Would you curse a gift from God?
“Of course not!” I hear you say, “After all, every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).
Would you curse a gift that God has given your children?
Again I’m sure you would say no.
But the truth is, we often do.
Our bodies are gifts from God.
“Ah yes John, but sin has entered the world and brought sickness”
True, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the correct functioning of our bodies as designed by God. Specifically I’m talking about periods and nocturnal emissions.
How often do ladies complain about their periods and say to their daughters: “You’re so lucky you haven’t got them yet!”
That is cursing our daughters. We are giving them a fear of becoming women. We are also telling them that God has made something horrible. That God is not good.
How often do us men say nothing to our sons about nocturnal emissions. How often do we leave them confused and feeling ashamed of this natural function?
We are cursing our sons. We are letting them think bad of something good. We are letting shame infect their sexuality – which causing them to either embrace shame as an identity or to reject their sexuality as horrible. Neither is blessing God’s gift to them.
We need to celebrate our children becoming women and men. We need to help them embrace God’s calling (which includes their bodies) for their lives.
But how can we do this?
As I have mentioned before the first principle* is to affirm the goodness of our bodies.
For my daughters I would have a conversation something like this:
“Would you put a new baby in a cot with dirty old sheets?”
To which my daughters would reply “Of course not!”
“Absolutely. We always give a new baby fresh clean sheets. In the same way, every month your body changes the sheets of your womb to get ready for a new baby. It throws away the old ones which come out of your ‘gina (our abbreviation for vagina) as a period.”
In addition, I want to mark their first period as a special moment in their life. And so we talk about when they have their first period daddy will take them out to a restaurant of their choice to celebrate. We often talk about this and discuss where they might go and what they might choose to eat. It creates such an anticipation in them and last week I had the pleasure of talking the second of my daughters out for her meal. She had such a blast and I have never seen anyone eat quite so much.
For my sons I would have a conversation something like this:
“Suppose you’ve got a brand new phone with GPS tracking to use on a mountain climb. Would you check that it works before you start your journey or would you just turn up and try it on the day?”
To which my son would (hopefully) reply “I’d check it.”
“Absolutely, checking it works is a good strategy to ensure that we don’t have problems on the day. In the same way, God has designed your body to check that your willy works for when you are married. When you’re sleeping it tests it out by making sperm and shooting it out. This means that you’ll wake up with sticky stuff in your pants but it’s a sign that your body is working well.”
In addition, I want to mark what could be a source of shame as a special moment in their life on their journey to becoming a man. However, my eldest son who likes food says he’d much prefer to go to a skate park to celebrate. So be it.
But as Christians we can go further than just celebrating our bodies as good. For we are made in God’s image and so our bodies are also holy. And this was the second principle.
You see everything was made to glorify God and so that means that our bodies tell us something about the nature of our God. The aspect I want to focus on here is how our bodies reflect the redemption story.
Jesus death has brought cleansing for our sins. Specifically it is His blood that cleanses us for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb 9:22).
This is the first part of our new birth as Christians – we are forgiven and made holy so that we are a fit dwelling for the Holy Spirit.
This is the meaning of a woman’s period. The shedding of blood symbolises Christ’s blood being shed to bring forgiveness of our sins. In fact, the Hebrew word for female (nĕqebah H5347) comes from the root word meaning pierced (naqab H5344) and we know that Christ was pierced for our transgressions (Is 53:5).
Every month women are given a physical reminder of the cost of our redemption – which is easy to lose sight of in our sanitised world far removed from animal sacrifice or killing animals for food.
After the period is complete a Jewish woman would have their mikveh, a ritual bath as the rite of purification. This is our baptism by water symbolising our repentance and death to sin and our old way of life.
The second part of our new birth as Christians is that we are born again of the Spirit (Jn 3:3). Just like God breathed his breath = Spirit into Adam to give life to his mortal body, so too Christ’s Spirit is given to us to give us new life. We receive Christ’s imperishable seed† (1 Pet 1:23) we become Children of God (Jn 1:12-13; 1 Jn 3:1,9) and ultimately receive new imperishable bodies from that seed (1 Cor 15:38, 42,44).
This is the meaning of the man’s sperm. The Greek word Paul and Peter use for seed is sperma (G4690). The ejaculation is symbolising the new life that Christ gives us. And in the same way that children grow up in the image of their parents (Gen 5:3) by genetics and can’t do anything to change that, we grow up into the likeness of God through the fruit of this same spirit (Gal 5:22-23) – it is a fruit – a natural consequence of being his children. In fact, the Hebrew word for male (zakar H2145) comes from the root word meaning remember (zakar H2142). It can mean “to mark (so as to be recognised)” which would reflect the fact that the Spirit marks us out as Christians, but it can also mean “a call to remembrance” which isn’t just a mental ascent but a call to action – which is why it is used when referring to circumcision as well as man or God taking action when they remember something. This speaks of how faith without deeds is dead – we are called to live out our new life. We are called to like our true Heavenly Father‡.
In the same way that only together do male and female make up the complete image of God (Gen 1:27), only together do they symbolise the full story of our salvation.
Father, forgive us for the ways we have disparaged our bodies because we have lost sight of the true meaning. We renounce and break off any curse that we have put on our bodies or our children’s bodies. We bless our bodies in Jesus’ name and receive them as a good and holy gift from you. Help us to celebrate the gift of our bodies, let us cry out to you in praise for how they speak to us of the forgiveness and new life you offer us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
*Click here to be taken to the overview of how to teach your children godly sexuality.
†If you want to dive deeper into this aspect, I recommend Steve Bremner’s book “The Imperishable Seed of Christ: Understanding The Believer’s Spiritual DNA”
‡I am aware that there are many other nuances in these Hebrew words but I hope this gives a glimpse into the richness of the meaning of periods and sperm.