SEXUAL HEALING

I am prompted to write about sex because of what I see as a pastor and a human being. Sex has become cheap and meaningless in our society. All the restraints have been removed and people do what they want. The current culture sees sex as a leisure pursuit with no spiritual connections or moral obligations. But we also know that it is taking a toll on the lives of humans of all ages. In fact our cultural practices have become extremely destructive. It threatens childhood, it destroys marriages and it leads to a meaningless existence for humanity. What if culture is wrong? I think it is wrong and will tell you why.

Evolutionary theory has infiltrated all aspects of human life. This is particularly true of behavior. It is assumed that human sexual behavior is no different from any other animal. In fact, there is no abnormal sexual behavior, just alternative life styles. However, wisdom and Christianity teach that this is not true.

Evolution assumes that there is nothing special about humans. We are just another animal. The Bible says that we are made in the image of God, often referred to in theology as the Imago Dei. We are part of the created order but we are a special category because we are made in God’s image. The implications are enormous. This is especially true in human sexuality.

As part of the creation story, it is clear that God made man male and female. Being in the image of God means being made male and female. According to Genesis, a man was to leave his family and take his wife and the two become one. Sexuality is an expression of God’s crowning glory given to humanity.

Of course, the Fall changed everything, especially the way we see ourselves. Sin is rebellion against God. We seek to do things our way instead of God’s way. We reframe our nature in any way that is contrary to God. With the help of evolutionary theory, we have a proper excuse to live like an animal. And this is particularly true when it comes to sexual behavior.

Sex is natural, just as it is for animals. It is natural for animals to have sex whenever they want. It is the fulfilling of a biological need. Our genes drive us into this behavior. Thus it is only a biological act and it is not necessary for us to have any kind of moral or religious restraint over this completely natural behavior. And because it is such a natural act, it makes us happy.

But, we know deep inside that this is not true. Men and women suffer true guilt as they break the rules of God. But in particular, humans suffer tragic guilt when it comes to sexuality. In time it leads to harsh regret and broken relationships. Animal-like sex actually destroys true intimacy between men and women.

Along with the guilt comes destructive behavior. If people are so happy with their discovery of animal behavior, why do they turn to drugs and alcohol, meaningless sexual encounters, all which often lead to depression, alienation and a loss of meaning? Alienation and loss of meaning are the affliction of modern humanity. We feel so small in the universe, worthless and there does not seem to be a place where we can belong. Even in our age of social media, electronic relationships can deepen the alienation.

Perhaps it would be wise to revisit what God has said. We are not mere animals. We are creatures made in the image of God. The image of God belongs to God, not us. It is something that God gave to us and we cannot throw it away or change the reality of its existence. We can appeal to science, philosophy or personal experience and try to reduce our being to nothing but an animal, but it can never be true. The image belongs to God and no matter how hard we try, how low we sink, we cannot stop being Imago Dei. Our own existence convicts us of our rebellion against God.

Human sexuality is ground zero for this soul battle for significance. The permanence of the Imago Dei is true for the person fleeing from God, for the person who has rejected God and claims to be an atheist, and it is true for the believer who is living contrary to God’s will. Humans are the only creature that have sex for other reasons besides procreation. What I am about to say is shocking. The intimacy of human sex, is the best analogy that we have to understand the relations of triune nature of God. No, I am not saying that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have sex. What I am saying is there is clearly an intimacy between the persons of the godhead, a perfect intimacy. One of the terms used in the study of the Trinity is Perichoresis. It means a mutual inter-penetration of persons. It almost sounds sexual because sexuality is the closest analogy we have to understand this relationship. Perichoresis mean what the Son thinks the Father thinks. What the Spirit thinks, the Son thinks, etc. In other words there are no hidden experiences or ideas or agendas among the three Persons. It is one God in three Persons in a perfect relationship.

The analogy of relation did not slip the mind of God. In fact, in describing the relationship of God’s people to himself, he calls the church his Bride. We have a mysterious relationship with God in that salvation connects us spiritually with God. Now we are in Christ and Christ is in us. It does not make us divine but it is the restoration of the broken Imago Dei. We are brought into a deep, spiritual, intimate relationship with God.

If we are made right with God, the ideal of sexual intimacy is restored. One man, one woman becomes one, as close and intimate as possible. Marriage is the place for this oneness. It not only brings glory to God, it brings glory to us as well. There is no guilt, there is no destructive behavior trying to cover up our knowledge of sin.

Years ago, Marvin Gaye recorded a song titled Sexual Healing. Certainly the song itself reflects the problems that come from broken and abusive approach to sex. However, sexual healing is possible when one comes to Christ. When one is redeemed, God begins to rebuild the broken image including our broken sexuality. Sex is raised from the vulgarity of our current culture to the sacred nature of one man and one woman for life.

If this is true for our sexual behavior, can we not see that it is true for all of our lives in general? Evolutionary theory is a reductionist theory. It reduces us to nothing but biological creatures with no higher purpose and no higher relationship. It is this reductionist view that causes so much sorrow for humans. It creates true guilt before God. It explains why life is becoming increasingly cheap. It is easy to kill, to party, to have sex with as many people as possible, to cheat and steal. While this trend is part of our humanity, we really do know that all of it is wrong. We know this is not the way it is supposed to be. Our sin nature compounded by our actual sins drives us to rebel against God and resist him no matter how low we go. We don’t want him to control our lives or tell us how to live. It seems that we would rather suffer depression, alienation, and the loss of purpose than to come to God for his salvation.

We were made for better things. When God gets a hold of us, he begins to remake us and to restore us. Francis Schaeffer said that when we are redeemed and restored by God, we become the creature glorified. We become restored to the fullness of the Imago Dei.

“I am a creature, it is true, but I have a calling to be the creature glorified. I must be the creature, but I do not have to be the creature like the clod in the field, the cabbage that is rotting in the field as the snows melt. I am called to be a creature by choice, on the basis of Christ’s finished work, by faith: the creature glorified.” (Francis A. Schaeffer. “True Spirituality.” Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2001-09-01. iBooks)

When we come to Christ, we are restored to a right relationship with God through Christ. The reason that God became flesh and died on our behalf was so we could be restored to the relationship with God for which were created. We are more then mere animals. In Christ we are the creature glorified.

PRAYING FOR REVIVAL: A BOLD ACT

Church leaders understand that the world needs another Great Awakening. There are calls for Christians to pray for revival. Praying for a revival is a good thing. But I am not convinced that prayer alone is the solution to the spiritual desert that we live in.

Why would I say such a thing about prayer? It seems to me that much prayer to God about revival seeks for God to change us. The idea is that we are passive in the matter. God will change us in some dynamic way without any effort on our part. It leads to the conclusion that, until God changes us, we go on just as we are.

Before you think that I am saying that works save us, remember we are not talking about being saved, we are talking about being revived. The doctrine of justification is surely passive. God and God alone saves us. But when we pray for revival, the subject is our holiness, the doctrine of sanctification.

Every Christian should learn the word “sanctification.” Sanctification is the process of becoming holy. Holiness is not a subject that creates a burning interest in believers. The first thought we might have when we hear the word holiness is a woman wearing a dull, long dress with her hair piled up on her head. But we must not let stereotypes prevent us from understanding a very necessary doctrine.

In Scripture, Christians are repeatedly called live holy lives. As an example: “ . . . but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1Pe 1:14-16 ESV) No Christian should have to be convinced that he or she should live a holy life.

A holy life is not a passive life. The Christian takes an active role in his sanctification. Notice what saint Paul said: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phi 2:12-13 ESV) Paul tells us to work out our salvation. We are to act. Certainly God is at work in us, but we are no longer passive, we are to exercise our Christian faith. We are to carry out the good works for which we were created. In other words, there is a strong sense of intentionality in how we live the Christian life.

Prayer for revival must be made with the willingness to change. The biblical word here is “repent,” sometimes referred to as the “r” word because no one wants to talk about. Repentance is a deliberate act, an aggressive act by the believer. Repentance is the act of yielding oneself to God while turning away from whatever has been a distraction that caused to drift from God. Repentance is a judgmental act because it declares that something is wrong and should be replaced by something that is right.

It seems then, praying for revival must begin with an honest look out ourselves. We must be ruthlessly honest in that we see our own sin and are willing to destroy it, to use an old puritan term, we are to mortify it, to kill the sin. There is no place for political correctness here. We must call sin, sin, and must seek to destroy the wrongful desires and practices in our on life. We really don’t have time to judge the sins of others because we should be too busy judging and correcting ourselves.

There is wisdom in judging ourselves. In the Old Testament, God constantly called Israel to repentance. They were supposed to judge themselves and seek God’s forgiveness. The alternative was that God would judge them. To judge ourselves rightly and with repentance saves us from the judgment of God. God’s judgement, to be sure, is corrective but it can be very harsh. It seems to be that God’s plan is that we repent and be made right before God resorts to judgment.

The prayer for revival is the act of yielding to God. Yielding to God is an active, forceful event. It is like driving at night and falling asleep but waking soon enough to jerk the steering wheel to avert the tree you are about to hit. We aggressively steer our lives in the direction of God.

In some translations, paristemi is translated as “present” instead of “yield.”. It means to put at one’s disposal. Paul says that we present or yield ourselves either to God or to sin. “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Rom 6:16 ESV) On a day to day basis, we are yielding ourselves either to sin or to God.

When we pray for revival, it must be with the boldness of mind that presents the self to God for change. Nothing should be left on the table. Anything and all things should be presented to God in that bold prayer of revival. What might appear to us as wise behavior, may be detrimental to us and to God’s Church. Prayer for revival is presenting ourselves to God for his adjustments, for his actions on our souls.

The prayer for revival is a bold prayer. It is real prayer only when we are ready to abandon ourselves to God. We are not asking God to passively change us. We are throwing ourselves on God to be changed. We are taking that step to work out our salvation because we know it is God who is at work in us. Asking for revival is not a wimpy request. Rather, we are casting ourselves on the wild and untamable God who takes us to places where we cannot go by ourselves.

Revival is no doubt a sovereign work of God. Yet, God himself has laid before us the path that leads to revival. We are to be honest with ourselves and repent of our sin. Daily we are to put sin to death so that righteous might live. Our prayer of revival must lead to action. Remember the old hymn, “I’ve wonder far away from God, now I’m coming home.” That is revival, we come home.

For further reading on Revival see:
Isaiah 1: 1-31
Luke 15: 11- 24. In fact, start at verse one for clearer understanding of revival.