I am no longer am comfortable speaking of “sex.” I am not talking about the word’s use as a category of male/female, but in referring to the physical act of intimacy. I find myself avoiding it now. I just don’t feel like using it. Let me explain why.
Away The Prudish
It is not because I am straitlaced. I never have been prim or starchy about the matter. I have talked about it in times appropriate and inappropriate. My non-Christian brother-in-law approached me at our wedding to question why so much of our ceremony dwelt on it. He pointed to the front of our program that simply read in huge gothic typeface: “One Flesh!” I have held forth to my children about it at the dinner table while they were growing up, and they met my supposedly wise words with blinking blankness. I have made my wife uncomfortable in how I brought it up in sermons. One time, as newlyweds, we were sitting in the auditorium before a church service. I guess I was being too affectionate with her because the associate pastor approached me and asked if I would like him to dim the lights.
So, no, it is not from prudishness.
Away the Reduction
I’ve stopped talking about sex because I am fed-up with the program of reduction under which we now live. As I wrote in a recent book:
As Satan hates the fullness of blessing in God’s creation, he is out to thwart it for people. He cannot stand the way that God’s gifts bring wholeness and praise to us, so he struggles to do away with them in our world. He cannot abolish them, because the pleasures of the creation are so resilient. The best he can do is reduce their dimensions with people, to cheapen their joy and diminish their benefit to us. On account of his work, the many blessings God has built into our lives are reduced to so much less than they are meant to be. So eating is reduced to just consumption, travel to just a commute, family to just “an arrangement,” worship to just entering the praise zone, and, yes, lovemaking to just sex.
Away to Bed
Instead, I now talk about covenant love-making. For that is what the gift really is. Covenant love-making pledges commitment that binds a man and woman together. It repairs relationship. It renews appreciation. Even in the broken form in which it usually inhabits our bedrooms, it restores hope in the reality of love. At its consummation, it analogically displays in space and time the perichoresis of the Trinity. It is not an appetite. It is a promise of a filling with the fullness of God.
Next to this, the word, sex, just sounds crass. Now, crass can be sexy, but the idea fails to capture the holistic intent of this precious sign.
The ideas of sexual revolution actually make marital intimacy less beautiful, less human. So, no more sex for me. But plenty of covenant love-making.