I remember when I was a teenager watching the show Life Goes On which centered around a Down syndrome character named Corky. I enjoyed the show and thought it was neat that the show was about Corky, and I felt it helped me with my own misconceptions about people with Down syndrome. The show also tackled other difficult topics such as AIDS when Corky’s sister Becca dates a man diagnosed with the virus. However, the episode I want to discuss isn’t about either of these two challenging areas.
The show that I remember most vividly from my teenage years was an episode in which Becca turns 16 and is making a decision of whether or not to have sex with her boyfriend (prior to the man with AIDS). I haven’t seen the episode since I was a teenager, so I might get some details wrong, but I remember really wondering what she was going to do. At one point, her grandmother makes it clear that this is her decision to make and, though she is in the house, she is not going to interfere. The show leads up to the romantic, candle-lit scene, but, at the end, Becca decides she doesn’t want to do it yet. When I read about the episode online to refresh my memory, the actress who played Becca stated about Becca’s decision, “I liked that because at that time, there were so many kids on TV (like Doogie Howser) who were losing their virginity that we wanted to show there was another option. I think it’s important for teenagers to know that you can have love and romance without sex.” Ironically, as a teenager who didn’t know Christ, that wasn’t the message I received at all. All I got from the show was that it was my decision to make and that if I felt that I liked the guy enough then I should go ahead and do it. It really only raised, but didn’t answer, the question about what sex really was about. At the end of the show, I didn’t feel like sex was really as special as they were hinting that it was. After all, if it was a decision any teenager could make then maybe it wasn’t as much a big a deal as I thought.
As time has progressed, TV shows and movies have increasingly portrayed sex as another appetite to be filled. Rarely is there any reference to possible pregnancy or need for birth control. And while, for the most part, sex is between people who have some kind of emotional connection, increasingly we are seeing sex portrayed as a casual encounter, divorced from any kind of committed relationship.
This leads to a very confusing mindset towards sex. Women are encouraged to believe that when pregnancy does occur, it is some kind of surprise punishment. I was reading in an article about some of the effects of having a tubal ligation. One of them was that the woman would most likely be more relaxed now that she didn’t have to fear pregnancy. Fear pregnancy? What? Is it a disease or something?
We have somehow come to the conclusion that sex doesn’t naturally, and wonderfully, lead to pregnancy, or that this act unites two people in a deeply personal way. It seems that we no longer understand the purpose of God’s gift of sex. Like all of God’s good gifts (food, emotions, relationships), Satan has done his uttermost to twist and warp it, turning it into addictive and life-destroying vehicles instead of life-giving vehicles. The only answer to this attack (as to all of Satan’s attacks) is truth.
In the garden, before the fall, God created Adam and Eve to be together. Adam’s first words upon seeing her reflect this sense of unity that should be experienced (Genesis 2:23) calling her “flesh of my flesh.” The next line of Scripture emphasizes this point by stating that a man should leave his parents and “be joined” or “cling” to his wife so that they would become “one flesh.” One of the features of this union was that they would be naked, but they would not be ashamed. There would be a sense of commitment that would negate any insecurities. Paul, later on, uses this very text to explain why sexual immorality is a sin. It is a sin, not because God “doesn’t want you to have fun”, but because a deeply spiritual and unifying act is occurring. For those of us who are believers and who are one with Christ, we also recognize our bodies are the temples of God. With whomever we become “one flesh”, our God does too. “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He says, ‘shall become one flesh.’” (1 Corinthians 6:18). At the end of the day, we must reaffirm with the next generation of Christian teenagers that the reason we tell them to say no until marriage is not because sex is deemed as wrong, dangerous, or sinful. It is because we deem sex to be a highly important, and yes, spiritual, connection that supersedes even our own understanding of it. Instead of focusing on the negatives—you’ll get pregnant, you’ll get a disease—we need to emphasize what they are waiting for. They are waiting for God’s original design for sex—one where two separate people humble themselves before one another to join their bodies, hearts, and souls as an act that can lead to the creation of life.
Furthermore, in Genesis 4:1, it says: “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” [bold mine]. The Hebrew yada can be translated in a wide range of English words from had relations with, understood, cared, etc. The basic overarching theme is clearly intimacy. There’s a sense that more than just a physical act is being perpetuated. The act of sex is meant to be in a committed relationship because you are giving away more than just a few minutes of pleasure. A bond is being created that will not easily be broken. This is meant to be something that you don’t do with any other person on Earth other than the one you have committed your life to. It is in the context of this life-long covenant that the greatest miracle occurs. Life is begotten from love. The beautiful by-product of this connected relationship is another human being to love.
Pregnancy is God’s blessing on the union. It’s the ultimate display of God’s trust and God’s hope when He allows us to be the vehicles through which life is brought. The Bible tells us, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” (Psalm 127:3). That I have been allowed to be an agent of life humbles me beyond words. And, even better, my children are here as a result of the love my husband and I have for each other.
Have you ever really thought about it? God could have separated sex and pregnancy. We could have been like some other animals that fertilize eggs outside of us. Instead, He intentionally linked the two together to communicate an important point. It’s not just about us. It’s not just about getting our needs met. It’s not just about feeling good.
For many of you reading this, I’m not saying anything new. However, that doesn’t mean that we are immune from wrong-thinking in regards to this important issue. For some, pornography and other sex-debasing mediums have tainted thoughts. Through exposure to the act stripped of its purpose, a twisted, selfish and ugly image is created. For others, the distractions and busyness of life have removed the wonder of the gift. The intimacy of marriage must be protected, and God has given us the best way to connect a man and a woman.
A wrong view of sex has turned our culture into a culture of death. Women are encouraged to abort their babies so that they can control their lives and futures. Instead of seeing this precious life as a gift, it is considered a curse and so these children are paying the price for our culture’s misconceptions.
As believers, we need to communicate this elevated view of sex. We need to reaffirm that purpose for which God created it to preserve the intimacy of marriage and to celebrate the blessing of created life.