The Demythologizing of Sex
April 7, 2015
Kevin DeYoung points something out in his latest book that I would love to read more about. The second half of What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality is filled with short chapters answering popular and thoughtful objections to the biblical position of marriage, and therefore sexual relationships, being shared between one man and one women.
One of the more adamant objections is that it just isn’t fair. How can we ask same-sex attracted people to accept the fact that they will never be satisfied, that they cannot seek love in marriage according to a desire that they didn’t ask for in the first place? DeYoung approaches this question with much sensitivity, and tackles it from different angles. The blaring obvious response is, what about the heterosexual singles who do not find a spouse to marry?
He challenges the church that this isn’t a burden that someone should carry alone. While all of Christ’s people have their crosses to bear, we have the whole covenant community of the church to help us hold fast to the confession of our hope. And so DeYoung reminds us that “those Christians in our midst who experience same-sex attraction need not be friendless, helpless, and hopeless.”
Here DeYoung reveals a proclivity in the church that may need some admonition. We rightly want to support and encourage godly family units. But we can easily elevate the family into a priority which it has not been given. He continues:
But, of course, none of this can be possible without uprooting the idolatry of the nuclear family, which holds sway in many conservative churches. The trajectory of the New Testament is to relativize the importance of marriage and biological kinship. A spouse and a minivan full of kids on the way to Disney World is a sweet gift and a terrible god. If everything in Christian community revolves around being married with children, we should not be surprised when singleness sounds like a death sentence.
If that’s the church’s challenge, what’s needed in the wider culture is a deep demythologizing of sex. Nothing in the Bible encourages us to give sex the exulted status it has in our culture, as if finding our purpose, our identity, and our fulfillment all the rest on what we can or cannot do with our private parts. Jesus is the fullest example of what it means to be human, and he never had sex. How did we come to think that the most intense emotional attachments and the most fulfilling aspects of life can only be expressed with sexual intimacy? (119)
This is something that I have been thinking about lately, and even more so with Easter just passing. While we want to uphold and celebrate marriage and children, the church needs to be careful not to inadvertently send the message that we find our ultimate satisfaction in pillow talk with the spouse of our dreams and raising a brood of godly images of ourselves. And I think this very thing highlights the importance of getting involved, dare I say intimately, with your local church. I am encouraged by these words that I have a covenantal family made up of all different types of people. My husband isn’t the only person whom God is using for my sanctification. And while I am thankful to be in a relationship where two become one, we also belong to the body of Christ.
Whether we are talking about same-sex attraction, singles longing for companionship, or disillusioned spouses who thought marriage would fulfill their need for intimacy, the church’s challenge is the demythologizing of sex in a culture that sells it as the answer to all our loneliness, hurt, and loss. We are all making a grave mistake if we are seeking fulfillment in a sexual relationship, even if it is within marriage. This is something we all need to hear more about.