by Noel Bouché
The axiom “united we stand, divided we fall” applies to virtually all human relationships; it is true militarily and politically, socially and spiritually, in government, family, and marriage.
In surprising ways, it also applies to sex—and the secrets we keep.
God’s story of sex begins on page one of the Bible, where humanity is created “male and female.” This identity—a male or female person—is the starting point for understanding the meaning of sex; indeed, it is the fundamental aspect of the very concept of sex.
The term sex in English is derived from a Latin root meaning “to divide”; in this case, implying the division of humanity into two distinct types of beings: male and female beings. Our sex is either male and female, rooted unchangeably at the chromosomal level. That sexual identity, created purposefully from the outset, allows for sexual activity, which is the stewardship of the thoughts, words, actions, and even neurochemical reactions that flow from that sexual identity.
That activity also is revealed right at the opening of the Bible—the coming together of a male and female sexual being in physical intimacy. The two that were separated, who were divided and different, become one—now united in pleasure and life-giving unity.
It is a picture of the pleasure, the life, the oneness intended between the Creator and the created.
But there is another division possible in life—one that leads not to a diverse unity, but to a singular isolation: secrecy.
From the same Latin root word from which we get sex, we also derive the word secret, but it is a dividing of an entirely different kind. Instead of a division designed toward uniting, it is a division toward hiding. A dividing of integrity, a dividing of heart and mind that keeps part of one’s existence from others, from the light, from forgiveness and healing.
It is a dividing of the person, from persons. That is the power of the secret in our lives—and it is a power that can control us and keep us from authentic, open, fulfilling union with others. Thankfully, it is a power that can be broken.
When we make the choice to share our secrets, to open up our inner world to others, that act of confessing undoes the power of the dividing secret and opens up pathways to connection, courage, and community that bind up our brokenness and lead us toward intimacy with God and others.
And that is how we are divided toward unity.
Read the next post for more on how sex is a “divide” intent on union.