Identity

Your Sexuality is a Storyteller-Part 1

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MW Editor’s Note: Mentoring Warriors welcomes counselor Andrew Bell to the tribe. His two-part series on your sexual story, along with the Sexual Resources and Writing Prompts found in the Resource Section of this website are intended to bring God’s insight into the beautiful world of God-created sexuality.

Embodying the Story of God.

Sexuality is a theme in a larger story about love––actually, two stories because we live both in God’s love story and in our personal stories shaped by love.  We’ll discover the former now; later, we’ll explore the latter.

This may feel abstract, but it’s immensely practical to know the story you inhabit.  Christian sexuality is intended to mirror God’s love.  My invitation is to inhabit this story.  Be a participant in the story of God’s love.

Union.

In the beginning, God created a temple.  The Bible’s first page sings of the creation of God’s cosmic dwelling.  This temple hosted a statue not carved from wood, stone, or gold; God’s image was humanity.  Because we bear God’s image, our lives are symbolic: we are meant to show the world what God is like.  With his statue in place, God came home to his heaven-and-earth temple: he rested.

In Genesis 2, again, the environment was a temple because God dwelled there.  Heaven and earth overlapped in the Garden of Eden.  

Eden means “pleasure”.  

There, God blessed and commissioned humans to multiply into a family of image-bearers, inevitably expanding the boundaries of the sacred Garden, bringing blessing and the temple presence of God to the land beyond.  To that end, God made humanity male and female––bone of bone, flesh of flesh, two halves that unite in marriage to become a whole.  Sex is a gift for our pleasure, and it’s part of our vocation as caretakers for creation.  

“This is why a man leaves his family’s home to make a new home with his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  This is the pattern for marriage: Make a covenant together, make a home together.

The man and woman were naked and unashamed, raptured in union with their beloved.  

Betrayal.

The serpent lured the couple into betraying God, then they turned on each other.  Intimacy gave way to fragmentation.  They were exiled from the Garden-sanctuary into a fruitless wilderness estranged from the presence of God.  

Yet, God promised that a descendent of the woman would crush the serpent, reverse the curse, restore Eden’s blessing, and allow people to be at home with God once again. 

Covenant & Tabernacle.

Generations passed; humanity drifted further from Eden.  God chose the family of Abraham to bear the snake-crusher’s seed and restore blessing, but it would take time.  Abraham’s family multiplied in Egypt, then became slaves.  

God liberated his people and led them to Sinai.  The top of the mountain became the place where heaven rejoined earth.  God bound himself to Israel there through a covenant.  The prophets say God married his people there.  The remainder of Exodus is about God and his people creating a home together through the construction of the Tabernacle.  Make a covenant together, make a home together.

The Tabernacle incorporated features from the Garden: gold, fruit, a tree; lamps corresponded to the heavenly lights.  Cherubim stood watch as they had outside the Garden.

As the new heaven-and-earth spot, the Tabernacle played a central role in God’s mission to reestablish Eden by renewing creation and reuniting with his people.  What God intended for the Tabernacle, he intended for all of creation.  

Idolatry & Exile.

If Israel married God at Sinai, worshiping the golden calf was like cheating on the honeymoon.  

Their idolatry became like a sex addiction.  The prophets called this adultery and prostitution.  God called out to them, but they wouldn’t return.  Remember, Israel was chosen to reunite heaven and earth, restore blessing, and renew Creation.  Their idolatry thwarted their vocation and led to exile in Babylon.

But the prophets held hope for a New Moses, a New Covenant, and God’s return to a New Temple.

Jesus.

Jesus brought both a new genesis and a new exodus.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

The Greek says he “tabernacled” among us.  By building a sacred tent?  No, his body was the tent.

The Temple was the place to have sins forgiven, but Jesus forgave sins on the spot.  The Temple was the place to be purified, but Jesus cleansed the impure by touching them.

He showed us that God’s will on earth as in heaven looks like love.  Love your enemies.  Feed the hungry.  The greatest commandment is love for God and neighbor.  He said his disciples would be known by their love.  He welcomed the outsider and washed his disciples’ feet.  “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.”  

He embodied the love of God expressed through Isaiah: “You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.”  “Don’t be afraid, I’m with you.”  “Can a mother forget her nursing child?  Even if she forgets, I won’t forget you.”  “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

In love, Jesus gave his life.  By his blood, he liberated his people from slavery to sin; he ratified a New Covenant; he consecrated a new Temple.  

The Spirit that hovered over the pre-Creation was unleashed to bring the life of heaven to a dead earth, beginning with Jesus’ tomb.  New Creation began with Jesus’ resurrection.  “The LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD.”

How did the Spirit intend to make the wilderness like Eden?  Through yet another Temple, the Church.

New Temple.

Jesus made a New Covenant, and he made a new home for God and his people.  

More precisely, he caused God’s people to become God’s home.

At Pentecost, the Spirit-filled Jesus’ disciples, transforming them into the new Temple.  We are the place where heaven and earth reunite.  We’re the Garden of the LORD, and the Spirit causes us to bear fruit, the first of which is love.

The Bible closes with a vision of heaven and earth finally and permanently uniting in a garden city.  Behold!  It’s a wedding!  God’s home will be with humanity forever.

Conclusion.

Your sexuality is meant to show the world what God is like.  Covenanted sex between a man and woman tells the story of God’s commitment to union and delight with his beloved people.  Faithfulness before marriage tells of our hope of union with God in the New Creation.  Chaste celibacy mirrors the passionate devotion of Jesus to the will and pleasure of God.  Growing families tell of the abounding love of God.  

May your sexuality bear the fruit of New Creation in this present wilderness.

Warrior On!

Be sure to catch Part 2 of Exploring Your Sexual Story.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this material belong solely to the author. These ideas do not necessarily communicate the views of The Navigators or those of SHAW (Sexual Health and Wholeness initiative), as well as Mentoring Warriors. The Navigators and SHAW invite diverse thought-provoking opinions for the sake of discussion, understanding, and development of our staff and colleagues. We count it a privilege to learn and think with you.

Andrew Bell
Care Counselor | Website

Andrew Bell is the Care Director for the Kansas City expression of The Navigators and a professional counselor in Kansas City, MO.   

All of us need discipleship in the area of sexuality.  Many of us would benefit from seeing a counselor.  If you happen to live in Missouri, Andrew would love to partner with you on this journey.  He’s available for in-person counseling for Kansas City residents and teletherapy for Missouri residents.  His website is www.ajbellcounseling.com.  You can reach him at andrew@greatoakstherapy.com or andrew.bell@navigators.org

As a Provisional License Professional Counselor (PLPC), Andrew practices under the supervision of Emily Viet, LPC, RPT-S, RYT

EMDRIA Certified Therapist

MO #2012032191

(816) 686-4678

3216 Gillham Plaza Suite 220

Kansas City, MO 64109

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