Home > John's Blogs, Marriage, Theology > I’m Thinking About Sex

I’m Thinking About Sex

I’m a guy, so the title of this post is no surprise. But what I’m thinking might be a surprise. I’ve been challenged twice in the last few weeks by things I’ve read about the purpose of sex, and the ethical implications for marriage.
First, I read this book by a young couple (Sam and Bethany Torode) who noted that at their wedding, their pastor said that there were three purposes for marriage .  Two of those purposes are unsurprising, and you might be able to guess. But the very first purpose he talked about was procreation: having children! We think of marriage as finding a “soul-mate,” help-meet, or even economic advantage. Children are often the afterthought, when it’s the “right time,” and “we’re ready,” and we can “afford it” (all things that I’ve heard).  But is that the right way to approach having children?

The young couple challenge those preconceptions.  One of their conclusions is that the primary purpose of sex is children. Since contraception separates sex from children, another conclusion is that contraception is “not ideal.” I’m not sure I agree with every conclusion, but I do agree with this: In our culture, including evangelical culture, we have separated sex from childbearing. This young couple has challenged my assumptions about contraception by challenging my assumption about sex.

A week after I read their book, I read this article in Christianity Today.  It is an insightful look at barrenness and adoption, but what caught my attention was what the author wrote as she and her husband considered fertility treatments:

How about this: Does it matter if a baby comes from sex? We were looked upon as technological prudes for shunning the test tubes. I think they were the prudes for considering sex so unnecessary. 

Here is the plain truth. I do want a child of my own flesh and blood. But I want the child to come from my love for my husband. Not love in the abstract; love in the flesh, for a child in the flesh. The fertile cannot grasp how profound is the cosmic insult in learning that your love cannot bear fruit.

The author again tightly ties sex to children by saying that she does not want to have biological children if sex is not involved.  This also challenged my thinking.  In the current state of evangelicalism, everything written about sex is that it is something to be enjoyed between husband and wife, that it has some psychological and spiritual benefits, that it God’s gift for our pleasure.  I agree with all this, but now I think something more:  We have so separated sex from procreation that we have forgotten the primary purpose.  Sex is for being fruitful and multiplying.

This is a difficult subject for me, since my wife and I only have one child.  We would have a stable-full if we could, but God has given what He has given, and it is for His purposes.  Because of our experience, we know that each child is truly a gift.  But because we’ve only been able to have one, we haven’t had to wrestle with all these difficult issues.

I do not agree with all the conclusions in the book or everything in the article.  But they both have me thinking about how we treat sex, even in the church.  It’s enough to make me challenge my assumptions!!

  1. Brian McLaughlin
    December 10, 2007 at 11:09 am

    I was listening to political commentator Glen Beck who said that God made sex pleasurable simply to encourage people to have children. Otherwise, the act of sex and having children just isn’t appealing enough. He was tongue in cheek, but perhaps on to something theologically.

  1. December 16, 2007 at 9:37 pm

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