Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Good Sex

Sermon:"Good Sex" (preached 2/15)
Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:18-25

Scripture Lesson: Song of Songs 4:8-5:1

I grew up on a farm. A beef farm to be specific. We had cattle at our farm, my grandpa’s farm, and my uncle’s farm. Cattle were a big part of my life, but I have to admit that it probably sounds weird that umm...well, I learned sex ed. from the animals. You see when you grow up on a farm, it’s hard NOT to notice certain things happening.

I remember one time when I was little, I asked my dad, “What are those two cows DOING!?!” Dad replied, “Well, they’re playing.” That answer worked for a while, but as I got older I realized that Dad’s answer was true, they were “playing,” but it was a much different game than I had imagined.

Nowadays, Stephanie hates it because I speak of the physical dimensions of human sexuality very much like I do those cattle. Believe it or not, what we look for in mates is pretty much identical to what a farmer looks for in a breeding herd. A muscular, powerful, virile, and healthy male. Or a female with a good birthing capacity, adequate milk production, and a healthy posture.

But guys trust me, girls don’t like to be compared to cows. I know this from experience, so if you’re needing brownie points after Valentine’s definitely don’t want to say that your girlfriend has the hips of a cow. Bad move. Don’t try it.

In all reality, though, we forget that we are animals. We’re influenced by our biology, and we have certain desires that come simply because we’re human males and females...But the question is: Are we more? The Bible begins with this question, so let’s dig in and turn to Genesis 2:7.

Genesis 2:7

Dirt and Breath - Then the LORD God formed the human from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the human’s nostrils, and the human became a living person.

We are creatures of duality. We are made of dirt and formed from the every other creature, yet unlike every other creature, we are made in God’s image and God breathed into us...and this is pretty important because the word for breath and spirit are the same in Hebrew. We are dirt and spirit. As Rob Bell says, “We are angels and animals.”

“Angels and Animals” - The cattle that I saw growing up were ruled by instinct. They ate. They slept. They chewed cud. And periodically, they would mate. The cow never thought, “Does he really love me?” The bull never feared if “she is as committed to this relationship as I am?” Not at all. When the chemicals burst forth from the cow’s brain, the time was right, and the deed was done.

But we’re different from that, aren’t we? Sex is more than just a biological instinct for us. Don’t get me wrong, it is biological, but we have some other needs and desires that are wrapped around human sexuality.

Biology - If you doubt that biology has something to do with sex, try putting 30 15 yr. olds (half male, half female) in the same room, turn down the lights, and give them comfortable chairs. You’ll biology buzzing everywhere.

There was a father who knew it was time, so he sat his 6th grade son down to talk. He says, “Son, I think it’s time we talk about sex.” His son replies, “Sure, dad, what do you want to know?” There’s alot about sex that comes naturally because of all the instincts built into us.

Our biology encourages us to reproduce our genes. In fact, our biology encourages us to cast our genes out generously within the gene pool, if you get my drift. So when teach abstinence one of the great challenges is that we’re swimming upstream against our own make-up...our own biology. And before you think this is so terrible, it’s important to remember that it’s actually a good thing. Without this deep rooted desire, we wouldn’t reproduce and the species would die. And if the desire to share genes weren’t strong, the gene pool could become shallow and lead to inbreeding and/or poor genetic make-up.

But aren’t we more than our biology?

Control - One of the great medical breakthroughs that we’re living through is the discovery of genetic dispositions. In other words, we’ve discovered that some people are predisposed to certain diseases more than others. Some are more likely to have high cholesterol. Others are susceptible to alcoholism. While others are more likely to develop colon cancer. Alot of who we are and even what happens to us is written in our genes. But is that all we are?

Since I have the gene for high cholesterol, does that mean I just eat fatty junk food since it doesn’t matter? If one of you has the genetic disposition for alcoholism, does that mean that you can’t help being an alcoholic? Not at all. We are more than our genes. We’re more than animals. Just because I have a sex drive doesn’t mean that I have to be driven by sex. And, while this seems common sense, it’s amazing how many people don’t believe this. Critics of abstinence sex-ed programs often state, “they’ll do it anyway, so why fight it?”

What’s amazing to me is that sexuality is one area where we give ourselves over to our biology. Rob Bell points out that 2 famous hollywood actors, both beautiful, both famous for being professional, fit, and well trained actors, did a movie together. He was married at the time, and she had left a marriage.

Before long, he was divorced, and they were spending time together. Shortly, they were married, but before they were married, before he was divorced, they were seen together. They said they were just friends...well, we know better now. They’re response? “We couldn’t help ourselves.”

Two actors famous for being in shape, learning new accents and skills for films...Two actors known for spending countless hours beyond exhaustion...they couldn’t control themselves?

Why is it that we give a double standard to sex? We can control other things but not it? In all fairness, we control little of our biological urges anymore. We’re obese. We’ve ammassed wealth. We’ve built walls of safety and fences to keep others out of our stuff. We attack people different from us.

Are we animals? Yes. Is that all we are? No. God breathed his Spirit into us, and we carry within us the divine. And we are more than our biology. Be it promiscuity, adultery, or homosexuality, we are more than our genes: We are called to live lives pleasing to God. God has given us self-control. What makes us different from the animals? Truly, what makes us different from the animals? The ability to CHOOSE SOMETHING DIFFERENT FROM OUR GENETIC DISPOSITION.


Denial - This is exactly the opposite of some others’ thinking. There are others who believe that since we are spiritual beings that we should forgo the flesh...that the desires of the flesh are bad, wicked, and evil...or perhaps more positively the desires are merely base desires and not worthy of our spiritual nature.

This line of thinking encourages the denial of the flesh, the denial of urges. And herein lies the problem, it is a way of thinking that lives in denial. Instead of balancing or controlling desire, many ascetics, of whom many are religious people have taught that we should abstain from sex.

Dangerous Celibacy - So why is this so bad? What could be wrong with people advocating a broad celibacy? Well, nothing per se except when the celibacy is coerced or forced and really rooted in an ancient philosophy that hates the human body.

I think we’ve all seen way too many reports of “celibate” religious figures abusing children in their care. And no matter what any primate in Italy may say, the problem is documented all the way back into the Middle Ages, and occurs more than just in the USA.

You see when people who are not willing or able to take vows of celibacy do so, they begin to stuff and repress their sexuality...but like any force, their sexuality must come out in some form...and in these cases it comes out in unhealthy ways taking advantage of the weakest of society, children.

Or you get Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy Magazine. Did you know that Hugh Hefner’s parents were ultra-strict Christians. They never hugged or kissed as a family when Hugh was growing up. He was taught over and over and over again that sex was bad and dirty. So does it come as any surprise that he would grow up transfixed on the very thing he was denied? Later in life, his mother apologized for her lack of affection toward him, to which he replied, “Mom, you couldn’t have done it any better. Because of things you weren’t able to do, it set me on a course to change my life and the world.”

Don’t get me wrong, celibacy is not the issue: The issue is having a negative view of something that God created and said was “good.” Sex is not evil. Our hearts are what can be evil. And anyone who broadly teaches that our bodies or that sex is evil, well, they are promoting a dangerous celibacy that is doomed to cause problems...severe problems. Problems that are really going to hurt others.

We’re neither animals nor angels. And when we pretend that we’re either or, we get all messed up. We are in fact both at the same time, and unless we learn how to be fully human, animal and spirit, only then will be able to live out our sexuallity the way God intended. Only then will we be comfortable in our own skin...That’ s right the key to being sexy is learning how to be human, the animal and spirit of God together.

Good Sex
1 Timothy 4:1-5
- Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead. They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain kinds of foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth. Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.

Hidden Sources - We have to be careful where our views of sex are coming from. Roman Stoicism and Greek asceticism are largely responsible for Christianity’s negative view toward sex. Our Jewish or OT heritage is largely positive on the subject. The NT has mixed statements, which means we have to dig deeper and work harder to figure it all out.

The Easy Way Out - Avoidance - But it’s always easier and more expedient when we have an agenda to just avoid an issue.

Sacred by the Word of God & Prayer - This is why we’re talking about this. Sex and its many issues within our culture are too big to ignore. God’s word says that we have to search through Scriptures in prayer with God finding what God would have for us and our sexuality.

When Sex Is Bad

The 3 P’s
- 1 Cor. 6:12-20 - giving of ourselves in order to get something else in return. People prostitute themselves all the’s just that the currency changes. It might be sex for love or sex for gifts and stuff or sex for power and fame. Unfortunately, too many people have a narrow definition of what it means to give yourself as a commodity of exchange.

Porn - Matt. 5:27-30 - Lust, dreaming of others, wanting what you can’t have, porn is one of the most profitable industries in the USA.

Promiscuity - Col. 3:5-6 - Just feeding your stomach. Doing it for the simple reason that it feels good.

Person vs. Object - objectifying others or yourself

Good Sex
What makes Sex Good?

Love - Eph. 5:25 - Love as Christ loved the Church - remind marriage as the model for God’s love in the world. A self-giving love...not a self-taking love.

Unity - Gen. 2:23-25 - One Flesh, Good sex, beautiful sex is within the confines of a committed loving marriage relationship.

Enjoying Naked - Prov. 5:18-20 - We must learn to enjoy the physical experiences of sex. And I know that this is a very difficult task. It will take a lot of effort, I know. But notice this comes after Love and Unity because ALL, and I mean ALL scientific evidence clearly states that sex is best in the midst of a committed, longterm marriage.

Enjoying being open and honest, vulnerable, and safe. Enjoy being captivated by someone and captivating someone else.

We’re neither animals nor angels. We’re human, and for us sex is good because God made it and God is good. So as your pastor, I encourage everyone to have Good Sex...and not settle for anything less...don’t settle for less...for to settle on anything less is to deny your humanity...and what you were made for. We were made to be in committed relationships and to experience love and unity of spirit and heart and soul. We were meant to be naked and unashamed, one flesh, and in love.


Kara Szyarto said...

before i say the real reason i'm commenting, let me just say that i appreciate you teaching this [and sharing this on your blog]. we as a church don't talk about sex enough, and we should be. so A+.

okay, the real reason:
when you said "I grew up on a beef farm," I read "i grew up on a beet farm," and I got really excited about all the Dwight Schrute/The Office jokes I could make about you... joke's on me though: i can't read :( plus, i knew you had cows, so i don't know where my brain was...

word verification: shalg :)

Todd said...

mmmm, I remember a good farm story Mark told me once... it was about poop though...

I wonder would Mark get "Office" references?