Our assumptions color everything that comes after that. If your starting point is wrong, you’re going to be frustrated or possibly deeply hurt in pursuing what you desire. Periodically we need to stop and evaluate the preconceived ideas we bring to the challenging questions of life. And wrong assumptions about the body, God, and sexuality may be some of the most damaging.
You pick up assumptions from your family growing up, from culture, and from the church. How well are those assumptions serving you? Might there be healthier, truer, more God-honoring ways to think about who we are as humans, the desires of our human hearts, and how God relates to us?
Here are a few wrong assumptions that are so common you may not realize you’ve bought into them.
A satisfying marriage and happy family is God’s goal for you.
It might be. But even if it is, it’s a secondary goal. Idolizing marriage or parenthood has brought many married people and many singles a lot of pain. What if you want to be married but aren’t, or what if you don’t want to be married? What if you’ve not had kids, or don’t want them? Or what if your marriage or family are anything but happy? God intended marriage and parenting to be good, and that’s a significant part of His plan for many people. But it’s not His most important or ultimate goal for you.
God’s ultimate goal for you is to become like Jesus (see Romans 8:29) and to help others do the same, whatever your relationship status or home situation. That means learning to love well. Most of us struggle with that lesson. Marriage can be a good way to learn that, but you can learn to love well with or without the nuclear family as we think of it.
You must have a satisfying sex life in order to live whole and Fully Alive.
Really? That cultural lie has been so embedded and widespread that it may be hard to realize it’s a lie. Sex is important, and good married sex was God’s idea. But the lie that you must be sexually active and satisfied in order to thrive leads to mountains of entitlement and destruction regardless of relationship status.
Culture has sexualized our need and desire for intimacy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Jesus demonstrated that you can live Fully Alive without sex or marriage. He did so by pursuing true intimacy, which every human needs, with both His heavenly Father and with a few other humans. Coming to understand that our problem is not really a sex problem opens the door to so much more satisfaction and wholeness.
Your body is only a “thing” and the real “You” is how you feel.
The idea that your material body is somehow “bad” and your immaterial soul is “good” came from Platonic philosophy, not from Jesus. God created humans as integrated whole embodied beings (see Genesis 2:7). You can’t separate one part of you from another. Christopher West poignantly comments, “there’s a fancy theological word for the separation of body and soul. Perhaps you’ve heard of it: death.” And all of you is so much more whole when you see your body as a friend instead of a foe.
This has huge implications – for how you steward your gender/sexuality, for racial/ethnic and disability issues, for issues around illness and death, and more. Even our spiritual formation requires developing new brain pathways, and that includes very biological matters. You are a whole being, existing as the image of God. And your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit – that’s an even more glorious understanding of our body (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
God cares most about the sexual behaviors you do or don’t do.
Behaviors matter. Behaviors, especially sexual behaviors, have big consequences, and God cares about that. But there’s something He cares about even more, and that’s the matters in your heart. He created you with the need, desire, and capacity for intimacy – both with Himself and with others. And what you do with that need matters to your heart.
Culture mostly says, “anything goes.” The church tends to come up with a “sin list” that’s all about do’s and don’ts. But when we focus most on behavior change or, when it comes to sex, “lust management”, we’re not addressing the deeper issues that Jesus focused most on. Sexuality is about more than behavior. We in the body of Christ especially need to address our own hearts carefully and help others to address these issues in their hearts too.
Sex is the only way to experience intimacy and real connection.
God designed intimacy and sex to be connected within covenant marriage, but sex and intimacy are not the same. You cannot experience intimacy by only taking the clothes off your body; the coverings must come off your mind and heart too. And you need intimacy regardless of your relationship status. Our human soul seeks an experience of seeing and being seen, knowing and being known.
Like Jesus did, you and I must pursue this kind of heart connection whether married or unmarried. How’s your intimacy life? Are you close with Your heavenly Father? And who’s your Peter, James, and John? This is not easy; it takes intentional effort. As Jesus did, you may well get hurt along the way. But the pursuit of intimacy is worth it.
Check your assumptions. Your life will make more sense and you’ll experience much more of the transformation Jesus came to bring when your assumptions correspond to the truth.
Your Turn: Have you bought into any of these wrong assumptions? How has that played itself out in your life? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.
Want More? In this week’s podcast episode I speak with Linda Noble and Linda Stewart about helping kids and teens learn healthier truer assumptions about their bodies, God, sex, and more.
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