Our appetite for sex

The relational good and physical pleasure we derive from sex aren’t mutually exclusive benefits but two sides of the same coin.

Russell Moore is always worth a read and his latest article, Will a Happy Marriage Prevent an Affair?, is no exception. However, I think he overstates a point in his conclusion when he writes:

That’s why the Scripture calls us to beware our own vulnerability. That’s why the Scripture tells husbands and wives to maintain sexual union with one another. It’s not because sex is an appetite that must be filled but because sex can connect us to one another, reminding us who it is that we are called to love and to serve.

If by this statement Moore merely intends to prioritize selflessness over personal pleasure but not deny the biblical imperative to (righteously) satisfy our sexual appetite, all is well. But we ought to prioritize wisely as we consider the whole counsel of God. The relational good and physical pleasure we derive from sex aren’t mutually exclusive benefits but two sides of the same coin. As Christians we affirm God’s intention to create us as sexual beings complete with sexual appetites although sin has disrupted the design and function of our sexuality on multiple levels. Even outside of Song of Solomon the Scriptures speak to our appetite for sex and the need to sate it. Consider just two passages where we are commanded to maintain our sexual union for the sake of our appetite:

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? (Prov 5:18-20)

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1Cor 7:5)

In one sense it’s precisely because we hunger for sex that sex creates so strong a connection–it is the one pleasure we desire that only one person may fulfill. And let’s not forget that the appetite for sexual pleasure is a type of that hunger for even greater pleasures that only One can (and will!) fulfill in a marriage still to come.

No self-respecting husband acts like this

True story from a highly reliable source:

1) guy marries girl whose character is highly suspect

2) woman proceeds to whore around; husband puts her out [the only time she considers going back to her husband is when she can’t find her way into another man’s bed]

3) after a time the husband decides to win his wife back; he proceeds to sweet talk her & turns on the romance

4) husband marries the woman again [does he expect a different outcome?] but he has to buy her first

5) husband & wife are reunited under new stipulations: she won’t sleep around but neither will he sleep with her. [marriage will consist of protection & provision but appears to lack joy & passion]

No “happily ever after” for this couple–right?

Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could

Sin aims always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could…every rise of lust, might it have its course, would come to the height of villany: it is like the grave that is never satisfied. And herein lies no small share of the deceitfulness of sin, by which it prevails to the hardening of men, and so to their ruin (Heb. 3:13) — it is modest, as it were, in its first motions and proposals, but having once got footing in the heart by them, it constantly makes good its ground, and presseth on to some farther degrees in the same kind.

–John Owen (1616-1683), Of The Mortification of Sin in Believers