Sex and Worship

You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice! Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue. - Song of Solomon 4:9-11

I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in my righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord. - Hosea 2: 19-20

Therefore I will block her path with thronbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.' Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. In that day, declares the Lord, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master'. - Hosea 2: 6-7, 14-16

The older Christian wedding vows contained these amazing words: "With my body, I thee worship." Maybe our forefathers weren't so prudish after all, maybe they understood sex far better than we do. To give yourself over to another, passionately and nakedly, to adore them body, soul, and spirit - we know there is something special, even sacramental about sex. It requires trust and abandonment, guided by a wholehearted devotion. What else can this be but worship?

After creating this stunning portrait of a total union, the man and woman becoming one, God turns the universe on its head when he tells us that this is what he is seeking with us...we must look back and see the Bible for what it is - the greatest romance ever written. God creates mankind for intimacy with himself, as his beloved. We see it right at the start, when he gives us the highest freedom of all - the freedom to reject him. The reason is obvious: love is possible only when it is freely chosen. True love is never constrained; our hearts cannot be taken by force. So God sets out to woo his beloved and make her his queen.

"That day" comes when Jesus appears on the scene and announces himself as the Bridegroom. And when he says to us, "I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am, "he is making his proposal.

"The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice" - John 3: 29

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life...He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. - Revelation 22: 17;20

Notice that it is the bride who is panting. How does a bride pant? As if for a lover who has long been away. She pants like the Beloved in Song of Songs: "Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside...There I will give you my love". We are waiting for our Love to come. Augustine declared, "The whole life of the good Christian is a holy longing. What you desire ardently, as yet you do not see...By withholding of the vision, God extends the longing; through longing he extends the soul, by extending he makes room in it." So, said Augustine, "let us long because we are to be filled...that is our life, to be exercised by longing." And when the Bridegroom of our souls comes, what then? This engagement is headed toward a consummation.

To give yourself over to another, passionately and nakedly, to adore that person body, soul, and spirit - we know there is something special, even sacramental about sex. It requires trust and abandonment, guided by a wholehearted devotion. What else can this be but worship? After all, God employs explicitly sexual language to describe faithfulness (and unfaithfulness) to him. For us creatures of the flesh, sexual intimacy is the closest parallel we have to real worship. Even the world knows this. Why else would sexual ecstasy become the number one rival of communion with God?

God's design was that the two shall become one flesh. The physical oneness was meant to be the expression of a total interweaving of being. Is it any wonder that we crave this? Our alienation is removed, if only for a moment, and in the paradox of love, we are at the same time known and taken beyond ourselves..."an expression of worship that fills our beings with a joy that is so deeply in awe of the other that we are barely aware of ourselves."

God wanted to show the world something of his strength. Is he not a great warrior? Has he not performed the daring rescue of his beloved? And this is why he gave us the sculpture that is man. Men bear the image of God in their dangerous, yet inviting strength. Women, too, bear the image of God, but in a much different way. Is not God a being of great mystery and beauty? Is there not something tender and alluring about the essence of the Divine? And this is why he gave us the sculpture that is woman.

My wife's body is brighter and more fascinating than a flower, shier than any animal, and more breathtaking than a thousand sunsets. To me her body is the most awesome thing in creation. Trying to look at her, just trying to take in her wild, glorious beauty...I catch a glimpse of what it means that men and women have been made in the image of God. If even the image is this dazzling, what must the Original be like? - The Mystery of Marriage, Mason

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife; and the two will become one flesh. this is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church." - Ephesians 5: 31-32

(All material from Journey of Desire by John Eldridge)

Prayer from my Journey of Desire Journal...

Dear Gracious Lord,

How utterly closed up I am. I'm not sure if I would know my own desires if they hit me in the face! I've taken the weight of so many others, and lost myself in the process. It shocked me the two things, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and the movie Love Comes Softly, that had cut so deep to the core of me, the men that I see as examples of my future husband, examples of You. These women came both battered and bruised and sorely raw unto bleeding. They wanted nothing to do with them, and the men had to be patient, tender, and loving to them...slowly chipping away at the facade that was there until they pierced their heart. I know that my future husband is going to have to do that with me. He will have to go beyond a few smooth words and good looks. He has to be willing to bear his soul, and tenderly explore mine. Oh Lord, I see how I have to praise you for wooing me. I praise you for being stern with me as well. Help me to be more comfortable in this skin you have created me in. I feel, still, often, like and old bitty.

I love you. Let me live in the moment.



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