Warning: Yeah, more sex stuff. Seriously, it’s fun to talk about. Try it some time.
Question of the day: Why are we often so willing to admit our rebellious teenage behavior, but we can’t talk openly about sex with our closest friends?
If your friendships look like the ones on TV and you get right down to it talking and supporting each other when it comes to intimate relationships, more power to you. But most of the people I know don’t do that, especially Christians.
When I was young, I was the worst combination of extremely uptight and very strong-willed. So I rebelled against my parents by becoming more conservative than they were and by “getting religion.” I bought into a rather severe view of purity which led me to believe that virtually nothing was acceptable. I only had a handful of rather hushed, giggly conversations with several other girls who shared that mentality.
I remember vividly the first Christian I ever met who was open about sexuality. We were talking about wanting to be in relationships, and she spoke candidly about experiencing arousal—and how she . . . *ahem*. . . addressed it. She asked me if I knew what she meant. My mind went, “OMG . . . OMG . . . she didn’t really just say what I think she did. Did she? Crap, she did. What do I tell her???” I’m sure that I mumbled something intelligent like, “Squeak!” and nodded, just to move the conversation on to safer topics.
See, I had the impression that being turned on was bad, bad, bad unless you were with your husband. If you were feeling aroused, you were supposed to try thinking of something really unsexy, like school cafeteria pb&j sandwiches. (But not the fiestada; because fiestada is damn sexy.) The very notion of having any sexual feelings was inextricably linked to feelings of guilt, because it was a clear sign that one was “lusting.”
I have no idea if that was the intent of the people at my church. But it was certainly the result.
We’re constantly told that “the world” (or whatever term is popular for non-Christian culture) is responsible for emphasizing sex. Sadly, we just don’t seem to get it that Christians share equal responsibility for elevating sex beyond where it needs to be. It’s reactive, rather than taking the initiative: Culture (movies, books, TV) encourage sexual immorality; the church pushes back with an emphatic no. But the harder we push back, the tighter we grip, the more likely we are to cause a cycle of rebellion, sin, guilt, and promises to stop. It’s a losing battle.
Not only that, the very people the church makes responsible for teaching sexual morality are often the same people who lack education about basic biology, feel embarrassed discussing sex, or are dealing with their own addictive sexual behaviors. (I’m not judging anyone; I’m just saying that if a person has not yet addressed his or her own trauma or addiction, it can be hard to move beyond it to instruct others.)
The struggle with ethical, moral sexuality doesn’t end when a person moves out of his or her parents’ home. We need to begin helping our Christian adults to be able to talk openly about sexuality with each other. The more we do that, the safer the church will be overall. We will end up with many adults who have healthy attitudes toward their bodies and sex, and therefore children and teens with healthy attitudes.
This is one place where we need each other. Too many people have too much guilt, shame, and fear piled on. Let’s end the cycle of hurt by being open with each other. Instead of another tired lecture about sinful sex, we could just encourage people to begin talking, to hear each other’s stories.
At least it’s a start.
And that’s a wrap on this series. Tomorrow brings my usual weekly highlights, and then I’m going on vacation. Weee! I’m not sure how much I will post while I’m away, but I’ll try to stay in touch. See you on the other side!