In Matthew 19, Jesus gives us the original design for romantic relationships. Christians worship the God who made all things – the universe and the earth we live and breathe on. All things he created were considered “good”. The only thing that was not called “good” was that the first created man was alone. God created a partner for him and thereby laid out his design for romantic relationships.
God’s design calls for is Heterosexual, Monogamous, and a Covenant of oneness consummated and regularly celebrated in the act of Sex, lasting for a Lifetime.
- Heterosexual: “[in] the beginning the Creator made them male and female."
- Monogamous: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother." What he’s getting at is that a married man must leave his family of origin, as well as everyone else, in pursuit of his wife.
- Covenantal: “… and be united to his wife.” This uniting creates a covenant relationship unlike any other relationship in a man or woman’s life.
- Sexual: “the two will become one flesh.” No only do married couples share a home, a bank account, and sometimes children, but they also share their own physical bodies with one another.
- For a Lifetime. “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Before reading too much further, be sure to read my first post in this series about Jesus on Sex. In that post I share several resources you can read for more information or personal growth.
This design contains sexual attraction.God created mankind, and in doing so he created all the hardware and equipment that comes with our body. Sex is a good thing, a gift from God, and a useful gift when it comes to creating intimacy and children. He made us with sexual attraction.
Everything God created is good… when used in the way it was designed. Adam’s fists were made for good when he clenched farming equipment; those same hands were used for evil when clenching the forbidden fruit. Likewise, our sexual attraction can be used to pursue our spouse and be loved in return, or it can be used to pursue the wrong person. Lust isn’t sin, as long as it is lust for the right person.
This design reveals what we truly desire: intimacy.All of us want to love and to be loved. Sex is enjoyable, but all of us want more than sex. We want true intimacy. As much as we like to talk about “no strings attached”, it’s the strings that make a sex meaningful, bonding, and long-lasting. As one sociologist puts it, “People assume that there are two very distinct elements in a relationship, one emotional and one sexual, and they pretend like there are clean lines between them.” We are wired in such a way that our physical and emotional faculties are intertwined. Therefore, having sex without becoming emotionally attached is impossible and harmful.
Dr. Leslie Fisher writes about three brain systems for romance, all of which build upon one another into a more mature relationship.
- Lust – “craving for sexual gratification"
- Romantic Love - "elation, heightened energy, mood swings, focused attention, obsessive thinking…, goal-oriented behaviors, and intense motivation to win" the person over.
- Attachment - "maintenance of proximity, affiliative gestures, and expressions of calm and contentment" when with the person. This last stage of romance is what our heart longs for.
This design includes singles.Right after Jesus lays out the original design for sex and romantic relationships, he speaks privately with his disciples about singleness. He states “there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” (Matthew 19:11-12)
What is a eunuch? It’s a man who does not have the male sex organs. Jesus says there are three kinds of eunuchs:
- “There are eunuchs who were born that way”, meaning a male who was born without sex organs at all or not fully developed.
- “and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others,” meaning the man was born male but an operation or accident occurred and he no longer has the male sex organ.
- “and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Some chose to live like they are eunuchs. Jesus of course was a single, celibate man. Others will follow this pattern because they have a vision of the kingdom of heaven.
You may be a single man or woman, whether never married or divorced, and you may be wondering if this is the life God has called you to live. Jesus never states that this needs to be a permanent calling – the God who calls you to singleness today may call you to pursuit marriage tomorrow. If you feel called to remain single for the sake of making disciples right now, begin making plans for how God can use your spare time, your spare money, and your flexible living and working situation to make the greatest impact on this earth.
“I followed this design, but I’m not sexually fulfilled…”In my next post I’ll be addressing those who have followed all the ‘rules’ for sex, yet they are not satisfied. Singles, marrieds, widow(er)s, and divorcees can suffer much disappointment in their sex life, especially when they are keeping with God’s design for romantic relationships. Next week I’ll share a bit of what Jesus says on this problem.
 Mark Driscoll, Porn-Again Christian: A Frank Discussion on Pornography and Masturbation (Seattle, WA: Mars Hill Church, 2009), 4.
 Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker, Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying (Oxford University Press, 2011), 151.
 Helen Fisher, “Broken Hearts; The Nature and Risks of Romantic Rejection” in Ann C. Crouter and Alan Booth, eds., Romance and Sex in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: Risks and Opportunities, 1 edition (Mahwah, N.J: Psychology Press, 2005), 3–28.