I’ve been thinking a lot about sex lately. I’m serious. In America today it’s difficult not to think about sex a lot. According to a 2005 study, 70% of television shows – excluding shows such as sports contests and newscasts – have sexual content, with about five scenes containing sexual content per hour (www.kff.org). Seven out of ten. Movies are higher: almost 90% have sexual material (www.nationalcoalition.org). And I could go on, about commercials and magazine ads and Super Bowl halftime shows, but you understand. We are infatuated with sex. I don’t seem as crazy now for admitting it. Sex surrounds us.

I’ve been loosely following the case regarding Deborah Palfrey, the “DC Madam” who ran a high-end escort service. A top state department official resigned after being named a client of Palfrey’s escort service, according to CNN. Whether he paid for sex or virtual sex or a sensual massage we don’t know, only that his name was named, and he resigned soon thereafter. But it begs the question of what, exactly, is sex, and what is right and wrong. And, naturally, you may be noticing this is a newsletter containing Christian thought, and you may be ready to put it down. Please, hold off. There is much more sexual content in the next few paragraphs.

I believe that God made us, male and female. And, in Genesis 1, the first words that God says to man and woman is: “Be fruitful and increase in number.” The first thing he says to people. God, who made men and women, clearly understands that “increasing in number” demands a certain act. Thus, we have evidence that God thinks sex is good. He encourages it. Moreover, he did a few unusual things in the human body. During sex, a literal cocktail of drugs is released in the human brain triggering immense pleasure. So, God designed all kinds of drugs to make sex pleasurable, and told humanity to increase in number. God thinks that sex is a good thing.

The erogenous zones on a human body are primarily located in the front. It’s almost like God intended for us to be face-to-face. Or, in relationship. Moreover, one of the chemicals released during sex is oxytocin. Oxytocin is referred to as the “love drug” and it is also released when a mother breastfeeds her baby. Oxytocin is an extremely powerful drug that encourages human bonding. Having sex, the drugs in your body are telling you that you should be bonded to the person next to you with bonds as deeply as a mother is to her child. Sex is not just about one act. It is about relationship.

This is why Christian teaching says sex outside of marriage isn’t desirable. Because only in the bonds of marriage – the trust and faith that go along with it – can sex be what it was meant to be: the deep body and soul connection between two human beings. Without marriage, without the vows to support and love the other person for life, the deep bonding doesn’t happen. There’s a disconnect. Physically, your body says that these bonds should be as strong as parent-child bonds. But mentally, or soulfully, you know that the relationship may not last, you don’t have the freedom to share the deepest parts of yourself. In ancient Jewish teaching, which much of the Bible is, sex means marriage. One of God’s laws in Exodus 22 is: “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.” Sex meant marriage. In ancient Jewish wedding ceremonies, sex was part of the ceremony (I know, a little weird). But the bride and groom would say their vows, then disappear into a room for awhile, and then come back out and party. Sex was part of the wedding ceremony because sex meant marriage.

When sex becomes one act outside of marriage its power disconnects people rather than bringing them together.

Sex, really, is about connection. Male and female. Two becoming one. I have friends who are celibate – either not yet married or called not to marry – who are incredibly sexual people. They are connected deeply with other men and women; they know how to love and laugh and care for people amazingly well. And I have friends who have sex but no real connection; they are shallow and always just looking for the next hook-up, the next relationship that they think will fill them. But it won’t. Sex outside of deep marriage connection isn’t meant to fill us.

May we be people who connect deeply with others, whether man or woman, and are able to love others from deep in our souls. May we think about sex in new ways, not seeing it as all bad or all good but a powerful form of connecting, the culmination of true relationships. And, when bombarded by sex on TV or in magazines or movies, may we see through the hype and know the truth and reality about this wonderful gift from God.