A Question I Was Asked:

Isn't Sexual Love Spiritually Neutral?

Surely sexual love is spiritually neutral, just as enjoying food is spiritually neutral. We can't live without food, which is an appetite which needs to be satisfied. Likewise, am I not correct in asserting that sexual love is also an inbuilt appetite? If we don't eat properly we become weak and maybe really ill. Similarly, those who cannot fulfil their intended sexual functions also seem to become frustrated and unstable. A very few can happily live without it but maybe 95% of adults find that it is a appetite which must be satisfied. God Himself built this into all of us, or most of us. Therefore should not occasional sexual indiscretions (no matter how regrettable) be expected even among the holiest of men and women? Many biblical examples seem to show that God is very forgiving - even exceptionally forgiving - where such indiscretions happen. I think of Samson, David, Abraham and several others. Surely only Jesus lived in complete control of these emotions. What is your opinion?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Yes, you are right and the purpose for this is the procreation of children. Unlike modern western society, God loves large families. In contrast, in the modern West, large families are now often the object of scorn and derision to most liberals.

In general, you are not entirely incorrect and most (but not all) adult men and women have a sexual appetite which demands satisfaction, and some have a particularly keen appetite. Yes, God Himself made us this way and He will be generally understanding, compassionate and forgiving when we come under temptation but expects us to avoid such temptation wherever possible. Some, for example, are in marriages in which serious health problems sometimes occur, especially in the later marriage years, and sexual intercourse becomes impossible, yet one's marriage partner may well continue to have a vigorous sexual appetite. Others have even entered into marriages in which they knew that full sexual expression would never be possible for various health reasons. Others are deserted by their spouse. In all such cases sexual frustration is obviously going to be a problem. Such things, of course, are never normally discussed, but perhaps they should - in all discretion and modesty - occasionally be brought out into the open and discussed. For the Christian, of course, such a situation could never be a carte blanche for adultery - absolutely not - yet God would be merciful to, and patient with, the married partner who finds that he or she still needs satisfaction, yet not through adultery or unfaithfulness.

Of course, a few have taken this too far. Including, apparently, certain men at Corinth in Paul's day. Notice what Paul the Apostle writes in 1 Corinthians 6:

"I have the right to do anything," you say - but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything" - but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both." The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. (1 Corinthians 6:12-13).

Without doubt there is some ambiguity in Paul's comments here, but he is clearly referring to the stomach, yet in a somewhat sexual context. Apparently he is quoting what a few were saying. It would appear that some at Corinth were saying that the appetite of the stomach, and the appetite for sexual expression are both spiritually neutral (neither of those parts of the body surviving into Eternity, at least not as necessary parts for a physical-only existence). To a degree that is true of course but Paul warns against such an idea leading to sexual licence. Possibly a few single men at Corinth even took this to the extreme of feeling justified in occasionally visiting a prostitute, but as Paul writes,

The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. (1 Corinthians 6:13)

God is not a fool, He has all knowledge and all wisdom. He knows that the physical bodies which he Himself designed will continue to have a sexual appetite where a spouse walks away, becomes very sick, or dies and He is able to take account of that in patience, compassion and mercy, not looking for occasions or opportunities to "zap" people dead who always preferred to have their needs satisfied within Christian marriage.

This is not an easy area. There is a very real sense in which, as Paul stated in Philippians, in some of these more difficult areas, we need to be 'working out our own salvation with fear and trembling,' understanding the mercy, patience and compassion of our God, but also our spiritual responsibility to uphold decent moral behavioural standards.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed - not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence - continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13).

Robin A. Brace. May 25th, 2014.