"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Sex Education and the Marriage Bed as a Symbol

"Marriage should be honored by among all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral" (Hebrews 13:4).

U.S. Olympian Gwen Berry caused an uproar last week when she dishonored the American flag and the national anthem by turning her back on them and covering her head. Nobody notices disrespect for just any piece of cloth that has red, white, or blue stains, nor do people care if someone's head is covered when listening to any music. 

But when that piece of red, white, and blue cloth is formed into a flag that symbolizes the United States and when that music is the national anthem of the United States, then there is an expectation by U.S. citizens that people should honor the symbols of the United States because such honor shows respect for the nation.

Symbols have meaning.

Some Christians struggle to explain to other people why they believe sex outside of marriage is wrong.  The best answer to give is that God made sexual union in marriage a symbol of something else
God tells us to "honor the marriage bed" and to "flee sexual immorality" because of what those two things symbolize. 
Most people in the United States participate in sexual immorality and the dishonoring of the marriage bed. Even worse, when a person abstains from sex until marriage, that person is often looked upon as weird or abnormal. In our society, immorality is celebrated and abstinence is denigrated. But in reality, the person who honors the marriage bed is the one who is honoring God. We live in an upside-down world. 

Followers of Christ are to be people full of "grace and truth." We are to "speak the truth in love." Many appreciate receiving our love and our grace, but most don't appreciate hearing the truth. Unfortunately, they wrongly think truth-telling isn't loving. 

So, in love and grace for those who see sexual immorality as normal, I'd like to tell the truth about why sex should be reserved for the marriage bed.  We haven't done our children any favors by asking them to make promises of abstinence without ever giving them reasons for those promises. 

Here are two truths about sexual activity as a human being:
  1. Waiting for marriage before participating in sex is symbolic of a person's trust in God.
  2. Sex outside of covenant marriage is a picture of a person turning their back on God.
Throughout Scripture, God calls those who trust Him "the bride of Christ."  When the Apostle Paul referred to the marriage relationship, He compared it to the union between Christ and His people (Ephesians 5:23). 

The Bible teaches that God designed marriage and created the sexual union in marriage as a symbol of something eternal. Thus, we are called by God to honor the symbol (see Hebrews 13:4). It is similar to our expectation that the flag and national anthem will be honored at the Olympic trials as a sign of love for our country.

The sexual union between a man and a woman in marriage is a beautiful picture of our love for God and the joy of being in union with Christ. The marriage bed symbolizes our ecstasy when we reach the resurrection and see our Groom, face-to-face. Jesus will be our Source of life forever. The marriage bed symbolizes on earth the eternal joy of heaven. T

There is an easy way to prove the symbolism of the marriage union:

When the reality is present, there's no longer need for a picture.

I was a wrangler in Colorado and would alternate taking people to the top of two majestic mountains, Mt. Antero and Mt. Princeton, and prepare breakfast for them. How silly would it have been for the people who went with me to the top of the mountains to sit down smack dab in the middle of a 360 panoramic view of the Rockies and pull out pictures of the views from the top of the mountains and focus on the pictures? It would have been ridiculous. You don't need pictures when you are on top of the mountains and can look at the real thing that the pictures represent.

Jesus said, "During the resurrection (heaven), people will not marry nor will they be given in marriage" (Matthew 22:30).

I've heard some people with great marriages get upset with the fact that they won't be married in heaven. Relax. Your best friend here will be your best friend there. What Jesus is saying is that there is no sexual activity in heaven, no sexual union in marriage in heaven, no procreation in heaven. Just like the angels don't procreate, human beings with the gift of life eternal will not procreate. 

There is no need for the symbol of marriage anymore. There is no marriage or giving in marriage in heaven because there is no need for the symbol or the picture when the reality is present.

The euphoria and ecstasy that the marriage bed symbolizes will be enjoyed through the feelings we have of being united with Christ in a world He's prepared for us in the resurrection. The sexual union within the context of marriage symbolizes our eternal union with Christ.

This is why marriage in this life should never be the identity of any individual Christian

Whether you are single, widowed, divorced, never married, or in a bad marriage, the essence of who you are as a person is found in your union with Christ. The flag may be desecrated, but the nation remains. The picture frame may break, or the picture itself may be destroyed, but the reality of what marriage represents cannot be destroyed. Singles, don't let anybody tell you that you are "missing out" by not being married. Look them square in the eye and tell them you have the reality of what their marriage represents. 

You have a union with your covenant God through faith in His Son. When we enjoy Him in this life and rest in Him as our Source of life, we live this life properly and meaningfully.

The story goes of a single woman named Miss Agdala, who asked her celibate Catholic priest how he could refrain from sex, particularly as he was surrounded daily by single, beautiful women. Father Smith answered:
"Women’s bodies are rarely perfect; they soon grow old and sag, and always the contemplation of them even at their best is a poor and boring substitute for walking with God in His House as a friend.”

Miss Agdala made the judgment that her priest's answer proved what she had always maintained about Christianity. "Religion is only a substitute for sex," she said.

Father Smith smiled and countered, I believe that sex is a substitute for religion and that the young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.”

The priest is on to something. Men and women are empty without God. A person living in sexual immorality attempts to fill that emptiness without looking to God as the Source of his life.

Since God designed marriage to be a symbol or picture of the union that people can have with Him, when a person moves into sexual activity outside of marriage, it pictures seeking the pleasures of other idols and turning away from joy that comes from our union with Jesus Christ.

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you” (I Corinthians 6:18-19).

The argument against sexual sins outside of marriage is that you are to be in union with God. If you unite yourself sexually with someone other than your spouse, you symbolize an abandonment of your union with God. 

The sin of sexual activity outside of marriage is spiritual.

Anybody who tries to tell you that sex outside of marriage is not physically pleasurable is lying. The act of sex is always pleasurable; that's why people are addicted to it. When a person goes after sex outside of marriage, there is a disrespect for what the marriage bed symbolizes.

The person who looks to sexual activity as a goal has forgotten that there is a God. Only He can feel the empty person with joy, purpose, and meaning.

Sexual sins are symptoms, not the disease. The disease of the sexual addict is a lack of enjoying a union with God. The symptom of this spiritual disease is to look for sex as the goal. Or, to put it in biblical language, "the sex addict begins to worship the thing created rather than the Creator" (see Romans 1).
“For fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
God is not judging people for participating in the act of sex. God created sex. Sex is a beautiful and sacred act.

God judges fornicators and adulterers because the person who pursues sex outside of the context of marriage is not seeking union with God through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Again, it’s not the act of sex that is judged. It’s not the enjoyment of the act of sex that is judged. It is the person's worship of the creation rather than the Creator that is being judged.

In time, the beautiful skin of your sexual partner will wrinkle. In time, the ability for sexual intimacy may even fade due to age or illness. In time, you may find that enjoying the symbol God created to remind you of the joy of knowing Him is impossible.

But if you're worshiping the reality and not the symbol, you are a whole human being with a healthy understanding of sexuality.

I think Beth Moore is the one who said, "There is no high like the Most High." The person enjoying their union with God will have no problem honoring the symbol of the marriage bed or abstaining from sex if not married.

It makes zero sense to condemn the world for their sexual immorality. They have no concept that sex is a picture of something greater.  But it makes perfect sense to request taxpayer-funded institutions to refrain from indoctrinating our children and grandchildren with a standard of morality that dishonors the marriage bed. 

Next time someone pressures you to have sex outside the confines of marriage, feel free to say no to that person in this manner:
"I find you attractive. I am sure I would enjoy having sex with you. However, sex is a symbol of my covenant relationship with God. I am united with Him. He has pledged His fidelity to me. He loves me. He cares for me. I am going to wait for sex until marriage because I wish to honor the symbol He has given me of my relationship with Him. To have sex with you now is to symbolically turn my back on my union with Christ as the Source of my life. I will not trample on the symbol God has given me of my union Him. Thank you for understanding my respect and honor of the marriage bed. ."
That is living the life God intended. You will be honoring the marriage bed that God created as a symbol of something spiritual and eternal.  

23 comments:

RB Kuter said...

"Jesus said, "During the resurrection (heaven), people will not marry nor will they be given in marriage"

Given my perspective on things, this also means that all followers of Jesus in the beginning of the "Millennium" will not be married and will not have children following The "Resurrection".

This would explain what occurs with those Saints living during the time of The Millennium Kingdom:

Heaven will be emptied with those heavenly Saints returning with Jesus to meet those contemporary Saints raptured to meet them in the air upon The Second Coming. All true, genuine Saints, whether coming with King Jesus or those living on earth who will be captured-up to meet Him and the heavenly hordes in the sky, receive their sanctified, eternal, bodies:

Rev. 19:7,8 "for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." and

Rev. 19:14 "14 And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean."

At this time of the return of King Jesus, His armies (19:14, consisting of those Saints from heaven and those captured-up to meet them in the air) annihilate the armies of the Anti-Christ and established His "1,000 year global reign" from His capitol, Jerusalem.

That being the case, those who were NOT followers of Jesus but who survived Armageddon, would be those baring children during The Millennium who bare the generation that would eventually rebel against King Jesus and be annihilated at the conclusion of His Millennial Reign on earth.

THEN comes the vaporization of this planet and heavenly bodies and the entry of "The New HEAVEN-EARTH" (hence, no longer a separation between the living and the dead because all Saints will exist in their eternal bodies with God). "Heaven" was emptied out by the exit of all Saints residing there at the time of the return of King Jesus and joined Him to receive their resurrected bodies; hence, no longer a need for a "heaven" since there will no longer be the death of even one Saint forever.

"My interpretation"

Scott Shaver said...

Solidly Premillenial,I like it, even though my eschatology tends more Amillenialsim.

Christiane said...

Hello WADE,

In the last year, my first year of widowhood, it occurred to me that there was so much that the young going into thoughts of 'marriage' cannot know, so much of meaning that transcends their youthful awareness. I do think it important for those who counsel with young people to point them to what marriage CAN be even in the most difficult of circumstances. Marriage offers an opportunity to care for someone over time that gives glympses into the Kingdom of Our Lord and of God's own loving-kindness.

A favorite poem helps put a light on what I consider the deeper meaning of 'marriage' in a way that affirms what is possible for a couple when things don't always go as young people may assume:


Quarantine
by Eavan Boland

"In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking — they were both walking — north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved."

Christiane said...

Hello Mr. Kuter,
that is a very vivid interpretation of the 'end times' indeed

what I believe about what was and is and what is to come can be said, this:

'Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.'



Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Sex in heaven would be like eating mud pies instead of peach cobbler with Jesus.

CHRISTIANE,

THAT WAS SAD!

The story goes when Moses returned with the Commandments, he said there was Good and Bad news: There’s only ten but adultery is one.

You’ve heard: “I don’t smoke, and I don’t chew, and I don’t go with girls that do.”

Once, a date said if all you want to do is kiss, you can take me home right now! She was home really quick. (Last date with her.)

Christiane said...

the poem was about the time of the 'famine' in Ireland, where people died by the thousands . . . the potato crops had developed a kind of 'rot', so a staple of the Irish diet failed, hence starvation

I think the story tells of how love can be shown even in such circumstances, and in a way that defies our own more shallow concepts of marital goings-on, the couple perished, yes, but they died as witnesses to something eternal in the human experience

REX RAY, do you have plans for the 4th? People are going crazy here with all kinds of preparations, except for fireworks, which I understand is a precaution against out of control fires spreading in drought

My son is home from Alaska, thank God. I gave him my house in a trust, so he can sell it and buy where he wants to buy; and I will 'downsize' which seems a big change, but a good one. The house is not the 'same' since my husband's passing. How strange that seems to me.

You have a good and safe holiday. Try to stay out of trouble. :)

RB Kuter said...

Christiane; But God tells us so much MORE about the things we have to look forward to! If you limit your understanding of as much as possible that God has given us to only thinking about
'Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.'
then you are denying yourself of so many more blessings, joy, celebration and reasons to be confident, at peace, and bold when facing the turmoil and chaos of this world in which we live!

Actually, I don't believe you when you say, "what I believe about what was and is and what is to come can be said, this:" and then give those 3 very amazing points about God and His Plan. I think I have read enough of your comments to know that you really are very aware of a lot more from the Bible. You're just pulling my led, aren't you!?!

Christiane said...

Hello Mr. Kuter,

no, those words were 'Proclamation' :)

My Church doesn't 'ponder' the different theories of all the details of the 'end' times, no. Now, your description sounded interesting. I'm sure you have reasons for seeing it that way, maybe even you are hopeful that will be how it all comes about. Are you interpreting the Book of Revelation literally? Do you know what 'apocryphal language' is? It makes a difference in what light we read the Word.
I leave a lot to 'mystery' about the details of what is 'to come', but I can do that because I 'trust' in Christ to fulfill this mystery in a way far more just and far more merciful than we humans can begin to envision. That's a lot of trust.
So when I write 'Christ will come again', I'm also affirming that trust:
"Dying, You destroyed our death;
Rising, You restored our life.
Lord Jesus, come in glory.'

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Glad your son is home from Alaska.

Once my brother told mother he was going to Alaska, and she said, “How you going to get there?”
“Going to ride my horse.”

You ask if I have plans for the 4th. HEY, that’s our 5th Wedding Anniversary. We plan to sit ten feet about the slide and watch and hear fireworks in all directions.

Christiane said...

REX RAY,

you've got us back on track with the theme of the post:

Happy 5th Wedding Anniversary to you and Judy!

RB Kuter said...

Christiane, I try to interpret the Bible "literally" as my default mode, but of course there are many places where it is obviously symbolism or a metaphor or similar to parables, etc. There are so many prophecies concerning the "end times" in the Old and New Testament. I am intrigued with Daniel's prophecies of the first and second coming of The Messiah. It is simply mind-boggling how accurately Daniel prophesied as to the first coming of The Messiah and events precluding and including His crucifixion. I mean, God unveiled events surrounding His entry into Jerusalem, etc., almost to the hour! It was so accurate as to cause the naysayers to claim that it was written after the events occurred! Yet there is to much evidence to prove that it was written hundreds of years prior to its occurrence. Such realities give me great encouragement and hope realizing just how intimately our Father is in all things that occur including the future.

The interpretation I shared regarding the events of those "end time" days that lie ahead are pretty literal and primarily come from Revelation. I would not presume to give more detail as to the basis of each of those proposed occurences and the chronological order with Biblical references, but they are in there, particularly in the Book of Revelation but also from Isaiah, Matthew 24, and other places.

As Scott mentions his position, "Solidly Premillennial,I like it, even though my eschatology tends more Amillennialsim.", I realize that there are many mysteries involved beyond our ability to discern specifically or which God has yet to reveal so when others come to a different conclusion on details than mine I totally acknowledge that I may well be off in some things and they may be right.

As your "proclamation" words indicate, the greatest thing is in knowing that we are saved, redeemed, victorious in the blood of Jesus Christ and no matter what happens, our eternal security has already been set in eternal stone! Hallelujah for that!!

Scott Shaver said...

About where I end uo as welk Christianne.

Scott Shaver said...

Christianne:

Your tradition reflects my own eschatological views at the bottom line.

Us baptist protestants have a tendency to squabble and fuss over Premillenialism, Postmillenialism and Amillenialism (whether or not 1000 years is to be interpreted literally.

I find no more beautiful statement when it comes to all eschatological views than yours.

"Christ Died, Christ Arose, Christ is coming Again".

Wade Burleson said...

Scott,

I agree with your assessment of Christianne's eschatology. It's mine as well. Though I appreciate RB Kuter's studious views.

RB Kuter said...

Wade, sorry for chasing a rabbit off the path a bit, but worship at our church today on the "4th" and honoring our dependency as a nation upon the benevolence of God brought some of your past sentiments to mind regarding your avoidance in the use of national symbols in worship. Your views cause me to reflect on just what is appropriate in regard to the presentation of "God and nation" and how best to deal with those elements as followers of Jesus.

I know, respect and agree, somewhat, to your being guarded about the involvement of national symbols in the venue of worship in the church. It is always critical for us to maintain our focus on the sovereignty of Jesus Christ and His being in the unchallenged position for receiving our worship. But how can Christians not see the flag and recognize it as being a symbol of the product of God's benevolent provision?

As we sang so many songs today in worship that relate to the blessings our nation has received due to its reliance upon God and our acknowledgement and proclamation of His role in all the good we have experienced, I came to appreciate the appropriate portrayal of God and "nation" being intertwined in our worship activity. Our "National Anthem", "America", "God Bless America", "This is My Country", and most other traditional songs of worship that reflect our dependency upon God as a nation, effectively instill God's role in our existence and steadfastness.

The display and waving of the American flags all seem to proclaim the sovereignty of God and the fulfillment of His promises for His blessings upon those who acknowledge and depend upon Him. I can see no conflict or distortion in that portrayal but only the giving of honor and glory to God for the miracle of the founding and continued existence of this nation.

We, the church, cannot, nor in my estimation, should, attempt to separate God's role, identity, and presence that has always been interwoven into our national identity. Where else would citizens more appropriately encounter the connection between God and our divinely blessed nation? What better place to proclaim and present that than in worship services in our churches? Rather than diminish the practice of promoting the identity of the United States being a nation under God, established upon Christian principles, I say, go for it!

RB Kuter said...

Wade, I must stress that I know there is NO other person more patriotic and devoted to this nation than yourself so please do not regard my former comments as an indication of doubting your patriotism and love for this land. I praise God for you and for all of the risks and even abuse, that you incur as you fight for the maintenance of God's sovereignty upon this land.

Wade Burleson said...

RB Kuter,

Yes, sir. I have strong feelings about churches focusing on the Kingdom, not patriotism. That said, today we had the United States flag in the auditorium (it's typically not there), sang the Star-Spangled Banner, and had a beautiful service.

I don't know that I've changed my approach (per se), but feel that the greater need in America at this day are Christians who stand up for the convictions in the public arena.

Blessings, RB.

Always appreciate your comments.

Christiane said...

I must say I cannot envision our nation under any kind of 'rule' except for our democracy, which I don't believe is much admired anymore by those who see this as a 'Christian nation'. As it stands, the majority of our people support freedom of religion as it is now protected under our system of laws.

But I do admire the way the United Kingdom (Britain) has entwined expressions of patriotism and faith without permitting either to be dishonored in the process, which does seem to be a most delicate and precious thing to me.





Rex Ray said...

Last night we sat ten feet above the slide and watch and heard fireworks in all directions as America celebrated July 4 until 10 PM. Yes, “God bless America”.

Scott Shaver said...

We don't want an America modeled after Great Britain. Didn't we already declare that and haven't we already fought two wars with England to clarify that point?

Scott Shaver said...

We will either tend toward a Judeo Christian system or we won't. Bottom line.

Wade Burleson said...

Last night we sat ten feet above the slide and watch and heard fireworks in all directions as America celebrated July 4 until 10 PM. Yes, “God bless America”.

Amen, Rex.

Scott Shaver, you nailed it.

nobody001 said...
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