Having Sex Has Nothing to Do With Your Identity

Having Sex Has Nothing to Do With Your Identity August 31, 2017

One of the more pernicious secular doctrines pushed upon the cultural proselytes is the notion of finding personal identity within the realm of sexuality. Sex used to be something humans did – now it has become part of their perceived essence of humanity. It has become woven into the fabric of our very being, for though many would deny a proper metaphysics of personhood, sex has nonetheless penetrated the soul-body composite. The implications of this are grand-sweeping, for the conversation is not simply relegated to heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual, transsexual, etc., expressions. It has moved beyond the boundaries of sexuality to the person itself.

While one may have formerly jettisoned a proper metaphysics of personhood for the sake of scientific enterprises (i.e. – there is no soul or mystical property of mankind), we find when sexuality is the dominantly driving factor, precisely the opposite has happened (i.e. – there is no set biological or genetic property to mankind). Now, even a rudimentary understanding of physiology and biology ought to sweep such a proposition aside, yet the current reality Western society has written is ahistorical. What do history and science have to do with each other in this particular discussion? Everything.

What we are finding is the redefinition of what makes humanity special – yet it is in the fundamental degradation of humanity itself. Rather than highlight that which makes humans unique in all of creation (i.e. that we are moral, emotive, psychical beings bearing the Imago Dei), Western society highlights that which makes humanity similar to all other mammals: sex.

This has profoundly practical implications upon many Christians who, unbeknownst to them, have embraced such foundations in approaching an understanding of personhood. Many classifying as Reformed Christians have embraced such a taxonomy, if only subconsciously, when they bifurcate biblical, sexual norms in lieu of popular entertainment. One recent example I can recall, which has been no subject of small debate, would be those who find “liberty” in watching movies or television shows with pornographic content.

The crux of this particular issue comes in a mocking of piety – as if taking seriously the admonition of Paul to flee from that which is not worthy to behold begets legalistic tendencies. However, one such individual was uncharacteristically frank when he expressed, in defense of his favorite show, far too many Christians are missing the “cinematic marvel of our day” all because of a little bit of artful sex on screen.

Another, seemingly unaware of his double-speak, issued a statement similarly as frank in saying the “pietistic” Christians who abstain from such things are hypocritical – simply because there is no perfect form of entertainment. The natural premise he sets forth: sex on screen is no big deal because there are other worldviews being offered that are antithetical to the Christian walk. Beyond being guilty of arguing from hyperbole, he too seems to hold a low view of personhood, as if sex is detached from the equation. God forbid you were to get these two men speaking on the evils of homosexuality, though.

Many who claim the moniker “Christian” have embraced a sexual worldview antithetical to the Scriptures in that they have adopted a similar understanding of the culture, albeit, aligned with more conservative values. Perhaps the more sinister implication of this outlook is in the fact that they decry homosexuality, yet attend little to their own hearts on the matter of sexual immorality in popular entertainment.

Or, perhaps the truly sinister implication is found in the notion that personhood is still thought of in concepts of one’s sexuality. Rather than leaning left, it is the mirroring of principles to the right; it is the expression of the same conviction in a sexual identity, just on the opposing side. In some sense or another, refraining from participating in such an identity, therefore, exposes one to experiencing a form of humanity devoid of some inherent meaning. This is at the heart of the battle over a biblical understanding of sexuality and particularly why sexual deviancy has long made strides within the greater culture.

Yet this same, problematic line of reasoning carries through to how the church understands and relates to singles in her midst. Contra 1 Cor. 7, wherein Paul expresses he wished all could be as him (remaining single, with a singular, undivided purpose in serving the Lord) the church has revealed her dirty-little-secret: single Christians are good and all, but marriage is divine. Just how many young singles are reminded around the holidays of their enigmatic and functionally awkward singleness? What a regrettable message to be sending to these wonderful people. Even more regrettable is the statistical reality of extramarital sex and usage of pornography amongst singles.

But the problem runs deeper still. Even within the confines of a marriage, far too many Christians have proposed the marriage is lacking without sexual expression. Now, in some cases this may be correct (a la 1 Cor. 7 again), but let’s say, for the sake of the argument, you and your spouse are prevented from being able to share in the wonderful gift of sex for the remainder of your lives. Will the marriage survive? We’d like to say yes – but the staggering reality, even amongst those professing Christ and a conservative sexual ethic, betrays such an answer. If it is not indulgence in an extramarital affair, it is in pornography.

To be clear – I am not drawing a correlation between the two people groups, as if married couples provide causation for singles to be drawn into premarital sex and pornography. Likewise, I am not drawing a correlation between the husband and wife – as if the potential for no sex provides causation for infidelity. Rather, I am drawing a correlation between the concept of sexual identity and sexual immorality within both society and the church. When one embraces a faulty understanding of a metaphysics of personhood, in that sexuality is a necessary component of what makes humanity special, and for all intents and purposes, fulfilled, we invariably see the fruits of such conclusions in our ethics, or lack thereof.

When one links sexuality to the fundamental understanding of what constitutes humanity, rationalizations abound to justify particularly sinful and heinous acts. For all of humanity, yet especially the Christian – sexuality is not intrinsically linked to what confers personhood. Instead, expression of personhood is surmised in the Imago Dei – that we are created in the image of God, both male and female. There is no composite, sexual experience in the Triune Lord; even Christ in the flesh did not partake in sexual expression of any sort.

Fundamentally then, we must realign to an understanding that makes much of the good gift of a proper, biblically defined sexuality – yet emphatically reject such a good gift is necessary to experience the fullness of the Imago Dei. Singleness (no sexual activity) is as good, if not better in respect to singular, undivided devotion to the Lord, as the marriage between one man and one woman where sexual activity does take place.

While indeed, marriage is a wonderful gift and expresses the reality of the relationship between Christ and His own bride, it is not the sole means by which such an expression occurs. Interestingly, it is not the act of sexual intimacy which displays the mystery of the gospel – it is the marriage itself. Yet of particular interest is that this marriage, in just the same way as the single Christian, is to be presented as a covenantal act wherein both seek to live as if they are unmarried. That is, though they have this covenantal obligation to one another and a naturally divided focus, they must live with singular focus, as husband and wife, with the express purpose of devotion to the Lord.

This in no part downplays the significance and beauty of sex that is honoring to the Lord (i.e. – within the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman). However, it fundamentally rejects the idea that the fullness of personhood or the fullness of joy is experienced in the act of sex. Rather, the fullness of humanity is evidenced in likeness to their Creator as they set about to worship and enjoy Him forever, which is fundamentally linked with the act of a willful submission to His decree. It is an intrinsically Trinitarian expression, in that just as God maintains perfect and full fellowship within the Godhead, so too can Christians experience complete joy in Him.

It is only when we bifurcate the link between the sacred and the secular, or the physical and the spiritual, one finds the sole rule of sexual autonomy expressed. There has yet to be a genuine disturbance in their soul as they watch a fellow image-bearer be ravished for entertainment and sexually self-gratifying purposes. At the heart of this is a fundamental denial of their personhood in exchange for the cheaply defined identity the culture finds in sexual expression. For too many professing Christ this seems to be a deeply entrenched lie they wish to believe is true.

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  • pud

    “Biblically defined sexuality”?? LOL You mean like raping a woman to make her your wife or collecting foreskins to buy a bride? Or do you mean stoning adulturers? Or a “god” inseminating a virgin in an act of celestial rape? Or men castrating themselves so as to be pure for heaven or eunuchs not being allowed in the church? Or perhaps the obsession with female virginity?

    “So they sent twelve thousand warriors to Jabesh-gilead with orders to kill everyone there, including women and children. “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin.” Among the residents of Jabesh-gilead they found four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.

    The Israelite assembly sent a peace delegation to the little remnant of Benjamin who were living at the rock of Rimmon. Then the men of Benjamin returned to their homes, and the four hundred women of Jabesh-gilead who were spared were given to them as wives. But there were not enough women for all of them. The people felt sorry for Benjamin because the LORD had left this gap in the tribes of Israel. So the Israelite leaders asked, “How can we find wives for the few who remain, since all the women of the tribe of Benjamin are dead? There must be heirs for the survivors so that an entire tribe of Israel will not be lost forever. But we cannot give them our own daughters in marriage because we have sworn with a solemn oath that anyone who does this will fall under God’s curse.”

    Then they thought of the annual festival of the LORD held in Shiloh, between Lebonah and Bethel, along the east side of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem. They told the men of Benjamin who still needed wives, “Go and hide in the vineyards. When the women of Shiloh come out for their dances, rush out from the vineyards, and each of you can take one of them home to be your wife! And when their fathers and brothers come to us in protest, we will tell them, ‘Please be understanding. Let them have your daughters, for we didn’t find enough wives for them when we dest60royed Jabesh-gilead. And you are not guilty of breaking the vow since you did not give your daughters in marriage to them.’” So the men of Benjamin did as they were told. They kidnapped the women who took part in the celebration and carried them off to the land of their own inheritance. Then they rebuilt their towns and lived in them. So the assembly of Israel departed by tribes and families, and they returned to their own homes.

    Obviously these women were repeatedly raped. These sick bastards killed and raped an entire town and then wanted more virgins, so they hid beside the road to kidnap and rape some more. How can anyone see this as anything but evil?

    You do realize too don’t you that “paul” was a murdering psychotic lunatic who had visions? Some role model you lunatics craft your deranged cult after eh?

    • Gilsongraybert
    • Cindy Westfall

      Well, this is interesting, but poor interpretation. You are retelling a narrative, but assume that it was intended to be a model for behaviour, which is not how you read a story in the Bible or anywhere else. Throughout the book, the author says that during the time of the judges, Israel “did what was right in their own eyes,” which was clearly the wrong thing to do. This story takes place as the culmination and climax of the cycles of disobedience. Clearly your disgust means that you got the message of the episode–the book of Judges presents the Israelites involved as “sick bastards” as you say (but you leave out the fact that men of Benjamin in a town were also “sick bastards” in their gang rape of a woman which motivated the retaliation). And it is very interesting that in a patriarchal culture, this account of multiple mistreatments and abuses of women was presented as the climax of evil that needed to be corrected. This story is supposed to get a negative appraisal from anyone who is trying to actually understand the Bible. Learn to interpret stories in context.

      • pud

        The “perfect word” shouldn’t need “interpretation” The words mean what they say and are proof that the religions of Abraham are sick, twisted, deranged delusional apocalyptic death cults.

        • Cindy Westfall

          All language needs interpretation–that is its very nature, particularly when it crosses language, time and culture. You are making your own rules for what Scripture has to be, but don’t understand the very nature of communication. Even our laws have to be constantly interpreted. Your rules would mean that stories could not be part of the Bible–it would have to be a set of propositions like a law book and still need to be interpreted. Well, you and other modernists don’t make the rules. By the way, Paul agrees with your assessment of him, and that was part of his testimony. He said that he was the biggest sinner of all.

          • pud

            The “perfect word” of a god should not. It would be a gross contradiction if it did for it wouldn’t be “perfect” would it? Our “laws” are not made by a “perfect” deity are they?

            “paul” existed…not much else in the book did or does. He was a delusional religious lunatic and murderer…and adored by christians everywhere! lol

          • Cindy Westfall

            In the definition of propaganda, your argument is a logical fallacy called “straw man.” But I realize that I should say exactly why rather than to leave so much to inference. Your definition of “perfect word” cannot apply to real human language in use by anyone (neither a deity nor a lawmaker) so that you have created an oxymoron. Now I will bow out.

          • pud

            lol

          • barry

            But you cannot point to any place in the NT where Paul admits to committing any specific sin after he converted to Christianity, despite NT admonitions that you confess your sins to one another, James 5:16. Paul is a salesman, pure and simple, and his faults and moral lapses are easy to document.

          • billwald

            A good politician/lawyer never admits to a sin until the statute of limitations has run at least twice. If I committed any felonies, my statute of limitations has run out at least twice.

          • Tiny J

            Wow. Your cluelessness actually takes my breath away. You’re amazing!

          • barry

            So do you plan on providing an answer on the merits? I said you cannot locate any place in the NT where Paul admits to committing specific sins after he converted to Christianity. If you have biblical evidence that I’m wrong here, let’s see it. already.

          • Tiny J

            Just as soon as you find the scripture in the NT that says what Paul’s favorite food was.

        • barry

          But to be scholarly, you have to acknowledge the other truth, that not everything Moses commanded was solely to further corruption and misery. I’m an atheist, but I try to guard against oversimplifying the bible.

        • billwald

          Maybe the words as spoken by God were perfectly clear to the people to whom they were directed 5,000 years ago. Americans, on the hand, can’t agree as to what the words in our Constitution mean . . . an the Declaration of Independence might be the greatest advertising hype ever written . . . “chase after happiness.”

      • barry

        Well if the kidnapping and rape that the Hebrews did in the time of the Judges can be dismissed as sin, how do you account for such actions having the stamp of divine approval elsewhere in the OT? Or do you not know where the OT shows God advocating rape and kidnapping?

    • barry

      I believe you are accurate, but you cite from the book of Judges, and unless you can show God approved of what they did, apologists will simply cite the last verse and insist that Hebrews only did this because they had no judicial authority figure or king.

      Deuteronomy 28:15-63 describes God as a sadistic lunatic that would cause parents to eat their own kids (v. 41), cause rape (v. 30) and then “delight” to do this if Israel disobeyed God (v. 63).

    • Tiny J

      Yeah, the moral of both of those stories was “don’t do that”, not “rape is yummy”.

      • barry

        No, you cannot attribute sin to anything in the history of David except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite:

        4 But for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, to raise up his son after him and to establish Jerusalem;
        5 because David did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite. (1 Ki. 15:4-5 NAU)

        Indeed, God is not ever shown punishing David for anything he did, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

        God also did not issue any specific commands to David about Bathsheba or Uriah before David engaged in adultery and murder.

        So when 1st Kings 15:5 says David did not turn away from anything God had commanded him except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite, the only sense of “God had commanded him” which the Kings-author can have meant was the sense of God’s general moral maxims issued to all Hebrews through the 10 commandments.

        In other words, the Kings author was saying that except for the case of Uriah the Hittite, David never turned away from any of the divine commands God issued to all Hebrews through the Mosaic law.

        Go ahead, read the biblical history of David, then tell me if you agree with the Kings-author that the matter of Uriah the Hittite is the only time in David’s life when he turned away from the commands that God issued to all Hebrews through the Mosaic law. You might wish to keep “thou shalt not lie” and “thou shalt not murder” and “you shall have no other gods before me” in mind.

        • Tiny J

          Yes. A murderer and adulterer was referred to “as a man after God’s own heart”. After it was made abundantly clear that murderers and adulterers are supposed to die. Maybe instead of missing the point, you could… not…. miss the point.
          In fact, I really can’t even tell what your point is. God didn’t punish David properly?
          Cool. You know what’s right and wrong better than God. You have the power to determine who deserves justice or mercy more than God does. You win. You have nothing more to say. Congratulations.

          • barry

            Do you have a company address? I’d love to come in for a free consultation on “creative ways to lose a debate without looking like you are losing a debate”. The substance of your reply indicates little more than your unpreparedness to answer these criticisms on a scholarly level, so you cannot blame anybody for calling it like they see it, even if you have a Ph.d in biblical history.

            Nathan’s statement that God took away David’s and and that David thus wouldn’t die, appear to be nothing more than after-the-fact propagandizing. Otherwise you are left with the theologically intolerable notion that God can get rid of sin and/or waive the consequences of it for any person, by a wave of his magic wand. That doesn’t jive well with your belief that Jesus “had” to die for sin. So why does your god choose to do things the unnecessarily hard way, when he could just implant whatever knowledge learned thereby, directly by magic (Ezra 1:1)?

            Or will you now distract the discussion from that question by pretending you give the least little shit about characterizing God’s ways as “magic”?

          • Tiny J

            You don’t believe in God, but your mad because I won’t give you a Bible lesson? You don’t believe in Scripture, but you claim to understand it better than me? Have fun with that.

          • barry

            No, I proved that the bible-god can get rid of sin by a wave of his magic wand, and I proved the bible-god possesses the ability to successfully cause people to make whatever religious and moral choices he wants them to make, so that you and your apologists are deprived, for biblical reasons, of the excuse that the bloodshed god has caused through the centuries was somehow the “best” solution God could provide. You either accept defeat on the point, or become a Calvinist.

            Your replies indicate you have less interest in serious discussion and more interest in jeering from the sidelines. I won’t reply again unless I feel what you’ve posted is sufficiently academic that it is worthy of my time. Now believe that I’m “scared” of you. Yeah, that’s it. I go around on the internet challenging apologists because I fear I might get shown up. I think you’re ready for your 5th shot of tequila. Proverbs 31:5-7

  • Tianzhu

    It’s disturbing (to say the least) to see the LGBTXYZ people talk about the sacredness of their “identity,” the way early generations talked of a person’s “immortal soul.” I mean, your “identity” is grounded in what you do in bed? What a pathetic thing to build one’s life around – but then, this was inevitable, wasn’t it, given that the divorce culture has made “family” a very impermanent thing. For a lot of single people, this must be the best they can do: grab onto this frail “identity,” and claim membership in this faux “community.” And to think, Paul observed that there were ex-homosexuals in the church at Corinth, people who had broken free from that self-destructive behavior. Now it’s 2017, and even many self-styled “evangelicals” are claiming we should not offer people a way out of their sins and self-destructive habits, but affirm them where they are. The 21st century church is going to have much to answer for when all these millions of people meet God at the Judgment Seat. Christians are supposed to offer the gift – available to all – of eternal life, and yet so-called Christians now settle for affirming someone’s “identity” based on their sexual choices? This is not the church that Jesus and his apostles founded.

    • Brownie

      “I mean, your “identity” is grounded in what you do in bed? ” – Frankly, the fact that you conflate an LGBTQ identity with “what you do in bed” shows what a shallow idea you have of love and attraction. I swear straight people think about gay sex more than gay people do.

  • Marshall

    Confused here. Don’t conservative Christians insist that maleness or femaleness properly expressed is basic to a Christian identity?

  • Roger Morris

    The greatest problem with conservative Christianity is an unhealthy obsessive fear of normal human sexuality. Perhaps it stems from the fact the sex and sexual desire reminds us too much the we are elevated primates rather than lowered angels. Sex IS part of the normal human identity. Get over it.

    • Iain Lovejoy

      I don’t think it is being said that one’s sexuality is not part of one’s identity, rather that (contrary to a lot of the prevailing cultural notions) it is not the case that you have to be having sex to be fully human, that there is something wrong with you if you are not.
      I think it is a point well made that this notion is demoralising, denigrating and unfair to single people, making out they are somehow defective, and that it makes people think they therefore have a positive entitlement to sexual fulfilment (as opposed to simply a right not to have their sex lives interfered with) which thus justifies them in anything they do in having sex, or anything they do to get it.
      (Note: to avoid misunderstanding I profoundly disagree with Mr Gilbert’s views on homosexuality and don’t regard it as constituting part of the “sexual immorality” that this cultural attitude promotes, but don’t think his views on this vitiate his general point.)

      • billwald

        In he same way, the compulsion that some unmarried, even homosexual, females have to become pregnant . . . as a male, pregnancy does not appear to be an attractive activity, pun intended.

        • Iain Lovejoy

          I may be being dim, but I am not sure I understand what you are saying?

    • Tiny J

      Sex is a biological imperative. Trying to build your identity on it would be like trying to build a house on a foundation made out of sand.

  • David

    An unmarried man gives advice on sex and marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. “Because of immorality, let each man have his own wife.” Paul must have been an incredibly strong unmarried man, able to resist the temptations to immorality – either through actual fornication, or even lusting in his heart, that Jesus pronounced as also sinful. In 1 Corinthians 9:23-27, Paul speaks of how hard he has to apply personal discipline. In 1 Corinthians 6 the same author deals with the Christian’s personhood when he says: “You are not your own. You were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” The ramifications of a Christian joining himself to a prostitute are explained in this chapter: he would become one body with the prostitute, since in the sexual union the two become one. Since the Christian is one spirit with His Lord Jesus, it is almost unthinkable that he would join himself to a prostitute. The Christian faces this struggle every day, since the sexual urge is incredibly strong, and very easily aroused. But it is not impossible to avoid giving in to immorality. Remember Jesus in the company of the prostitute who was lovingly kissing his feet and anointing them with her perfume? What a man! What self-control! I’d have had to get out of the room as fast as possible to avoid lusting and being tempted to have sex. This is an example of how Jesus innocence can cover our sins. Jesus was tempted to sin, but didn’t sin. We are often tempted to sin, and often give in to the temptation. Jesus’ not sinning means in His death he took my sin in his body on the cross. He resisted the temptation to sin and thus bore the penalty for my sin when he died on the cross. This is what the gospel means when it tells us Jesus died for our sins. As always, the Bible deals with the realities of life – even the harsh realities – and offers the solution in Jesus, who is just perfect for us mortals so we can live forever in glory where there will be no more sin or temptation – only bliss.

    • barry

      If the 5-point Calvinists are correct, God secretly willed for a Christian man to screw a prostitute, despite telling him through the bible to refrain from it. Paul’s answer to the problem of evil is not “God gave Adam and Eve freewill”, but “shut up”. Romans 9:20. God is “delighted” to cause rape in Deut. 28:30, 63. Time to grow up.

      • billwald

        On the other hand, meditate on the (biblical) word, “know.” If Jesus knows everything about every one of us . . . .

        • barry

          Better idea, let’s first make sure all descriptions of Jesus in the bible are logically consistent with his being “omniscient”, before we waste brain cells wondering what such omniscience logically implies. The bears talking to each other in English in the story of Goldilocks also warrants logical inferences, but given that the story is a fairy tale, we don’t devote too much mental effort toward resolving those ramifications. Christians disagree with each other too much on whether Jesus was omniscient (Mark 13:32, he wasn’t), therefore, we could put our brains to better use googling for lost scopitone clips of burlesque dancers.

          • Tiny J

            It’s like you’re a checklist of clichés.

          • barry

            It’s like your’re trying to avoid answering me on the merits.

  • Mike

    Bravo. Excellent article! Blessings to you.

  • Eric

    Why is it hard, to handle sexual urges, lusting and the likes under self-control?
    What is the problem of sex?
    What is the solution to sex addiction?
    When finance desire embrace, kiss, cuddling and caressing, what do you do?

    • barry

      While sexual immorality has always existed, America is awash in sexualized advertising and in putting sexuality into literally everything. You cannot go to the store and come home without being subjected to sexualized images, and it has been that way for so long that we now view it as normal. That arose from an unrestrained capitalism, another sin.

    • billwald

      Several questions. First, in many relationships, sex is about command and control and this includes “having a headache.”

      Second, if your back itches, you scratch it. It might feel marginally better to have another person rub the itch but using a door jam does the job. The Jewish-Christian banned scratching your own itch 4,000 or so years age and we have never recovered. US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders was fired for suggesting that junior kids should be taught the scratch their own itch. I still think it was a good recommendation. Christianity would turn it into a communion service, a sort Christian temple prostitution with one confessor and one priestess.

  • ounbbl

    For some, sex is their identity, which they publicly trumpet to be proud of, i.e. gay (sodomy) pride. They are serving and worshiping a modern sex-god.

  • Nathan Guerra

    First Paragraph was stellar, but that line of reasoning should have been sought thoroughly. The culture needs more understanding of what is illogical at its roots of thinking and then lead toward thinking it thru, especially since both secular and sacred culture are taking cues from same place, the popular. A lot of this is closed door vacuum talk as well, we need to address the most fundamental issues of identity, sex, & sin rather than areas of personal conviction on entertainment. Just an encouragement to get at roots in your writing and then go after the branches….felt like a ton of low hanging fruit here that had me scrolling thru looking for substance in answers.