A sin against yourself

In a previous post we addressed the question of why Christians seem so hung up about sex. We saw that our bodies matter and what we do with our bodies matter.

This is Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 6. In verse 18 he says: ‘Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.’

Sexual immorality in all its forms is against yourself. This seems a bit odd. Is this proof of a Christian hang up about sex – that sex is specially bad. What about drug abuse or suicide? Surely they too are sins against your body.

The point is the Bible is talking about more than just the physical stuff we’re made from. It’s not just talking about bone and muscle. By ‘body’ it means our total selves. Who we are. Our identity.

The key idea is this: Sex is never just sex. It’s more significant that we normally think. It’s not just a physical act.

Verse 16: ‘Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will be become one flesh.”’ When it talks about becoming ‘one in body’ or ‘one flesh’ it doesn’t mean our flesh is fused. It means your whole self is involved. You’re whole self is given away. You’re whole self, you personality, your identity is bonded to another person. Sex is not just a physical act than leaves the ‘real you’ unaffected. It profoundly changes you.

We see this in life all the time. If sex is just like eating cake then why does adultery feel so painful? Because sex involves your whole self and so people feel personally betrayed. Because sex is not just a physical act. Your whole self is involved.

God designed sex as a way to give yourself to another. The clothes come off so you’re exposed. You give you body to the embrace of another. You enter or are entered. Your very self is fused with another person. The word ‘unite’ in verse 16 means ‘to bind, to glue, to cement’. You’re glued together. The two become one.

That’s why sexual sin is a sin against your body, your self, your identity. If giving yourself in sex is not done in the context of life-long commitment, the result is deep pain. It messes with you in a profound way.

PVA glue is stronger than wood. If you glue two bits of wood together and then pull them apart it’s not the glue that breaks, but the wood. It splinters. And that’s what happens whenever you have sex outside of marriage: you splinter your soul.

But when that physical oneness goes together with a whole-person and whole-life oneness, the result is deep wholeness and fulfilment. It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing. It’s an amazing gift from God.

It’s a sign of God’s own giving of himself to us that we might be one with him. The Bible says marriage and sex are a picture of Christ’s relationship with his people. At the cross Christ gave himself in love to save people, to take the judgment we deserve, to cleanse us and make us beautiful. And he commits himself to us totally. He’s made a covenant (like a marriage covenant) to love us and care for us.

God invented sex to show us his passion. All the pain you feel around sex is like the pain he feels at our unfaithfulness. All the joy you feel around sex is like his joy at loving his people. All the sacrifices you make are the like the sacrifice of Jesus for us.

So God says that sex belongs only in marriage not to stop us having fun, but to stop us getting hurt. It’s not because sex is bad. It’s because sex is too precious and too powerful and too life-changing to be unleashed without life-long commitment.

This is a high view of sex. It’s not sex as ‘appetite’ to be indulged whenever. Nor is it sex as ‘dirty’ to be avoided whatever. It’s sex as a profound, beautiful, pleasurable, relationship-binding gift. Sex is more significant than you think.

But does all this mean you’ve had it if you remain single? We turn to that issue in a future post.

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