The act of sex fulfils a basic, physical need of all human beings. The sexual drive is given to us by God so that we will desire it to be satisfied – and the way to that satisfaction is through the mutual enjoyment of intimate sexual relations within marriage. Sexual intimacy within marriage fulfils our needs perfectly, but if we simply pursue the fulfilment of those desires in any way that seems best to us – i.e. outside of marriage – then, sooner or later, we will find we are satisfying no need at all. A legitimate desire given to us by God will have been turned into lust, and the thing about lust is that it is never satisfied! Sex outside of marriage will ultimately be a very unfulfilling and hollow experience. It is not a true expression of love, because love desires to give and not to get.
The apostle Paul makes it clear that each of us is called to live a clean and holy life and reveals the devastating effects of lust. His reference is to the whole of life generally, but he includes sex in his remarks. He begins by saying,
“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest ofthe Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind …” (Ephesians 4:17)
Paul refers to “futile” or “pointless” thinking. The pursuit of pleasure and lust outside of God’s purposes is pointless. He continues in the next verse,
“… having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18)
Paul then tells us what spiritual blindness and ignorance leads to, and how the Christian should deal with issues of their “former conduct”.
“… who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.But you have not so learned Christ,if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:19-24)
What Paul is teaching is that the lust that drives people to seek satisfaction produces only more lust – in fact, an insatiable desire for more. This is why it is a fallacy to believe that if you have sex with someone you are solving a problem for yourself: the need to satisfy your sexual drive. Illicit sex may give a momentary thrill and a fleeting sense of satisfaction, but ultimately you are just feeding a lust that will never be satisfied. The only way to deal with lust is to starve it to death! Give it nothing to eat.
Men and women are wired differently when it comes to sexual matters and each needs to guard their sexual integrity in different ways. Men are stimulated most by what they see, so for men it means “bouncing” your eyes and not letting them rest where they should not be resting. For women, it is more important that your emotions are guarded than your eyes. God’s gift of sex is a means of expressing love in marriage, but it can never be a substitute for love, or a means of obtaining it. Over the years Amanda and I have counselled many ladies who have fallen into sexual sin because they thought they could use their body to buy the love of a man. It is simply not true.