Grant lays out the case that this emptying of sex’s divine meaning has happen in five phases:
1) The separation of sex from procreation. This happens through contraception or even abortion.
2) The separation of sex from marriage. This happens regularly when couples decide to live together without getting married.
3) The separation of sex from partnership. This refers to recreational sexual activity without relationship.
4) The separation of sex from another person. The rise of pornography in all of its forms has depersonalized sex completely.
5) The separation of sex from our own bodies. This has happened through the questioning of the categories of male and female.
As I reflect on this, I have to wonder how much this is connected to the anger, despair, and hopelessness that seems to plague so many people in our current time. I am reminded that God observed that “it is not good for man to be alone,” which led to his creation of woman. The two were to become one flesh. The two were given the task to have dominion over the earth as partners with their distinct roles in their marriage together. Part of this included sex, which God reserved for marriage and no place else. As part of marriage, this union is a physical, emotional, and spiritual oneness that reflects the beauty and holiness of God. This union is holy. It is for our spouse and no one else. It seems that so many social, emotional, and spiritual woes result from the perverting of God’s design regarding marriage. The fact that God prescribed such extreme judicial penalties for sexual sin in Israel reveals the gravity of God’s sexual design. From adultery, incest, fornication, and rape all carried the death penalty in ancient Israel.
On the other hand, when one honors God and his design for love, sex, and marriage, life flourishes and God is honored and pleased. Here are some passages to reflect on:
• “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Prov 18:22 ESV).
• “Enjoy life with your beloved wife[w] during all the days of your fleeting life that God has given you on earth” (Eccl 9:9 NET).
• “Guard your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life” (Prov 4:23).
• “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Prov 5:15-18 ESV).
These passages remind us of the beauty, blessing, and joy that come as a result of honoring God’s design in our relationships, especially marriage. This is part of what it means to be holy and is one of the ways we worship and honor God. The only way to fill up what the world has hollowed out is to honor God’s design.