Treating the Purposes of Sex Equally

The purposes of sex should be treated equally.

Something that all sexual sin in the Bible has in common is they all either neglect or favor certain purposes of sex over the others. It is easy to see how harmful and selfishly sex can be used when people use its purposes for their own agendas. If a person elevates the pleasure purpose of sex over the others (love, unity, and multiplying), then sexual abuse is likely to occur. Even if two people are mutually isolating the pleasure purpose of sex, they would be defying God’s design by not representing His love or the eternal-unbreakable bond it is supposed to represent. Also, there is a good chance that those two people are not committed to raising a child together for the glory of God.

The pleasure purpose of sex can often be elevated, and even idolized, in marriages when one spouse is so demanding of sexual pleasure from the other, that sex is often reduced to just a selfish-physical form of getting what they want. Many husbands who are sexually frustrated in their marriages will blame their falls to sexual temptation on their wives, because they failed to meet their “needs” of sexual pleasure. This is probably one of the most common ways that the pleasure purpose of sex is wrongly elevated above the other purposes.

I suppose it is quite difficult to favor the love purpose of sex over all the others. After all, the love purpose of sex represents the very specific love of God, not just any love. Since God’s love is the highest form of love that has, does, and will ever exist, it would seem to me that it would be quite impossible to love too much. However, I do see the love purpose of sex being wrongfully elevated above the other purposes of sex when it is not reflective of the love of God.

There are many forms of man-centered love, that although we might think it is true love, it does not qualify as a godly form of love. This is why many people make the mistake of “making love” too soon in their dating relationship, because although it might feel like they are in love, it is apart from the commitment to be eternally bonded to one another both physically and spiritually (just as Christ is with His Church), or the commitment to raise up a child in the Lord together. Their “love” is not descriptive of the love of God, which can be described as: eternal, committed, unconditional, selfless, and sacrificial.

The multiplying purpose of sex is by far the most controversial of the four purposes. At first glance, people I talk to are very complimentary about what I have to say about it. They like the teaching that the focus of multiplying is more about evangelism than it is about just having kids. However, the exact moment I start losing those people’s favor is as soon as I start bringing up the ways that the multiplying purpose of sex is either elevated or minimized in different ways among Christians marriages.

It can often be elevated in the way that Christians can become awfully prideful when they feel they have a

“big” family. Many times I will hear married couples say proudly, “We got that one down!”. The definition of a “big” family is completely relative according to where people live. Where I live, it is quite common for people to have family sizes of 4-6 children, but just an hour away where the cost of living is much higher, the average number of kids in a family is more like 1-3 children.

Either way, it is wrong for people to be prideful in the number of children they have. Even though the Bible has much to say about how blessed people are who have many children, it is ultimately God who opens and closes the womb. Imagine how prideful couples could affect those who have not been able to conceive a child of their own? The inability to conceive can often feel more like a failure to those who are experiencing it, and I fear or their well-being if they were to encounter those who are prideful about how many children they have.

On the other side of the coin, the multiplying purpose of sex can often be minimized to the point where people want to completely neglect it in their sexual relationship. It is common for people to want to enjoy all of the physical pleasures and intimacies of sex without a desire to commit to the possibility or raising a child that may come of it. If there is a way to completely avoid the possibility of getting pregnant while still being able to enjoy the other 3 purposes of sex, people will more often than not choose to do so.

I am convinced that God created all four of the purposes of sex to be treated equally, because they all equally reflect very specific aspects of His holy image. Sex was ultimately created first to be used as an act of worship, glorifying to God, and secondly as a wonderful gift for men and women to enjoy. If we get these two priorities switched around, then sex will inevitably be used in a selfish manner.

My encouragement to all married couples is to evaluate how they might be wrongfully elevating or neglecting the purposes of sex. Chances are, they have not thought much about it or have really talked about it with their spouse. However, the purpose of marriage itself is to glorify God by reflecting Christ and the Church, so every marriage should be asking tough questions about how they are actively pursuing to please God first in their marriage.

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