If you are a believer, the entire way you think about yourself, life, and the world around you has been shaped by the words of God found on the pages of your Bible. In all things, your calling is to live inside the boundaries of what God has said. But you must begin by understanding the importance, the life-shaping significance, of the first four words of the Bible: “In the beginning, God” (Gen. 1:1)
With those words everything in life is given its shape, purpose, and meaning. But for the purpose of the topic of sex, these words do something important. They destroy the validity of dividing life into spiritual and secular. This division has opened to us doors of danger as we think about sex. It’s allowed us to live with a distance and dissonance between our world of sex and the principles and promises of Scripture. And it’s allowed us to minimize the degree to which every sexual act is deeply and inescapably spiritual. The way in which you participate in sex always reveals the true spirituality of your heart.
So I want to take time to unpack five implications of those four words in Genesis 1:1—“In the beginning, God,”— and apply them to the world of sex.
1. God exists and is the center of all things.
It is humbling and significant to realize that the biblical story doesn’t begin with us. It begins with God. It’s important to recognize that the story that unfolds on the pages of your Bible is God’s story. The story moves according to his will and by his plan. It’s all for him, from him, through him, and about him. He zealously holds on to his position at the center of all things. He will not forsake his position of authority or give his control to another. He is the center, the important one, and the Lord of glory. Your understanding of everything in your life must begin here.
Our problem with sex doesn’t begin with lust, with bad choices, or with sexual misbehavior. Our problem with sex begins when we forget that God must be at the center of this part of our lives as he must be with any other. When you have no greater motivation in sex than your own satisfaction, you are already in sexual trouble, even if you don’t know it yet. How have you tended to put yourself in the center of your world of sexuality?
2. God is the creator and owner of all that exists.
Human beings were designed to be resident managers of the created world that God owns. God made and owned the beautiful garden of Eden, placed Adam and Eve in it, and then commissioned them to live in and care for the garden he made and owned. They didn’t own what they’d been given. They didn’t make the rules. They didn’t get a vote when it came to the purpose for their own lives and for everything else. They were there to recognize God’s ownership by fulfilling his purpose.
We often reduce our relationship with sex to a set of rules. But God’s rules aren’t arbitrary. They’re not just a set of disconnected moral abstractions. They don’t make any sense when viewed or presented that way. God’s rules are rooted in relationship. It is here alone that they get their rationality and beauty. We were designed for relationship with God, a relationship in which we would daily recognize his position as our Creator and our position as his creatures. All of God’s rules are an expression of the thing for which we were made—relationship with him. This relationship was to be shaped by worshipful love and joyful obedience. Celebrating God’s existence, wisdom, power, and glory means that we have no complaint about staying inside his boundaries.
3. Because God is a spirit, and we are made in his image and for relationship with him, all of life is spiritual.
Since all of life was made by God, it exists through him, is there for him, and is designed to operate according to his plan. There is no purely secular domain of your life. Your very existence as a human being made in God’s image connects you to him all the time. Everywhere you go and in everything you do, you encounter things that were made by him, connecting you to him once again. God is inescapable. He is literally the environment in which you live.
So sex is not an a-religious thing; it’s deeply spiritual. Your relationship to your own sexuality and the sexuality of others always reveals your heart. Your sexual life is always an expression of what you truly worship. Sex is deeply religious. In sex you are either self-consciously submitting to God or setting yourself up as God. In other words, sex is never simply a horizontal thing. Sex always connects you to the God who created your body, gave you eyes to see and a heart that desires, and tells you how you are to steward this aspect of your personhood.
4. Since God is the creator and controller of all things, he alone is worthy of our worship.
Your sexual world is a world of worship. It’s important to understand that worship is your identity as a human being. You were designed for worship. This means that you’re always attaching the hopes, dreams, peace, motivations, joy, and security of your heart to something. So you don’t worship just on Sunday; you worship your way through every day of your life. A worshiper is who you are; worship is what you do. So sex is an act of worship in some way.
One aspect of worship means to bow down. The posture connoted by these words is important. In bowing down, I kneel before God and bring to him the deepest of offerings, the love of my heart. I bow to his majesty, his authority, his centrality, and his holiness. I recognize that he exists and that I was made by and for him. Remember that as you use sex, you’re always bowing down to someone or something.
5. The purpose of the cross is to reconcile us to God and restore God to his rightful place in our hearts.
It’s only when we’re in right relationship with God, when we’re living for him and not for ourselves, when we’re entrusting ourselves to his good purpose and following his wise rule, that everything in our lives is in its proper place. Hope for sexual sanity is found only in one place: at the foot of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sanity in this area will never be found in trying harder and doing better, because it’s what lives inside rather than outside of you that you most need to defend yourself against. It’s humbling but vital to admit that the greatest sex dangers are those you carry around inside you, and you take them with you wherever you go and to whomever you’re with.
So the first four words of the Bible, “In the beginning, God,” drive me to one conclusion: I need a savior of glorious and transforming grace, because I need to be saved from me. But there’s hope for me, because this Savior has come, and he’s poured out his grace. He gives me much more than a set of rules; he gives me himself. Not only does he forgive me, but he comes and lives inside me and, in so doing, begins to transform me at the causal core of my personhood, my heart.
Jesus has come. There is hope!