I often hear the critique that evangelicals are too focused on sex. It is one of the major topics in youth group, we discuss it on blogs and in books, and it becomes a major point of departure for most discussions on social issues, trumping most other topics.
Let me first say that I don't think it should be our primary topic of discussion. I think that the glorious work of God through His Son should be what we discuss the most. But a part of that discussion concerns aspects of the gospel that are about repentance from self exaltation and redemption from a corrupt humanity. So if there are issues that draw out who we really are in rebellion toward God, as well as showing us a major aspect of our lives that is in need of redemption, then we should talk about that. And sex is at the core of our lives for a reason.
I noted before that sanctification passages almost always talk about sex within them as a primary example of either corruption or a redeemed life. Paul equates the abstaining from sexual immorality (porneia) with sanctification itself. It is the only moral issue that the Jerusalem Council commands Gentiles to observe when they could have mentioned a million other things. Peter, Jude, and John discuss the wicked as those who are sexually immoral. Sex isn't just what we talk about all the time. It's what the Scripture, when discussing our sanctification, talks about all the time. Even in the Old Testament, Leviticus 18 is about God's people being differentiated from the nations by their sexual practices (whether inside or outside of marriage).
This is why, then, I think it is extremely important to talk about sex in our culture. It displays our rebellion against God most clearly more than any other subject. If you want to see just how evil people really are, you need to speak to them a command of God that attempts to bind their sexual practices. Talk to a homosexual about the evil of homosexuality, a pro-choice individual about the evil of abortion, or one using contraception about the evil of doing so, and you will quickly see mild mannered individuals turn into something like that scene where Bilbo tries to take the ring back from Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring. Be careful what doors you open within the "nice" man. There be monsters waiting inside.
But why is this? Why is it that someone who can speak somewhat calmly in most issues suddenly becomes extremely hostile when you even suggest that his or her sexual practices might be wrong?
Let me suggest that it has to do with the fact that the use of our sexuality is at the very center of what role we are to fulfill as human beings in this world. Sex is a part of the very first command given to humans by God in the fulfillment of their purposed role on earth (Gen 1:28). It is actually at the center of our role as God's images. Humans fulfill the role of being God's representatives of His victory of creation over chaos by using their sexuality for creative purposes. The use of sexuality, therefore, often displays whether a person has a submissive or rebellious attitude toward God in our society, precisely, because its proper use is at the base level of the task we are assigned as God's images (a subservient role to God and His purposes with creation). Sex ultimately has to do with children, and so, it is this use of sex that requires an entire life of service to God and other. It doesn't merely bind one to God's service for the moment, but hinders the freedom of the individual to do whatever else he or she wants to do with his or her life.
The vision of the devil, however, is freedom to become a god and use sexuality as one might please. You are your own driver. You will decide how your life unfolds. You are the captain of your soul, the master of your fate. Hence, sexuality will be used as you please. It is the declaration of independence for the rebellious man. To give up using sexuality as he sees fit is to give up his freedom from God to become his own god. And so the one who would call him back to servitude under his Creator is to be most despised, as, in his mind, this person calls him back to bondage.
The rebellious man only sees law and slavery, not love and the flourishing of life, so he cannot submit to God's purposes for his sexuality unless he himself sees it as desirable.
And this last point is important, simply because one cannot look at a person's proper use of sexuality and assume that he is in submission to God either. It may be that such a man simply desired to use his liberation from God in such a way that just so happens to coincide with God's purposes. But this is rare within our culture; and hence, it often displays an attitude of submission when in conjunction with an attitude of submission to the rest of God's Word; but it cannot merely express that on its own.
But one can look at what is more prominent in our culture, which is the rebellion against God through one's use of sexuality. There is the demonic man screaming for the right to have sex with other men. There is the child of hell, in anger, protesting any move that would protect the unborn child. There is the deceived soul who rolls his eyes at the thought that he should willingly leave his sexual acts open for God to create life through them.
So the topic of sex isn't special because nothing else matters. It's different, however, because it displays something more clearly to us in terms of our attitude toward God. Are we willing to receive correction in the area without becoming annoyed, irritated, hostile? Can a contrary view to the one a person holds be discussed as wrong without the claws coming out? Does pride and the inability to change one's mind evidence the fear of letting go of a self-ruled life?
I'm not saying it's wrong to be angry if one is practicing something evil (whether an evil sexual act or a restriction on sex that shouldn't be there); but if one cannot even consider a rebuke in the area without being dismissive, upset, demonically charged, then that is a sure sign that his attitude is not in the right place, and is therefore, in need of redemption via repentance. In other words, if you can't think straight about an issue because you're so emotionally upset by the suggestion that God may condemn certain sexual practices, then maybe you should look at whether you really have given your life over to God in the first place. Don't look to your going to church, doing ministry, singing hymns and saying prayers. None of those are used as evidence of a redeemed life in sanctification passages in the Bible. Sexuality is used as a major sign. Look to that.
So one can pretty himself up quite well. He can make himself look good in terms of even being a Christian. But look to his attitude toward his original purpose and design by God in terms of how he uses his sexuality, and all that icing that has been smeared over a burned cake will melt away, and that which is in ruin will present itself for all to see. Let not the man who is unredeemed in the bedroom think he is redeemed outside of it.