What is Sex and What Does Sex Reveal to us about God and Humanity?

I believe human sex is a gift of God given to humanity for God’s glory and our good. When we experience this gift of God in its God-intended context, we catch a preliminary glimpse of the level of love and joy God has for us. I don’t think it is a stretch to say sex is the most powerful real-life parable in all of human experience of God’s committed covenant with God’s people. Each time God’s children experience this expression of love on earth as God intended, we are reminded of the even greater experience of love we will have with God and one another in heaven forever.

Like marriage, the act of sex itself is meant to point to something greater. As marriage is meant to illustrate God’s commitment to us (as marriage is an earthly icon of Christ’s self-sacrificial love to humanity), so sex is meant to illustrate God’s connection with us (as sex is an earthly icon of God’s passion for humanity). So, we could say that according to Scripture, sex within marriage is a “living and breathing depiction of the Gospel.”[1] The purpose of sex, (like the purpose of marriage) is ultimately for God’s people to enjoy and glorify God in a special and unique way. This is possible because in the Christian understanding, if we are in Christ then our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Thus, our bodies are the place where God’s glory is “uniquely set on display.”[2] As Isaiah 62:5 says, “As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”

Sex then, understood in its theological context, serves to remind us of how beloved we humans are to God. According to Christianity, sex is not only an end to itself, but it shows us something even greater – God’s eternal and unfailing love for us. This helps us understand why even the wonderful pleasures of sex on earth are unable to yield us final satisfaction. As Phillip Yancey describes it, “If we receive romantic love not as an end in itself but as God’s gift, a shining grace, it can become like a shaft of light beckoning us toward what we will someday experience more fully as resurrected beings.”[3]

Like all other good things, sex as an action is meant to remind us of God’s good actions towards us in that, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Sex is a momentary foreshadow of what our eternity will be like with God in heaven. Sex helps us anticipate that which we can’t even currently understand… Life with perfect communion with God! It doesn’t get much more provocative than that!

[1] Burk, Denny. What is the Meaning of Sex? Crossway, 2013: 12.

[2] Ibid., 58.

[3] Quoted on page 91 of Dennis Hollinger’s book, The Meaning of Sex: Christian Ethics and the Moral Life (Baker Academic, 2009).