In my years of campus ministry, I was often asked questions about sex:
What does God think of sex?
What’s the big deal about premarital sex?
How far is too far?
And why are Christians so UPTIGHT about this issue?
If sex is supposed to be a good thing, why does it seem like God is a prude about it?
I struggled my way through those questions as best I could as a single person, and then later as a married person… but now as a parent, it makes sense to me in a new way, and I write this in the hope that it might shed a little light for you too.
I confess that for most of my life, if asked “What does God think of sex?”, my answer would have been that His attitude was somewhere between “disapproving” and “indifferent”. Disapproving if you weren’t married. Indifferent if you were.
I remember what a shock it was when we did pre-marital counseling and we were reading things about God’s approval of and delight in sex: He created it and he was “present in the bedroom with us”. After years of imagining God as either disapproving or indifferent, this was a shocking and shameful thought…. but on the other side of marriage I realized it was no longer shameful. But I didn’t really ever give the matter of “God’s view of sex” much thought again.
However, one night during a bout of insomnia when my mind was pondering all sorts of things: why do we call it a ‘monkey’s wedding’ when the sun shines and it rains at the same time? why does asparagus make your pee smell? how could I have answered that question about sex better?…
… Suddenly, it dawned on me that I have a new paradigm through which to think about this issue: the lens of parenthood. There are MANY (wonderful, life-saving, grace-filled and comforting) things about God-as-parent I have learned from being a parent, and this one was new and so very helpful to me.
You see, God is our PARENT. As loving parents, we do not view our children with something between “disapproval or indifference”. The spectrum of emotion of a loving parent ranges between wild and joyous delight on the one hand, and and utter horror and fear for their safety on the other! Either way, you are emotionally involved. And either way, you are filled with love and goodwill towards your child. And because you love them, what makes the difference between wild delight and utter horror is context.
Allow me to illustrate (with thanks to google images):
A parent is filled with heart-filled, grab-the-camera, gushing sentimentality when their child discovers the joy of snuggling with pets:
Unless that pet is a bone-crushing snake:
A parent is overwhelmed with the cuteness of a kid’s first sweet kisses of affection:
… unless you think your kids’ object of affection is a pig.
A parent loves watching their kids’ joy as they lick the cake-batter:
Unless there’s an electrocution hazard involved:
A parent laughs out loud at the joy of watching their kid discover new tastes and textures:
… depending on the ick-factor of the said tastes and textures:
A parent takes cutesy pictures of their kids learning to use tools around the house:
… Unless the outlets aren’t covered and it would be unwise to delay intervention:
In each of these instances, the kid is doing something ‘natural’ and ‘innocuous’: playing, exploring, interacting, learning; and in each of these cases the kid is happy, curious, and blissfully unaware.
What makes the difference between a parents’ “aw sweeeeet!” response and “NOOOOOOOOO! Stooooooopppppp!!!!!” response is not necessarily the activity involved (snuggling, using tools, eating etc), which are not dangerous activities in themselves. It’s the CONTEXT in which it is done, since the parent with their wisdom and experience is able to assess a danger which the kid cannot. To offer another example, there’s nothing wrong with drinking green liquid from a cup… as long as it’s juice and not household cleaning chemical! (True story from my own life: 6-year-old-me was in hospital for 2 days with a burnt out mouth because I made that mistake)
So here’s this one mom’s momentary insight on God and sex:
It is simply not true that God is ever “indifferent” or “disapproving” on the subject of sex.
God is emotionally involved and invested and passionate about his CHILDREN and he’s emotionally invested in SEX: he made it after all and he cares how it gets treated…. and seeing Him as a PARENT in this issue helps me ‘get it’.
God is not indifferent towards sex in marriage. The book of Song of Songs in the Bible is proof enough that God is VERY pro-sex-in-marriage. Song of Songs is so erotic and racy and vivid at times it made me wonder at its place in the bible. And of course I would wonder, if I thought God was indifferent or disapproving. But neither of those is true. When sex is an activity of His children done in a safe way (and he says that’s marriage), God is joyfully, aw-sweet, parental-pride-and-vicariously-joyful about it. Think proud, joyful, delighted Daddy.
But when that same behavior happens in a context which He, as the wiser older experienced Parent, sees as dangerous and destructive (a road to Death, Proverbs calls it)… He as a parent cries the protective “noooo! don’t do it!!!!!” God is not so much disapproving of sex outside of marriage, as he is deathly afraid for the welfare of his kids.
Think of a kiddo scaling a 40 foot ladder: The kid grins and shouts “look Dad! I’m fine! I can do it!”, proud of the height they have climbed, but Dad sees the crack in the rungs and the deathly drop of the fall.
So our Heavenly Father says: no sex outside of marriage.
Not because He’s a prude, but because He’s a Dad.
And I think that makes all the difference.