There’s a lot of talk here at XXXchurch about the lustful and sinful aspect of our sexuality, and for good reason. Sex is a powerful force; if not treated with respect, it can cause tremendous harm both for one’s self and for those around you.
However, there’s a very important flip side to the discussion of sex and if we only focus on the negative, sinful aspects of sex, we run the danger of demonizing sex altogether.
Speaking for myself, I received a lot of really conservative teaching around sex during my adolescence. I was taught that sex outside of marriage was sin. I was also taught that (based on Matthew 5:27-30) it was a sin even to have sexual thoughts and desires.
At the time, I was “on fire for Christ,” and so I took up these teachings with gusto. Being a clueless, geeky, pimply teenager, the sex-outside-of-marriage bit was easy to follow – not a whole lot of opportunities (or any, really) made that commandment a slam dunk – but the second bit about not having sexual thoughts or feelings? That became a daily (if not hourly) struggle. I did my best to suppress sexual arousal, trying all sorts of strategies and tactics to keep my sexual thoughts under control, both alone and with the help of mentors and accountability groups. I took this struggle to control my sexual thoughts and feelings well into my twenties and it wasn’t until my late thirties that I learned how much damage I had done to my sexual self.
And I’m not alone. Sex and the Soul by Donna Freitas and See Me Naked by Amy Frykholm both talk about the tremendous damage that sexuality-denying teachings (aka the purity movement) are wreaking on the lives of countless Christians, both single and married.
The dehumanizing aspect of sexual lust is a sin but at the same time, teaching people that all sexual thoughts and urges are wrong is also sinful. Let me say that again. It is a sin to teach people that their sexual desires are wrong because God created us as sexual beings. Our sexuality – and the desires that come along with it – is a beautiful gift from God and to deny or disparage that gift moves us away from God’s plan/design for us and that is sin.
Here’s the thing. The power and damage that sex can unleash in people’s lives are great, but at the same time, the joy and healing that sex can bring are even greater. And let me be clear: I’m not just talking to married folk here. A proper understanding of our God-gifted sexuality can be just as healing for singles as for married couples.
My point is that while it’s good to have a site like this that focuses on controlling the harm that a broken view of sexuality can cause, if we don’t simultaneously talk about what a healthy, God-honoring sexuality looks like, we can cause just as much damage.
So what does that look like?