As the Salt & Pepa song from my youth springs in my head, “Let’s Talk About Sex”, it is apparent to me it is talked about…. everywhere…. except the place it matters most. The church.
I heard a great rule of thumb in high school, where the Bible is silent… we need to be silent. Where it isn’t silent, under the same rule of thumb, we shouldn’t be. It’s not silent on sexuality… so why is the church? Are there questions regarding sex it may not definitively lay out? Sure. But are there line-in-the-sand answers in response to other questions? Absolutely.
But let’s make one thing clear:
Heterosexual sin breaks His heart just as much as homosexual sin.
Fornicating is fornicating. Lust is lust. Check yourself before judging someone else’s sin.
Do not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14. Pretty clear. But He takes it one step further.
Do not covet your neighbors wife. Exodus 20:17
Don’t lust. Jesus breaks it down more… Lust = Cheating (Matthew 5:27-28).
No fornicating. No sodomy. No sexual impurity or perversion. See Ephesians 5:2-4 and Galatians 5:19-23.
He knows your heart… that’s why He tells you to guard it (Proverbs 4:23). Consequences that can happen are on display, like murderous plots the soap operas steal from. There’s a reason sex is for marriage – in the safety of a covenant. He is not trying to punish us, by withholding sex, but show us what He truly designed it to look like.
Again, He doesn’t just give us a list of do not’s…. that’s how Adam & Eve ended up with that forbidden fruit. They wanted freedom & understanding. His word shows us a love between a man and his wife. A love where sex isn’t gross… or obligation… or a glorified idol. Where they can enjoy each others bodies, unashamed and naked… they can be vulnerable in serving each other.
He shows us love that covers… Even though the “teen mom” wasn’t carrying his child, Joseph covered Mary. When Ruth was obedient to a God (not her own), Boaz covered her. First, her physical needs… then, her reputation… then,finally, her future. Jesus also comes from a lineage that includes prostitutes, who had been redeemed regardless of their past.
Have you really thought about the extent to which He designed our bodies not just to reproduce…. but to enjoy sex? Not to enjoy bondage, but freedom. Not someone else’s version of freedom, though. True freedom in unity, in becoming one flesh through the intimacy of sex.
Mark & Grace Driscoll beautifully and honestly talk Real Marriage, in their book titled the same. If you want to know the answer to the question, “Can we ___________?”, then pick up their book. They candidly look at three factors:
Is it lawful?
Is it helpful?
Is it enslaving?
They also observe and dissect the viewpoints many of us have about sex… & whether the Bible supports our long-held beliefs or disbands them.
Similarly, a Relevant Magazine article posed the question: Is There Room for Erotica in Christianity?
Sadly, the author Arleen Spenceley, nailed it on the head in stating, “But the church says sign this pledge, wear this ring and save sex for marriage. Then the church mostly stops talking about sex. And when the church doesn’t talk about sex and a kid’s parents don’t talk about it, either, the only concept of sex he or she grows up with comes from what he or she has seen on TV or in movies.”
It wouldn’t surprise me if most of us found out most answers from anyone other than our pastors or our parents. But is that really a good idea? I mean, let’s look at the TV shows that are out there. How many show people fornicating? About 99% of shows! How many are having affairs? Maybe 85%.
Let’s take a look at one of the most female-loved shows, Sex and the City. Three of the characters have long-term love stories that initiate as one night stands. The main character meets her great love without a one night stand… but they do have an affair while they are both with other people. Then, in a rut in their own marriage, she cheats (Biblically, at least) on her husband with the very man she cheated on WITH her husband the first time around. Are these really the women we want to model relationships after?? *Disclaimer: I used to own every season on DVD, so I get the initial appeal…. but if that’s not the relationship I ultimately want, then FOR ME, I decided it wasn’t the kind of stuff I wanted to fill my head with.
How many TV shows depict sexual assault? Most the crime shows, but even other dramas have tackled the topic. Still, in light of the post-50 Shades-era, we may see more of it as a norm, and not something wrong.
On the flip side, how many have characters celebrating celibacy? Grey’s Anatomy had one cast member who was a virgin… until this past season. We see her choose sex, freak out that God hates her for it, choose sex again… and slowly unravel from there. But that’s the behind-the-scenes look into too many of us, even in the church, if we’re being honest.
And let’s not forget “reality” TV. The reality show craze started with dating shows, like Blind Date and The Bachelor, but were taken to a whole new level because of a sex tape. Now, we have Mama Drama – young girls and their mothers partying – and fighting – in Vegas. Two generations of Bad Girls Club, another show of the same nature. What about Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, where the season’s most controversial cast member, claimed to be “A woman of God… F*** you if you don’t believe me.”
Then there’s Take Me Out, a new dating show – which in it’s season finale, featured a bachelor who was a virgin. At the revelation, probably a dozen women opted out of a chance to date him. For that very reason. One girl’s famously used excuse, “I’m not buying a car without test driving it!”
Why does God give us a gift as great as sex & then hold it for ransom in the sanctity of marriage? Punishment of some sort? Is it just to help us avoid disease? To help us enjoy making babies & populating the earth? Does He do it with a desire to teach us how to be selfless: As we each submit & serve our partner, by design, we are therefore also equally satisfied ourselves. After all, He could have used a handshake… a wink… a lot of other things for procreation to happen if that’s all sex was for.
I remember being in college. I was at a picnic with some of my church family. Someone made a “Better Than Sex Cake” and most of the married women swooned over this cake. I pointed out to a couple of the women my concern, if you are more excited about a cake than sex…. what do I (or anyone else still single) have to look forward to in marriage?!! A joke was made regarding the fact they probably wouldn’t like the cake either, if they had it every day for 30 years. While this humorous exchange made me blush… it also did cause a lingering fear. Not that marriage is only so we can have sex, as believers… which unfortunately explains why some of us get married as quickly as we do. But even more so, it got me thinking, what would a life with someone be like if we looked forward to pastry more than each other???
Maybe we won’t fully grasp why He gave us sex. Why He designed our bodies to respond to the physical intimacy of another. But He did see that Adam alone in the garden, even though he was with God, was not good enough. He said it’s “not good that Man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).
Instead of using sex to self-satisfy, to objectify someone else, or to fill a void in your life… I hope you turn to Jesus. I hope you see that despite the evil that man chooses around us, God chooses good for us. Sex is proof of that.
When we don’t enjoy it… when we don’t want to talk about it… when we use it as a weapon over our spouse or someone we’re dating…. we essentially re-gift His gift to us to Satan. We let the world define it, exploit it and muddy it. Then we start the cycle all over again… wondering why God’s people are mute on a subject God cares so much about, leaving hurt people to find answers from everyone and everything but God’s word.
Closed mouths don’t get fed…. so start talking. Even if you don’t know what to say. Start somewhere.