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Prudes and Puritans

I have been reading Nancy Pearcey’s new book Saving Leonardo, something about which I’ll have a lot more to say next week. But for now I wanted to share with you a quote from one of the early chapters which deals with Sex, Lies and Secularism. Here she writes about liberal and Christian views of sex, showing how the Bible elevates sex to the position God wishes it to have while Liberalism lowers it to something so much less than God wants it to be. Though Christians are often denigrated as being prudes, in reality Christians have a high view of sex.

The irony is that Christians are often accused of being prudes and Puritans who hold a negative view of the body and its functions, such as sex. During one college debate over abortion, the pro-choice students shouted to the pro-life students, “You’re just anti-sex.” But the truth is that Christianity has a much more respectful view of our psycho-sexual identity.

The Bible’s treatment of the subject begins in Genesis 2, the account of God’s creation of the two sexes. When Adam recognizes Eve as kindred to himself, he exclaims, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23 ESV). Was he referring only to the bodily correspondence between the two sexes? Clearly not. The reference to physical unity was intended to express a joyous unity on all levels—including mind, emotion, and spirit. Jesus’ commentary on the same verse is that “they are no longer two but one flesh” (Matt. 19:6 ESV). Scripture offers a stunningly high view of physical union as a union of whole persons across all dimensions. The deepest level of physical intimacy is meant to express the deepest level of personal intimacy—whole persons committed to one another. When sex is torn apart from that union, we are in essence telling a lie.

Liberalism treats sex as instrumental to extrinisic goals, such as physical pleasure or expressing affection. That’s why liberals do not object to any form of sexual relation as long as it meets those extrinisic goals—as long as it involves mutual pleasure or affection. By contrast, a biblical worldview treats sex as intrinsically good in constituting the one-flesh relationship. Humans are an image of God not only as individuals but also in their relationship with one another—and most intensely in the intimate sexual-emotional-spiritual unity of marriage.

This explains why marriage is used throughout Scripture as a metaphor for the intimate relationship God aspires to have with his people. In the Old Testament, Israel is the unfaithful wife. In the New Testament, the church is the bride of Christ. The marital metaphor means that our sexual nature possesses a “language” that is ultimately meant to proclaim God’s own transcendent love and faithfulness.