritual battleground.
As I reflected on this past week, I kept coming back to one of the main points I shared with these girls: that when we surrender our life to Jesus and become Christ followers, we surrender our ENTIRE life to him.
There's no area that we withhold and keep from him. He gets it all. So when we give our life to him... that includes our sex life.
When we surrender that part of ourselves to him, his restoration and grace cover all sins, and set us free from the lies we may have believed.
It also is the beginning of a journey to discover what it means to have a sexuality that is pleasing to God.
But what does that mean for us as women of God, and as a wives or soon-to-be wives?
What does it mean to give our sex life to God?
Here are my thoughts.
1. It means recognizing that your sexuality is sacred.
Our sexuality is a gift from God, and it's part of how he has made us. We were created as image-bearers of God, with the ability to reflect his character.
Genesis 1:27 says
"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."
There's something in us, as women, that uniquely reflects the character of God.
We were made special, and we reflect God in a way that is unique to us, in a way that only women can. Similarly, men reflect God's character in a way that is unique to them, that only men can. It's part of how he has designed us. We are each other's counterpart.
Moreover, when he created humans, he created us to be intelligent, rational, emotional, sexual creatures. And he said that his creation was "good".
While Adam and Eve were in the garden, the Bible says that they "were naked and they felt no shame". Genesis 2:25
When did they begin to feel shame in their nakedness? Only when sin entered the picture.
So our God-given female sexuality, when it's being expressed and used as God intended it, is
1.) a good thing that pleases God, that...
2.) we should not be ashamed of!
Too many women, especially women who grew up in the church, have received mixed messages (or perhaps even overtly negative messages) about their sexuality. For many, they were taught that their sexuality was shameful, dirty, or should be buried deep beneath religious duty and obligation.
Others, perhaps, knew that sex was good and made by God, but were told that their sexuality was something that would cause them to sin, or others to sin, and was inherently dangerous. Something to be afraid of instead of cherished.
Still others' views of sex have been negatively influenced by events outside their control - things like abuse, or exposure to pornography.
How's a girl supposed to sort through all of that and come out the other end with a satisfying and healthy sexual self-concept in marriage?
Sadly, many don't.
For many of us women (including myself) it can take some reminders and reinforcement from God's word that this area of our being is just as precious to God as any other. But it is.
So when we give over this area of our lives to God, he actually encourages us to lean into our sexuality, and embrace it as part of who we are - not run from it.
But this also comes with a warning: "do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires" Song of Songs 8:4.
This leads us into my next point of what it means to give your sex life to Jesus.
2. It means that He's in charge of the when, where, and how.
Surrendering your sex life to the Lord means that he is in charge, and becomes an active participant in this area of your relationship, and in this area of your life. He gets to call the shots. (But let's be honest, he's pretty good at knowing what's best, so you're in good hands).
WHEN: Once you are married
Although it certainly may be an unpopular opinion, I believe God's word is clear: God's desire is for us to have sex only within the context of marriage (Hebrews 14:3). And personally, I believe that there are plenty of reasons (most of them very practical!) that support and help us make sense of why he calls us to this lifestyle, and why we should "wait". Let me take a moment to look at these reasons.
*Many of these I've adapted from Christian author Brad Henning, and his book Don't Take Love Lying Down.
Some practical reasons why we should wait:
To honor God with our lives - this is the largest and most important reason. God has called us to something greater than ourselves. He has called us to serve him and live out the ways of his kingdom here on earth. We honor God and show gratitude for his sacrifice when we are obedient to him, and "seek first the kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:23).
He is what makes us pure, and forgiven. We have no ability to make ourselves pure by our own actions - neither by doing something, nor abstaining from something. Jesus is what makes us pure. Our purity is not something that we can "lose" forever. Purity is a way of life that follows after Christ.
To be pure means to follow him in every way, to do our best to avoid sin, and when we make mistakes (because we do), to get back up and keep following him with abandon.
To get to know the whole person - You deserve to get to know him without anything distracting you, or clouding your judgment. Sex often does both of these things. You want to know what kind of person you are dating!
To build trust in your relationship, and each other - Trust cannot exist when boundaries are broken. You deserve to know that your man can create and stick to boundaries, and exercise self control over his sexual feelings. He deserves to know that about you, too. You need to know you can count on each other to not cross established boundaries - or your marriage won't stand a chance.
To avoid experiencing feelings of pain and guilt - Relationship drama is bad enough without adding sexual involvement, and the effects of the emotional bonding hormone "Oxytocin" (which gets released during sex). Cut yourself some slack, and save yourself from a load of heartache, and a lot of regret.
No comparisons later - You won't have intrusive thoughts about others you've been with before, and your spouse won't have to live up to any past lovers. If you both are virgins on your wedding night, you will have set your spouse up to be the BEST sex you've EVER had, and the most sexy person you've ever known. This does wonders for getting your relationship off on the right foot, and helps to protect them as your sexual ideal.
So best sex is not compromised - Research shows that while the young college socialites may think they're having the best sex (no strings attached and all that) - it's actually the married couples that report the most frequent, and most satisfying sex! Having multiple sexual partners before marriage may complicate things for you in your marriage bed. Better to steer clear of the "mediocre" sex, and go straight for the good stuff!
To avoid the risk of getting a disease - Waiting until marriage means that you won't have to worry about contracting anything and passing it along to your spouse. If you're both virgins, you won't have to deal with the results of STI's or STD's at all. What a relief!
No unwanted pregnancies or abortions - Waiting until marriage automatically gives you a safety net in which you know you could happily raise a child should the condom break, or the birth control fail. Since no birth control method is 100% effective, you are always taking a risk when you have sex. At least in marriage, the "worst case scenario" of becoming pregnant, becomes much easier to handle and isn't quite so bad.
To avoid a bad reputation - There are plenty of mean words that get thrown around to describe women who have had multiple sexual partners, or who have made mistakes with their God-given sexuality. None of these are ok. You deserve to be known for who you are, and not what you do in bed, or who you do it with.
So you don't steal from someone else's marriage - If you're not married to the guy you're fooling around with, chances are he could easily be another woman's (future) husband. If you're not ok with someone doing that to your future husband, don't do it with someone else's.
To protect society - Who wants to live and raise their children in a society where sexual urges run rampant and totally unchecked? (Not me!) Marriage and family are the most basic building blocks of our society. When we protect our marriages, we protect our communities, our culture, and our society.
* IMPORTANT NOTE: Nowhere in this list have I included anything about your husband not "wanting" you, or you being "damaged goods" or "undesirable" if you're no longer a virgin. That's because I don't believe that's true. Yes, I do think that God's plan is best, but you are NEVER a lost cause, no matter how many sexual partners you've had in the past! Could it make some areas of your marriage more tricky? Yeah. But are you worthless or undesirable? Heck NO.
Marriage seems to be the only condition God puts on the "when" of when to have sex. Everything else is up to you! After you are married, when becomes "whenever"! And that freedom is something you can really have some fun with!
As long as you're being appropriate - no "free shows" for your friends and neighbors, please!
HOW: With Selfless Love
In a way that is loving and considerate
Two verses come to mind about this: "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us..." Ephesians 5:1
and "Love your neighbor as yourself" Mark 12:31
This means not forcing, coercing, or pressuring your spouse, and honoring whatever boundaries they may have. It also means that painful, humiliating, and dehumanizing interactions should have no place in your marriage - especially in your bedroom.
In a way that attends to their needs
"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" Philippians 2:4
Loving someone selflessly means that you put their needs before your own. In this context, it means being generous with how you love your spouse physically and emotionally, so that they feel sexually satisfied.
In a way that doesn't deprive one another
"Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you..." 1 Corinthians 7:5
Making time for intimacy is sometimes a challenge in today's busy world. God's word challenges us to make sure that connecting with our spouse stays a priority, and happens regularly so neither of you feel neglected.
In a way that delights in your spouse
"May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer - may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love". Proverbs 5:18
"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine; he browses among the lilies." Song of Songs 6:3
This means that you are expressing and engaging in sexual thoughts, and behavior in a way that is eager and joyful, and lifts up your spouse. It also means that you allow your spouse to define your standards for "sexy" or "attractive", so that you can truthfully delight in the way they have been made.
In a way that is healthy for your bodies
"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
This means graciously making accommodations for their physical needs including injuries, chronic health issues, etc. and avoiding sexual acts that would negatively affect your health.
In a way that honors the exclusivity of marriage
"But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself." Proverbs 6:32
"But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:28
God's word is clear that you should not be bringing anyone else (other than your spouse) into your marriage bed, whether it be mentally or physically. Following God in this area of your sex life means looking only to your spouse for sexual gratification.
How does God want you expressing your sexuality if you are single?
Since this could easily be a topic for a whole new post, I'll keep it brief.
God's word instructs those who follow him that "among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people." Ephesians 5:3
He also asks that you don't fan the flame if you can't quench it. Or in Biblical terms, "do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires" Song of Songs 8:4.
What's great is that God doesn't ask us to disown this part of our being, but rather to see to it that we make appropriate choices with it. And really, the same thing could be said of anyone, single or not.
When we decide to follow Jesus, we commit to becoming like him. Part of this transformative process takes place in our minds, as we adjust our perceptions and standards of life to match his.
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
We can't be surprised then when devoting our lives to Christ also involves un-learning problematic ideas about sex and intimacy, and embracing the characteristics he's created us with.
We, as women have been "fearfully and wonderfully made" Psalm 139:14.
This includes our femininity and our sexuality.
Isn't it reassuring to know that God doesn't call us to suppress any part of who we are?
Instead he calls us to discover the woman he's created us to be, and to set that woman free!
This is what it means to give your sex life to God.