"Is sex ok on the Sabbath?” Have you ever heard that question before? I’ve heard it a couple times, and like most times I hear that question I’m not sure whether or not they mean it genuinely or are just wanting to see what my response is. I feel like this question reveals something deeper about ourselves.It doesn’t say as much about what we consider “Sabbath-appropriate” activities as it does about how we view sex. What that question really implies, if asked genuinely, is that sex is work. It views sex as a bonus to a marital relationship. It fails to view the sacredness behind sex, fails to view sex as holy, and fails to view sex as a part of the Gospel.
Now I know I’m not married yet, and so my expertise on sex and marriage isn’t going to be proficient, and won’t come from years of study and experience, but I grew up in a culture where sex wasn’t something we talked about. Not just the Adventist culture, but the Hispanic culture. In Hispanic cultures “the talk” is really just a confrontation to use protection once they suspect you’re already having sex, and that’s just for the men. When you’re a woman there is no sex talk. “The talk” is just a “you better not be doing it unless you’re married.”There’s no discussion on safe sex, expectations of sex, what’s inappropriate and what’s appropriate, when, where, or why. So as a young male who grew up in the overlap of two cultures that shy away from “the talk” and any conversations about sex it has become a point of mine, whenever the opportunity calls for it, to talk openly about sex and marriage, and properly help to educate the younger generations about God’s plan for relationships, marriage, and sex.
Sex is the First Commandment
1 When God began creating the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a shapeless, chaotic mass, with the Spirit of God brooding over the darkness and waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light.” And light appeared. 4 And God was pleased with it and divided the light from the darkness. 5 He called the light “daytime,” and the darkness “nighttime.” Together they formed the first day.
God continues to create like this, separating the waters from the sky and the waters on the earth on day 2 and sees that it is good. On day 3 He separates the waters and land and sees that it is good, in others words He is pleased with the results.On day 4 He creates the stars and moon in the sky and sees that it is good.On day 5 He creates the fish in the seas and birds in the skies and sees that it is good and on the 6th day He creates all sorts of land creatures and sees that it is good. But then God continued His creation and creates human kind in verse 26
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
After every day of creation, after every exertion of creative power God steps back and sees that it is good. What He creates is perfect, pleasing to Him, bringing Him joy. This includes what He creates at the culmination of the sixth day of creation. He sees mankind, man and woman, Adam and Eve, and He sees that it is good. And it’s in these verses where we find the very first commandment God gives in the Bible. God creates mankind, male and female, and the first thing He commands them to do is “be fruitful and multiply.” And just in case this wasn’t clear enough there was no artificial insemination back then, so when God says “be fruitful and multiply” what He’s really saying, is go have a bunch of kids through the natural process of sexual reproduction.
God creates humanity with the intention of making them governors of all He’s created on earth. God created humanity for the purpose of being gardeners and care takers over all the plants and animals God had just filled the earth with. That’s His purpose behind creating people. But even with that purpose being the stated as the driving force behind this part of creation, the order of commands is multiply, fill the earth, rule it. I believe that everything that God creates He is sovereign over. He is the God of heaven and the earth; the God of space and time; of Land and Sea; of planets and stars and galaxies; of fish, birds, insects, reptiles, mammals, every living creature; He’s the God of trees and plants, mushrooms and lichen; He’s the God mankind; the God of every scientific principal and law that keeps our universe functioning; and if He is the God of everything He’s created, all matter, and all processes, then that means that our God is also the God of sex.
God won’t command you to do something that is not possible, He won’t ask you to move to places He hasn’t already prepared the way for.God won’t ask you to overcome difficulties that He won’t help you overcome. So if God’s first command to Adam and Eve is “go have sex” then that means He’s already created sex for them to go partake in. And a side note here, something we won’t explore fully in this post, but we will in another is this: God’s commandment for sex occurs in the context of marriage. Sure we don’t see a ceremony, or a wedding or anything we’ve come to associate with marriage but the ancient Jewish concept of marriage wasn’t what we have now. The ceremony and party was a celebration of the unity that was to take place. The ceremony was a covenant before God to be united to each other for eternity but the actually unity, and the actual marriage was ratified at the moment of sexual unity. An ancient Jewish marriage was never official until the couple was united through sexual intercourse. Marriage began with sex.
Sex isn't Dirty
God creates Eve with the specific intent to be Adam’s eternity-long partner, to compliment His leadership and be a support and helper equal in respect and honour as Adam and God’s first commandment is “go have sex” and solidify this unity. Verse 31 of Genesis 1 says this, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” At the end of the day, God looks over everything that occurred that day, the creation of all land creatures, the creation of humanity, the creation of man and woman, the creation of sex, and the creation of marriage, and the Bible says that God saw that it was very good. Everything was good, everything was perfect, God was delighted in Adam and Eve’s enjoyment of His creation, including the part about sexual intercourse.
God is content when we enjoy and experience what He’s created in the way He intended us to enjoy it. For whatever reason there is such a stigma around sex that it has become something we generally avoid having conversations about. As a culture we’ve debased sex to be either pornographic or purely scientific. The words we use to describe our bodies, our genitalia, and the experience of sex seem to be divided into those two camps.The words either sounds like the description of natural biology in scientific terms, or they sound crass and rude.
I mentioned how I grew up in the overlap of two cultures, Hispanic and Adventist, that generally tend to avoid having “the talk.” I’m sure most of you if not everyone here understands what talk I’m referring to when I say, “the talk,” much the same way I’m sure none of you are offended by the term “the talk.” But what this demonstrates is that we have so removed the sacred out of sex that we can’t talk about it plainly. We’ve had to create metaphors and sayings like “the talk” and “the birds and the bees” just to skirt around a word we refuse to talk about sometimes. What I’m trying to say is that sex is something sacred, sex isn’t dirty. Sex is romantic; sex is tender, passionate, reciprocal, and fulfilling; sex is beautiful and to be celebrated appropriately; sex is all of these things, but sex is also Holy, Sacred, and Sex is also about the Gospel.
Yes, sex is also about the Gospel. Sex was given to us by God, instituted in the first week of creation/ Sex was created before the fall of humanity, before sin had entered the world, and nothing that God creates in perfection is wrong, dirty, or sinful. When we misinterpret the Bible’s plan for abstinence until marriage we can sometimes come to the conclusion that God disapproves of or frowns upon sex entirely, but that’s not the case at all. When the Bible counsels us “not to awaken love until it is time” a phrase from the Song of Solomon (a book all about sex and marriage), and when it counsels us to save sex for marriage it isn’t because God is trying to rob of you of an experience. On the contrary, God counsels us to abstain until marriage because He is trying to lead us into a richer experience.The devil tries to pervert all that God creates, and He’s begun to pervert our God-given sexuality to strip us of the holy experience that is sex in the unity of marriage.
Sex is a Mingling of Souls
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” 19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
This the same creation story from a different perspective. In the entire account of creation chronicled in Genesis chapter 1, not one time does God create and say “this is not good.” Every creation event is topped with “and God saw that it was good.” But here in Genesis 2 we have the first and only instance where God says “it is not good” and He says it in the context of Adam’s loneliness. It is not good for people not to be in community; it is not good for people not to be in relationship with one another; it is not good for man to be alone so God creates Eve to be his compliment in every way. And the next thing the Bible chronicles, after Eve was created is this “This is why a man leaves his parents, to be united to his wife so they become one flesh.” This is sex!
The next verse says, in case you weren’t sure whether verse 24 really meant sex or not, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” They felt no shame because there was nothing to be ashamed about and there is nothing to be ashamed about because sex isn’t dirty. God has given us our sex drive. God has created us as sexual beings. There is nothing wrong with sex. But if it’s God given, then it should be God driven.
We can’t debase sex to pornography, the fulfillment of lust and desires to be met by any and all and we can’t debase sex to science either, the fulfillment of our need to procreate. Sex is a mingling of souls. Two souls joining together in the context of the unity God first established at the beginning of creation. Read to what Rob Bell says on this matter in his book Sex God. He says,
“A marriage (and subsequently sex) is always about something bigger. It’s two people in an unconditional loving embrace of each other showing each other in flesh and blood what God is like. We were created by God to live as integrated beings; whole; one; not splintered or fractured. The body and soul, and brains, and heart, and thoughts and being are all merged into one person. The passage in Genesis about Adam and Eve is about whole persons coming together, all of him being given to all of her. If he wants her just for her body, that splits her. It means she is good to him only for that part. They were naked and felt no shame. It’s not just a” clothing off” kind of naked, it’s an “every part of your soul”, your whole being, thoughts, fears, dreams, goals, everything laid out before each other. True vulnerability. Many people can have sex without ever truly being naked."
Sex and marriage cannot be distilled down to simple satisfaction of our need for companionship, the gratification of lust or the process by which we procreate. Sex and Marriage is the unconditional loving embrace of each other showing each other in flesh and blood what God is like. Sex is a Mingling of Souls not just a mingling of body parts. When sex simply becomes a mingling of body parts, when we go from partner to partner sex becomes a search, a search for something they’re missing; a quest for the unconditional embrace. But sex isn’t the search for something that’s missing. It’s the expression of something that’s been found. It’s designed to be overflow, the culmination of something that a man and woman have found in each other. It’s a celebration of this living, breathing thing that’s happening between the two of them.
God created sex as a form of sacred unity, in celebration of what occurs when two of God’s creatures find each other. He also created it for our pleasure and enjoyment and because God is behind sex as a sacred action then God knows best under what circumstances, and under what context we should be enjoying what God has given us. He counsels us to hold off until marriage because He knows it what’s best for us on every forefront, spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Sex is a mingling of souls not just a mingling of body parts. Sex is so much bigger than orgasms, and baby-making. It is a passionate and intimate knowledge that God intended to occur between two people; something they share with each other and only each other. Sex is the celebration of God’s creation, and the loving embrace that shows us in flesh and blood what God is like. God is the God of all things, above and below, visible and invisible. He is also the God sex, who wants to enjoy what He’s created in the proper context so that we can reap the full benefits of the great experience that is unity through sex. Sex is sacred, Sex is Holy, Sex is the Gospel.
God help me to appreciate all that you've given, but help me also to understand that you have given us a time and a place for all your blessings. Remove from us the inhibitions, the misconceptions, and the perversions that the world has placed on us regarding the gift of sex that you've given us; a gift to be enjoyed only in marital unity. Help me to see all that you've given us a holy and sacred, and something to be used to glorify you, including your gift of sexual intimacy. Amen.