“[God] has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least—sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us.”
Have you ever been in a museum or a cathedral and the beauty of the artwork captures your breath? All around you beauty astounds and inspires. We have museums and we preserve works of art for this purpose. We learn from art, we grow from art, and we learn our humanity from art.
However, have you ever looked at a trash can in a museum? Studied the steel that covers it, and asked yourself, “What is the purpose of this waste receptacle?”
I have never seen anyone go to Notre Dame and stare at the trash cans. I have never seen anyone go to the Art Institute in Chicago and write papers and analyze the trash cans. It seems ridiculous that anyone would do that. With all the beauty of stained glass, architecture, paintings, and sculpture, why would anyone look and awe over the trash?
Yet, we do this in our churches. We do this in our teaching of our youth and ourselves. We do this in our Christian lives. We have exchanged the beauty that God created for the focus on the trash.
The Current Teaching of God’s Creation of Sex
I was sitting on the floor of our youth room carefully listening to my youth pastor. He was talking about sex and purity. The topic was almost taboo as it was secretive. He stressed that sex before marriage ruins the true intimacy of marriage. I heard the pitfalls and yuck to avoid: pornography, fornication, homosexuality, and any other sexual sin. The seriousness of his voice and the silence of the teens indicated the grave severity of these sins. There was something ominous in the air. I was warned, and I knew that transgressing that warning meant grave consequences.
Was your experience similar to mine? Is how we teach our children a biblical understanding of sex in this kind of mindset?
When the topic of sex comes up, our minds flash a word: Flee! We think of 1 Corinthians 6:18. The image of killing the flesh and its earthly desires play across our minds like a movie as Colossians 3:5 reads like subtitles. Then the hero of the movie appears 1 Corinthians 10:13. We see the charge to find that way of escape and avoid sexual sin.
Churches and Christian schools emphasize the flight from sexual sin. As they do, ourselves and our teens see sex as something to flee from. They may see a beautiful wedding, but the topic of sex and intimacy in marriage is filled with images of avoiding and fighting pornography and the host of sexual sins.
The Forgotten Artwork
When was the last time you heard a sermon on the subject of sex glorifying the beauty of marriage?
Marriage. It is a word that we might not hear that often in our churches. We hear it at weddings and the announcement of weddings. But, when was the last time we heard that word in a sermon, or in Bible teaching?
“God said, it is not good for the man to be alone.” When did God say these words? Was it before or after sin entered the world? Before. God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone. After calling all of His creation good, God saw something that was not good: man being alone.
After all the beauty that God personally spoke into existence, God wanted to create something even more beautiful. Genesis 2 spends eleven verses (2:15-25) painting the picture of His most beautiful creation: man and woman in married intimacy. God creates marriage. Their intimacy is described as being one flesh and having no shame. It is a special intimacy where a man leaves his family to join his wife in oneness through marriage.
Think about the most beautiful love story you have read or seen. There is always trouble, selfishness, and other problems that create road blocks for that couple. Yet, the marriage and intimacy of Adam and Eve had no problems. It is truer love than Cinderella. It was a more intimate love than Belle and the Beast. In our fairy tales, sin always creates obstacles for love. Yet, no obstacles in Genesis 2.
Jesus retells the story of Adam and Eve in Matthew 19:1-6. He shows the beauty of marriage against an ugly question of divorce. The marriage and intimacy of Genesis 2 is shown in its beauty as what God designed before sin twisted everything in Genesis 3.
Studying the Trash
Marriage and the intimacy in marriage is like stain glass and art in a museum. God has on display His most beautiful creation. We cry at weddings and we awe at the beauty of the newly married couple.
Yet, in our Christian life we tend to study the trash. Our focus rarely is on the beauty of marriage. The pulpit resounds the pounding charge to avoid sexual sins and pornography. How many books are written to teens and singles on the dangers of sexual sin? How much does our teaching of sex and relationships revolve around the trash that sin created when it distorted God’s beauty?
God tells us in Philippians 4:8 to think on things that are beautiful and excellent. Yet, we pound out the sins of pornography. We aren’t thinking about what is beautiful. We have fallen into Satan’s trap. It is just like C.S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape (who is a representation of Satan) complains about the beauty God has given to man. However, in order to draw Christians away from that beauty, Satan must make them focus on the twistedness of sin. That is when the beauty is useful to Satan’s schemes.
We have exchanged studying the beauty of God’s creation in the form of marriage for the analysis of the trash of sin. We no longer see marriage valued in our churches. We would rather decry sexual sins, than elevate the beauty of marriage.
Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard a sermon on the beauty of marriage?
Refocusing on God’s Beauty
This is a clear problem. Our teens and our own minds are focused on the wrong thing. We spend so much time focusing on the trash, that we forget to look up and see the art that God personally gave us.
Couples, are you displaying the beauty of your marriage that God gave you? Is your marriage speaking louder than the warnings against pornography?
Pastors, are you promoting God’s beauty more than sin’s trash? If all we feed our people is the analysis of garbage, then that is all they will focus on. When was the last time you preached about the beauty of marriage?
Children, teens, and singles, what are you being taught about sex and love? Is it mainly about what to avoid? Or, is it seeing the beauty of marriage playing out before you?
It is good to give caution on what God’s Word gives caution to. However, God wants us to show the world His beauty. We do not need another analysis on the sexual depravity of man. We need demonstrations (obviously appropriate) of God’s creation of marriage.
Christian marriages should be the ones we see as the best love stories around us. Let us stop focusing on the trash, and start elevating the beauty God created in marriage.