Imagine a random stranger told you to drink an odd looking and funny smelling substance. Would you do it? I expect (and hope!) not. But now imagine your doctor did the same thing – same substance, with the same odd look and funny smell, and the same instruction to drink it. Would you do it? Quite possibly you would. And why? What’s the difference between these two situations? With the stranger you know what they want from you, but you don’t first know what they want for you. With your doctor, you know both what they want from you and also what they want for you – healing, health, and well-being.
It’s much easier to trust and obey someone’s instructions when we trust that they want what’s best for us. And the same is true when it comes to trusting and obeying God’s instructions about sexuality.
It’s much easier to trust and obey someone’s instructions when we trust that they want what’s best for us.
Many people think that God’s instructions for how we should steward our sexuality are at best pointless (like making a dog jump through a hoop) or at worst oppressive (like deliberately denying someone access to something needed for a fulfilled life). They see what God is asking from us but don’t trust what he wants for us.
But God’s commands are not pointless or oppressive. He doesn’t want for us to live under unnecessary or harmful restrictions. He wants for us to thrive and flourish by living in line with how he has created us to live. What God wants for us is our freedom and fulfilment.
Sometimes we might find it hard to believe that this is really what God wants for us. We look at what he asks from us and might find it hard to see how such commands can be for our good. I think there are two things that can help us at that point.
First, we can think about who God is. Are there good reasons to think that God can be trusted to command what is best for us even when we struggle to see how his commands are good? Any Christian should answer that question with a loud ‘yes’.
Everything we know about God suggests that he can be trusted to work for our good. For one thing, he’s the creator. He made us, and as our creator, he will know what is best for us, his creatures. But even more importantly, he’s the saviour. He’s the God who willingly sacrificed his own son so that we who deserved death and separation from him might actually enjoy life and relationship with him. When we look back at what God has done, how can we possibly believe that he would not want what is good for us now?
Second, we can ask why we don’t think God’s commands are good. Exploring our discomfort with God’s instructions for how we should steward our sexuality can often help us to see our own misunderstandings about sexuality. Perhaps we think God’s commands are unfair because denying some people the chance to marry condemns them to a life of isolation and loneliness. But then we can explore whether that’s true and reflect on the other ways that God has provided for us to be connected and to experience deep relationship even if we’re single. Or we might think that God’s commands are unfair because they deny some people the chance to have sex. But why is that so bad? Sex isn’t necessary for fulfilment, and our legitimate desire for love can be met in the context of friendship and church family.
There’s good reason to believe that God can be trusted to command what is good for us.
So, there’s good reason to believe that God can be trusted to command what is good for us. And knowing what God wants for us helps us to accept what he asks from us. That can help us to submit to God’s word in relation to sexuality (and many other things).
This can also help us as we seek to communicate God’s word to other people. Sadly, we live in a culture where many people have been sold the lie that the God of the Bible is a harsh, oppressive tyrant. Therefore, often, people who hear what the Bible says about sexuality don’t trust that it can be good news because they don’t trust that God wants what’s best for them. They don’t trust that God is good. So, before we talk about what God wants from people, we need to talk about what he wants for people.