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Counterfeit Sex

July 3, 2012

I recently had a conversation with a homosexual who was curious why homosexuality was such a big deal… after all, given the size of the Bible, the topic really only encompasses a very small percentage of the Bible’s content, yet it is such a big issue with Christians in today’s society. In an attempt to address the issue from a different angle, I told him it was because homosexuality is a counterfeit of true marriage – as are all sexual sins. Because this particular argument requires a little more biblical knowledge than the average argument, we didn’t hover on that point for too long and the conversation progressed down other avenues, but the counterfeit nature of homosexuality has been bouncing around my head since our conversation ended. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about it in regards to worship, oddly enough. Let me explain…

Often in the Bible we find that some particular concept has a greater typological meaning. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 10, we find that the greater meaning of The Flood is that it was a baptism. This bit of information does not lessen the reality of The Flood and it’s impact on the world of that era, but it does show that God providentially creates events that point to greater realities and reveals particular truths about His saving actions. This is true of marriage. God established marriage in Genesis 2 and it is clear throughout scripture that marriage has many benefits and blessings for us. But God also intends for marriage to reveal certain truths about Christ and His relationship to the church. In fact, just as in the case with The Flood, the historic reality of these events gives more weight to the “spiritual realities” that they reveal.

While there are many parallels between earthly marriage and the marriage of Christ to the church, in the interest of length, I want to focus on one particular aspect: unity. How are a man and wife unified in marriage? One way is through the wedding ceremony. Man and woman are publicly declared “husband and wife” and they exchange rings to symbolize this truth. The wedding is the entrance into a covenantal union that is witnessed by others, and the ring is the symbolic reminder of this event. Now, if I see a stranger on the street with a wedding band, I automatically assume that they are married, but that may not be the case… it’s hard to say unless you engage them on the subject (perhaps they’re just trying to discourage unwanted suitors from annoying them). But one thing the ring is good for is to remind the wearer of their commitment. This is similar to our unity in Christ. Baptism is our entrance into that covenant. Baptism is witnessed by others and it also reminds us of our commitment to Christ. So, if I ever have the temptation to stray, I have a symbol that reminds me of who I am. And if my friends see that I am tempted to stray, they can remind me of the public reality of my commitment in order to prevent me from sinning. “You are married! Remember who you are!” Or, as the apostle Paul said (in essence) to the church in Corinth, “You are baptized! Remember who you are!” “How can you do this when you are united to Christ/your spouse?!?!”

Along these same lines, it’s also true that the new identities declared by these events (weddings and baptisms) are true regardless of our actions after the event takes place. If I am a bad husband, I am still a husband. And if I am a bad Christian, I am still a Christian. I can hide the ring, but the ceremony cannot be erased. Even in the case of divorce, even a just divorce, you are now entering a new category – you can never go back to what you were before your marriage. This is true in baptism as well. If you ignore your baptism and live a life of unrepentant sin, you don’t return to pagan status – you are now Unrepentant Christian who is in danger of apostasy and even greater consequences than the pagan. But you can’t escape the life-changing event – weddings and baptisms are conducted by a greater authority and we do not have the power to change this reality when the mood strikes us.

There is another aspect to union within the bonds of marriage. Of course I’m talking about sex. Whereas the wedding ceremony is an event that symbolizes the entrance into covenant union with a member of the opposite sex, and the ring is a superficial symbol of that reality, sex is the physical act that accomplishes that union. While it’s true that God, as the creator of marriage, supernaturally unites a husband and wife in some sense, He also created sex to be the means of this union. I mean, if you think about what occurs in sexual union, it really makes sense. This is a picture of what occurs in the Lord’s Supper. We are united with Christ by taking Christ into us – by drinking His blood  and eating His body. This happens by faith, but this is not mere symbolism… we are literally united to Christ through communion.

But let’s suppose a man and woman get married and they don’t consummate the marriage… is it still a marriage? Yes – by virtue of the wedding ceremony. But it’s not a good marriage. The same holds true for baptism. A more likely scenario, though, is one in which a couple has become married, consummated the marriage, but over the course of time have hurt each other in various ways, and are not having sex as they ought. I would be surprised if there was any marriage out there that did not experience something similar to this. Of course, marriage is much more than a ceremony and sex. It requires both parties to love each other selflessly, to put each other first, to communicate, to help one another and lots of prayer. As anyone who is married can attest, this is easier said than done, and requires a lot of hard work, but when one spouse decides to love the other spouse in the manner above, it almost always leads to the betterment of the other spouse and the marriage relationship. The Christian life is the same way. We enter into this covenant through the waters of baptism, but it doesn’t end there. We have to work hard by obeying God, loving our neighbors, putting others first, serving others, and most importantly, by regularly worshipping and communing with God. Christ, of course, always loves His bride perfectly and it always leads to our betterment. If we’re not communing with Christ on a regular basis, though, there is bound to be problems.

So what does this have to do with homosexuality? Well, proper sexual intercourse between a husband and wife leads to life. Improper sexual intercourse leads to death. Does this mean that being a husband automatically leads to proper sexual intercourse? Of course not. Let’s go back to the scenario above. Except this time, the husband does not love his wife selflessly in order to restore the relationship, but chooses to go in the opposite direction. Now, on top of his selfishness, pride, and laziness (all too common marriage qualities), he starts humiliating and degrading his wife, perhaps even physically abusing her. Is it still within his right to demand sexual relations from his wife? Not only is it not within his right to do this, but to force this action from her is rape. This is now improper sexual intercourse… the kind that leads to death (even if a child is a result of the rape, this is a testament that God brings life from death, bringing good out of evil, but the husband/wife [and now child] relationship is severed… it’s dead).

As a picture of union with Christ, this is the same scenario that Paul writes about in his letter to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 11). They had been baptized into Christ – he addresses them as Christians – but they were improperly taking the Lord’s Supper. The problem was they were not being selfless, serving, loving, obedient, and all the other things that I mentioned above. And it was making them sick… even killing them. They were bad spouses. Grasping for unity improperly is a dangerous thing, because sex and communion are activities that bring judgment. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are asking God to judge us and declare us worthy or unworthy. If we’re worthy (repentant), then we become more unified with Christ and we mature. If we’re not worthy (unrepentant), then we’re exposed to the discipline that comes to those who disobey and reject God’s promises. The same with sex. When we engage in sex with another person, we are either judged worthy (as a loving spouse), or we are unworthy (homosexuality and other improper sexual acts). What’s the problem with homosexuality? No matter how many legislative rights they may acquire, or how many gay-friendly characters populate our television shows, one thing will never change: homosexual sex will never produce life and will continue to spread sickness and death. It’s time for the church to get serious about marriage and the Lord’s Supper by faithfully (and regularly) participating in both. If she does, one of two things will happen: The counterfeits will eventually lose ground and die (remember that bit about not producing life?), or they will be converted. Either way, it’s time for true activism to begin.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2012 3:39 pm

    I dislike to see the fight being waged where it is: on the political end, in “definitions” of marriage. As if the state could define such a basic thing. It’s a trap to fight on that front.

    It is, as you say, time for the church to get serious about sacrament.

    • July 8, 2012 9:47 pm

      I agree… I think it’s a waste of time… not because the issue is unimportant, but because they’re using the wrong weapons.

      Love the blog, btw. Just spent a couple of minutes browsing and if the beard, beer, cigars, basketball and rock-n-roll didn’t convince me that we were separated at birth, the Wendell Berry poetry did. I’m also still laughing at the BJU mascot post. Funny story…

      When my family and I left seminary about 8 years ago, we almost moved to Greenville, SC. I wanted to continue my post-grad work and I saw that BJU had what seemed to be a pretty cool Masters of English with an emphasis on Literature. I checked out their standards for enrollment, held back my initial gag reflex, and decided to push forward. I sent them an e-mail explaining that I was heavily involved in the church, a family man, model citizen, good student, conservative and willing to adhere to just about everything on their list… I was even willing to give up beer for a year and half. I did not want to, however, shave my beard, stop dancing with my wife and daughters, and stop listening to rock-n-roll (off campus, of course). They sent me a very short reply that said, “Good luck in your future endeavors, but BJU does not seem to be where God is leading you.” Go Fighting Sea Otters!

      • July 8, 2012 10:04 pm

        I was naive back then… I would never give up beer for an institution nowadays….

      • July 8, 2012 10:12 pm

        Glad you dug the blog! BJU has settled on a mascot now, they’re the Bruins. For what it’s worth.

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  1. Thy Will Be Done, On Earth… « A Way of Being Human
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