Process is defined as “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.” Those last three words are critical: “a particular end.” Goal. Purpose. Destination. Desired result. Objective.
Most of us were introduced to the notion of “process” when we were young and began to think about what we wanted to do when we “grew up.” We knew early on that no matter what we chose to make of ourselves it was going to involve a process. That is to say, we knew that if we were going to become what we dreamed, it would take a good long while and there would be “a series of actions or steps” necessary to get there. Maybe we didn’t think about it with those words and terms but we intuited that a lifelong process was necessary. The older we got the more those “steps” came into focus.
Some people figure out that the key to realizing your dreams and goals is to never allow the destination to fade into obscurity. When “the particular end” is lost in the shuffle and daily grind of life, then the “actions or steps” that were initially part of the process to reach the end…become the end. When that happens, no matter how seemingly satisfied we are with whatever “step” has become the end, we are confronted by and eventually immersed in disappointment. That isn’t what we wanted. We got sidetracked. We got lost. We gave up.
We see this work out before us in a myriad of ways on smaller scales.
The disappointment the preacher feels because he realizes that the sermon he preached with that riveting introduction and all those powerful points and illustrations fell flat because he got so enamored with his points that the sermon’s destination sort of faded away. The people laughed at his funny illustrations and said “Amen!” at the appropriate points but by Tuesday, they couldn’t tell you what the sermon was about or how it may have impacted their lives. He lost sight of the goal. Disappointment.
Making a major purchase (like a home or a vehicle) is another way we can see how losing sight of the destination can be costly. When we experience buyer’s remorse it is an indication the destination got hijacked by one of the steps (usually the purchase). When reliable, affordable, transportation fades away as the “particular end” of the vehicle buying process, the purchase becomes the end. Now “awesome,” “beautiful,” and “loaded” replace “reliable,” “affordable,” and “transportation.” The payments went up mercilessly with that replacement (as did the insurance premiums). A couple of years into making those payments (knowing there are still a couple or more years to go) and there it is: disappointment. It’s what always happens when you lose sight of the particular end you initially had in mind.
That brings me to sex. It is consuming our culture, nation, and even our churches. Consider how it is directly tied to abortion, pornography, homosexuality, gender-related issues, disease, divorce, human trafficking, lawmaking (Equality Act), crime, and addiction. Sexuality is splitting entire denominations apart, causing rancor in local churches, and even turning parents and their children against each other. How did such a wonderful gift from God become the source of so much pain, shame, and angst today?
Simple. This is what happens when one of the “actions” or “steps” in the process is allowed to become the goal or destination.
The act of sex is not the goal.
It is but an action or step in a much bigger and more important process.
The “particular end” is stated in the very first chapter of the Bible. “And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” (Genesis 1:28). Fruitfulness. Self-replenishment. Going from “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18) to the family and eventually to the kingdom of God filled with mutually respected and dependent citizens.
The process begins with the solitary individual who recognizes the limitations of individuality and ultimately concludes with the realization of the perfect family in the perfect community. The process looks something like this:
An individual recognizes the shortcomings of being alone. The heart begins to long for the complementary member of the opposite sex by which to enter into covenant. When and if that person is found, a period of holy preparation begins (betrothal or engagement). This preparation includes financial preparations as well as adjusting relationships with parents and siblings. Then comes the covenant ceremony known as “marriage.” Vows and promises are made about priorities and lifelong commitments. They are solemnized. Then, and only then, comes the consummation (sex). It continues throughout the marriage both as an ongoing act of selflessness, self-giving, and self-commitment and it is intended to produce offspring. Mutuality replaces individuality. Many replace one. Multiplication and replenishment fueled by lifelong love and commitment prepare not only the one but also the entire family for life in the kingdom of God.
Thus we have a long (but glorious) process wherein sex is vital and critical, yet remains only a step in reaching the goal of holy community. In its proper context, sex is a holy union wherein a committed and covenanted man and woman give and receive each other and produce offspring.
When divorced from the “particular end” of fruitfulness, multiplication, and kingdom community, sex becomes the goal and all that God intended it to be is nowhere to be found. Enter disappointment.
When sex takes place outside the bounds of a marriage between a man and a woman, self-gratification replaces selflessness. Objectification replaces commitment. Lust replaces desire. For heterosexuals, fruitfulness becomes a problem rather than a goal, and for homosexuals, it is an impossibility.
Sex as a goal quickly becomes an idol and we will do anything to appease it. We’ll kill the offspring because they get in the way of having more sex. We’ll create an entire industry to substitute for sex when we are not having it. We’ll engage in perversions of sex because we despise self-control and what it points to (holiness). We’ll create non-existent genders in an attempt to obfuscate God’s created biology (attested to by DNA) which points to the holy kingdom community. We’ll risk horrible diseases, resuscitate slavery, legislate immorality, and revel in our addiction to unbiblical sex despite the ongoing misery and despair it produces all around us.
All because we lose sight of the goal, the purpose, the destination, the objective: fruitful replenishment that prepares us to live in God’s literal coming kingdom.
To put it bluntly, we're stuck on sex. We’ve made a step in a long and beautiful process the goal. And we are paying dearly for it.