From the moment that Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God, mankind has been taking God’s good gifts and distorting them. Sex is no exception. In fact, it probably tops the list of good gifts that have been abused, distorted, and misappropriated.
In our modern world, a liberated sex life is one of our highest virtues. It looks a bit different than it did during the free love movement of the 60s and 70s, but the overarching concept is that sex should be separated from marriage, from traditionally imposed restraints, and perhaps even from love.
So our films, literature, and sitcoms glory in liberated sex. Sometimes it is thrown in our faces in defiance. More often it is presented in more subtle, more beautified terms.
The heart of liberated sex is the one night stand. What could be more freeing than to have sexual encounters with no strings attached? There is none of the messiness of relationships, none of the burden of commitment.
But how successful has our society been at removing sex from its God-ordained context? In some ways, very successful. The sexual misconduct of our politicians is generally considered irrelevant to their political careers. The promiscuity of our celebrities is discussed ad infinitum in our tabloids, yet we love them all the same.
But in other ways, mankind has still failed to destroy the memory of what sex ought to be. In virtually every comedy our culture produces, at least some of the humor comes from the same situation: one character is pursuing the one night stand, but the other character is longing for a relationship. Sometimes this is blatantly mocked (typically in the more brazen comedies), but other times the desire for a relationship wins out (typically in the romantic comedies).
What I find fascinating is the reality that even though our culture seems to have come to terms with the concept of the one night stand, we can’t shake the feeling that sex belongs in the context of a relationship. As much as we would like to pursue pleasure with no strings attached, we are wired for connection, for commitment. We know deep down that intimacy belongs within a relational framework.
The doctrine of the Trinity teaches us that the universe is relational. God has always been in relationship within himself, and he created us to live in relationship with him, with one another, and with the world he created. Anytime we separate some aspect of our lifestyles from this relational focus, things are bound to go wrong.
Try as we might to use sex for our own designs (and our culture does try very very hard), we are still people created in the image of God, living in the highly relational world that God made. We can choose to reject God’s authority and design, but we will always find a nagging pull to return to the way things ought to be. And only when we pursue God’s gifts in a godly way will we truly be at peace with the way we live our lives.