I was talking to a gentleman a few days ago about what it means to follow Jesus when the topic of sex came up. During the course of the discussion I made a side comment about Jesus having an erection… oh wow, did that open up a whole other avenue of discourse!
But why? Why should we be so shocked with the idea that Jesus got aroused?
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus became “fully human in every way” (2:17) – meaning that he pooped, peed, throw up when sick, got the cold and flu, scraped his knees, had wet dreams, got tired, enjoyed a good meal and got a bit irritable at times. He also saw his fair share of pretty girls – including those of various stages of undress who were trying to sell him sex.
None of those things, however, are a sin in and off themselves. They are simply part of what it means to be a human living on planet earth. Getting aroused is a physical reaction to a visual or emotional simulate. There is nothing innately wrong about this response as it was something God build into us. It is what we do AFTERWARDS that matters.
Do we stop and dress the person in our mind? Do we treat that person as an object? Or do we bless that person as someone made in the image of the Creator? Do we hold captive the thoughts of our mind knowing that the Lord has put a fence around sex for our benefit and enjoyment?
Jesus – who is our example on how to live life – experienced all the struggles that we experience and overcame them all (Hebrews 4:15). By doing so, he has created a way for us to overcome the struggles and temptations of this crazy, messed up life. We are to join with him in his death and resurrection, being filed with his Spirit, grace, mercy and strength. As Jesus told St. Paul years ago, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
The early church father St. Gregory the Theologian (329-390 AD) says it this way:
“That which was not assumed is not healed; but that which is united to God is saved.”
If Jesus did not fully assume the human experience while also being fully Divine, then we could not be saved. Yet because Jesus experienced sexual arousement and overcame the desire to act upon it outside the boundaries given to us by the Creator – well, that means that I, Josh, can face the same battle with the knowledge that my King and Best Friend has already won the battle.
I can win because he won.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16