A widespread narrative that one encounters in the culture these days is that the Christian God is a cosmic killjoy when it comes to sex. Wherever He sees people who look like they are about to have fun with their sexuality, He immediately swoops in and snuffs things out. Does it look like Ashton and Jennifer are about to have a good time in bed? Better jump in there and slap a couple of sexual restrictions on them! Can’t let them take things too far or they might end up enjoying themselves. Are Brad and Amanda getting too curious or adventurous? Time to send some rules their way to keep them from getting it on!
Whether this narrative arose by design among the enemies of Christianity, or whether it arose simply by accident as the culture has drifted from Christianity, the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. Let me say this again: classical Christian teaching on sexuality has nothing to do with some attempt on God’s part to snuff out our pleasurable experiences. In fact, its main purpose seems to be for something else entirely: it is given to us for our own good. That’s right. God’s sexual restrictions are there so that we can prosper and live lifestyles of personal fulfillment. Happiness when it comes to human sexuality appears to be something that God thought would come to us through a set of carefully-constructed restrictions.
Are people really happier or more personally fulfilled when they break the classical Christian sexual rules? Do they really end up experiencing life in a superior way than they otherwise could do? All we have to do is look around us, at the experiences of our neighbors, for answers to these questions. How often do you hear someone say ‘my life was not truly fulfilled until I began seeing multiple sexual partners.’ Or, ‘my affair with the secretary was a profound and profitable experience for my marriage.’ Or, ‘I didn’t really understand emotional intimacy until I started visiting strip clubs.’ Or again, ‘as a parent, I never really connected with my children until I encountered online pornography.’
Never. We never hear people saying these things because the fact is that people do not make themselves happier by breaking God’s sexual rules. Think of the consequences that arise when they do break those rules. Affairs lead to divorces, which are incredibly painful experiences for spouses and children alike. Premarital sexual activity leads to less intimacy and sexual fulfillment once people do get married. Pornography viewing leads to spousal betrayal and corrupted mental habits.
God created sex and He pronounced it good, way back in the Old Testament. He also made it a very powerful drive – as powerful sometimes as our need for food or for sleep – in order to ensure that our species continued. For this reason God also, in His wisdom, authored rules to ensure that our sexual experiences would be healthy and profitable.
If you saw your child stuffing himself with sweets and growing fat through her indulgence, would you try to put some restrictions on her? If your teenager was indulging his appetite for sleep and was lounging in bed for fifteen hours a day, would you restrict his conduct for his own good? Of course we would, because we love our children and would want what is best for them. God is not a cosmic killjoy and living by God’s sexual rules only becomes a painful experience when we put our immediate gratification before our long-term flourishing.