When it comes to sexuality, it takes two. You can’t talk about sex without talking about spirituality because sex is inherently connected to the heart and image of God. Where there is one, there will always be the other.
Everybody knows you can’t have mashed potatoes without gravy, spaghetti without sauce or bread without butter. In fact, there are several things in life that seem weird when you have one without the other. That’s because most of nature operates off of a dual partnership. For example, it takes both hydrogen and oxygen to get water. Your wallet constantly reminds you there are two sides to every coin. And even the Bible teaches that the complete Word of God needs both the Old and New Testaments. In fact, if you ask me, I consider these things dysfunctional unless they’re together, but we can agree to disagree.
The point is, all of these things teach us that you can’t have one without the other. It takes two.
The same is true for sex. You can’t talk about sex without talking about spirituality.
However, so many Christians struggle with this very point. So many have separated their sexuality from their spirituality making it even harder for them to truly understand either one. In fact, this has become such an issue The New York Times recently published an article called How Should Christians Have Sex? In it, Katelyn Beaty shares how the purity culture of the 1990s was harmful and dangerous, but that its recent demise has many Christians looking around for guidance on how to navigate sexual intimacy.
Let’s Talk About Sex
Unfortunately, church culture has made talking about sex and sexuality taboo. This fear of sex and sexuality that has silenced the Church on the topic has conditioned many Christians to divorce spirituality from sexuality. This disconnect deepens the more Christians underestimate and ignore where these desires come from.
The truth is: Sex is spiritual! Sex is spiritual because the source of our longing flows directly from the heart of God, whose very nature and being is relational. The triune God created humans to exist in relationship not isolation. This relationship between the human family was to reflect God’s existence as eternal relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (See Genesis 2:23, 24). This is why spirituality is at the heart of every relationship.
[Re]Connecting Sexuality and Spirituality
There is a universal, human longing for connection. So God created sex as means of expression within relationship to promote connection and intimacy. You heard me right. God created sex! And because God created us to exist in relationship and then created us to express our connection within relationship through sex that makes sex within relationship spiritual. Dr. C. Wesley Knight talks about the spiritual origins of sex in his book Thirst: Quenching Your Deepest Desire. He says:
Sexuality was the creation given to them to help perpetuate what they ultimately received from God’s presence. Sex was created so that we would be reminded that we are not alone. Sex was to remind us that we can be ultimately united with another soul. Sex was to be a representation of unconditional love. It was created to allow us to enter into an experience that would remind us how much we are loved.
Dr. Knight goes on to explain that sex began its process towards corruption the moment humanity ceased trusting in God. In other words, sex outside of sacred relationship – marriage – is our attempt at meeting our own needs, satisfying our own desires, or quenching our own thirsts.
The guy who jumps from bed to bed for casual, detached encounters with women is using sex to meet a spiritual need for connection and intimacy. The single woman who occasionally feels incomplete because she doesn’t have a husband to satisfy her has a spiritual need for connection and intimacy. Even couples who carry layers of resentment in their hearts towards their spouses, but continue to engage in sexual intercourse hoping it will make things better are looking to their sexuality to fix their spiritual need for connection and intimacy.
These expressions of sexuality are dysfunctional and unsatisfying. And the truth of the matter is that our sexuality will remain dysfunctional, dissonant, and unbefitting of God’s ideal so long as we continue to turn off, ignore, or minimize how our spirituality and sexuality intersects.
Steps to [Re]Connecting Our Sexuality and Spirituality
Here are three mindset shifts that helped deepen my awareness of the harmonious connection between sexuality and spirituality.
1. My Sexuality is Singular – “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31 NLT).
Every outfit calls for a specific purse that compliments what I’m wearing. Sometimes this means that I have to transfer the contents of one bag to another so that I have everything I need. But when it comes to sex, I don’t have a variety of bags. I have one bag called Life and that’s it! When I made that subtle shift in my thinking, everything changed. I went from having a spiritual life and a sexual life to having one life where God is glorified in everything I do by His grace.
Our sexuality disconnects from God when we choose to compartmentalize our life rather than consolidate our life into one single focus. Aligning all our sexual decisions so that they bring glory and honor to God will naturally be met with resistance from our flesh. But I challenge you to ask God to help you to stop compartmentalizing. This week, allow Him to consolidate all your life choices for His glory.
2. My Sexuality is an Opportunity – “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1 NLT).
For many of us our sexuality is viewed as a point of contention with God. It could be because you may be struggling with your sexual identity and wonder why God made you this way. For others, sexual immorality might be an addiction and it feels like a thorn in your flesh that won’t leave. Or an unmarried person may not be having sex but think it’s unfair and frustrating that they can’t.
I can tell you from experience that a major mindset shift happened when I began to see my sexuality as an opportunity to deepen my longings for God, instead of as reason to get angry with Him.
This week, don’t allow your sexual desires or sexual mistakes to prevent you from deepening your craving for more of God. Instead, let your real feelings drive you unashamedly nearer to the heart of God.
3. My Sexuality is Welcome – Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NLT).
Growing up, many of us were taught to repress or ignore our sexual desires until we were married. Oftentimes to even have sexual desires before marriage was considered shameful and sinful. This presents a challenge in today’s society for two reasons. First, more and more people are waiting later in life to be married. According to the most recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age of first marriages for women in 2018 was 27.8 years. For men, it’s slightly older at 29.8 years. That’s the longest Americans have ever waited to get married. To put it in perspective, in 1990 the average age of marriage for women was 24. It was age 22 in 1980. And back in the 50s most women were married by 20 years old.
It’s simply unrealistic to think that healthy Christian men and women are exempt from having sexual desires until marriage. Secondly, a quick observation of our anatomy confirms that we will always be sexual beings no matter our relationship status. Thus, what has helped me is choosing to acknowledge that my sexuality is welcome in the presence of God simply because he created me that way. It’s not a dirty or shameful part of me that needs to be suppressed. We surely don’t have to give in to those desires outside of God’s will, but
learning to embrace the freedom we have to bring our entire self into worship will shift how we experience His satisfying love. God wants to fulfill our need for intimacy and connection but it won’t happen if we feel those needs aren’t welcome in our sacred moments with Him.
This secular, post-modern society will have you believing that Christianity is a killjoy, anti-sex religion. But that is simply is not true. Nothing in the Bible says that sex is wrong. Instead, It talks about how our sexuality was designed to reflect how deeply connected we can be to God and each other. This should always be the ideal we strive to achieve. And thankfully, when we fall short God is gracious and merciful enough to reconnect us back with Him. Because with God it takes two. And to Him, we are whole beings that are both deeply spiritual and deeply sexual all at the same time.