By Joe Wilkie

Warning: The following article addresses a very mature subject and uses the mature terms that go along with it.

It’s been nearly two and a half years since my first article was published here admonishing the church to increase our open discussions on sexual topics.

We’re starting to see a little progress in this area, but we’re still far from being leaders in the cultural discussion. We can be frustrated by this and throw our hands up like I have in the past, or we can ask ourselves one pivotal question: why? Oddly enough, no one really seems to ask themselves this question. We ask ‘who’ and ‘what’ and ‘where’ and ‘when,’ but we rarely ask ‘why.’ We just take things as they are: we don’t like talking about sex. Yes, but why?

Why are we as the church not leaders in the culture concerning sex? After all, didn’t God Himself create it? He created life and we lead the culture in the pro-life discussion. He created marriage and we strongly and loudly advocate for the sanctity of marriage. He also created sex and yet we often shy away from it. Why? 

It boils down to 3 words: To, Not From. We want to run away from bad things, but if we never have a good thing we’re running to, it is easy to become lost and failure is inevitable.

In the case of the abortion debate, we have in our minds the goal of protecting life and we vigorously run to that goal. In the case of marriage, we don’t fear homosexuality as much as we confidently run toward the idea of God’s plan for marriage between one man and one woman. When it comes to sex, we don’t know where to run to because we don’t understand God’s plan for sex. We know what His plan is not (porn, fornication, adultery, masturbation, etc.) and we run from those things, but we don’t have an end point to run to

I’ve provided premarital counseling on numerous occasions and have worked with several sex addicts in the church and very few, if any, have been able to provide an accurate understanding of the purpose of sex.

Most say it’s for procreation. That’s correct, as Genesis 1:28 commands to be fruitful and multiply. But is that the sole reason? What about those that physically cannot have children? What about those that have had all the children they are going to have? Or the older couple in their 50s whose childbearing days are behind them? Is sex still relevant and important to them? 

Is sex for personal satisfaction? God created us with sexual desires and He made sex very pleasing, so should we use sex merely as a way to satisfy our human cravings? If this is the case, what’s wrong with masturbation, especially to one’s own spouse? If the end result is for personal satisfaction within the confines of marriage, can’t that accomplish the same thing? On the flip side, if it is merely for the other person’s satisfaction and not your own, then is it okay for a woman to give herself up to her husband’s whims with no consideration of her desires as long as he is happy? 

Few people are willing to wrestle with these questions because they’re uncomfortable and because we don’t really have a proper understanding of the real reason for sex. Meanwhile, while we avoid these questions, thousands of married Christian couples have a very negative view of sex. The woman often hates and dreads it and the man feels frustrated because he doesn’t feel desired by his wife and feels like he is taking advantage of her when they do have sex on the rare occasion. In other situations, the man is addicted to porn and the woman doesn’t feel loved or appreciated. In fact, she feels humiliated and self-conscious that he can find other women attractive but not her. Increasingly, the reverse is true in some cases as well as women’s pornography addiction is on the rise. Surely, this was not what God intended. We know this and yet we stay here. Why? Because we don’t focus on what God intended. 

So what did God intend with sex and with creating sexual desires? We must go back to Genesis again. In 2:18, we see the first instance of something that was not ‘good.’ “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.””

It was not good for man to be alone. Why? Though the text does not explicitly say, I believe it was because God saw man needed something that man didn’t know he needed. He needed someone on his own level spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically. Did God provide for those things? Yes, I believe so. But we as humans were not and are not on God’s level. We need each other. In one word, we need intimacy

This is true openness on a base level. In the garden, God created an environment where man and woman could be naked on a spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical level. I define intimacy as, “To know and be known.” Adam knew God and was known by God. He knew Eve and was known by Eve. The same goes for Eve. Isn’t it interesting the Bible uses the term, “And he knew her” in reference to sexual intercourse? Upon sinning for the first time, the first thing Adam and Eve look to do is to cover themselves physically and then spiritually, thus severing intimacy.  They also begin the blame game and avoid responsibility, thus severing emotional and intellectual intimacy. 

Why is this important? Because God created sex in a world that was good and full of intimacy. When a married Christian couple engages in sex, they are harkening back to a time of complete openness. The high of sex was intended to be the pinnacle of a life and relationship lived out intimately. If a couple is open with one another and on the same page spiritually, and they tell each other their emotional struggles and triumphs, and they always tell the truth and grow their relationship intellectually, then their sex life will be amazing! It will be the pinnacle of their intimacy because they know and are truly known down to their deepest levels. 

The world’s version of sex cannot compare to this because they are never open and honest enough with themselves and others to feel the freedom of true intimacy. Porn addicts thrive in the dark shadows of loneliness, never really allowing themselves to be known lest people judge. Fornicators have not fully committed themselves to each other so in the back of their subconscious there is the small thought of, “He/She might leave me one day so I must hold back some of my heart so as to not be completely broken.” Modern dating drives that wedge of emotional withholding ever deeper so as to protect ourselves from the inevitable heartbreak. 

Christian couples who do not truly and deeply care about growing in their relationship with their spouse and whose communication mainly revolves around logistics of who will pick up the kids from soccer practice will never fully experience true intimacy and thus will have a lackluster sex life. Christian singles who feel the urges and either rush into sex or engage in porn use fail to realize their true need of intimacy. They forget that they can engage in spiritual, emotional, and intellectual intimacy with their family, friends, and mentors before ever meeting “the one.” And they can then take those skills and that desire for intimacy and use them to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with a future spouse where marital sex will be incredibly fulfilling. 

Sex is one of God’s finest creations and yet we continue to be scared of it because, ultimately, we fear knowing and being known. It’s time to start living our lives intimately and it’s time to start running toward God’s design for this amazing creation, not away from what it is not. 

Joe Wilkie is a professional counselor and outpatient therapist in the Denver area. Joe graduated Amridge University with his Masters in Professional Counseling in 2016 and has been providing individual, couples, and family therapy since in both private and agency settings. He specializes in sexual addiction and offers a seminar “The Silent Epidemic” for churches looking to combat the pornography epidemic.