Be Happy Now or Live Happily Ever After?

How does pop culture’s worldview on sexuality differ from what the biblical worldview says about sexuality?

By Ben KC Lee | 18 September, 2017

We live in culture with multiple worldviews. Simply put, a worldview is a way of describing the universe and life within it, both in terms of what is and what ought to be. It’s a life system that impacts how we live and how we respond to life’s questions.

It’s clear that the biblical worldview and the worldview of pop culture (which I shall call “popular worldview”) are vastly different. We see their dissimilarities play out between what we see in popular media and what we learn from the Bible and in church.

One area where the two worldviews clash is on sexuality. Let’s take a closer look at their differences.

Popular Worldview: Be Happy Now

In this worldview, personal happiness is promoted as the wellspring of human fulfilment. There’s a huge premium on pleasure and living in the now. Instant gratification is considered very valuable.

On sexuality, the popular worldview holds that sexual expression is always good. People are encouraged to express and pursue their desired sexual preferences and lifestyles. Sexual experience is primarily about one’s own pleasure and regarded as necessary for a person to be fully alive.

There are three main principles that make up the popular worldview on sexuality:

  1. Sex is a personal lifestyle choice
    Self-expression, including sexual self-expression, is of utmost significance. One has the right to choose what’s right and wrong for one’s sexuality in the important quest for personal happiness.
  2. Sex is the ultimate pleasure in life
    Therefore, not experiencing sex is seen as a great deprivation. Virginity is not highly valued. Since sex is good, the more of it, the better. Sex is an end to itself—a physical act without any intrinsic meaning, which may or may not involve emotional connections.
  3. Sexual freedom means having no restraints
    If sex is good, then limiting it is undesirable. Personal pleasure and mutual consent are the only principles that guide appropriate sexual conduct. Other boundaries on sexuality are seen as invalid barriers to self-fulfilment. Since sexual expression is key to happiness, it follows that the fullest happiness can only be found when (what is deemed as) unreasonable restraints on sex are abandoned.

Biblical Worldview: Live Happily Ever After

While the popular worldview perpetuates instant gratification, the biblical worldview is about living with eternity in mind. Christians are called to hold this worldview, because this earth is not their home. In this paradigm, a Christian’s way of life is centred on Jesus Christ and grounded in the Word. Believers understand that God is their holy, heavenly Father, who lovingly guides their lives through His Word. Therefore, Christians—with God’s enablement—strive to live in accordance with their belief that real happiness lies in true holiness; holiness is what makes them deeply happy in Christ.

The biblical worldview embraces embodied ways of living in the world as male or female, as given by God at birth. Sexuality is the desire to fully know and love, as well as to be fully known and loved.

Therefore, sex is a unifying and beautiful experience reserved for the covenant of marriage because it celebrates and deepens the emotional and physical intimacy between husband and wife. This doesn’t mean singles are incomplete; singles can be whole without marriage and sex because they can also pursue and experience healthy and intimate relationships free of romantic or sexual experiences.

The principles governing the biblical worldview on sexuality are:

  1. Sexual wholeness dignifies oneself and others
    People are created in the image of God, so they deserve to be treated with dignity. Singles are called to abstinence as a positive act of regarding themselves and others with a sense of worth. Married people respect themselves and others by reserving sexual and romantic expressions only for their spouses.
  2. Sexuality involves more than the physical act
    Sexuality doesn’t only mean sexual acts. Rather, sexuality is a complex drive involving the physical and emotional components of one’s being. This is why marriage is the best context to experience sex. In this covenant relationship, a man and a woman can safely and fully know and love each other physically and emotionally. This is also why it’s possible for singles to redirect or sublimate their sexual energies to pursue emotionally healthy, affectionate, and non-sexual relationships with friends of both sexes as well as the loving service of others.
  3. Sex is sacred and a precious gift designed for marriage
    Because a man and a woman engaging in sex means something very significant, it’s only meant to be experienced in the sacred context of marriage. This union provides safe boundaries for a man and a woman to vulnerably express themselves to each other in total, self-giving ways. When singles wait for marriage to have sex, they esteem sex as holy and keep the marriage bed pure (Hebrews 13:4).

These, then, are the two opposing paradigms on sexuality. How about you? As a Christian, what’s your worldview on sexuality? Is it largely informed by one of the two worldviews or made up of elements from both?

Here are three questions that can help you to discern that:

  1. What’s your main source of information on sexuality?
  2. Are you able to support what you believe from the Bible?
  3. How are you living your life in accordance with the biblical design for sexuality—be it in singleness or marriage?

As followers of Christ, we cannot combine a life with Christ with worldly principles that oppose Christian values (James 4:4). Instead of being conformed to our culture’s worldview, we are to be transformed by the renewal of our mind, so that we can discern God’s good and perfect will (Romans 12:2).

If we follow the way of the world, we may be happy now, but it would only be short-term and may well be accompanied by undesirable consequences. When we trust God and live the way He has designed us to function, we would be able to experience His best for us and live happily ever after.

Material for this article was adapted from one of the plenary sessions at 2017’s Whole Life Symposium: Sexuality reValued.

© 2017 Whole Life. All rights reserved.

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