I was recently given a copy of Ed and Lisa Young’s book, Sexperiment. I’ve only thumbed through it a bit, but so far its what you’d expect from a book with that title. It’s their attempt at making marriages healthier by encouraging more sex and intimacy. Of course, sex isn’t the only thing discussed in the book and Young is quick to point out that Christ should occupy the foundational role in any marriage (pg. 9).
However, I’m concerned that in the evangelical culture we have recently begun to overemphasize the role of sex in marriage. Now, I’m the first to admit that a healthy sex life is important in a healthy marriage. Further, I do agree that often times, sex has been demonized within the church and that there needs to be a healthy, biblical understanding of sex. However, if one considers the current landscape of sermons and books available on sex, a person could be led to believe that the Bible is filled to the brim with references to sex. This simply is not the case. When one considers just how little time the scripture gives to sex and just how little time sex occupies in the overall picture of marriage, it becomes difficult to justify all of the sexualization going on within the evangelical church.
As I said earlier, I’ve not read all of Young’s book (I’m not sure I will) and my goal here is not to demonize Ed Young or Mark Driscoll (Real Marriage, The Peasant Princess) or anyone else. In fact, Danny Akin has even commended Driscoll for answering some of the tough questions regarding sex.
My concern, instead, is that we as evangelicals may be guilty of the same oversexualization that we see in our secular culture. Evangelicals have figured out what others have known for years…sex sells. Christ may be the foundation for marriage, but A Christ Centered Marriage doesn’t market as easily as Sexperiement or Intended for Pleasure. There is certainly value in working to correct our culture’s misunderstanding of sex, but part of our efforts must surely focus on correcting our culture’s fascination and addiction to sex.
We may do well to adopt some of C.S. Lewis’ perspective on sex. In Mere Christianity he writes,
They tell you sex has become a mess because it was hushed up. But for the last twenty years it has not been. It has been chattered about all day long. yet, it is still in a mess…If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once. But, of course, when people say, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,’ they may mean ‘the state into which the sexual instinct has now got is nothing to be ashamed of.’
If they mean that, I think they are wrong. I thing it is everything to be ashamed of. There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives.
Lewis goes on to argue that chastity and sexual morality are not easy, but they are possible and right. He urges Christians to view sex as a gift from God, one to be enjoyed, but not one to be flaunted. Sex is normal and healthy, but it must never become primary.
As we contend for the absolute value of Christ over and above all things, we must affirm that Christ is the centerpiece in marriage as well. Sex is certainly important, but marriage is about much more than sex. Let us all be careful that as we seek to correct misunderstandings about sex we are primarily concerned with offering gospel centered marriages and lives and not merely capitalizing on our culture’s preoccupation with sex.