Why The Church Needs To Talk About Sex More

River wild
Photo Credit: Nathan Cahyadi, Richard Cause, Jamin Tasker, Dodge Pangburn & Renae Bartley

It’s easy to spark up a roast against culture about how sexualized America is. It’s effortless for us as Christians to condemn Hollywood for adding excessive and unnecessary sexual references and scenes in their movies. We can watch shows and judge our culture for how loosely it treats sexual relationships. We can listen to the Top 40’s and rant about how sexually explicit they are.

We are an instant-gratification-centered culture so it would make sense that we put so much value in the physical pleasure of sex. But I think we’ve given into the main idea culture has about sex; that it is primarily a physical act.  And I think this is why we are so uncomfortable talking about. We’ve given into the lie that sex is something dirty and raunchy and embarrassing. We’ve let our culture wander off and then followed them into the murk.

Because of this it’s become taboo to talk about sex, and when we do it’s usually about what we can’t do. This sends the message that we should separate our sexuality from everyday life, which is confusing because our sexuality is very much a part of our everyday life. But contrary to what culture thinks, sex is not primarily physical. God designed us as sexual creatures for a far greater purpose than ephemeral pleasure.

God is a connector. He created Adam to give him the love he shares in the trinity. And he saw that Adam wanted to share this with someone else too, he needed someone to enjoy this love of God with him. So God created Eve, not as an object to satisfy some physical desire in Adam but as a person to share in God’s love, to connect with. As C.S. Lewis says in The Four Loves, sex in its purest form doesn’t want the act itself, it “wants the beloved”. So this dynamic of sexuality, this draw between the sexes, was not centered on an act of pleasure. It was centered on people connecting. It’s about trust which leads to vulnerability which leads to deep connection.

One thing that’s beautiful about this is that sexuality is something we don’t have to hide from or be embarrassed by. I think some of us have been scarred by this “keep it secret, keep it safe” mentality of the church. We’ve been told so many do-not’s – “Don’t awaken love until it so desires”, don’t look at pornography, don’t have sex until your married, don’t lust – that are good in themselves, but what are the do’s? It’s not like a marriage ceremony transforms us into sexual creatures, so what do we do with our sexuality before then?

If we see sex as a culmination of desire than there isn’t much for us. But if instead we see it as a culmination of connection and vulnerability and trust, well then we can integrate our sexuality into every day. We can strive to be healthy people who can be trusted. We can become more comfortable being vulnerable with each other. We can build healthy relationships formed on selflessness and respect. Because that’s what we really need. The physicality of sex is only momentary. We need the steadfast love and security that comes from healthy relationships.

This is clearly laid out in scripture. A classic “do not” passage is Ephesians 5:1-12. It’s a big list of all the things we should stay away  from but it starts with what we should do:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Healthy sexuality is not asexuality. It’s being like Jesus. It’s practicing selfless love. It’s connecting with people in a healthy way.

And when you apply this to romantic relationships it seems like this would clear up a lot of confusion. Rather than viewing attraction as purely physical (which is what our culture has been screaming at us) we can view that girl or guy as a person with a heart where we can be vulnerable , a soul we can connect to and enjoy, and a mind we can build trust in.  It makes sense then to “Flee temptation” and wait to “awaken love until it so desires” because giving into these desires would actually be working against our sexuality. When we lust or get physical with someone solely because of desire, we’re not seeing them as a truly sexual person, a person to connect with, we’re seeing them as an object to get pleasure from. And this is sabotaging our deep and real need to be loved by someone. Really, genuinely loved.

One of the best reasons we should be more open to talking about sex is God built the Gospel in the foundation of it. Like we said, sex is all about vulnerability, trust, and connecting. It is one of the highest forms of intimacy. And that’s the kind of relationship God wants with us. He wants us to be able to come to him with all of our flaws and insecurities and feel safe and loved. He selflessly lowered himself to our level and died to show that he wants us, as individually valuable souls, not the things we can do for him. And that’s the purpose of sexuality, genuine love.

Sex isn’t dirty or raunchy or embarrassing. It’s holy, something set apart. We as a church need to hold that banner higher. Our culture isn’t a perverted middle aged man. It’s a child that didn’t know what to do with a very fragile and valuable gift. We’re the ones who can show them how to gently hold this gift because God’s showed us.

Let’s be more open when it comes to sex for our own sanity, the redemption of our culture, and the glory of our Creator.

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