Let’s talk about relationships

Scrolling through Spotify, i have noticed an unfortunate reality. The secular world is really good at writing and producing seriously catchy songs about their understanding of love and sex. And the Christian world just cannot compete in this arena.

There are several reasons as to why i think this is. First and foremost, the world is unashamed to promote their false views of love and sex. They want everyone to hold to their ideology; by contrast, the Christian world is unfortunately still ashamed of sex, even if they won’t outwardly admit it.

Secondly, as Christians we are fearful of elevating an interhuman relationship to the level of potential idolatry.

Thirdly, in churches that do not hold to the Regulative Principle of Worship (and even in some that do), many worship songs sound like romance songs already, so if we were to actively write romance songs, it would get much too confusing in our worship services. The next Ed Sheeran-ish song would turn the “you” into “You” and it would be blasphemous.

In short, especially for people in the age range of 16-30, the church is lost when it comes to sex, marriage, and dating. Anybody and everybody can blog about these topics, get a book deal discussing these topics, and ultimately train peoples’ thinking on these topics (oftentimes with detrimental results).

I will discuss each of these three topics briefly, starting with marriage as the goal, dating as the method, and sex as the reason. Please keep reading to understand, and don’t jump to conclusions. Scripture is the source of these views, and the comments section exists as a place to air your differing opinions (so please take advantage of it).

Marriage as the Goal

To begin our discussion, it is necessary to run all the way back to Genesis. In Genesis 2:18-25 we read the following:

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”  So the LORD God formed out of the ground every wild animal and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal; but for the man no helper was found as his complement.  So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place.  Then the LORD God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man.  And the man said: This one, at last, is bone of my boneand flesh of my flesh;this one will be called “woman,”for she was taken from man. This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.  Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame. (emphases added).

God created marriage when He created Eve out of Adam’s rib. And Matthew Henry comments poignantly:

The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.
(Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 20.)

As such, a marriage relationship is to be a loving, safe, nurturing relationship. Men should not domineer over their wives; and women should not emasculate their husbands.

The discussion continues when we get to Ephesians 5. Paul has some very strong words about the goodness and beauty of marriage.

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord,  for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her  to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word.  He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.  In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church,  since we are members of His body.  For this reason a man will leavehis father and motherand be joined to his wife,and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.  To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband. (5:22-33).

The point is that selflessness should define our marriages. In no sense should it ever be about answering the question “how can i benefit emotionally, monetarily, sexually, etc. in this marriage relationship?”

The discussion goes on when we get to Matthew 19:8-12. Jesus starts out in this passage by speaking to the Pharisees:

“Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning.  And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
His disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of a man with his wife is like this, it’s better not to marry!”
But He told them, “Not everyone can accept this saying, but only those it has been given to.  For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb, there are eunuchs who were made by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves that way because of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

The point of Jesus is very simply that marriage is not something to be entered into lightly. It is not something that we should just dive into because we are feeling romantic one day. While the term is not correct, i think that the Catholic Church might have been onto something when they referred to marriage as a sacrament. It is not a sacrament, but its importance and sanctity must be again elevated by Christ’s followers!

For most human beings in this world, marriage is a God-given desire. As such, this is the goal.

But how do we get there?

Keep reading.

Dating as the Method

You may have seen the photo at the top of this post and said, “I love that movie.” Or, you may have seen it, and said, “What a worldly movie.” I hope it is the former, but if it is the latter, i still love you.

In our Western culture, dating is the way in which we get to marriage. And one thing i love about the movie Hitch is that the player who uses girls for sex is ultimately painted in a bad light. Both the main character and his client (Will Smith and Kevin James) are–at least on-screen–upstanding men who treat women with respect (even if their pasts were less than integrous).

I said earlier that the Bible must be our source in this discussion. As such, i must admit that we live in a very different culture than the Biblical writers. However, the Bible still has plenty of wisdom that can carry over into a dating relationship.

  • Proverbs 4:23 (HCSB)
    Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (HCSB)
    Run from sexual immorality! “Every sin a person can commit is outside the body.” On the contrary, the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 (HCSB)
    Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.
  • Ephesians 5:1-2 (HCSB)
    Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.  And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.
  • 1 John 3:16 (HCSB)
    This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.
  • Mark 10:42-45 (HCSB)
    Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them.  But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”
  • Titus 2:3-7 (HCSB)
    [Older women are] to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered. In the same way, encourage the young men to be self-controlled in everything. Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching.

With all of these passages in mind, dating must be done in a way that protects the hearts of those involved–sins of all sorts can much too easily sneak into a dating relationship. Not only that, but specifically, dating must be done with purity as a priority. This can be accomplished in two ways: keep God’s glory at the forefront of the relationship, and practice biblical love! Service must be the name of the game!

Love–true, biblical, self-sacrificing love–must permeate a person’s life before they should ever consider entering a dating relationship. This plays directly into the following heading.

Sex as the Reason

When it comes down to it, the ONLY reason for getting married (instead of simply remaining friends) is sex. The only time two people can ever be naked together and know NO shame is within the covenant of marriage (cf. Genesis 2:25).

Now before you try to stone me for having selfish reasons for marriage, allow me to quote the Apostle Paul from 1 Corinthians 7:1-9:

Now in response to the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have relations with a woman.”  But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.  A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband.  A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does.  Do not deprive one another sexually—except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control.  I say the following as a concession, not as a command.  I wish that all people were just like me. But each has his own gift from God, one person in this way and another in that way.  I say to the unmarried and to widows: It is good for them if they remain as I am.  But if they do not have self-control, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with desire. (emphasis added).

There are two things to point out in this section. Firstly, 7:3-5a, where Paul describes marital responsibilities. He says very clearly that husbands and wives are not to deprive each other sexually. I wrote the following lyrics about a year ago:

And just cuz Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:4
“The husband owns his wife’s body and she owns his form”
Don’t mean at all that we should walk upon each other
But rather that we should out honor one another
If your bedroom desires don’t show the other’s great value
Then admit your desires as shallow, repent and don’t wallow

Upon careful observation of the text, we also see that Paul equates “marital responsibility” in 7:3 to “not depriving one another sexually” in 7:5.

This fact is HUGE. However, it can easily be distorted. Too many people equate sex with selfishness. It must not be this way. Sex must never be about what will make you feel good. It must always be about the other person’s joy and pleasure.

Secondly, we see in 7:8-9 that if people desire sexual activity–literally “to be smoldering” (we add “with passion” to smooth our translations)–or struggle with lust, they should not even try to remain single.

However, by way of contrast, Paul writes in verse 7 that he desires all to be as he is–single for life. Later on, in verses 32 and 34a, he gives the reason for people remaining single:

I want you to be without concerns. An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. . . . An unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit.

Thus, if a person is going to remain single, they must do it for selfless reasons–serving the Lord. However, if a person burns within himself/herself, he/she must not try to remain single. He/She must seek out a spouse.

The Puritan, John Flavel counsels men who desire sexual activity: “Make choice of a meet yoke-fellow, and delight in her you have chosen” (page 44).

John Calvin writes the following in his condemnation of the Papist tradition of celibacy for priests and monks:

There is no reason for them to claim that they make this vow (i.e. celibacy) only with reliance upon God’s grace. For, since he declares that it is not given to all men [Matt. 19:11-12], it is not for us to take assurance that the special gift is ours. Let those who have it use it. If at any time they feel themselves troubled by their flesh, let them take refuge in the help of him through whose power they alone can resist. If they do not benefit, let them not despise the remedy which is offered them. For those who are denied the power of continence are called to marriage by God’s clear word [1 Cor. 7:9]. I call “continence” not that continence by which the body alone is kept pure from fornication but also that by which the mind keeps its chastity unsullied. . . . This is clear from Cyprian. “If virgins have out of faith dedicated themselves to Christ, let them continue therein, modestly and chastely, without any deception. Thus, strong and steadfast, let them await the reward of virginity. But if they do not wish to continue, or cannot, they had better ;marry than fall into fire by their trespasses(Institutes: Book 4, XIII, 17, page 1272. emphases added).

Calvin mentions Matthew 19. I wrote a lengthy paper on this text for my undergrad degree. When Jesus describes the three types of eunuchs in 19:12, the first and the third ones are relevant for our discussion today.

  • [The first type of eunuch] describes a group of people who are able to accept the disciples’ statement about singleness being better than lifetime marriage to one woman. These would be the people who are born with the “gift” of celibacy, whether or not they are legitimately impotent sexually.
  • The third type of eunuch is the one who chooses on his own accord to become a eunuch. . . . The emphasis on this group that differs them from the other two, is that these ones are able to choose on their own where they stand as far as celibacy goes. “Just as there are men who for one reason or another have been castrated, so also there are people whom God enables to live celibate lives even though they are physically capable of sexual relations” (footnotes removed).

The first group clearly describes those people who are born with little to no desire for sex. There is nothing wrong with these people; rather, according to 1 Corinthians 7, this is a great gift from God. The third group describes those who–by the grace of God have crucified their sex drive and no longer have a desire for marriage.

Thus, if you do not possess a sex drive, there is no reason for you to get married. How can you fulfill you marital responsibility if you don’t at all desire sex? Marriage is for those who are smoldering with desire.

Concluding Thoughts

I know that i am just a random, no-name blogger who has a lot of thoughts, but Scripture is clear on these topics. And in a culture that is growing more and more confused about marriage, dating, sexuality, and even simple gender distinctions, we must discuss these things.

As believers, we must get over our shame of sex. There is no reason why the statement, “Sex is the only reason to get married,” should be met by disgust.

As Christians, our lives are to be marked by sacrificial love like Paul describes in Ephesians 5:22-33. So sex aside, if we all live as we are called to live, a Christian’s life should be overwhelmed by love from fellow Christians. Paul says that a husband is to “love his wife as himself.” The second greatest commandment commands, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). If Christians are actually living the life that they are commanded to live–a life marked by love–then the only extra thing to be gained from marriage is sex (and eventually starting a family).

At the same time, to say that this would cause believers to view members of the opposite sex as nothing more than a potential sexual partner (spouse) is again to entirely miss the point that true love doesn’t view others as objects.

Let’s love well! Let’s sacrifice ourselves! Let’s be committed to reclaiming God’s intended understanding of His greatest gifts in creation: sexuality and celibacy.

To be faithful in these kind of discussions we must never idolize either. Jesus created sex, but He was celibate the whole time He lived on earth. Look to Him in your time of need. His love is greater than any human being’s that you will ever encounter.

If you’ve never placed your faith in Him (and somehow still read this far), please believe in Him today. He is the model of sacrificial love for both celibate people and married people. If you trust Him, He will help you to understand these topics according to His holy Word.

Place your faith in Him today! Sex, dating, marriage, and even lifelong singleness are not your answer. Jesus is. Fix your eyes on Him!

In conclusion, check out my most recent song by clicking on the embedded video below. This is an attempt at starting to undo the fear of writing Christian romance songs (though it is technically unoriginal due to fact that it’s a parody).

Comment below to let me know how i did.

Soli Deo Gloria
Solus Christus
Sola Scriptura

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