The Church and Sex
We’ve been handed a problem and we’ve been unknowingly contributing to it.
For far too long the church has been precluded from the cultural narratives of sexuality. Many historians studying the history of sex accredit religion with having a damaging effect on it. “According to Reay Tannahill's book, ‘Sex in History,’ the years between 400 AD and 1000 AD saw Christian morality gain a grip on Western thought ‘so paralyzing that it is only now beginning to relax.’"
Our near-fatal mistake has been that our only message on the topic is, “No! Don’t be led by evil desires.” As pornography, casual sex, and the introduction of media began to shape culture, we were shaped by fear and lack of understanding. We lived terrified as the world around us indulged, and in fear, felt the pressing need to control people's actions. The church didn’t know what to say in regards to sex so it simply said, “Don’t.” Now we are facing the consequences of our fear-based response. It’s like the parent who doesn’t talk about sex with their child till they are 14+. If the kid found porn at 8, anything the parent teaches that contradicts what they have seen will be considered a lie. When we say, “Sex is more connected, intimate and powerful when it's experienced with only one life partner inside of marriage.” - We are scoffed at as ignorant, out of touch, and uneducated.
We have only ourselves to blame. We removed ourselves from the conversation years ago by not allowing it to be a conversation in church. This has been the tension for hundreds of years: Can we be holy and sensual?
Our families and churches must recapture this conversation in our homes, small groups, and yes - even our pulpits. When everyone on the planet is talking about sex and the church seems to have nothing to say besides, “no”, our silence becomes defining. At a table of intelligent people who are aware of current events, you can often notice quickly the one at the table with little knowledge on the topic. They rarely speak and when they do their statement is poorly timed and almost irrelevant, exposing how little they really know about the subject. In regards to sexuality, the church must become the most educated... not the least. The creator of the universe, our God, did create it after all. Who better to teach it than us?
As pastors and leaders, it is imperative that we begin to re-engage in learning what we can so we are able to provide real answers and solutions to the people we lead. As leaders, here are some practical things we can do to regain our footing.
1. Be Vulnerable…publicly as well as privately.
This generation wants to be able to relate to our humanity - not our perfection. On one hand, hearing the story of a leader who has done it right is inspiring proof that it is possible. On the other hand, people want to know the struggle that it took for their leader to win. Most people perceive themselves as broken, so when we share our pain it draws them more than perceived perfection. Give the people you lead access to your heart, be open, raw and vulnerable. Share some of the things you have overcome. The depth of your vulnerability will determine the completeness of your church’s wholeness.
2. Celebrate sex & have good sex!
We must restore the truth that ‘sex is from God’. We have to dismantle the idea that religion and sex are mortal enemies. Consider the messages that our children are receiving - media portrays sex before marriage as fun, erotic, exciting and casual. In opposition, the narrative for marriages is that sex is rare and a burden. When Christian couples do talk about it, they discuss how they aren’t having it and the strain it is creating on the marriage. What kind of vision casting is this for our children? We must be willing to talk about how great sex is when experienced the way God designed it. Perhaps you as the leader have the first step though - work on creating a good sex life with your spouse.
3. Start early and stay late
We must break out of the mindset that the ‘sex talk’ is just for middle and high school students. The average age of pornography introduction is 8-11 years old. If we continue to wait until they are in high school, we will continue to be years late to the conversation. Let’s do away with the idea of “The Talk”. This creates too much pressure to get it right in one moment and is most often defined by the feeling of anxiety rather than bringing clarity. Instead, we need to create comfortability in our homes so that our kids can ask any question at any time. In addition, our marriages have never needed this conversation more. Many marriage conferences lack the depth on this topic that our culture is starving for. An article by www.verwillmind.com reports that 50% of couples are dissatisfied with their sex life. It is my personal belief that our current divorce rates are directly tied to poor love-making within marriage. Let’s help our marriages have great sex!
To lead and pastor well we must lead in all areas. Our message must be - truth, and our tone - love. When we celebrate what God created, we honor His creative ability. When we demonize what He designed, we give permission for others to define it. Let’s speak the truth, celebrate sex and empower our families to create healthy homes.
1. (The): https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/culture-of-love/a-brief-cultural-history-of-sex-938527.html