Sex and Lies

Sometimes I'll catch one of my kids telling a half-truth. You know how that goes. One is all too eager to describe the offense the other has committed, while leaving out pertinent information related to the motives of the accused. It’s not really a half-truth so much as a complete lie. Exodus 20:16 says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Such is the ninth commandment, one removed from the end. Lying, or only telling half the story, for the purpose of deceiving, cheating, or causing harm, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual harm, to our neighbor (or sibling) is prohibited. Additionally the commandment requires the adherent to deal in truth, promoting “our own, and our neighbor’s good name, especially in witness bearing.”[1] Don’t lie. Tell the truth. How mundane. That is until we suddenly awaken to the unintended consequences of having not effectively witnessed to or invested fully in the truth. For example, there has been in America a failure on the part of the Church and its members to witness completely, which is say truthfully, to the unique identity of human beings as a distinctive class within God’s creation. As a result our credit is near running out.

Christians of practically every stripe whether they understand it well or barely at all, adhere to the teaching of the Bible which distinguishes human beings, male and female, as created in the image of God. No animal or any other aspect of God’s creation described within Genesis 1-2 shares this distinction. Humanity is different.

Genesis was not written in Times Square but the ancient Near East, thus when it talks about image the concept is less concerned with self-perception and more with representation. In other words inflated egos are not conducive to bearing the image of God. Ambassadorial service is closer to the ideal posture. This is clear given that the Genesis narrative continues with a fairly articulate description of what God’s image-bearers are to be about. Again, nearly all Christians are familiar with the mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” and tend to the creation (Gen. 1:28), acting in a sense as its protectorate. Marriage, as the means toward fulfilling certain procreative responsibilities beheld by God’s image bearers, is unambiguously defined 27 verses later. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:28). Sex then was intended and blessed by God for human flourishing and enjoyment in a marriage relationship of two complementary image-bearers; one male, the other female.

In Genesis 3 it all goes awry. Human rebellion ushers sin into the creation and the whole works gets screwed up. But you probably already knew that. The rest of the Old Testament is about the impossible human struggle to regain God’s blessing as image bearers. It is filled with myriad examples of failure and distortion, including marital failure and distortion. This continued until about 2000 years ago Jesus Christ rose from the grave to redeem humanity from futility.

A little more than 100 years ago people began to consider the human predicament in a rather innovative, albeit misguided, manner. What would happen, some wondered, if human experience really was all that defined human being? In other words, what if there was no greater “socio-religious construct” through which human sexuality was filtered? What if a person’s individual experience was the end all, be all? If that were the case there would be nothing to say that sex need be part of any context greater than a one night stand. Wouldn’t that be nice? In fact there would be nothing to say sex need be between one man and one woman. It could be a man and a man, a woman and a woman, a man and several…you get the point. If sex is who we are, as opposed to part of something larger (like marriage for example), why…that would be revolutionary!

Sex outside of Genesis-ordained marriage is not revolutionary. It’s been happening since before Noah built the Ark. What was revolutionary, at least in the 20th century, was the idea that it doesn’t matter. This is where failure to embrace the whole truth has hamstrung American Christianity for the 21st century and possibly well beyond. Jumping to our feet we, the Church, have mostly been quick to condemn their sin, while at the same time slow if not failing to repent of our sin. Of course there is another segment that simply chooses to say nothing at all, as if it doesn't matter. In either case Christians have done our neighbors spiritual harm as a result of not investing fully in the truth. The truth is not that we “fooled around” or “did what kids do” when we were younger. The truth is not that they are moving in together “to save money," nor is it that abstinence or celibacy are "unrealistic expectations." No, the truth is that we often prefer to justify and rationalize experiences that lead us away from the created ordinance established for God’s image bearers, while condemning the experiences of others.

One is left to wonder why we Christians don't simply confess and repent of our sin, the way we want everyone else to, instead of making excuses?

As a result of the latest sexual revolution and our own failure to uphold the 9th commandment in its entirety, we now have issues previous generations, and indeed present generations in other parts of the world never imagined. We now stand a matter of days from the Supreme Court deciding whether or not individual states have the right to redefine marriage based upon their experience of it. It all may be a little frightening for Bible believing Christians, especially as we watch our kids fighting in the backyard. But that’s only if we fail to remember and confess the whole truth of the gospel. God loves us, yes. But we honor the 9th commandment in adding that he loves us, all of us, in spite of ourselves, and through faith in Jesus he is willing and able to forgive our half-truths and lies.


[1] Westminster Shorter Catechism, 77.