Made for Each Other
I recently had a conversation with a guy about his belief that “sex is firstly to fulfill sexual desires.” He supported his claim by quoting 1 Corinthians 7. What he didn’t realize is that the passage in 1 Corinthians was a response to sexual immorality and lust among the Greeks, and that Paul was exhorting that it is better to be married to fulfill sexual desires than to lust or fulfill sexual desires sinfully. This exhortation in no way declares the fulfillment of sexual desires to be the primary reason for sex.
I do agree that God gave us sexual desires to enjoy in the context of marriage; but to call that the “primary” reason for sex, and moreover to justify it with Scripture, was unsettling to me. So I did a bit of study, and here’s what I found.
The two creation stories in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 each mention sex. We can either take them as primary (Genesis 1) and secondary (Genesis 2), or consider them parallel since they are parallel accounts of creation. Either way, the first two chapters of Genesis give us two “primary” reasons for sex.
The first reason is procreation and is found in Genesis 1:27-28:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it…”
Pretty straight forward: sex is for making babies. Nothing else too interesting here, at least for our concerns with sex. The second reason I found far more interesting, and can be found in Genesis 2:23-24:
Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Diving into my good ‘ole Inductive Bible Study skills, the first thing I notice is the word “therefore”, which indicates a causation (cause –> effect movement). What happens after “therefore” is the effect of what proceeds it: Why does a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and they become one flesh? Because she is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
This is the part that really struck me: “they become one flesh”, “because she was taken out of Man.” Here is the reason: because she was taken out of man. The way I think this might be interpreted is an issue of completeness. Man was not complete – so God took a rib from him and made woman.
First, man was incomplete in that he needed a partner to be fulfilled (2:18 “it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him”). Second, man was further made incomplete by God removing a rib – perhaps even creating a hole in his very being that only a woman can fill.
Perhaps man and woman become one flesh in order to be made whole, to be complete, to fill that hole. I dare to say this, but according to the original design of creation, perhaps man is not complete without woman, and woman is not complete without man. And therefore to experience the fullness that God intends for us in creation, sex is designed to bring wholeness and completeness, perhaps even restoration, first and foremost.
Now I know this might raise some issues: “Well what about single people? Am I not complete because I’m not married? Aren’t I complete in Christ?”
Yes, of course Christ is the one who makes us whole and complete; but the context is different. The context of Adam and Eve becoming one flesh is before the fall – this appears to be the original intention of creation. But after the fall, we are made eternally and entirely incomplete through sin. We are separated from God, the source of all completeness. Christ reconciles us to God the Father and brings restoration to that incompleteness caused by sin, which is greater than and includes the incompleteness of Adam. So yes, all that is needed for completeness is found in Christ, and a single person can fully experience the completeness found in the perfect restoring grace of Christ.
Still, the original design of created humanity seems to point towards fulfillment found in the union between a man and woman. I think that there is significance to that in the way we experience relationships.
About the Author
Kevin Cook is a 4th year student at Asbury Theological Seminary and an Aspirant for Ordination in the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). After graduating, Kevin hopes to plant a contemporary three-streams Anglican Church. He and his wife Nicole attend Wilmore Anglican Church in Kentucky.
Kevin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Master of Business Administration from Florida State University. Kevin enjoys playing music and leading worship, reading fiction and spiritual classics, drinking coffee, and spending time with family and friends.
I didn't support either candidate, but I am shocked that Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States of America. I certainly thought Hillary Clinton would win and I'd be serving as a peacemaker to disgruntled conservatives considering rebellion. But perhaps even moreso, I am absolutely shocked and appalled at how Christians... continue
It has been one year since our adoption journey began! Nicole and I made this video to share an update about what God has been doing with us. Please share this message of life, love, and hope! #attemptsomethingbig And if you are considering abortion, or know someone considering abortion, we would... continue
We've all been witnesses to the catastrophic nightmare we call a presidential election this year. I've had and observed several conversations about religion and politics over the past couple months. I've noticed a growing cynicism toward government and politics, especially among Millennials and Christians, who literally feel stuck with this year's... continue