If you can change what a culture believes about sex and sexuality, you can change that culture from the inside out—from the ground up. If you’ve got about 10 minutes, let me make my case.
Changing culture is, in part, our mission as Christians, after all. We’re part of God’s redemption story in human history. We get to participate in culture-change as God works it out through us. Sure, we need politicians and lobbyist groups to do their work at changing law and policy (from the top down). No doubt, that helps change our culture.
But, when anyone identifies with Jesus, they are metaphorically called salt and light. That means every Christian—politically involved or not—is the salt that preserves, and the light that chases away darkness in our culture.
Sex and Redemption
In case you’re unaware, sex plays a huge part in this redemption story. I would argue that sex isn’t “just another issue” Christians have to deal with in our culture; it’s the issue.
Think about it. It’s at the heart of every major argument we’re seeing take place in America; the same-sex marriage and homosexuality issue, human trafficking issues, contraceptives/health care issues, the abortion issue, the feminism issue, etc. The list could go on into media, movies, social media, and more.
But, sex isn’t just another political issue on which you have to take a stand. Sex is at the very core of what it means to be a human; we’re sexual by our very nature. That makes it the greatest of issues; one that affects everything about life as a human being. Let me explain, but hold on, because this gets a little deep.
Sex and God’s Image (Genesis 1:26-27)
God created humanity “in his image.” At least, that’s what Genesis 1:26-28 tells us. He created us to be like him, and bear his image to the world around us. That means we’re stewards of God’s image to God’s creation; it’s why we exist, and it gives God glory.
But this stewardship isn’t an individual endeavor. Notice the language used by the author of the Genesis text. God created both male and female to bear his image. This is further explained in chapter 2, when we catch a more detailed glimpse of why God made both genders. Man wasn’t enough on his own; he lacked something necessary to fully bear God’s image (“It’s not good for man to be alone,” 2:18). Man needed woman to complete his deficiency in bearing God’s image. That’s straight from the text!
When man and woman join together (2:24), it depicts God’s image properly. This, we’re told by the author, is why marriage exists—it’s a specific depiction of, and protective institution for, bearing God’s image. Later, in one of Paul’s letters, he tells the Ephesian church that this institution ultimately shows us how the church (universal) is the fullest depiction of when women and men come together to bear God’s image (Eph. 5:22-33).
Now, in a broken world, male-female unity no longer comes naturally (3:16), and can get really messed up. But, the institution of marriage still stands, even through the brokenness, as does the church. Ultimately, Jesus can help us regain the unity for which men and women were designed, because it’s this unity that bears God’s image to our world—either specifically through marriage, or fully through the church.
Sex and Culture
That’s why when you mess up sex, and the unity for which it was designed, you mess up bearing God’s image. The two are integrally tied. So, if you mess up your ability to bear God’s image properly, then you mess up your ability to live with meaning and purpose. You’re failing to fulfill your reason for existing. You’re also failing to give God the proper glory due him for creating you as a sexual being.
But, what a way to engage people in our culture! The Good News is Jesus can help us live out our purpose more fully as the illustrative “Bride of Christ” (Rev. 19:7). This life-changing information enables us to bear God’s image in the fullest sense, as a part of the church. And, it can also make a difference in the specific relationship we have in marriage.
As a Christian, I know how difficult it is to walk in sexual integrity. When the culture has no reason for marriage, no purpose for gender-roles, no meaning for sex, it’s easy to listen to the majority and follow your desires. Unfortunately, our desires will lead us astray. They tend to lead us to reject the very reason we were created, and it’s not good for us when we do that.
It’s like a fish out of water. Fish are made a certain way: to live in water. That’s what’s healthy for them, and brings them a full life. When fish are “freed” from the water, that “freedom” is not actually good. It’s unhealthy, and ensures only a short life.
This is what we do with sex when we have the so-called liberation mindset. What we think is liberating (to have sex whenever, however, and with whomever) is actually unhealthy and brings a less-than-fulfilling life. It’s not what sex was design for.
Sexual Risk Avoidance
This is one of the reasons why Sexual Risk Avoidance education is so important. It can change the trajectory of students’ lives, and therefore change our culture. Even when looking at sex from a completely non-biblical perspective, avoiding associated risks is the only healthy alternative to simply reducing risks associated with sexual behavior.
This concept of avoiding the risks conveniently agrees with biblical sexuality, which teaches that sex is for marriage only. Is it really that strange that God’s design for sex is the healthiest sexual choice a human being can make? (That’s rhetorical!)
In my experience, students intuitively know this is true about sexual behavior, they just need someone to tell them it’s okay not to engage in sexual activity until they’re married. They don’t really want to engage in sexual behavior, but the culture not only tells them: “Yeah, we know you’re going to have sex….” It really tells them: “It’s unusual if you’re not having sex….”
Let’s be there to tell students: “Not only is it okay to wait for sex in marriage, but it’s actually the healthiest sexual lifestyle choice you can make!”
Hopefully I’ve made a persuasive case. Sex is the issue Christians need to engage if they’re serious about culture-change, because it’s central in bearing God’s image as a human being. A right view of sex leads to a right view of living like an image-bearer.
Carter Mundy is the Outreach Director at Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center. He enjoys spending time with his wife, new daughter, and the family dog. He also loves his church family, Mercy Hill Church, and serves as a community group leader.