THE POWER OF SEX

A Chapel Address at Oklahoma Christian University of Science and Arts

by Stafford North

April 2, 1992

I hope you will listen carefully today because what I have to share is vital to you. It could save your marriage; it could save your life; it could save your soul. There are lots of books about the pleasure of sex and the techniques of sex, but today the topic is the power of sex.

When God brought woman to man, Adam said a man should become "one flesh" with his wife. From uses of that phrase elsewhere in the Bible, like I Corinthians 6:15-17, itís clear that "one flesh" means that a husband and wife are to be united sexually. So God created man and woman with a wonderful and mysterious power to become one. And this sexual nature is more than just the power to have offspring--animals can do that, but animals do not become "one flesh." In humans, sex has a special power to unite. Sex is a physical union which unites emotionally and psychologically.

For two whoíve made a permanent commitment, this sexual union is highly appropriate because in it they communicate that they are one. Their sexual relations send a message of love, of intimacy, of unity. And this message they send is not just a few minutes in duration. When sexual relations are frequent and unselfish, as I Corinthians 7 teaches they should be, this bonding is continuous. As marriage partners anticipate and recall their intimacy as well as during the moment itself, they form an ever-present umbrella of union to shield them from strains which otherwise might tear them apart. When this shield is working well, most couples find a way to work out other problems, but when it is down, those problems may become overwhelming.

While many factors help a couple to grow close, God gave human beings this sexual opportunity for powerful bonding. He intended for two people, committed to each other for life, to make their sexual union something special-- just for each other. So God has given sex a marvelous power to unite.

Sex, however, can be changed from its intended use. Instead of the power to unite, it can become the power to destroy. Like fire, sex can be used for great benefit or for great damage.

Sex destroys in two principal ways. First, through abuse. When a child, for example, is sexually molested, the damage isnít just physical. Since God set a strong connection between sex and inner feelings, the greater damage to the child is emotional and psychological. God gave our sexuality a built-in compass to show us what it should mean. When someone violates that innate understanding in us, we are deeply scarred. That such abuse is so damaging is evidence that even a child knows something is wrong when the sexual nature is violated. And the damage from such sexual abuse demonstrates the great power of this built-in relationship between sex and inner feelings.

Another type of sexual abuse is rape. Again, the tragedy is not just the physical harm, but the emotional and psychological trauma. God made sex to be far more than a mere physical act. Strong feelings are inescapably tied to it.

But the power of sex not only damages through abuse but also from misuse. When two people set in motion the physical forces of sex but seek to suppress the emotional and psychological power that always comes with it, serious problems result. God did not make us sexual creatures just for physical satisfaction. He linked with that physical satisfaction a bonding power. When two people not married to each other have sexual relations, they must try to squelch those built-in feelings God gave the sexual act. They must try to turn off the natural bonding instinct because they have no permanent commitment.

This effort to experience one side of sex while denying the other, brings very serious consequences. If you make sex merely a physical gratification while suppressing the emotional ties God put with it, you endanger your ability to make the sexual experience mean what it should later when you are married. Denying to yourself that sex is anything more than a physical union, may drain it of its bonding power in marriage. And if you are promiscous with sex, you may later find it hard to confine your sexual activities to your marriage partner. This voluntary misuse of sex, to enjoy it physically while trying to ignore its built-in emotional and psychological aspects, uses its power to destroy rather than its power to unite.

I recently saw on national television a report on sex education in the schools. One of the clips showed a girl and her mother at home discussing sex. The mother said, "Donít you think that 14 is too early to have sex." To which the girl replied, "If you donít get pregnant, I donít see any harm in it." Although many believe this, there is lots of harm even if one does not get pregnant.

Even beyond the emotional and psychological damage, the misuse of sex often has other consequences too. Sex outside of marrage unleashes its power to destroy in so many ways. When one has sex with someone other than a mate, the marriage will be seriously damaged and very likely destroyed. The power of sex to strengthen the marriage has become the power to destroy it. As an elder in the church, I am aware of the growing infidelity and the tremendous damage it does to all parties involved: both the innocent and guilty, as well as the children, parents, and friends.

Promiscuous sex has also destroyed many through disease. The danger of AIDS is becoming well known and there are a host of other sexually transmitted diseases which also kill and maim. And every year, over 350,000 unmarried teens become pregnant out of wedlock and their lives and their offspring are forever harmed by whatever they do next. Many who have avoided disease and pregnancy have still been seriously affected by deep seated feelings of guilt, of regret, of fear, or of shame. And their families are often strongly affected as well. A few minutes of apparent pleasure often brings a lifetime of regret.

Think of those in the news lately whose lives and careers have been destroyed by the misuse of sex: Magic Johnson, Mike Tyson, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart. And prominant politicians have damaged their careers too: Ted Kennedy, Gary Hart, Bill Clinton. And these are just a few in prominent positions who have felt the power of sexual misuse. The total number of those who have experienced the terrible pain of such misuse of sex is legion.

What point do I want to leave with you? Not that sex is bad or that its pleasure is to be denied. I want to leave with you the message that sex is powerful. God made it that way for a very good purpose, as a powerful bonding agent between husband and wife, not just to bear children, but to make that union stronger and sweeter through the years. The power of sex for unity is a beautiful and exciting aspect of marriage.

But I must also warn you of the serious consequences of misusing the power of sex. If you have begun to do that, the sooner you stop the less the potential damage, and the more likely you can yet make sex the power for good in your life God meant it to be. And there is no "safe sex" outside of marriage. The British Medical Journal recently reported, for instance, that condoms fail to protect against pregnancy 26 percent of the time. And other sources reveal that condoms fail to protect against disease at an even higher rate. But even if precautions worked against pregnancy and disease every time, no precaution can keep the misuse of sex from eventually having very serious emotional and psychological consequences.

So at Oklahoma Christian we teach about this subject from the Bible and have some limits to discourage the misuse of sex. We want to help you preserve sex for the wonderful purpose for which God made it. After more than half-a-century of observing the power of sex, I can testify that when sex is put to Godís intended use, itís a wonderful power for good. But those who misuse it, suffer painful consequences and inflict great pain on many others. God originated sex. He made it a powerful force for good in our lives. Let Him tell us how to use it. Listen to His advice to use the power of sex to make your marriage strong and satisfying and not to use it any other way.