From the moment you are born you are learning what your body is for. You are learning what the world is and how to live in it.
You learn that you have hands that can bring things close to you. They can also control things. You learn that you have feet that can bring you closer to things. They also give you new perspectives. You learn you have eyes so that you can know what things are around you. They also connect you with your loving parents’ faces.
A majority of this learning is absorbed by observation. Some of it is taught directly. But for the most part we learn by example.
For many of us here on this site, when we learned about our sexuality it was largely by example. For many of us, that example was a complex mixture of media, friends, and family. Sadly for many of us our example was pornography.
We felt desires. We felt urges. We felt those desires resolve when we looked at beautiful women, naked or not, and decided that that must be what those desires are for. That must ultimately be what my body is for. It is most satisfied with sex. That must be what it is for.
But the apostle Paul would beg to differ. He tells the Corinthian church, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Corintthians 6:13b).
Sobriety is going back and relearning what our bodies are for. Specifically, it is relearning what our sexuality is for. Our sexuality is ultimately for the Lord. But how? We are infants in this knowledge when we first become sober.
On my blog, I have a post that goes more in depth as to how sex can be using our bodies for the Lord (http://peterdanieljames.com/sex-glorifies-god). But I’ll summarize some of the points here.
One of the main ways sex can be using our bodies for the Lord in marriage is by way of symbolism. Here are two ways that sex symbolizes aspects of our relationship with God:
The symbol of unity (and nearness)
The symbolism of unity in marital intimacy foreshadows the more relational and experiential side of our unity to Christ in heaven. The way that it will feel to be finally one with our Lord and at home with him in heaven is foreshadowed in marital intimacy.
It will be expressed in different ways in heaven, but the feeling will be similar. That sense of wholeness and completion that causes people to say to each other “You complete me” or “You’re my better half.” We will have an infinitely heightened sense of that wholeness.
The symbol of mutual vulnerability
With marital intimacy, there is literally a tossing away of the protective layers that we wear when we are out in the world. To be naked with your spouse is to say, “All of who I am is yours. I hold nothing back. Every single part of me I give to you. Now and always, until we die.”
Jesus himself was stripped naked on the cross and gave himself with such vulnerability to his beloved bride. In heaven, we will be clothed with his righteousness, we will not be physically naked. Yet we will still enjoy that mutual vulnerability where all of who God is is ours and all of who we are is his.
This is what you are longing for when your body desires to have sex. Don’t be mistaken, it is no mere physical desire. Your whole being is involved. The physical desire is primarily a symbolic representation of your spiritual longing for intimacy with your maker. Sobriety is learning this all over again or perhaps for the first time.
Peter Daniel James runs a blog called From Lust to Love at peterdanieljames.com. The goal of the blog is to show Christian men and women precisely how God’s promises are better than lust’s, while offering Gospel-powered strategies for holistic change.