Gospel-Centered Sex, Part One: The Consummation of our Souls

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Gospel-Centered Sex, Part One:
The Consummation of our Souls

Yesterday while chatting with my dear friend Tom, he kindly reproved me for his lack of something to read on the internet. Commenting on my wife's blog he said, "at least someone in your family is still blogging!" Informing him about the PG post on which I've been working for a couple of weeks, he responded regarding the rating of his own love life these days. That's private information. However this post goes out to us all in an effort to increase the ratings for our respective marital bliss.
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The sexual intimacy of a man and a woman is a very small picture of the intimacy Jesus and His church experience with each other. After much careful consideration in light of several key texts in the Scriptures, I've come to the present conclusion that faithful marital sex is a foreshadow of this greater intimacy which is to come when we see Jesus face to face. While some may think it crass or "over the top" to make such comparisons, I simply respond by asking, "do you really think that the romantic and sensual feelings (emotional and physical) which God created us to be able to experience and lead to sexual climax all terminate at the end of each act?" Or put another way, "do you really think that sex has no greater purpose than to just make us feel really, really good when we are done?"

As NT believers it is easy for us to think that since OT patterns and types are fulfilled in Christ, that there are no more types and figures and foreshadows today. But there are. The Lord's Supper, while a remembrance of what He has done for us at the cross, is also a foreshadow of the marriage feast we will enjoy with King Jesus when we get to heaven. And the weekly worship of the local church itself, while a meeting of encouragement and stimulation to love and good works, is also a taste of what we will experience in heaven while we are here on earth. Marriage could be spoken of in terms of a foreshadow of Christ's personal, face to face love with His church, when we get to heaven. Sex also fits nicely in this category of foreshadows, types, and figures. None of the things I listed terminate on themselves. Instead, they will terminate when they are consummated. And they will all be consummated in an eternal, ever-abounding, all-increasing, incredible, unfathomable, and ultimate way when we get to heaven.

In Revelation 21:2-3 John sees something spectacular which paves the way for this theology of gospel-centered sex.
"And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, 'Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people, God himself will be with them" (NLT).
The holy city and the New Jerusalem are both figurative language for the church. Intimate, marital language is used here to describe the consummation that is taking place as God comes in to His people and lives with them. In light of this, I'd like to put forward three parallels that come to mind, all reflecting this foreshadowing of sex toward final consummation in the personal, intimate union of Jesus with His church.

First, the sexual relationship between husband and wife begins with arousal. They pursue each other in a way that arouses specific emotional and physical feelings for each other. They "tempt" each other with thoughts and words of what they want to enjoy soon. Each spouse creates for the other an urgent and incredibly strong desire to be with each other sexually as soon as possible. And if this is done right on a consistent basis, each spouse completely and totally wins and builds the sexual, emotional, and physical faculties of the other such that any thought of another man or woman would be unthinkable to either of their hearts.

So then....have I not just described what the Spirit of Christ does within our hearts and minds through the glorious gospel? Does He not arouse certain feelings in our hearts for Him? Does He not "tempt" us with thoughts and words of what we will enjoy with Him in the near future? Does His gospel not create within us an urgent and incredibly strong desire to be with Him in heaven, in His actual and physical presence, worshiping Him, praising Him, bowing before Him? This is what worship in song so often does in my heart when I sing each Sunday morning at my locla church. And is not the gospel so powerful as to create such a desire for Christ in our hearts that desiring anything else besides Him is unthinkable?

Second, the sexual encounter between a husband and wife builds, intensifies, and climaxes in an almost unexplainable feeling of being enraptured. An indescribable feeling of oneness overcomes both as they are wrapped in each others' arms enjoying the peak of the sexual experience. Both feel as if they have been caught up in a torrent of pleasantry and ecstasy.

Yet this too is just a shadow of what will happen in our souls when we meet our Savior. As if we could even imagine it, our souls and new bodies will experience a spiritual and glorific building, intensifying, and climaxing of our redeemed hearts in an unexplainable feeling of being enraptured with joy in God. Will we not experience with our Savior a totally different and better sense of oneness as we are in His presence, enjoying the peak of our spiritual experience? A blessed and beautiful torrent of glorious pleasantry and divine ecstasy will overcome us every second of our new lives in a city and place with no time.

Third, the end of the sexual experience is summed up in one word: satisfaction. It almost cannot be described, as in fact little if any of this can actually be described with any justice. A sense of completeness, wholeness, peace, joy, and rest all accompany those moments following climax when husband and wife embrace each other longingly, savoring these feelings as they delight in each other's company.

But this is only a small taste, if we can imagine, of the glorious satisfaction that we will be able to eternally experience over and again in the presence of our Savior. The moments following sex are but a foreshadow of the feelings of completeness, wholeness, peace, joy and rest that our new bodies and souls will be able to sense when we are caught up in the worship and fellowship of our Savior.

This then is gospel-centered sex. It is sex oriented around the gospel. Don't get me wrong or apply wrongly what I'm saying here. It is not that we should meditate on gospel-truths while we are in the act of love-making. Refreshing our intellectual grasp of the awesome doctrines of propitiation and imputation while making love to our spouse is not at all what I'm talking about here. That's silly and is not something God expects. That ignores altogether the genuine enjoyment that can and should be experienced in the shadow itself. God created sex to be enjoyed.

But sex also serves another purpose, namely, to turn our hearts toward an expectation and beautiful meditation of what our lives will be like when our personal relationship with Jesus Christ is consummated. The gospel teaches that He will return again one day to get us and take us to heaven to be with Him forever. And at that time we will see Him face to face, see Him as He is, and enjoy eternal sweet fellowship with Him.

The gospel is all about being with God in person and enjoying Him more and more, forever and ever. So gospel-centered sex is about developing a heart and mind that uses the incredible experience of sex to meditate on something so much more beautiful that it makes sex look like one bite of our favorite dessert (including the famed recipe for "Better Than Sex Cake")! Right alongside the beauty and glory of our sexual experiences with our spouses, may we see the greater unending future joy which will be ours to experience increasingly.

So after your next rendezvous with your spouse, wake up the next morning with not only a fresh dance in your heart for your husband or wife, but in the moment that follow pursue the meditation that what you experienced and enjoyed is nothing in comparison to the dance you will do when you meet the Lover of your Soul. Your heart will be filled each moment anew with an ever-increasing, always-satisfying sense of God's love for you.

Praise God for sex. And praise Him for heaven, too! Speaking of both...guess I'd better stop blogging and do a little meditating! Let's see...where's my wife?

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