Sexual assault is an issue we just can’t overlook or avoid. When someone is sexually assaulted, we demand justice and rightly so. Most of us know deep within that a violation of sexuality is a violation of personhood. Yet, in today’s culture, we also see a lot of confusion on matters of sexuality. Sam Allberry, who is a contributing editor for the Gospel Coalition and a speaker for RZIM, tries to clear some of this fog in his latest book titled Why does God care who I sleep with? And I must say right at the start that he does a commendable job!
The God who cares
Sam begins by saying that “God cares who we sleep with because he cares deeply about the people who are doing the sleeping.” Jesus’ view on sex is clear from Matthew 5:27-28. For Jesus, “adultery can take place in hearts even if it never takes place in beds.” In other words, Jesus’ main concern is intent or motive. Why? Because the sexuality of the person being violated is immensely valuable to God. Sexuality integrity is given to us by God. And so, it shouldn’t be violated, “even in the privacy of someone else’s mind.” Because God created people in His image, and cares for them deeply, any abuse or assault is an affront against Him. Thus, Sam concludes, “Who we sleep with matters. Even who we think about sleeping with matters.” This is Jesus’ view on sex! I found the logical flow of his argument compelling!
“God cares who we sleep with because he cares deeply about the people who are doing the sleeping.”
The purpose of sex
Sam then looks to Genesis 1 and 2 to emphasize the point again: God cares about sex, because He cares about people! He points out two purposes of sex from the early chapters of Genesis: The first is procreation (Genesis 1:28) and the second is creating a profound oneness between the man and the woman (Genesis 2:23-24). Then he moves on to show why sex needs to be exclusively reserved for marriage – it is meant to be, in the words of Tim Keller, “a complete, permanent and exclusive form of self-giving” (see 1 Corinthians 7:3-4). He concludes aptly, “If this is the case— that sex is fundamentally about giving, and about giving our whole self to someone— then having sex with someone without the intention of giving them this is actually a form of taking. It is theft.” You have to deny the Bible to deny this fact – sex is exclusive for marriage!
Sam then shows why this message was unpopular and controversial in the Roman world and why it remains so even today. One example from the Roman world was particularly striking. He quotes another author saying that Roman women weren’t free to marry, but Christian women on the other hand were given the freedom to choose celibacy. The Christian message was revolutionary! Sam then shows the power and force of lust from King David’s life, pointing to his sin with Bathsheba. David committed adultery in his heart, before committing adultery in his bed! Sam rightly points out, “This is what lust does. It reduces how we see others, and in the process dehumanises us. We become those who see less and less of the humanity in others…Jesus’ teaching against looking lustfully is a protection not just for the person being looked at but for the person doing the looking. Lusting after someone, even in the privacy of our own mind and without their knowledge, eventually harms all concerned.” Sam then points to the heart of the matter. The heart of the problem is the human heart, as is evident in David’s confession in Psalm 51. David understood that he did what he did because of his sinful heart. He acknowledged and received God’s cleansing. That’s the good news for all of us too. God doesn’t just forgive us in Christ, He transforms us because of that experience of forgiveness! Jesus offers us living water, just like he offered a social outcast at the well (John 4:1-30). There are some deep truths and valuable insights in these chapters!
“Jesus’ teaching against looking lustfully is a protection not just for the person being looked at but for the person doing the looking. Lusting after someone, even in the privacy of our own mind and without their knowledge, eventually harms all concerned.”
Yes, sex matters because God cares about people! God cares who I sleep with because people have intrinsic worth! These are precious truths in our age of #MeToo. Sam Allberry’s book is wise, relevant and thoroughly Biblical. And so, I heartily commend it and sincerely hope it gets wide readership!
*I received this complimentary book from Good Book Company, but I was not required to write a positive review*