I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. Philippians 1:20-26
The other night at Rabbi Time we had a lively discussion about marriage, sex, “dating” — that whole fascinating area. One of the main things God reinforced for me through the discussion was that many of us need a redeemed set of reasons for what we are doing, in general, now that we have turned to follow Jesus. And we need to apply them to marriage, sex and “dating” (unless you kissed it good-bye, of course).
The Bible on mating
If one looks in their Bible concordance for “marriage, sex and dating” a few passages can be located — but probably not the verses from Philippians above. Yet I think what Paul writes there might give more direction for how to connect than other passages. Who one marries or considers marrying, how one connects sexually, isn’t another “area” of life that the Bible writers don’t seem to go into too specifically. Sexuality and spirituality are at the very heart of who we are and everything said about anything is applicable. In essence, the Bible writers are giving direction for sexual relationships all the time, and periodically they get specific.
For instance, Paul is trying to decide whether it is more profitable to live or die (a much weightier subject than, “Who shall I marry?” even, and certainly weightier than, “Shall I go for an orgasm right now?”)! He decides that God will likely spare his life for further mission — if not, that is even better. That is good direction, I say, for how to make all sorts of decisions about intimacy. When we were talking the other night, a few times it seemed necessary to say, “Who you marry is a missional matter, not just personal.” Somehow, it seems that most Christians think such wild talk is for missionaries, as if their own purpose didn’t matter so much!
How to choose
Is it really so foolish to think that if one were looking for a mate they would want to find a good partner for fulfilling their part of the mission of Jesus to redeem the world? Wouldn’t that be as likely to result in satisfying sex and decent family life as wondering if you were aroused enough to sustain a long-term sex life, or attracted enough to think your relationship would stand the test of time, or whether you were ready enough to make a commitment that would include you staying home at night periodically, or to stop drinking so much, or to compromise some of your perfectionistic expectations?
There are a lot of variations on how and why we connect. I am hardly trying to sum them all up in a few paragraphs, here! But I do want to suggest that having a purpose and assuming someone else would share it with you is pretty sexy. Honestly, I think it is more deeply erotic than mere skin-to-skin or attraction-to-attraction can sustain.