I read about a study done on rats, where their brain was stimulated similarly to an orgasm every time they hit a certain lever. The rats would hit that lever as much as 7,000 times per hour. Male rats would ignore a female rat in heat for the ease of hitting the lever repeatedly. A similar experiment was conducted on humans in the 60’s. While it clearly included some unethical practices, it yielded similar results. I share that with you to help us understand that we will pass up the sex that God designed us for in exchange for something quick and easy. This has tremendous implications for pornography, technology, prostitution, masturbation, and of course, the future of marriage.
Healthy sex within marriage requires a considerable amount of work. Husbands and wives must pursue each other. Work hard to keep peace with one another. Help each other. And create an environment where sex is even possible. The kids in the other room might have been tugging at them for attention. Work may have been stressful and demanding. Sexually healthy spouses are two selfish people who put their own desires aside in order to serve the other and create an environment conducive to marital intimacy. Every married person I’ve ever talked to would agree that intimacy in marriage requires a lot of work.
I’m noticing more and more, that my generation isn’t prepared for this kind of work. They didn’t expect it. They had thousands of options for a sexual experience at their fingertips. In their pockets, they’ve had a little device that can display to them the most explicit images imaginable. They no longer need to go through the embarrassment of purchasing an adult magazine at the local gas station. They don’t have to seek out an adult bookstore or experience the shame of walking into a strip club. Porn is now readily available and anonymous. A virtual reality experience can be purchased for $12.99 and an iPhone. Prostitution can be found on Craigslist, and the development of “sex robots” is making headlines. In a similar way to how McDonalds changed the availability of the hamburger, the sexual landscape has changed considerably in that it is fast, cheap, and everywhere.
But we all know there’s a difference between a fast food hamburger and a gourmet steak. One takes high quality ingredients and skillful preparation, while the other is thrown together by a high school employee. But listen, this is where the metaphors break down. The difference between counterfeit sex and marital intimacy is a much bigger one. So many people have settled for counterfeit sex, that God’s design for marital intimacy is more and more like the unicorn. Most of you reading this will never even experience it.
Let me define “it” for you. It is intimacy between a husband and a wife that has come after relentless pursuit. Remember when you tried to get the attention of the head cheerleader or the captain of the football team? It’s a much greater pursuit than that. “It” has prioritized the relationship above life’s distractions. “It” knows there is a lot at stake. “It” takes place in the safety of the marriage covenant, when you know that you do not only have an intimate partner, you belong exclusively to your intimate partner and they belong exclusively to you. Something has been paid for this relationship. It is valuable in that it was waited for, celebrated, and held in high regard.
Today, many of us will exchange that for an addictive, fleeting, moment of pleasure. Our appetite for the counterfeit product grows, and our resolve to fight for the real thing diminishes. In the end you have a bunch of people who have settled for something counterfeit, while being completely unaware of the reward that awaits the relentless pursuit of God’s ideal. “It’s not worth it” we subconsciously think. When in reality, we have no idea what “it” is worth. We have only trained for non-marital intimacy. We’ve become pros at adultery (sex of any kind outside of marriage). More than pros, we’ve become addicts to sex outside of marriage. And in some naive ploy, we think we’re going to walk down an aisle and instantly be amazing lovers to our new spouse. That’s not going to happen, because premarital sex is not just a really bad idea, it has real consequences for a marriage.
As it turns out, before marriage, purity is better training for marital intimacy than practice is. Within marriage, “practice” is a lot of fun. But when we’ve “practiced” outside of marriage, we bring so many insecurities and so much shame into marriage, that what we’ve actually been training for is failure.
Thankfully, the gospel says it’s never too late to begin to pursue God’s best. Our sins have real consequences, but when we trust in Christ’s payment for forgiveness, we escape the eternal consequences. No matter your sexual background or baggage, your sin is not too big for God to forgive or heal you. Not only that, but God Himself will help you pursue His sexual ideal here in this world.
What are you waiting for? Do you want to keep training for failure by pursuing counterfeit sex, or do you want to start training for deep marital intimacy that can only be found between two people who are surrendered to Christ and loving each other with a love that only He can give? Commit to pursuing purity. If you have sexual hurts, habits, or hang-ups that you need help with, commit to pursuing Christ-centered recovery (check out re:generation on Monday nights in Dallas). And commit to pursuing and being pursued by a community of other Christ-followers who will hold you accountable and help support you on the journey.
Starting over on sex is part of my story. It can be part of yours too.
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