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What is the Purpose of Sex?

Richard Simmons III

I sometimes wonder how effective we are in teaching our children about sex. We want them to know what takes place physiologically during sexual intercourse, and that this is how children are conceived. If we have a Biblical worldview, we tell them that sexual intimacy should be exclusively between a husband and a wife. And then we leave it at that.

I, however, believe that it is critical that we teach our children that sex is God’s idea, and that he has a purpose for it. They need to know what God had in mind when He gave us our sexuality. It only seems logical that, if sexuality were God’s idea, He must have a blueprint that leads to the ultimate sexual experience.

In the Old Testament, when a man has sex with his wife, the English translation generally is, “he lays with her.” But the actual Hebrew word for sex in the text is yada. In English yada is shorthand for “boring, empty talk.” But in Hebrew it is a verb of action that means “to know, to be known, to be deeply respected. In fact it sounds like a synonym for the best definition of intimacy. Using the Hebrew definition, sexual intercourse is not just for pleasure, but rather its function or purpose is to know or be deeply known by someone.

There is also a frequently used Hebrew word that is parallel to yada, and it is the word hessed, and it means “deep friendship and loyalty.” Clearly, God designed sex so that two people can experience intimate love with his or her very best friend.

In the New Testament, in Matthew 19: 4-5, Jesus quotes from the Old Testament:

He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

The word cleave is an interesting Hebrew word that means “absolute unity.” Total unity. It is a deeply profound solidarity.

Tim Keller says that it involves not simply a physical union but an emotional union, an economic union, a social union. To cleave to someone is to say, “I completely belong to you. Exclusively! Permanently! Everything I have is yours. I am yours.”

This is what marriage is, and this is why God created sex: for cleaving. Sex enables us to truly cleave to another person. God made sex to be able to say to one another, “I belong completely and exclusively and permanently to you. All of me. Everything.”

Do you see how the hookup culture cheapens sexuality when it’s just another form of recreation and pleasure that has no boundaries?

God is quite clear about this – you should never give someone your body if you have not given them your whole self. Otherwise, you are just an object for someone’s pleasure. This is why you marry – radically giving yourself, your entire being unconditionally to someone else. When you follow this prescription, your sex life will soar. When we settle for something less than God’s blueprint, sex becomes routine, boring, and utterly meaningless.

Article originally published on Richard E Simmons 3 May 10, 2015.

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