Submission and Sex

Finally, I am getting to a long awaited post. Submission and sex.

Submission is important. It is not lesser. We see the Lord Jesus do submission in His first coming to earth.

1 Corinthians 11 3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man in Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

Jesus obeyed His father to the point of His death.

Philippians 2 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

Hebrews 12 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 7 Endure such hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what Son is not disciplined by his father?

Christ is certainly a part of the Godhead. In fact, He is God.

Colossians 1 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

John 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

Though Jesus is God scripture suggests, nonetheless, that it was not the will of Jesus to go to the cross.

Mark 14 32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ 33 He took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’ 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,’ he said to Peter, ‘are you sleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’ 39 Once more, he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes wee heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!

John 12 23 Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.’ 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 27 ‘Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it and will glorify it again.’

From scripture we gather that the cross was not the will of God the Son. However, it was the will of the Father. At the cross, one member of the Godhead submitted to that which was NOT His will, that the will of the collective Godhead would be one. Submission is no lesser role. Jesus was God. Jesus was the Word of God and He gave up His will. That was the power of the cross. That was also the pain of the cross: it was NOT what Jesus wanted. It wasn’t just the nails or the weight of the sin of the world that pained the Christ. But the pain of the cross was compounded by the reality that it was not Jesus’s will but rather the Father’s will for Him. You may have heard this many times but I will say it again: if you are finding submission hard, know that Christ knows what it is like to bend one’s will for another as part of God’s divine purpose. Some submission is oppressive and it is negative because of that. But even submission that is not oppressive is still hard. It is so hard to say like Christ says, ‘not my will but yours be done.’ He KNOWS. He is WITH YOU.

In the New Testament, the submissive role that Christ did by submitted to the will of someone in authority over Him, who was God the Father, is compared to the submissive role God calls believing women to.

1 Corinthians 11 3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man in Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head-it is just as though her head were shaved. 6 If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. 11 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice – nor do the churches of God.

So how does this all relate to sex? Well, simply put godly sex is a picture of submission and headship in a beautiful form. The combination of submission and headship in sex leads to pleasure. The marriage relationship reflects Christ and the church who is His bride.

Ephesians 5 22 Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – 30 for we are members of his body. 31 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ 32 This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

However, 1 Corinthians 11 also reminds us that the marriage relationship reflects the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. The God the Son submits to God the Father for the pleasure of the Godhead.

John 17 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word. 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

In that sense, submission and headship in their unadulterated form are ultimately designed for the result of pleasure. Sex is also designed for the result of pleasure. In godly sex, the wife submits to the husband’s will for her body-that is to pursue her sexually-for her own pleasure in the ultimate physical display of this pursuit that is the forming of “one flesh”. The husband enters the wife as the wife yields to the husband’s will to do so. The more the wife yields the better the intimacy. The more the husband pursues the closer the husband and wife become. That is sex in a nutshell: submission and headship.

So how is this relevant for real life? Well, scripture shows that gender and sexuality are foundational elements of God’s creative order.

The desire for sexual intimacy and the desire to submit in a woman go hand in hand.

Genesis 1 26 Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Before there is marriage, before their is work for humans, before there is submission and headship between men and women there are the sexes. There is night and day, there is above and below, there is water and dry land, and there is male and female. Understanding our gender, sex, and sexuality is foundational to understanding every other aspect of our lives. It is foundational to understanding why the teen girl rebels or why the married man may experience additional motivation in his work. It is foundational to understanding the apathy of young men and women who are deprived of a godly expression of their sexuality in marriage because the world would say they are “too young” to marry but not too young to enjoy their sexuality outside of marriage.

Sex is marriage. Marriage is sex, that is a union of two complementary bodies that make “one flesh” through the act of sex.

Genesis 2 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Sex is our earthly picture of marriage. The desire for sexual intimacy and the desire to submit in a woman go hand in hand. Women may decreasingly desire to submit to their fathers as their desires for sexual intimacy in marriage increases. Soon the husband or future husband becomes the desired figure to submit to in the woman’s heart.

To be clear, submission is a broad category of actions that takes on different forms. For instance, it may be expressed in a general desire to please or make happy. It may also be expressed in a desire to care for the needs of someone the woman desires to submit to. As the woman becomes increasingly interested in sex she becomes more interested in submitting to her husband than her father. If she has no husband, then she awaits one to direct her submissive desires to but that does not mean she will give over that desire to her father in the meantime. Of course not all married women desire to do even the most subtle forms of submission, such as bringing a man nourishment or doing little things he likes not because she is afraid of criticism from him but out of respect for him. In particular, the married woman who finds her sex life with her husband unfulfilling or uninteresting or both likely does not desire to submit to him and any of his other needs either.

I think sometimes well meaning parents in the name of Christ Jesus try to “protect” their young men and young women from sex as opposed to propelling them toward godly sex. I do not see anywhere in scripture where it is the job of a godly father to protect his daughter from sex but rather to steward all his children into godly expression of their sexuality. For some that may be celebacy. For others who “cannot control themselves,” such as myself, “they should marry,” commands Paul, “for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” 1 Corinthians 7:8. Thus scriptures recommends that those whose passions for godly sex are strong should marry, and another who “has his own gift From God,” that is the gift of celebacy should refrain from marriage. 1 Corinthians 7:7,37. It is not sin to be passionate and then allow that passion to lead you into marriage for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 7: 36, 38.

Perhaps Adam should have been more into the “fruit” he had in Eve then the fruit God had forbid Adam that would supposedly make Adam “like God.”

That said, does the scripture encourage parents to forbid their teens from dating? Or rather does it encourage godly elders to lead these young adults to a godly use of their sexuality on a timeline that lines up with the strength of the passions that God has given the teen, regardless of if you or anyone thinks they are “too young.” Perhaps godly parents should spend less time calling their kids “babies” and more time teaching them about godly sex and marriage so they will be prepared when they become ready for godly sex or marriage and not have to scramble to figure out “something” to do with their sex drive before their future spouse-the one who will have the perfect career and satisfy their extended family-comes around.

I say this not to be harsh with well meaning parents. I believe there is a ton of confusion these days by all age groups and by both believers and non believers about what gender even is in the first place! If we are off course of how God defines gender then it naturally follows that we would be off course on when is a “good” time to marry. If we begin to see gender the way the Bible teaches-that women have a desire to be understood and to have their preferences lived out by others around them- 1 Peter 3:7- and that men desired to be admired and looked to as sources of strength like Christ-Ephesians 5:22-33, then it should not be difficult to see “little” people such as those around age 3 or so as “little men” and “little women.

If we can recognize what God calls gender early on then surely we can prepare young men and young women to be ready for marriage when it is best suited for the godly direction of their passions.

Men today are tempted just like Adam to try to be more like God-by working hard at their career or their reputation in the community-instead of trying to be more in love with the passions that God has given them that ultimately lead to their humility.

I believe we don’t understand what adulthood is because we don’t understand gender. For instance, if we think that wanting to be provided for is childish in general then a woman who wants what God wants for her, which is for her to be provided for, is childish but God would say she is a woman of God.  If men are supposed to desire to be providers then being a man is wanting to provide for himself and his family. If a man wants his wife to provide for him then that man is childish. Waiting for young women to “grow up” and enjoy doing things for themselves is like waiting for women to turn into men. A woman may have to do things for herself but her not finding fulfillment in that or flourishing in that as much as she would in having things done for her makes her a woman.

Women get energized to do for others when they are sacrificed for. Convincing girls to not want this is to convince them to reject what God wants for them. Most of us do not have an on/off switch. We cannot live the first half of our lives being creatures who can “handle things” ourselves and then spend the second half of our lives letting our husbands sacrifice for us which is receiving a free gift from our husbands like the church is supposed to receive the free gift of salvation from Christ. We would need to practice this disposition for our entire lives. I do not believe that for women to think they should be provided for is destructive. God’s moral will and our earthly reality are two very different things. If a woman understands God’s moral will that she should be provided for then when she is not provided for she is aware that she is suffering. Perhaps with this awareness she will be able to resist overeating or other destructive habits because she understands better where her pain is coming from and she feels empowered to take her complaint to God who she know understands her complaint and feels the same way that she does about the situation.

Speaking of adjusting our expectations for godly sexual purity and no other kind, I want to take a moment to tie this into how traditional american culture thinks about weddings. I hope by this point you can see that the two are inextricably linked. How can family and well meaning friends help a person pick out someone to have godly sex with which is what a spouse is? Wouldn’t it be much more helpful to equip young people at a very young age to know what marriage is and what is expected in marriage by God so they can prepare themselves to fall in love with someone who is a suitable sex partner in God’s plan for marriage? Can third parties outside the couple see any other reason why the couple desires to come together for godly sex other than that they find each other appealing for it. Is it not perverse for third parties to spend time trying to guess at the sex appeal of someone’s spouse?

It also follows that no one else can choose who you desire to come together in sex with or marry (within the parameters God says like one man and one woman) and no one can choose for you at what time you should consecrate your marriage. Thus the idea of having others pick a “date” for you to begin marriage or begin having sex with the godly spousal option you have chosen is nothing less than perverse. If people want to throw a party for you they are free to do that. But choosing when you first have sex with your spouse is obscene. It is adding more parties to the marriage bed which does not honor God.

Hebrews 13 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

The custom of setting a wedding date seems to frustrate the intimacy between the couple-that is their coming together before God to agree to be bound by all God says about marriage and then having sex to consecrate the one flesh union. That is their real wedding anyways so should not the couple do that first then parents can plan a party later? Pastors and parents and others have no Biblical claim to controlling when the couple starts their marriage by coming together sexually in covenant love. Rather God does. Good sees everything the couple is doing or not doing beyond any ceremony and they are accountable to Him alone.

Does seeing 100 family and friends set the mood for a great “wedding night” for the couple? Does a woman getting married for the “right” reasons really want 100 people telling her she looks great in her wedding dress or does she want one man in awe of her God given glory beneath the dress? The way the culture does marriage takes away from the real “party” which is exploring sex with your spouse.

Perhaps Adam should have been more into the “fruit” he had in Eve then the fruit God had forbid Adam that would supposedly make Adam “like God.”

Proverbs 5 15 Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be scattered abroad streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.

Song of Solomon 7 1 How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O noble daughter! Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand. 2 Your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine. Your belly is a heap of wheat, encircled with lilies. 3 Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle.

Moral of the story? Reach for your wife not for things that puff you up and make you feel like you can compete with God. Men today are tempted just like Adam to try to be more like God-by working hard at their career or their reputation in the community-instead of trying to be more in love with the passions that God has given them that ultimately lead to their humility. I can think of few things more humbling for a man than to pursue a woman (especially his own wife!) and get rejected time and time again. Though heartache and difficulty are not good we know from scripture that God has a plan to use them for our humility. A man who runs away from pursuing his wife and runs toward pursuing success in his work and his reputation sets himself up for the pride that Peter quotes that God opposes. 1 Peter 5:5-6.

It thus follows that if you are not interested in sex then marriage is not for you. If you are not first and foremost desiring to come together in sexual union with the potential spouse you are dating or befriending then you may be called to something with this person (like ministry or business) but that something is not marriage because sex is foundational for marriage not optional. If you get married then for reasons out of your control you can’t have sex with your spouse then that is called suffering.

The call to marriage is a call to sexual purity by having sex with your spouse. Sexual purity by abstaining from sex is called celebacy. That takes place outside of marriage. Not having sex with your spouse disgraces the Lord. You are showing that Christ is not satisfying to His church and that the church is not fiercely and passionately pursued by Christ, of which both are not true.

Does the following scripture apply only to the man and woman in the relationship or does it apply to their pastor, family and friends as well?

Matthew 19 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh, ‘What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’

If two people have committed to each other in marriage before God and a pastor “convinces” them not to go through with the commitment did not that pastor just separate a man and wife as opposed to “preventing a bad marriage” as some would call it?

Matthew 1 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

Scripture says that Joseph thought about divorcing Mary, his betrothed. So then at that point they were already married. They were married by their commitment before God not a ceremony. If pastors or family break a couple up at this stage then have they not contributed to divorce?

Submission, sex and marriage are complicated endeavors. God is faithful in His Word to provide for us wisdom on all these. We would do well to look there for it!