But What Is It?
We often say that the family is the structure supporting civilization. And it’s so, but let’s look deeper.
God designed marriage first. It was the first human society or institution. It is before and underlying all codes of law ever invented. It is fundamental to everything else. This is God’s design.
Not only is the family the tiny society upon which all other social structures are built (such as communities, clans, and governing bodies small and large);
…and that the husband and wife couple are at the foundation of, and are the beginning of that family;
…but that the exclusive sexual relationship which is the signal defining feature of that relationship is the foundation of ALL of it.
There are many kinds of human relationships. Many of them can be intense, close and beneficial. But there is only one human relationship in which two people become immersed in one another, intertwined, and complementary to one another. In this relationship, two people become one. This is the male-female marriage relationship created by God.
And this union is strong enough to create other people, socialize them, and teach them to create more families, thus continuing a civilization, with its culture and heritage.
The male-female exclusive faithful sexual relationship lies below the foundation of every culture and society. It is utterly unique.
What makes that relationship so special? That our society has begun to seriously question its specialness is foreboding.
There is only one valid physical way that two people attain that complementarity, that intertwining, that immersion, that real union. It is the “one flesh” union which confirms and consummates that unique union. One male and one female in the physical act made obvious by our complementary anatomies. It is an utterly unique sexual relationship, this “becoming one flesh”. It is only that specific physical union which signifies marriage in the eyes of God and those who honor Him.
Jesus is quoted in Mark 10: 6-9: But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Two singular people combine and become not a union of two, but a union of one which is greater than the combination of two. One becomes greater than two.
There is only one sexual act which causes two to become one. In the wedded heterosexual union, there is a union which is not only physical; it is emotional, spiritual, and volitional. Two hearts find expression of affection and intimacy which is so intense it defies description. Two wills choose to give selves entirely to the other in mutual trust. And, in the case of two people who understand that their relationship is created in the mind of God, and express their joy in each other and Him, there is spiritual union.
What is Sex?
Our modern world has come to believe that the essence of sexual union is the orgasm. We define sex as the achievement of orgasm, and the person we are committed to experiencing that orgasm is…me, the self.
Any variety of relationship can unite in a variety of sexual acts where each one reaches satisfaction. Several different anatomical configurations are on the menu, and sometimes inanimate objects are needed. All loving sexual practices are equal, right?
There are problems with this belief. Orgasm can be achieved in many ways with any assortment of partners or alone. (Can one achieve oneness by himself?) One may achieve an orgasm for oneself without any care for the partner, at the expense of the partner, or by using another human being. Sex can be a cold, selfish, sterile act, and often is.
And a loving heterosexual couple may enjoy their oneness without both of them reaching orgasm.
And one may legitimately question whether some sexual practices can be selfless and loving.
So can orgasm be what sex is?
Isn’t sex supposed to be intrinsically meaningful? Is it not an expression of the joy of unique relationship? Then we must look for its meaning elsewhere than the orgasm.
Sexual intimacy as the result of a covenant between a man, a woman and God in a permanent relationship intended to (at least potentially) create family and continue a heritage, sexual intimacy which validates and gives to the other selflessly, sexual intimacy as a powerful expression of emotional, spiritual and volitional oneness, sexual intimacy as physically designed by our Creator…is an entirely unique thing.
Song of Songs 2:16: My beloved is mine and I am his…
For the best testimony on behalf of the unique experience of marital love, read The Song Of Solomon. It has never been surpassed.
We seek after the sublime and transcendent sexual experience. But it is not a result of the orgasm. The oneness is achieved in the will and finds expression in the act.
This is what happens in married sex: the two shall be one flesh. God knew what he was talking about when he described the relationship this way. Jesus, confirming Genesis, said:
“But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall be one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. “What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” Mark 10: 6-8.
The power of a faithful, committed, selfless, affectionate sexual relationship to create a transcendent and meaningful bond between two people of opposite sex is a mystery, a miracle. Those who are privileged to experience it know that they are blessed. But our world does not understand it, and that is a wide-ranging tragedy.
Next: The DNA of Creation