Sex Is Not Sexy

But then I stir from this fantasy long enough to look around and tame my wild expectations. I look at those elderly couples who have weathered 50+ years together and are anything but sexy. Yet there is something that keeps them together all those years. There is something deeper and more attractive that draws him to her and vice versa for all those decades. In their essence, ‘sexiness’ and pornography depend on novelty. There are always new people and new bodies and new, flashy ways to turn someone on. Intimacy, however, is the opposite. It depends on getting to know the same person over a long time.

I remember something an older mentor told me a few years ago that has stuck with me, which I turned into a poem (read the full thing here):

he said,
sure sex is great
and a good body is exciting at first,
but eventually,
it’s just good to be naked,
it’s nice to be naked with the same old person.

Of course, this nudity runs far deeper than a physical lack of clothes. It’s a raw, performance-less sort of nakedness. Unlike Adam and Eve who realized they were naked and ran and hid, this sort of intimacy reveals itself to another in a beautiful and unabashed way.

Real sex is not a one-and-done sort of event, but an ongoing, dare I say, boring and mundane practice between a husband and wife. If we single people go into marriage expecting a cinematic (read: pornographic) experience every time we come to the marital bed with our beloved, we will be sorely disappointed. This is why thousands of married men and women still struggle with pornography after the wedding night. Because sex is not a cure-all for all of our desires and fantasies. No one person can satisfy all of our deep longings, as they have been programmed by media and magazine covers.

No, real sex is not sexy. It is intimate and long-suffering. It is selfless and other-focused in nature. It is not the object of marriage, but a reflection of the intimacy which should already exist between the two spouses.

Think of the purpose of sex like communion: At the table, we take into ourselves the bread and wine; the body and the blood of Jesus Christ. It is a physical representation of a spiritual reality. It is a shadow that points to something beyond itself. The bread and wine are not special in and of themselves, but they are important because of what they point to.

Sex, similarly, is the physical coming together of two people who have already united themselves to the other socially, financially, emotionally and spiritually.

It’s a visible symbol of an invisible reality.

Nowhere are we promised that the sex itself will satisfy us. In fact, if we expect sex alone to fulfill us without the fullness of the relationship being present, it will be hollow and lifeless and we will walk away empty. But when sex follows all the other areas of an intimate relationship, consummated in marriage (the covenant is the consummation), it is life giving and fruitful (literally).

And when we think of the purpose of sex that way, we must remember: Sex is not sexy.

It is real and it is ongoing. It happens amidst the vacuuming and the errands. It is not always made-up and gorgeous, and occasionally gets sick and vomits. The question is, are we going to commit to this person who will have very un-sexy days (increasingly so as the years roll on), or are we going to keep holding out for some sexy fantasy which will never materialize?

This year, I want to attempt to unprogram my mind from what our culture has taught us is “sexy” and reclaim a more holistic and realistic ideal of sex. I want to return it to its proper place in my mind, undoing years of being formed in the image of our pornified culture, and embracing a view which is sustainable, healthy and quite frankly, un-sexy.

So are you with me about the purpose of sex? Are you ready to help reform our culture in favor of real sex rather than the plastic version we are bombarded with daily? It won’t be easy (or pretty) and will take a lot of rewiring our brains to think according to reality rather than Insta-glamour. Let’s be people with eyes who can see truly and not be deceived by what media tells us is ‘sexy.’

This article about the purpose of sex originally appeared here.

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Ethan Renoe has published 7 books, been on 6 continents, done 5 one-armed pull-ups, and gone to 4 universities. He has not fallen in love, but he did fall out of a tree in front of a cute girl one time. Not only is he scuba certified, but he also knows how to dance. He is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and is currently attending Denver Seminary. Read him weekly at ethanrenoe.com.