Sexuality as a Family Virtue

by Lucas Woodford

 

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).

1433098_26938990Somehow we in the church have lost the art of talking about sex in our families and in the church. If Christians are going to do any good at reclaiming family virtue, we certainly have to be comfortable talking about sex in healthy ways. This means that we must be comfortable talking about real sex with each other and not letting TV, Internet and movies do it for us. This is true particularly among husbands and wives, but also as the Holy Christian Church, where we use appropriate vocabulary, realistic expectations and biblical confidence.

Yet, isn’t it funny how sex is very often one of the most frequent activities between a husband and wife, but one of the least talked about? Why is that? Perhaps it’s because society tells us that sex is all about technique, performance and gratification—that if you’re not having a mind-blowing orgasm you’re just not having real sex!

But the reality is sex creates unions, imposes responsibilities and establishes obligations in ways far beyond our comprehension and far greater than our physical gratification. Sex is the means through which God performs one of His most astonishing miracles—the creation of life.

Sex belongs in family because sex creates the family. Thus, sex is meant to be a normal, regular part of the household, where the desire for it is neither repressed nor disordered, but satisfied. It is to include intimacy, yes, but also, at times, it is to include things like mundane conversation, laughter and worry, expressions that go far beyond just having an orgasm.

If we allow sex to be ordinary, we might just understand that human love is forged more out of the ordinary things of life, like cooking together, picking up a loved one’s laundry, or comforting our frightened children, than only from the act of sex itself.

Thus, if we want boys and girls to grow up to be men and women who understand and long for biblical manhood and biblical womanhood, who see family as virtuous, sexuality as a gift of God and who are not afraid to talk about it in healthy ways, then we must demonstrate to them the fullness of what this sounds like and looks like.

We need to love them enough to bring them up from little on in ways that will fortify their biblical baptismal identity and equip them to combat the onslaught of this oppressive world and sexually dysfunctional society, as well as find hope, healing and forgiveness through Jesus Christ when and where sin afflicts them.

Rev. Dr. Lucas V. Woodford is senior pastor at Zion Lutheran Church and School, Mayer, Minn.

The Lutheran Witness — Providing Missouri Synod laypeople with stories and information that
complement congregational life, foster personal growth in faith, and help interpret the
contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.

6 Responses to Sexuality as a Family Virtue

  1. Paul Beisel March 5, 2015 at 11:18 am #

    My only caveat to what you have written would be to say that when we talk about sexuality being a gift of God, we are using a term that was invented by sexologists like Alfred Kinsey, who did not approach the study of sex from a biblical perspective. We hear much about marriage in Scripture, and the roles of husbands and wives, and we hear some talk about keeping the marital bed pure, and not depriving one another of sexual relations (married couples, that is), but nowhere do the Scripture employ this term “sexuality” or speak of it as a “Gift of God.”

    I hear more and more Christians talking about sexuality being a gift of God, and how we need to talk more and more about this in our families. I personally don’t think talking about it more is really the answer. I think we have talked about it to death, and there is a danger in dangling the “gift of sex” in front of our children while urging them to wait until they are married to enjoy it. Why not, instead, talk about what it means to be Christian man or a Christian woman, living in faith toward God and in love toward our neighbor? Why not talk about the blessings and benefits of marriage? As someone has pointed out, there was very little talk about “sexuality” before sexologists like Alfred Kinsey came along, and people still got married, and they still had babies.

    For further reading, I would recommend a recently published book by Linda Bartlett entitled: “The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity”

    • Harold March 9, 2015 at 10:20 am #

      Paul,
      I think your response denies a fact of human cultural history. We would find the exposure to sexuality through much of history short of the post-Enlightenment period to be so coarse, frank, and open as to make us blush. Common people were well-aware, from very young ages, what was going on. Houses offered much less privacy, the livestock were unrestrained, and virginity prior to marriage was not as common as we would like to believe. People knew what sexuality was, what it looked like, and what happened from having it. They saw God’s natural design, the design that was given to us.

      In scripture, we are given by God a context for that design, as it pertains to human beings – marriage. Any and every Christian, married or unmarried can and ought to “talk (and show) about what it means to be Christian man or a Christian woman, living in faith toward God and in love toward our neighbor.” In fact, the same talking and doing has absolutely nothing to do with gender because Christian living, in this sense, is gender-neutral.

      When we talk about “man” and “woman” in a scriptural, Christian context, we are speaking of God’s design in creating us as male and female – gender has a purpose and that purpose is sexual toward reproduction and creates the physical bond in marriage. It is wrong to assume that Christians need to be less open, frank, and physical in order to contrast from society. Rather, I think that our ability to show a grand design from a loving God is all-important. We need to show gender, sexuality and marriage to be what is right and what works. God’s design is not a temptation “dangled” before our children, it is a wonderful gift with purpose.

      Christ’s Peace!

    • Chad Rolland March 11, 2015 at 6:54 am #

      I wholeheartedly agree! We are made holy through Christ, not sexual. Our talk should reflect this.

  2. March 13, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    Thank you Pastor Beisel for your response. If I could add to the conversation as I currently teach a course titled, “Restoring Biblical Purity in the Church” at a small on line college and have a ministry titled The Matthew XVIII Group based on Matt. 18:15-17. In my course I teach the history behind the Sexual Revolution and how it has changed our nation over the last 70 years.

    For the last 20 years I have researched originally the origins of sex education and that lead to the origins of the Sexual Revolution in our country. I was surprised to find that many in the church have bought into the lies that came out of the Sexual Revolution.

    One of the tactics used to propel the Sexual Revolution was to remove all modesty on the subject of sex. If you look to antique books, parents (and not churches or schools) taught their kids about God’s life process in an indirect, modest way through the flowers, the birds, and the bees. People lived on farms and saw first hand how it all worked. The founders of the Sexual Revolution convinced us to talk more openly about sex and talk to our children graphically about sex.

    Interestingly, if you look to American historical documents, we were a more modest society than we are today. We were and are a Christian nation not because we have more Christians or Churches but because our laws and government were founded on the Old and New Testament. We had laws based on the Bible; laws against fornication, abortion, adultery, obscenity, and sodomy in America. The Sexual Revolution was designed to remove 52 Bible based laws that once protected marriage, women and children.

    Harold, yes, we live in a fallen world, but God has modeled a tremendous amount of modesty in scripture but we have abandoned that over the last 50 years. God never mentions the genitals or act in detail anywhere in the Bible.. It was Dr. Christ Mitchell, author of “The Song of Songs Commentary” who reminded me that even Solomon uses a tremendous amount of modesty in scripture when describing his wife. He goes from the thigh to the navel Song of Songs 7:1-2 because that area was considered a holy, procreative area that was treated with a tremendous amount of modesty.

    For any author of any Christian book that promotes that we talk more openly about sex, if they have a bibliography at the end of their book, I can show you the direct link to the authors and engineers of the Sexual Revolution.

    We have to decide whose authority are we going to stand on: God’s Word or man’s “hollow, deceptive philosophy.” I also highly recommend the book, ” “The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity” by Linda Bartlett.

  3. Dawn Weasler March 17, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    Another concept that needs attention is the role of single people. here is tremendous pressure, both from church and secular sources to pair up. Single is the most maligned status for an adult, both from a sacred and secular perspective. I have, in fact, been told by a lutheran pastor that in the church, single people do not count. Only families count

    That’s not the way Jesus sees it. Jesus’ words do not condone such disrespect. In Matthew 19: 10-12 the disciples complain that if a husband and wife cannot divorce, it is better not to marry at all! Jesus replies “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.” Jesus continues …For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this, should accept it.”

    Jesus does not disrespect or malign single adults. So, in my view, no one else should be pressing people to declare their sexuality and act on it, either.

    • Harold March 18, 2015 at 11:44 am #

      Dawn,

      I have never heard of a pastor making such remarks and find that very disconcerting. However, I believe that most pressure comes from the natural inclination of most people to be attracted to someone and desire them. We have Matthew 5:28 speaking of these thoughts as being adultery and the answer to adultery is desiring and fulfilling desire in one’s spouse in marriage.

      Certainly, in the passages you cite, Christ is speaking to both those who are called to marriage and those for whom marriage is not an option owing to lack of sexual desire or function even going so far as to say that function can be given up to a higher calling, “for the kingdom of heaven.” Such thoughts were later echoed by Paul. Certainly, it is no sin to be chaste, to seek a proper and well-considered spouse remaining single until that time.

      Just don’t consider chastity to be simply not acting on or not “declaring” sexuality. If there is attraction, then there is lust, there is temptation, and there is a call to be married. Here is where I believe single young adults need a great deal of support and understanding. It’s hard to be chaste, can be hard to find the right spouse, and the outside world is not much help.

      Christ’s Peace!

LCMS News & Information