Finding Identity in sexual union vs union with Christ

Sexual sin- pornography, fornication, same sex encounters, and debilitating shame because of sexual sin- is perhaps the primary sin issue I encounter discipling men on campus. Overcoming this sin is further complicated by a culture so obsessed with sex, that many students define themselves by their sexuality. This includes their sexual preference and their sexual experience.

 

When a person seeks identity in sexual relationship, every goal and pursuit will be to find fulfillment in another person. Thus, when a person experiences a break up or rejection, they may go through a period of depression and are unable to function.

Some feel they are not truly a man until they’ve had sex.

If they are denied the opportunity to express their sexuality, they feel repressed and resentful. Some may feel they are denied their ability to be fully human because they cannot act on their urges.

 

Others have been marred by sexual encounters. Because of something they did or something done to them, they are overwhelmed by shame. They feel powerless to overcome temptation.

 

Throughout history we see people defined by their relationships. Even Scripture introduces characters as someone’s child or one’s wife or husband.

We still define ourselves often by relationships, as can be seen on a facebook profile.

This lends to reason why many want same-sex marriages legalized – it gives a sense of identity.

Further, because sex is associated with love, one may feel we can not experience love apart from sexual encounter.

 

We were created, with specific design, by God, so He defines us.

Unfortunately, in Adam we have all sinned and as a result every part of us is distorted by the fall – Our bodies and emotions were affected, and thus our sexuality.

 

Sexual encounter is a special union of body.These relationships do shape and form a part of our identity.  

We needed our identity to be restored. As we place our faith in Christ, we are no longer in Adam, we are united in Christ. This Union with Christ now defines us. Understanding this doctrine is foundational to overcoming sexual sin.

 

Wayne Grudem1 states four aspects to our union with Christ as

  1. We are in Christ.
  2. Christ is in us.
  3. We are like Christ.
  4. We are with Christ.

 

Dealing with sexual sin, we apply:

  1. We are with Christ –  Relationship does define us, but it is not sexual relationship, it is the most meaningful and most loving relationship we can experience- relationship with God.
  2. We are in Christ. No longer do we need to be marred in shame because of past sexual sin. For Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us. We are not seen by what we did or what was done to us, but what Christ did.
  3. Furthermore Christ is in us, empowering us to overcome sexual sin. We are not slaves to our desires, nor to our past.
  4. We are to be like Christ – thus we look to Him and follow His example.

 

I Thessalonians 4 states God’s will for our lives is our sanctification(be like Christ). Immediately afterwards Paul urges them to flee sexual immorality. God restores everything broken by sin, including our sexuality.

The false conclusion is to say one must exchange an immoral relationship for a moral relationship. Rather, we should seek identity in our union with Christ, becoming like Him. The single person does not need to find identity in marriage. The person with homosexual inclinations does not need to become heterosexual. God’s desire is to make us holy.

 

Jesus was fully human, He was not part human, part God. He lived on earth with a fully human body and human emotions. He experienced sadness, loneliness, rejection. The Bible explicitly tells us that He experienced hunger, tiredness, feelings of rejection, emotional and physical pain, and temptation. Hebrews tells us He encountered every temptation, yet without sin. Thus, He lived the way God intended our lives to be more than any other person in human history. Though He never married and never engaged in sexual activity, He was able to experience love, joy and the fullness of life or be human.

 

He can relate to us – every feeling and every temptation we face, including the area of sex.

We can come to Him with our pain and problems and He can empathize.

He gives hope we can be fully human and pursue holiness.

Jesus was never married, never had sex. Yet, He lived with purpose and joy and experienced intimacy in relationships.

We can look to Jesus example in the midst of temptation and follow in His footsteps and find encouragement in Him.

Our sexuality is not what defines us. Expressing sexual urges doesn’t satisfy. Sexual relationships will not gives us meaning.  Union with Christ is what we long for and what we need.

 

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Footnotes

  1. Grudem, Wayne Systematic Theology Ch 43 pages 840-841
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