Here’s a funny thing folks. Because I talk about sex, some take the opportunity to use that to pour abuse on me and my family. That’s OK – in fact, it’s been a remarkable insight for me that those who like to think that they are at the vanguard in the church of sexual liberation are the same people who constantly use vulgar language in their discourse and seem incapable of actually having a serious conversation about the subject.
Of course, I’m on record as thinking that sex is vitally important in our Christian theology because it is one of the chief Christological signifiers that we have. Sex isn’t just about me and my spouse, it’s about me and God. The most intimate act that humans can engage in is itself a sign of true intimacy with the Godhead.
And yet we simply don’t want to talk about it. Read this great piece from Relevant magazine.
Sex. Everyone wants to talk about it, yet no one speaks up. At least not without a wink or two and a few elbow nudges.
At a recent youth group function where I co-lead, my team member (who is married) and I (who am not), opened ourselves up to questions from the teens. We watched a video about the spiritual nature of sex and tried to host a discussion. â€œAsk us anything,â€ we said, steeling ourselves for the very, very worst.
Crickets. Total silence. The horniest age group on the planet had nothing to say, nothing to ask.
So why are people afraid to talk about sex? I mean really discuss the meaning of it? Pastors address it once every few years, but always in lofty language. Teenagers joke about it. The elderly often shush discussion of it. I suspect the silence on the subject stems from the fact that sex is deeply personal and discussing it is a little like the act itselfâ€”it lets people inside.
More than touching between two people, sex is a physical manifestation of an emotional eventâ€”entering into the inner recesses of anotherâ€™s soul and accepting the enter-er into yours. In cases of abuse, sex feels violating for exactly this reason. Itâ€™s an emotional invasion expressed through physical contact.
Sex within marriage offers a mutual, respectful sharing that symbolizes loveâ€”an invitation and an acceptance to permanently participate in each otherâ€™s whole personhood. It plays a key role in Godâ€™s plan for married unity. Sex outside marriage results in eventual pain because that â€œinvitationâ€ will ultimately be returned to sender. The acceptance note receives a â€œdeclineâ€ in response. A blended soul rips apart, back into two pieces.
Discussing sex puts us in a vulnerable position, as well. Revealing our deepest thoughts about humankindâ€™s arguably deepest act opens our souls to others in a unique and personal way. And vulnerability is frightening. It creates an opportunity for others to hurt us.
This is why God intended sex for the safety of marriage and discussions of sex for the safety of close community.
Perhaps the teens in my youth group felt insecure in a large group setting. Perhaps we caught them off-guard. Iâ€™m convinced they have thoughts about sex. (If I do, they must!) But they didnâ€™t feel they could vocalize those thoughts.
Could this be the key to the Churchâ€™s struggle to discuss sex with believers?
To have meaningful conversation about a personal subject, believers need personal connections where it is safe to be honest. Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous build upon such a rapport so that participants can share openly and fully with each other. Close group connections conceive a bond of trust that ends in results: alcoholics stay on the wagon, porn addicts turn off the computer, battered women leave abusive relationships. Within a group lies conviction and empowerment.
For that reason, the young Church met frequently to grow, bond and share in their new faith. The book of Acts portrays small groups as central and foundational to the growth of Christians. And, to an extent, Christians have embraced this concept. We meet for Bible study, for prayer, for the ever-popular potluck. But too often we are silent about sex. Are we really content to let generations grow up with a tagline? â€œSex can wait,” â€œMeant for marriageâ€ or my favorite, â€œIt donâ€™t mean a thing if you ainâ€™t got the ring.â€
The rest of the world is talking about sex. Loudly. But not clearly. If others are to understand Godâ€™s design for sex, Jesus followers have to talk about it. The repercussions of not sharing are frightening and long-reachingâ€”life-altering STDs, pregnancies, emotional scars, baggage beyond belief. Maybe a sermon series from the podium isnâ€™t the whole answer. Pamphlets left on Welcome Centers canâ€™t do it alone. Youth commitment ceremonies need backup.
The Church canâ€™t afford to be silent on this subject. Without close, small group interaction when discussing Godâ€™s plan for sex, a crowd of horny individuals will quickly become a crowd of hurting ones.
Now if there’s one thing I don’t mind doing, it’s having the kind of conversations that are talked about here. As I’ve discovered in my life that sex in the right environment is not only worth waiting for but also about waiting to give God his worth, so we need to provide the safe space for others to talk and share about their experiences.
And of course this is the reason that Bishop Michael Penham, like James Jones before him is wrong to say lets just ignore issues of sexual behaviour in the church and agree to disagree. The point is this, that those very essentials of the faith that Bishop Michael says are important, who Christ is, how he saves us, the work of the Spirit, they are all so initimately tied up with and signified in the act of sex that that makes sexual activity a clear first order issue. To relegate Christian’s sex lives to the lower echelons of debate is to disregard the clear indications in Scripture that what we do with our bodies is so much more then just about us.
I agree with Salt N Pepa. Let’s talk about it.