If you’ve followed me here for any length of time, you have probably realized I have a bit of a bone to pick with the church in how Christians talk (or should I say don’t talk) about sex.
The world is full of sex. We were made through sex (scarring, I know). Our bodies were created with a capacity for and a tendency toward sex. Sex was God’s idea.
Yet, here sits the church either ignoring it or treating it like it’s the work of the devil- some unholy, necessary evil, required for the procreation of offspring and the maintenance of marraige.
I could honestly write a book about how purity has been misdefined, misapplied, and misunderstood over the years. I’m thinking I just might do that, but for today we’ll keep it short (well, shorter than a book).
Can Christians Talk About Sex? Yes.
In fact, Christians should be talking about sex. I am going to make a bold statement and say that we struggle as much as we do because Christians don’t talk about sex, or they treat it like the devil. “Purity” talks are rarely anything more than a list of rules- no dating til you’re 50, no shorts, no sleeveless shirts, no sitting in the same row as the boys, etc, etc, etc.
Then you have gems like this, given by a pastor’s wife from the 1800s:
To the sensitive young woman who has had the benefits of proper upbringing, the wedding day is, ironically, both the happiest and most terrifying day of her life. On the positive side, there is the wedding itself, on the negative side, there is the wedding night, during which the bride must “pay the piper,” so to speak, by facing for the first time the terrible experience of sex.
At this point, let me concede one shocking truth. some young women actually anticipate the wedding night ordeal with curiosity and pleasure! Beware such an attitude! One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: Give little, give seldom, and above all, give grudgingly.
No wonder virginity was the ‘in’ thing way back then. It wasn’t for religious reasons; it was out of sheer fear, dread, or even some twisted form of spite. Apparently, I have not had the benefits of a “proper” upbringing.
The ‘terrible experience of sex’? “Give grudgingly?” How did this woman stay married?! Moving on…
Why Should we Talk About Sex?
Sex is Part of Purity
To push for purity without discussing the realities of sex, is to fall short of the whole truth. We don’t keep girls away from boys because boys are sex-crazed monsters who would take advantage of any sign of weakness. In my opinion, the modern approach to purity in the church animalizes men and over-feminizes women.
We tell girls to stay away, to dress appropriately, to not sit near or talk to boys as if the Y chromosome was some contagious form of leprosy or pregnancy could be accomplished by a boy breathing on you. We act as if women don’t have sex drives, and that they must devote their lives to fulfilling Proverbs 31 whilst dressed in a lace frock with perfectly coifed hair.
And she shalt learn to knit and bake, and shalt knit and bake happily until a young man comes to court. Then, once betrothed, she shall… freak out and dread the upcoming wedding night like it’s absolutely the worst thing that will ever happen to her in her life. Her parents have finally given her over to one of them- the monsters- and she shalt be stuck in his bed the rest of her life.
Please. That’s not purity. I don’t even know what that is.
Talking About Sex is Part of Marriage
We hear it all the time: communication is such an important key to marriage. Secular sources and Christian ones alike also agree that sex is an important part of marriage. That being said, communicating about sex would be an important part of marriage.
How on earth can we expect a young man and young woman to get to their wedding and all of the sudden be comfortable talking about sex. We’ve made it this bad, taboo topic since they hit puberty, and now, they have to figure it out (on their own), and be able to discuss it (on their own) when their entire lives they’ve been told they can’t! That ring does not have magical conversation-starting power. If they are not comfortable with the reality of sex before marriage, they are not going to be comfortable with it after.
I’m not saying you need to discuss it in detail before marriage. That’s a recipe for disaster, but it is something that needs to be discussed because, it will be part of your marriage. Perhaps some of the best advice I’ve heard on this particular topic is to discuss expectations, not specifics. I’ll write more about this in a different post.
Talking About Sex is Part of Life
I don’t mean the locker-room style conversation. I mean just holy, God-honoring acknowledgment of the goodness of sex and/or the realities of sexual sin. We’re so embarrassed by something God made. We’re so afraid to address it that we alienate those who are looking for help. In the body of Christ, we have sex problems, and we need to be able to talk about those.
What about the couple where the husband has never had sex with his wife in their ten years of marriage because he hates her body?
What about the couple where the husband takes advantage of his wife every night because it is her “wifely duty?”
What about the single woman struggling with pornography?
What about the single man who hired a prostitute?
Those problems exist in our church, but we can’t talk about them without talking about sex.
Christians should be talking about sex. We should be lifting it up for the beautiful picture of God’s love that it is. We should be celebrating it and rescuing it from the grips of sin, not dunking it back under because we don’t feel like dealing with it.
It isn’t bad. It isn’t ‘terrible.’ Sexual desire should not be ‘shocking.’ It’s part of life, and part of life that we should be addressing and enjoying.