Designer Sex (part 1)

Our starting points have big consequences, good or bad. Even when buttoning our shirt. If we get the first button wrong we’re going to be misaligned all the way down. And hopefully we catch the problem before we walk out of the house.

It is the same way with sex. It is crucial that we understand from the beginning what God, the designer, intended. We must consider what the Bible, God’s Word, says on the subject.[1]

God’s Good Creation: Designer Sex

What is “Designer Sex”? It is sex the way God intended it to be.[2] It’s not cheap, disrespectful, or damaging. Sex the way God designed it is very good.

“It is tremendously moving to think of God’s original one-flesh companionship. Adam and Eve, before the fall of Eden, had the marvelous capacity of being totally naked, physically and emotionally, with no shame or fear. They reveled in a childlike trust and curiosity—laughing, instinctual honesty, respect and zest for life. It was naked and unashamed with no performance anxiety, inhibitions, pain, or selfish skill deficits. What a relationship and sex life they were able to have as they truly ‘knew’ each other, inside and out!”[3]

God designed man and woman to be together and enjoy each other in harmony with each other and Himself (cf. Gen. 2:18, 24-25). Designer sex, sex the way God intended it to be, is beautiful and God-glorifying.

God lovingly, brilliantly, creatively designed sex. “Doesn’t that tell you a lot about who God really is? Among other things, it tells you that He is ingenious.”[4] God is not trying to keep us from fun when He tells us about the intended design for sex. 

Sex, as it was created to be enjoyed, was very good. There was nothing wrong or shameful about it. However, that’s not always the way it is anymore. Something happened.

The Fall: Romance Ruined

Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed, and were able to enjoy unhindered wedded bliss. After the Fall, however, all sorts of problems erupted. Adam and Eve hid from God and each other, as they clothed themselves in shame. They had relational disharmony as they blamed each other.

Men and women today still feel the effects of the Fall. The world is now broken. It is not how it was intended to be.

As a result of the Fall people, even political candidates, say such terrible and disrespectful things as: “when you’re a star… you can do anything… Grab ’em by the @*$#!.” God created all people with worth, not as objects to be groped and used. 

Pornography is a cogent example of the broken world of sin that we all now face.[5]

“Porn is unbelievably devastating. It holds out an ever-increasing promise of satisfaction while simultaneously, gradually removing the ability to be intimate. Porn makes sex purely physical, and when it becomes purely physical, it loses the glory God has designed it to have. You lose that glory even in marriage when sex becomes purely about the physical act of intercourse.”[6]

This is not “designer sex.” It is sad and leads to all sorts of brokenness.[7]

What we face today represents unique pressures and challenges unprecedented in the history of man. When the author of Ecclesiastes said there is “nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9) he didn’t mean literally. The technology and social media we have today are new but it brings to light the same problems humanity has always had. So, in that sense, there is “nothing new under the sun.” We are fallen. Our hearts need fixed. The external pressures may change but the inner reality of sin remains.

Pornography is not just bad from a biblical perspective it is empirically bad as well.[8] A recent article says, “After 40 years of peer-reviewed research, scholars can say with confidence that porn is an industrial product that shapes how we think about gender, sexuality, relationships, intimacy, sexual violence and gender equality—for the worse.”[9] The article goes on to say that “Extensive scientific research reveals that exposure to and consumption of porn threaten the social, emotional and physical health of individuals, families and communities, and highlights the degree to which porn is a public health crisis rather than a private matter.”[10] 

Sexual malpractice and malfunction is a result of the Fall. Pornography zooms in on the effects of the Fall and shows its full despicable form. It is the debasement of what God created to be intimately enjoyed by two covenant partners.  

When it comes to sex the Bible is not prudish. It “is fully aware of desire, seduction, rape, polygamy, homosexuality, adultery, and sex after age ninety. And that’s just Genesis.”[11] The Bible does not ignore sex. The Bible does not say it’s not a problem. The Bible doesn’t try to fix the problem by saying, “All desire is demonic.”[12]

Yet, as we will see the Bible does instruct us when it comes to sex. Partly because the author of the Bible, ultimately God, knows that “Sexuality is… a powerful force in our lives, with tremendous potential for intimate bonding or harmful behaviors.”[13]

Desires are not innately demonic but they are dangerous. “Ask Tiger Woods. Ask Bill Clinton. Ask Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Ted Haggard.”[14] Ask the first two pastors I had as a kid.

Concluding Thoughts

A healthy view of sex understands that it is not bad. Indeed, God created sex as good and it is good when enjoyed as God, the Creator, intended. However, we live in a fallen world and sex is often not carried out the way that God designed and thus leads to innumerable problems. 

We need to understand how God, the Grand Designer, intended sex to function. 

________________________

[1] See Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say “I Do”, 22.

[2] See Kevin Leman, Sheet Music, 14-15.

[3] Douglas E. Rosenau, A Celebration of Sex, 4.

[4] Stephen and Judith Schwambach, For Lovers Only, 127.

[5] We live in a very sexualized age. I know in one sense that there is “nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). I know there are pornographic Egyptian hieroglyphics that have been discovered and that there are old Roman bathhouses with pornographic morals on the walls. Yet, never before has porn been so accessible. It’s not just found under your uncle’s bed or in the attic it’s constantly in your hand, just a click away. Here’s some statistics: 90% of children between the ages of eight and sixteen have viewed pornography. The average age of exposure to internet pornography is eleven. The largest consumer of internet pornography is boys ages 12 to 17 (Greg Gibson, Date Different, 80).

The porn industry is one of the biggest industries and has the largest presence online. In fact, porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined.

Internet pornography is also very potent. I’ve read that it’s as addictive or more addictive as heroin or cocaine. Social media very often, even if it’s not officially labeled pornographic, is teaching and influencing how we think about sex and act out sexually.

[6] Matt Chandler, The Mingling of Souls, 90-91. He goes on to say, “and you certainly forfeit this glory when you engage in sex outside of marriage. Sex outside of marriage is deliberate disobedience against God’s commands, which are for your good and therefore it is a deliberate forfeiture of your spiritual well-being, as well as your sexual well-being.”

[7] For example, Dr. Kevin Leman says, “If you are having sex before marriage, you are ultimately threatening your own happiness and marital satisfaction. The research couldn’t be clearer” (Kevin Leman, Sheet Music, 17-18).

[8] Actually the word porn is from the Greek word porneía (πορνεία), which is often translated sexual immorality.

[9] Gail Dines, “Is porn immoral? That doesn’t matter: It’s a public health crisis” in The Washington Post.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Douglas Sean O’Donnell, The Song of Solomon: An Invitation to Intimacy, 58.

[12] See Ibid.

[13] Douglas E. Rosenau, A Celebration of Sex, 4.

[14] O’Donnell, The Song of Solomon, 33.”Eros alone is not evil, but eros outside of God’s ethics is” (Ibid.).

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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