I have read a lot of blogs lately from women who grew up in the Conservative Evangelical culture. They express feelings of betrayal and point out some really destructive trends in the way sex was discussed and chastity was promoted. As someone who also came up in that culture, I can identify with their laments about how efforts to engage kids in talking about sex and abstinence actually produced false fantasies about what sex after marriage would be like (always wonderful, totally worth the wait, a real melding of souls). Combine youth meetings that said, “I know sex is the most awesome thing since sliced bread, but save that sex for marriage” with the sultry scenes of Christian romance novels that always ended right before they enjoyed their marital bliss and teenage hormones, and sex suddenly becomes an obsession.
The message was clear as well about what would happen if we crossed that line too early. Youth group activities like passing around a wrapped candy bar having everyone put it in their pocket, sit, stand, remove the candy bar and pass it on until you just knew it was mushy and melted and gross inside. Then the moral: if you have sex before marriage you will end up a mess that no one wants and frankly isn’t worth unwrapping before tossing in the trash.
Boils down to:
Save Yourself = Awesome Endless Marital Sex
Give It Up = Lose All Value & Chances of Future Marital Bliss
Future Marital Bliss and Awesome Endless Marital Sex= Everything Important In Adulthood
I cringe when I think of how much I bought into the party line, hurling it at others, and then falling into a deep depression when I fell short myself.
I have no trouble admitting that the message was devoid of Grace and full of incomplete truth. But here is where I diverge from the blogs I mentioned earlier. They recognized the problems with the way the message was presented and threw out the message with the method.
I still think sex is best kept in marriage. Here’s why.
For millennia, human culture around the world has recognized that sex is sacred and mystical. That holds true whether the culture had strict sexual morals or encouraged visiting the temple prostitutes to commune with the gods. Sex holds power and has been used to bond soldiers together before battle and as a weapon to destroy one’s enemy completely.
I don’t endorse those practices, but they all demonstrate a recognition that seems to be lacking in our current culture. In reaction to those who would lock sex away in a cabinet, western culture has sought to deny it’s power; turning grandma’s china into disposable Chinet.
Sex has power. And with great power comes great responsibility. (Cheesy, I know, but I needed to lighten the tone.)
Sex has the power to change your life. It can bond you to another person. It can create another human being. It can leave your body riddled with disease. It can kill you. So we should take it seriously.
But nowhere do I read in the New Testament that sex is the unforgivable sin. One of the most poignant conversations that we read in the Gospels is between Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the well. She doesn’t have a name, but is the first person to whom Jesus reveals his identity as Messiah. She was living with a man who wasn’t her husband after having had 5 previous husbands. Jesus looks her in the eye, knowing all of this, and asks her for a drink of water so that he could bring redemption and healing into her life.
There are some practical reasons why sex is better within a committed and loving marriage based on mutuality and trust (different post for a different day). Sex is something that must be learned. You have to spend time getting to know your body and your partner’s body. Not every man and woman enjoy the same things. Experience is not necessarily transferable. Who better to learn, make mistakes, laugh, and enjoy the process with than a person you love and trust? But you have to choose a spouse who cares about your satisfaction as well as their own, who will listen and fully participate, while not pressuring, belittling, or criticizing.
The earlier you become sexually active the more likely you are to develop cervical cancer, contract an STI, or experience unwanted pregnancy, mostly due to the fact that the younger a person is when they first have sex the less likely they are to use and understand contraception. With those results, added consequences of abortion, difficult pregnancies, absentee fathers, and long-term physical health complications abound. For more on trends and statistics, visit the Guttmacher Institute.
I know this is turning into a really long post, and pretty heavy compared to some of my other posts, but this is a topic that is important to me. I have children. One of whom is about to enter her teenage years. It is vital that I teach her about sex in a way that is full of both Grace and Truth.
I want her to see herself and others as more than just objects of lust. I want her to know the positive power of sex in a committed relationship. I want her to avoid STI’s and find sexual fulfillment. I want her to escape the mistakes of her parents, and the mistakes of her grandparents.
I want these things for her, not because I am afraid she will become spoiled and worthless for future marriage partners, or damn herself to hell by committing an unforgivable sin. I want her to live the most full and abundant life possible, and I believe that comes best by practicing abstinence before marriage and faithfulness within it if she gets married.
All of these things will be her choices to make. I will love and accept her no matter what paths she takes. But before she gets to those turning points, I will tell her about my past and encourage her to ask any questions she has. I want her to be prepared to make her own choices knowing the facts and pitfalls and possibilities that adulthood brings. This includes, but isn’t limited to sexual intimacy.
Pondering a better future for my kids, definitely ReFreshing.
**Don’t be a hater. It is fine to disagree, but if you are insulting/bullying, I will delete and ban you.