Is There More to Sex Than Pleasure?
- Tuesday, April 15, 2008
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from Mindy Meier’s Sex and Dating: Questions You Wish You Had Answers To (IVP Books).
Nearly all of us long for relationships. We’re drawn toward others for completion. Most of us long to connect with another person and to share experiences that bond us mind, body and soul. The reason we have this universal longing is because God designed us this way.
He also created us with sexual desires. He imprinted on our bodies and souls the longing for consummation. Sex is one of God’s most wonderful gifts to human beings.
In the fall of 2005, the incoming freshman class at the University of Illinois was asked, ‘What do you want most out of your college career?” For the first time, the top answer was to someday have a family, ahead of options such as to earn a degree that will ensure a good income and to develop a philosophy of life. This finding came as a surprise to many of the university’s administrators. In an institution that prides itself on academic excellence, this hunger for family seemed incongruous.
Of course, there are people who don’t have these desires. If their parents’ marriage was a source of pain or ended in divorce, these longings may not be present. Some folks so value their independence that bonding with one person sounds limiting. But most people, deep down inside, want to someday have a loving and deeply connected marriage.
An important part of marriage is sex. What happens when two people unite through sexual intercourse? What’s the purpose of sex?
Seven Purposes of Sex
Perhaps the first purpose of sex that we think of is pleasure. We experience exhilarating pleasure as we fully share our body with another. God made people with body parts designed for sexual pleasure. Some parts of our body have no function other than sexual pleasure. By design, we are pleasure givers and pleasure receivers. If you think Christians and the church are anti-sex and anti-pleasure, it’s worth noting that an entire book of the Bible, the Song of Songs, is devoted to the romantic, sensual love between a man and a woman.
The two lovers in the Song of Songs use metaphors to express the sensual delights of physical love. He invites her to come and experience the sights and smells of spring: “Arise my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me” (Song of Songs 2:10-13). In this text we see love’s invitation to be a partner in pleasure.
A husband and wife are partners in pleasure. Sex is part of that, but so is watching the sun set together or tearing into a loaf of hot bread from the oven or walking barefoot on the beach or lying in the hammock admiring the paint job you worked on together on the deck. Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, beautiful or ordinary, all married couples can enjoy the wonders and delights of sexual love.
Another purpose for sex is bonding. The act of sexual intercourse is intended by God to act as superglue in the relationship, bonding two people together. We become attached to someone when we experience physical touch and pleasure in a loving way. Sex is so much more than the joining of body parts. Sex unites souls.
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