there is a joy that comes from bringing all the ingredients together and making something from scratch. there are the different textures and touches of the ingredients…the mixing…the kneading…the intimacy. closing your eyes you witness the smells of the creation blowing from the warm oven enveloping the room. there are the tastes of buttery goodness married with spices that could only come from the hand of God. and then there is the satisfaction of sharing your gift with the ones you love.
but what if we never had the experience or the joy of bringing this goodness together? what if we never had the joy of uniting the ingredients together and mixing and kneading to perfection? what if we never knew the olfactory delight of sugary sweetness blowing in the air? and what if we never knew the fresh homemade taste that melts in our mouths?
what if our every meal consisted of little square greasy burgers with onions and a pickle? what if the people you hang out with ONLY talked about those little square burgers and how great they are? what if all of the commercials you saw and every product placement in every television show talked about the necessity for these greasy burgers to be eaten at every meal and for every snack? and what if the only thing we knew about a GREAT MEAL was a little square greasy burger?
churches are full of little burger eaters. we consume the same unhealthy food for every meal and every snack. we all grow up eating it…so we don’t know anything different. our culture keeps feeding us an endless supply and we keep indulging…while knowing and experiencing the beauty and joy of making delicious food is lost on us.
i speak metaphorically about sex.
sexual intimacy is a gift from God. but like all other gifts God has given to us…we lose sight of the beauty and life-giving nature contained within them. many times the gifts are reduced to rules or laws…and at other times the gifts have been held on to for so long that we have forgotten the reason we received them in the first place.
for example…i have spoken previously how fasting is a gift from God. but according to many Christians fasting is nothing more than not eating…and only done by the Super Christian. as we have explored before…fasting is a gift. it is not a rule or regulation. it is not just a discipline that Christians should do. it is a means through which we can be transformed and can find thankfulness and appreciation in the tastes, smells, and textures of God’s provision when we are reunited with food. but when we reduce fasting within the church to something that is rarely done and then only done by the most esteemed…we lose the beauty and joy of this life-giving gift.
the same case can be made for other gifts like a sabbath’s day rest, marriage, confession, and the Lord’s Supper. through our rules, laws, regulations, and redefinitions within the church…we lose the beauty and life-giving nature of these gifts..but i digress.
back to the gift at hand…sex.
the absence of the church in preparing a beautiful, colorful picture of sex and sexual intimacy has forced generations to paint their own pictures from the dried and cracked paint cans tossed out beside the cultural dumpsters. our white canvasses turn into cheap mosaics comprised of gutter conversations on the playground…sexually suggestive expletives and graphic language in the back of buses…pornographic images in magazines…and hard-core pornography on the computer and television. all the while generations have grown up believing that casual sex…oral sex…and masturbation are the finest and most expensive paints.
the mentality in the church is that we have to protect the congregation, especially children, by not talking about such taboo topics. but the irony is that our silence is NOT PROTECTING but HARMING those within the church. it leaves us eating little square burgers and painting cheap mosaics…while starving for a homemade meal and longing to find the hand-painted masterpiece.
if any group of people ought to be teaching people how to prepare and appreciate the meal…and how to paint a work of art and beauty with the most wondrous and vivid colors…it is those who have come close to the heart of God and see sexual intimacy as God intended. a group of people that are not fearful to discuss taboo topics that the generations are dealing with in the real world while reimagining relationships that are whole and healed…not self-seeking…and that look to the physical, emotional, and spiritual interests of other people.
the church of the future is one that throws out the square burgers together and finally learns how to prepare the meal with creativity and imagination. it is a church that asks for a canvass of forgiveness that is white and new…to paint a picture of who we long to be and what we are becoming. it is a church that reimagines sex and sexual imtimacy as the physical, emotional, and spiritual gift that has been given to us by God.