Sex and the Shekinah Glory
Some things really get us excited. Having a baby is always an exciting time. You want to tell the world. As they grow and reach major milestones, we love to share with our friends, even strangers you meet at the grocery store.
Some things we don’t like talking about. We feel uncomfortable. Our faith in Christ is sometimes difficult to talk about. We have it, but we don’t know how to express it. Sex is another one of those things we just don’t talk about very much. It makes most of us uncomfortable. In fact people that talk openly and honestly about sex make us uncomfortable. So I will make most of you uncomfortable at some point this morning.
The truth is, what I am about to share with you God has been working in my heart as I have been working on my marriage relationship with my wife, as I make those strides to enter the winter of my married life with as much excitement as I did when we were first together. Some of the things I will discuss God had already revealed to me before I read “Sacred Marriage” Others, He has really opened my eyes to.
My “talk” with you this morning comes from a firm conviction that God is Lord of every aspect of our life. And because God is Lord of every aspect, He wants to be involved in everything we do. Everything. So let’s ask Him to open our hearts and eyes to how marvelous He is, and how marvelous a creation we are. Let’s do this before we have the dreaded “TALK”.
I. Communion With the Shekinah Glory
The Ark of the Testimony was constructed with two cherubim of hammered gold, who faced each other and touched wings. In this joining of the two, Exodus 25:22 records, “There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I (God) will meet with you”.
God’s presence “between the cherubim” became a very popular Old Testament image.
1 Samuel 4:4 “The Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim”
Psalm 80:1 “Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel…you who sit enthroned between the cherubim”
Isaiah 37:16 “O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim”.
Hebrews 9:5 “Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory”
The Glory of God comes to us as the two beings are being joined. God dwells in the midst of this coming together.
Indeed, the basis of communion with God is always His glory. At the mercy seat we have fellowship with God. We are shadowed by the cherubim of glory. There is the Glory of God because the shed blood has made our forgiveness possible. Through the Blood God can show mercy without violating His glory. He can commune with man without violating himself.
When I commune with God at His mercy seat, it is not on the precious blood I gaze, but on His glory. The veil has been stripped away. Sinful man can behold the glory of God. The Strict Law of God has met the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. We are at one and at peace with this awesome Holy God.
Most of our holiest moments have been alone with God. We simply do not know how to enter into this intimacy with others. I can count on two hands times when I have gazed on the Glory of God in communion with others. This is very, very sad, because Jesus revealed a very important truth that the church has forgotten, and marriages have forgotten. We may know it, but we rarely experience it.
Jesus said true Christianity is meant to be shared in intimacy with God. In Matt 18:19-20 Christ offered this glimpse at the Glory of God:
Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Most of us quote this verse and believe it is a “formula” for getting God to do what we want. One of us will pray, another will say “Yes, I agree” and we expect God to do what we ask. But we miss the true meaning of this verse because we miss what Jesus was revealing:
1. You must be gathered “synagō” – Someone has led you together, it is passive, an outside force has brought you together.
2. You must be in “symphōneō”—in harmony, as an orchestra of many instruments come together to play the same note. This implies and requires an intimacy of heart and spirit.
There will be rare times where God brings people together because of a shared pain or trial, and through mutual love for each other and a mutual reaching to God, you pray together in complete trust and complete faith for what God is going to do.
Most of the time when we come together in pray, someone is wondering how long this will go on, someone will be thinking about food, someone will be thinking ‘God doesn’t care about this’ and so there is no moving together in symphony. This type of prayer is no formula; it is a work of the Holy Spirit. Just as the 120 disciples prayed for weeks before Pentecost, it took that long for them to finally come together in total agreement.
You may think these verses only apply to spiritual times. But God is Lord of every aspect of our life. God has designed marriage to have certain forces that draw us together in symphony, in harmony. Why can’t God be in those times? Why do we relegate Him to the church only? Do we think God closes His eyes when we have sex? I’ve got news for you… If God knows when you join yourself to a prostitute or to someone other than your spouse (as Paul warned the Corinthians), He certainly is there when you join yourself to your husband or wife!
Underneath our coming together is the belief in the Power of the Name of Jesus Christ. We are brought together through His Name!
The family that enjoys a deep abiding presence of Jesus Christ is precisely because the husband and wife have invited Jesus into the deeper parts of their marriage. They are not coming together to pool resources, save money, escape loneliness, or merely gain an outlet for sexual desires. They have joined their lives to deepen their faith in God. They see God in everything they do-even when it comes to their sexual relationship.
Even if you did not get married with this reason in mind, you can this day decide to maintain your marriage on that basis; Marriage can then become a favorable funnel to direct God’s presence into your daily life.
II. Sex from Different Perspectives
“Our bodies are not barriers to grace. If we could truly accept this, then we would know God even in the ambiguous delights of our sexuality.” (Evelyn & James Whitehead)
Now church is the last place you expect to hear about sex. Depending upon your age and your parents attitude, your idea of sex can range from dirty and disgusting, something you have to do, to its no big deal.
Understand that regardless of how you view sex, as a Christian, you need to have a Biblical understanding of sex and why God made us sexual beings.
A. Jewish View
To the Jews, sex was a gift from God whereby they fulfilled the Abrahamic Covenant to become as numerous as the stars. Sex was reserved between a man and his wife. Sex was important for the family to multiply and extend the name of God in this world.
Sex was not only about procreation. In the Misnah, Jewish wives were given three fundamental rights – food, clothing and the right of “onah” – sexual intercourse apart from the duty of procreation.
Jewish Rabbi Nahmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Nachman Girondi),wrote “Iggeret ha-Kodesh (אגרת הקודש – The Holy Epistle)” in the 13th century (some dispute it). He proclaimed sex as a mystical meeting with God.
“Through the act [of intercourse] they become partners with God in the act of creation. This is the mystery of what the sages said, ‘When a man unites with his wife in holiness, the Shekinah is between them in the mystery of man and woman.” The breadth of this statement is sobering when you consider this Shekinah glory is the same presence Moses experienced when God met with him face-to-face (Exodus 24:15-18).”
He went on to write:
“We the possessors of the Holy Torah believe that God, may He be praised, created all, as His wisdom decreed, and did not create anything ugly or shameful. For if sexual intercourse was repulsive, then the reproductive organs are also repulsive…If the reproductive organs are repulsive, how did the Creator fashion something blemished? If that were so, we should find that His deeds were not perfect.” (From “The Holy Epistle,” attributed to Nahmanides)
The Torah uses the term yada—“to know”—to indicate a sexual relationship. Sex is thus considered more than a mere biological act; it involves intimate knowledge shared by two human beings.
To most Jews, sex was a gift from God whereby they could have a sacred family and propagate the world for the Glory of Jehovah. Sex was good, and nothing to be ashamed of as long as it was done it properly between a husband and wife.
B. Christian View
Christians came along, and no longer was the emphasis on a family, but the emphasis was on your individual faith in God. Through some of Paul’s writings and later the teachings of the early church fathers and the Catholic Church, celibacy was equated with “holiness or Godliness”. Sex was viewed as a totally fleshly act that would draw your heart away from God. Avoiding sex was seen as fostering a deeper faith.
At our Bible College the unwritten law for the married students was not to have sex Saturday night because it would interfere with your “spiritual” preparation for Sunday.
We must ask ourselves: If God created us as sexual beings, then he meant us to enjoy sex within the context of His guidelines. And if marriage is designed to make us like God, then how can we reconcile the Holy with something so fleshly? We must realize that God’s eyes are not closed when a married couple enjoys each other sexually!
C. God’s View
God made our bodies, and with them, some amazing sensations. While the male sexual organ has multiple functions, the female clitoris has just one—sexual pleasure. By design, God created a bodily organ that has no other purpose than to provide women with sexual ecstasy. This was God’s idea. And God called every bit of his creation “very good” – Genesis 1:31.
Betsy Ricucci has approached this issue from a feminine perspective: “Within the context of covenant love and mutual service, intimacy should be exhilarating according to what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 5:19.
III. Sex as a Spiritual Discipline
God views sex as a discipline that can draw us into His presence.
God has placed Himself in earthen vessels through His Son Jesus Christ. God wants to show us How to use our sexuality as a spiritual discipline-to integrate our flesh and faith.
It is my desire that we can move past the negative connotations and preconceptions of sex and examine how it is possible for this fleshly experience to sharpen our spiritual sensitivities. If sex is going to turn us toward God and our spouse, it is essential that we examine sex with the understanding that
God uses Marriage and every aspect of it to make us Holy, like Jesus Christ.
God’s Word teaches us three things about sex:
Sex is good by design but there are things more important than sex
Sex allows the experience of pleasure but pleasure can never become the idol of our existence
Sex seasons our lives but will never fully nourish our souls.
For Sexuality to become a spiritual discipline we must change our views in three areas:
Adopt a Sacred View of Sex in Marriage
Adopt a Sacred Emotional View of Sex in Marriage
Adopt a Sacred View of Your Spouse
A. A Sacred View of Sex in Marriage
1. Sex is a Mirror of our Desire and Passion for God
2. If sex is to be a communing experience with the Shekinah of God, then it must be confined to its righteous place-between a man and a woman united in a marriage covenant before God.
Anything else is a corruption of what God intended sex to be.
Now sex by itself can be abused in a marriage relationship. If God is to be in our sexual relationship, it must embrace the components of our relationship with God-servant hood and righteous desire. Within those bookends, sex can become a powerful force for our growth spiritually.
If we are to see the positive power of sex in our marriage relationship, we must move past the hurt, shame, guilt and angst that you may have because of things you have seen and heard about outside the marriage relationship. Homosexuality, premarital sex, fantasy-laden masturbation, hard-core pornography-none of that constitutes “sex” as I am defining here.
Redefine sex as it was when Adam “knew” Eve and began to populate the world. Think of sex only within these terms and then let’s ask God to reveal Himself to you within your marriage through the gift of sexual pleasure.
God does not turn His eyes from our bedrooms. Neither should we turn our eyes from God when we share intimate moments with our spouse.
To see sex as a way of spiritual discipline, of drawing our hearts and our marriages closer to Him, it is imperative that we adopt God’s view of sexuality. God made flesh, and when God made our flesh, he created some amazing sensations. While the male sexual organ has multiple functions, the female clitoris has only one function-sexual pleasure. By design, God created a bodily organ that has no other purpose than to provide women with sexual ecstasy. This wasn’t Satan’s idea, it was God’s. And God called every bit of his creation “very good” (Gen 1:31)
Advice to Wives:
In ‘Love that Lasts’, Betty Ricucci says “Believe it or not, we glorify God by cultivating a sexual desire for our husbands and by welcoming their sexual desire for us”.
Wives, you may desire your husband’s to be more Godly, and God has given you a power to open up to your husband that God is in your bedroom. What better time to talk to your husband about God than afterwards. Shock him sometime by saying, “Glory to God”. Shock him even further by saying thank you for making me feel close to my heavenly Father.
Advice to Husbands:
I’m not going to place the entire burden for glorifying God on the wives.
The real burden is upon the husbands; because we must learn to love our wives the way Christ loved the church. His love meant death, and our proper sexual love for our wife must include death to what we want, and becoming a servant to the needs of our wives. We are the ones who need the most educating; because we are the ones God said need to dwell with our wives according to knowledge, the things we learn.
3. Sex is to be a Shared Spiritual Experience
To bring Christ into your marriage bed, you must be brought together in His Name and you must be agreed in your spirit as to seeing Jesus honored by your sexual union.
B. A Sacred Emotional View Of Sex In Marriage
We often come into our marriage with sexual baggage-emotions and lusts that are corrupted by television shows and movies we have seen pictures we have viewed, bad experiences in past relationships, and bad experiences with family members. God’s Word says it is possible to bring His Divine Nature into our marriage bed, and to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust and evil desires.
2 Peter 1:4 (NKJV) by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
One FOUNDATIONAL promise we must bring into our marriage bed is:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) In everything give thanks (eucharisto – express gratitude): for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
God commands us to bring gratitude into every situation we face, and if He commanded it, there is the promise of His presence.
Gratitude Must Replace Guilt
In order for Sex to become a spiritual experience, we must incorporate gratitude into our sexual relationship.
1. Practice Thanking God For What Sex Involves.
i.e.; a wife could pray explicitly but in all holiness “God, thank you that it feels enticing when my husband caresses my breasts.”
Couples can even pray together, thanking God for the pleasure surrounding the act of marital consummation.
This simple act of thanksgiving can sanctify an act that all-too-many Christians divorce from their spiritual life with God.
God designed sex to feel good, so why not thank Him?
2. Remove The Roadblocks That Hinder You From Seeing Sex As God Designed It.
See that Sex in marriage is honorable before God
If your history contains sexual abuse, you may need counseling to help gain the proper perspective on sex.
Our past can make us feel that sex is evil or at best to be tolerated, when in fact God means it to be exhilarating, passionate and a means of drawing our hearts to each other as well as Him.
Scripture in Proverbs 5:19 says our sexual intimacy should be exhilarating and even intoxicating. “Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.”
Gratitude to God is essential; otherwise the powerful feelings associated with sex will cause us to focus on ourselves.
3. Deal with the Idolatry Of Sex And Obsessive Guilt Over Sex
Cause us to focus on ourselves
Gratitude turns our focus to God.
We insult God when we do not accept the holiness of sex and pleasure.
If the pain of a fast can reveal God to you, why not the pleasure of something God designed for you?
Once we have reevaluated our Theology and our emotional attitudes, we also need to reconsider our expectations-the type of intimacy we are seeking.
C. A Sacred View Of Your Spouse
I realize to some you will think this concept perverse. But please see it in light of God’s Holy Word.
1. Your Spouse Is Also Your Christian Brother Or Sister In Christ
You share an eternal bond that will outlive your bond as husband and wife.
Your marriage should transcend mere sexuality by emphasizing your fellowship with God.
You are not just sexual partners.
The instinctive longing you have for each other becomes a real expression of lives united with God.
2. Sex must not be seen as merely a Physical Experience.
Andy Stanley in his “Twisted Truth” series exposes the lie of Satan that sex is simply an ‘activity’ or an ‘experience’. God designed sex to be the gateway into deep intimacy between husband and wife, intimacy that can include Him as well. When we engage in sex as an activity before marriage and even during marriage, it will destroy your capacity for intimacy with each other.
3. Our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19)
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Husband and wives are joining together with sanctified bodies
God is present in our bodies through His Holy Spirit.
4. Your Body Belongs to God.
If we can use the image of our bodies as a Temple of God to abstain from sin, then we can use the same image to be drawn into God’s presence as a husband and wife are drawn into each other.
5. God’s Temple==God’s Presence
Not sacrilege to enjoy God’s presence as you enjoy each other sexually!
God is present in the temple of your body.
His Shekinah Glory is there in your bedroom
Otto Piper: “We have come together in God, called by Him, creating a family, serving Him, and we are now expressing, physically, the spiritual truth that he has created-we are no longer two but one!
6. This Spiritual Component Of Sex Is Key To Deliverance From Sexual Perversions.
When sex is reduced to pleasure alone, no wife can possibly meet a husband’s expectation.
Pleasure will always be fleeting.
Pleasure focus will always want more and different to find satisfaction that is fleeting
A Wife cannot be reinventing herself to satisfy the pleasure focus of her husband.
Plastic surgery, implants will never be enough.
We must find the fulfillment that comes from spiritually meaningful sex, looking for God and spiritual fellowship beneath the pleasure.
7. Every Hunger That Entices Us In The Flesh Is An Exploitation That Can Be Better Met By God.
Godly sex is married sex
Illicit sex is spiritual junk food, sweet and tasty, but eventually bad for you.
8. Sex Must Be Seen As BOTH A Physical And Spiritual Experience Of Intimacy.
From Gary Thomas: “To embrace fully marital sexuality and all that God designed it for, couples must bring their Christianity into bed and break down the wall between their physical and spiritual intimacy. Sex is about physical touch, to be sure, but it’s about far more than physical touch. It’s about what’s going on inside us. Developing a fulfilling sex life means I concern myself more with bringing generosity and service to bed than with bringing a washboard abdomen. It means I see my wife as a holy temple of God, not just as a tantalizing human body. It even means that sex becomes a form of physical prayer—a picture of a heavenly intimacy that rivals the Shekinah glory of old.
Our God, who is spirit (John 4:24), can be found behind the very physical panting, sweating, and pleasurable entangling of limbs and body parts. He doesn’t turn away. He wants us to run into sex, but to do so with his presence, priorities, and virtues marking our pursuit. If we experience sex in this way, we’ll be transformed in the marriage bed every bit as much as we’re transformed on our knees in prayer.”
IV. Practical Advice to Deal with the Power of Sex
A. Our Sex Drive is a Physiological Drive
Not a true physical need like food
You can survive life without a single orgasm
Predictable, Physical and emotional
This physical drive which seems like a need is there by God’s design.
Without this physiological drive many couples would slowly drift apart into their independent worlds
We are by nature selfish being who hide from each other.
Maintaining a steady pursuit toward and empathy for another human being goes against our sinful egocentric bent.
Reminder of our need to keep falling toward our wife, and parallels our need to keep falling toward God.
B. Place Your Sex Drive under the Lordship of the Holy Spirit
Focus on the spouse we have, and not the spouse we want.
C. Value the Things That God Values
Acceptance of the inevitability of change
Character of Time
D. Give What You Have
We have only one body designed by Creator God
Accept imperfections and give yourself wholeheartedly
E. Accept That Our Bodies Need To Connect
God designed us with testosterone and hormones
We have physical urges because of our chemical makeup
Sometimes you bite your tongue because you need to connect with your spouse
F. Our Need for Sex Can Work to Groom our Character
Men learn tenderness and empathy
Wives may use physical intimacy to help capture their husbands interests emotionally
G. Our sex drive literally calls us out of ourselves and into another
H. Realize the Need for Passion
Nothing brings out passion in a marriage like sex
The most distinctive people in the Bible – David, Joseph, Daniel, Abraham, Elijah all had an outspoken passion for God.
Their passions connected them to God, helped them to see Him in their life.
Just as Passion is healthy when directed toward God, sexual fulfillment in a marriage is a healthy passion,
The more passionate we become in one area of our life, the more passionate we tend to be about many other things.
A man who is passionate about his wife will be passionate about his children, his work, and his love for God.
If a man is frustrated or defeated or facing other sexual problems, there will likely be a cloud over his work, his faith and even his fellowship with his children and friends. Often he will be selfish and self-absorbed
You don’t always have to think spiritual thoughts when enjoying sex.
At times it will have spiritual overtones
Other times it will be purely physical
Both are holy within marriage
V. Life is to be a Celebration
God is worthy of Infinite Celebration!
As Jesus Christ entered the City of David, his disciples lined the way and showered him with palm fronds. They were cheering, shouting: ”Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:9 (ESV)
Luke 19:39-40 (HCSB) Some of the Pharisees from the crowd told Him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!”
This phrase “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” is very important, so important as Jesus wept over the City of Jerusalem, and said that he often wanted to gather them to himself as a mother hen gathers her chicks, he said:
For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” Matthew 23:39 (ESV)
Jesus Christ Is In Heaven Looking Down At Your Marriage.
He sees the problems; he sees the rooms of your heart that you have hidden from your spouse. He knows your sexual hang ups. He is saying: just invite me into your marriage, into your bedroom. Don’t see sex as simply an experience of relief or pleasure or conquest or duty or means of control.
Rejoice in His ownership of your body and see Him dwelling in this temple of flesh. Shout out “Blessed is my husband who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is my wife who comes in the name of the Lord” Shout out Hosanna in the Highest!
Instead of lighting scented candles in your bedroom to set the mood, let me encourage you to get some stones and put them on the nightstand, in a frame on the wall. Let them remind you to see sex as a means of shouting out praises to Jesus Christ who lives within you and is present in your bedroom. If you don’t shout out praises, someday God will let you listen in as the Stones cry out to Him!
Let’s bring the Glory of God into our bedrooms!