As a social work educator, I teach a courses on Human Sexuality and Marriage and Family at Andrews University. In my years of teaching this course, I have found that only about 10% of the students received solid instruction about the topic of sexuality from their parents. The rest have learned about sex and sexuality from a class in school, from their peers or friends, from reading books, or by trial and error. If we assume that these students represent a cross-section of the Christian community, we are failing our children miserably when it comes to this extremely important topic.
If parents are not comfortable embracing their own sexuality, it will be difficult for them to comfortably speak about it with their children. Many Christians labor under the misconception that sex is dirty, something to done in the dark, and certainly not talked about openly. When many parents finally get up the courage to give “the talk” to their children, they do so with great discomfort because they are burdened with their own sexual shame or embarrassment. While many in our society have swung to the opposite extreme of endorsing sexual permissiveness where “anything goes,” our enemy, Satan, is happy to lead us to either extreme as long as we do not see God’s beautiful plan for human sexuality.
As Christian social workers, we are in a unique position to present God’s perspective on human sexuality. First of all, God created humans as sexual beings. That makes sex good in God’s eyes. Sex is intimately connected with both marriage and the Sabbath, the twin institutions established at creation. The marriage aspect of sexuality addresses first God’s command to “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28 NKJV). The use of sex to join God as co-creators in His work of reproduction is one of the highest honors that God bestows on His children. God also places sexual intimacy within the context of human relationships. That implies that sexuality is essential to the maintenance of the relationship itself. Sexual expression is a potential source of intimate connection between two human beings, male and female, who long to know and be known by another. This longing mirrors that of God Himself as expressed in Jesus’ final prayer before His passion and death “that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3 NKJV).
The Sabbath aspect of human sexuality recognizes that it was intended by God to be a form of worship. While we in our fallen humanity tend to look at sex primarily from a pleasure perspective – and this was certainly one of God’s intentions – sexual expression recognizes the headship of God in the marital relationship. This perspective challenges us to see sexual expression as a holy act where we can not only connect with one another as humans, but also connect with God. Recognizing that God is with us during times of intimacy, and that He is rejoicing with us when we reach orgasmic pleasure, can be a great antidote to sexual shame. Why should we be sexually intimate only with the lights out and with clothes on when our Creator delights in our pleasure? When God created Adam and Eve, “they were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25 NKJV).
As God invites us to rest on the Sabbath and to commune with Him in worship on the day He set apart as holy, God invites us to worship Him while having intercourse. Have you thought about praying in worship before, during, and after sexual intimacy? If God is truly head of your marriage, and this is an essential aspect of your marriage, giving Him praise during times of intimacy is not only appropriate but essential. It is appropriate not only to praise God, but to ask Him to bless your sexual expression and to make it as enjoyable as possible. And when you are done and enjoying a time of deep rest, it is appropriate to thank God for what He has blessed you to both give and receive.
While sex is an encounter between two bodies, God intends it to be a deep encounter between two persons. It is easy to focus only on the physical pleasure of intercourse, but being totally open and vulnerable to another human being requires a going out of oneself and also focusing on the other. True intimacy takes time. One of the greatest arguments for faithful monogamy is that it takes years of encounter with another human being to really “know” them. The glory of connecting with them and losing yourself in the encounter cannot be truly adequately described.
David Sedlacek has been a social worker for 40 years. He has worked largely in the areas of addiction, abuse and relationships. He has been a member of NACSW for 8 years. For additional information on this topic, David recommends that you check out the Marriage & Family Health Center website.