One of my heroes is Mark Moore. I have never met him and I have only heard him in person a handful of times, but he has made an impact on my life none the less. When I heard him say the above quote I was amazed at the genius of it. In a simple sentence he managed to state the reason why we struggle with sex.
I want to take a few moments and just look at the three sections which make up this sentence; because I think when we begin to grasp the meaning of it the place of sex in our lives will become much clearer.
“Sex is sacred…” Sex is to have a place of honor in our lives. The author of Hebrews wrote; Give honor to marriage and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery (Hebrews 13:4; NLT). God designed sex to bring a man and a woman into an intimate communion that cannot be expressed in any other way. It is not dirty or shameful nor is it common and ordinary. It has a very special place in binding a husband and wife together, and when we are unwilling to hold sex as something that is sacred then it loses all of its significance. It will become a “fun” activity for consenting adults to participate in, but its ultimate purpose will be lost. The way people get the most out of their sexual lives is to hold sex as sacred and leave it where it belongs.
We talk too much about sex. C. S. Lewis wrote;
“The reason why I must is that you and I…have been fed all day long on solid lies about sex. We have been told, till one is sick of hearing it, that sexual desire is in the same state as any of our other natural desires and that if only we abandon the silly old Victorian idea of hushing it up, everything in the garden will be lovely. It is not true. The moment you look at the facts, and away from the propaganda, you see that it is not” (Mere Christianity; pg. 91-92).
Our focus on sex, both in the world and in the church, has led us to make sex common, and thus not sacred. I am not advocating ignoring sex, as if it doesn’t exist, but rather keep holding sex in high regard so it is not the foundation of our stories, jokes, and our lives.
That brings us to the second part: “but not essential…” Here comes a shocking statement: Sex is not necessary for a good life! That is so contrary to what we have been told and to what we believe. Sex is not essential to our happiness! You can have a joyful life, a fulfilled life, and still be a virgin. Jesus was at least 33 years old when He was crucified and He never had sex. For Jesus to command you to keep sex within the bounds of marriage means that He is not asking you to do anything that He has not already done. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:1 writes; Now about the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life (NLT). Sex is not essential in our quest to live the Christian life, which in the end is the type of life which brings the most fulfillment.
There is no sexual act that will give us the type of life that we long to have. The joyful life is not having a life of sexual freedom, but living a life that finds pleasure in the little things: the love of a child, the knowledge of a job well done, time with friends and family, and worship to the Creator. Sex is a life-enhancer, making the good life just a little bit better.
The final part: “and our lives say the opposite…” I don’t need to remind us how sex has gone wrong in the world. It is all around us, and we are faced with it each and everyday. Is it a surprise that we find the world living contrary to God’s standard when it comes to sex? No, because the world has twisted everything God has given to fit its plan. When Mark Moore says “our lives,” he is not making a judgment on people already living contrary to God’s will, but he is pointing out how Christians are not much different. Sexual purity just isn't very fashionable. I am continually amazed by the number of "Christian" people I know who are living with someone or just have "weekend" flings.
The movies and television shows so many "Christians" watch carry a message contrary to God's message on sex, and yet we don't give them a second thought. Treating sex as sacred is more than just keeping sex between married people. Sex will not remain sacred if it is a common element in our entertainment.
This also includes jokes. Most of the “dirty” jokes I have heard in the last few years, have not come from people of the world, but from ministers and elders. There are jokes preachers tell to each other that they would never tell to people in their congregation. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God (Ephesians 5:3-4; NLT). Whether or not we hold sex to be sacred is not only seen in our actions, but also in our speech. Too often we are trying to tell the world to honor sex while we are treating it with disrespect with our jokes.
As I wrap this up let me leave you with another C. S. Lewis quote:
“Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christian rule is, ‘Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.’ Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong” (Mere Christianity; pg. 90).