Monday, March 8, 2010

Sex !!! Now that I have your attention. . .

Recently the topic of many of my conversations has been about sex, from discussions with friends to my brother texting me to complain about how the subject was handled on Christian radio. It seems there are a whole lot of people out there trying to formulate a Christian perspective on the topic, and a whole lot of them are confused. Sex is one of those topics many good Christians shy away from, treating it as if it were the toxic by-product of our existence. Somewhere along the line many of us seem to have forgotten that God created sex, and what’s more He even created the means to have sex.

What I find both amusing and frustrating (depending on my mood) when discussing sex with a fellow Christian is that we often make the “don’t”s the center of our conversation. Don’t do that. Don’t do this. And by no means should you ever even think of that. I’ll let you fill in the blanks, whatever you can think of, it has probably made the list. The reason this is so frustrating is that when our vision becomes this myopic we tend to forget what we should really be talking about – personhood.

My sexuality is part of who I am as a person. There is no divorcing my intellectual skill, emotions, or world view from the fact that I am a woman. It is part of how I was created. It is hardwired into every bit of my DNA, and there is no escaping or denying the defining elements of my sexuality. The same holds true for each of us. Just listen to the descriptions we give of each other, “She was a blond.” “The man in the red shirt.” “The boy with the ball.” “The girl in pink.” Each one betrays our sexuality, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is simply an acknowledgment of how God created us.

So why are we so embarrassed by the topic? Since when did sex become a four letter word, and when did shame enter into the equation? (Yeah, I know the whole Garden and Snake thing, but could we be giving that old serpent just a little too much control over our live?) Don’t get me wrong, sex is an intensely private and intimate act, but when we focus on the act instead upon the person we forget the most important aspect of the conversation.

It is no coincidence that God chose to use the metaphor of marriage to describe His relationship with His people, and no, it was not some gross oversight that allowed Song of Songs to be included in His Bible. It is our sexuality as a part of who we are as person that sets the tone for how we have relationship. It is our biology that allows us to physically take part in intimacy. God figured this one out all by Himself, and He is bold in His speech about His desire to be intimate with His people.

I have this crazy theory wherein I believe that knowing God as a person leads to healthy perspectives and choices regarding sex. Sure some of us need some guidance on what is and is not appropriate, and we need it put in concrete forms, but what if a person was able to see themselves the way God sees them? What if young women were able to realize that God made them beautiful for a purpose and presented their beauty in manner that showed pride and reverence for the one who made them? Do you really think we would have to measure the length of skirts at summer camp? What if young men understood that God has empowered them to protect and revere the beauty that God placed in young women? Do you think they just might want to be the men God created them to be?

Okay, sure, not everyone is going to get the concept, but what about those of who do? Shouldn’t we be teaching the ones who look to us for guidance to deepen their relationship with God and not just harp on how they are going to get it wrong? Should those in leadership be reaffirming the value of who our brothers and sisters are, and God’s desire to have relationship with them? Maybe if we stopped talking about sex in a way that brings shame for how we were made these young people (and some of us older ones, too) could realize that their sexuality has value. Because it is the things of value that we fight to defend, that we only share with those who are able to appreciate its value.

I have to wonder if our culture’s casual approach to sex stems less from ignorance of what is right and wrong, and more from the degrading manner in which we present it. And make no mistake, we as Christians degrade sex every time we present it as something shameful. We degrade ourselves when we approach our sexuality as a source of shame. In this we contradict God by declaring that His creation is no longer good and placing our judgment above His, and act that causes me to tremble in fear of our arrogance.

You see, a lot of people have figured it out, even if they lack the words to articulate it. If my sexuality is bad then I as a person am bad. People often live up to our expectations of them, and our culture is doing precisely that. Maybe it is time we stopped striving so hard to teach everyone the rules and work a little harder at reminding that God values their sexuality. He created it for a purpose, and He delights in who we are as His creation. He loves us enough to seek relationship with all aspects of who are as a person, and He is not scared of physicality. Maybe then we could empower people to reclaim the value of all of their personhood, and show them beauty of a relationship that redeems the whole of who we are.

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