Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sex is Not a Cuss Word, Christians

Sex can be a scary thing. …I’m not talking about the act of sex, because as a celibate, I wouldn’t know. But the pervasion of sex in our culture can feel a bit horrific. TV shows and ads, movies, music, politics, comedy, academics… You name it. Christians hurdle through a dodge ball game of sexuality on a daily basis. But there’s one time and place where we’re not likely to hear anything about it: Sundays at church. Cue sighs of relief. At church we can pretend like the world has rewound itself to the Victorian period. No sketchiness, no need to comprehensively examine the carpet fibers because we weren’t put in charge of the remote, just an asexual wonderland.

The church definitely needs to be oil rather than a sponge amidst the waves of our sex-saturated society. And there are certainly a lot of forces that would like to emulsify that barrier. It’s not wrong to yearn for wholeness. It’s not idiotic for parents to desire innocence for their children until the kids reach appropriate emotional maturation. But if Christians want to be salt and light to the world around them, we must have answers for every issue. We need to know how to deal with all kinds of brokenness and how to respond with grace.

Though the church may prefer to stay silent on the topic, we have been thrashed by the ubiquitous status of sexuality among our peers, at school and work, and every form of media. For some of us, we may feel a disconnect between our sexuality and faith. Many Christians have embraced alternative sexual perspectives that either compartmentalizes these seemingly opposing desires, or we come up with our own theology of sex that disregards the precedence of scripture. The new television show GCB portrays legalistic Christians who have very messed up views on practical theology, namely their sexuality. As ridiculous as the show certainly is, I wouldn’t be surprised if a multitude of Western Christians resonate with the experiences of this series. For many, like the characters of GCB, church and God establish a cultural identity, particularly where I live in the south. But a huge disintegration of belief and practice runs rampant when we don’t care to listen to God or be transformed by His Word.

I certainly have no desire to be judgmental and unloving towards anyone, but we who self-identify as Christian should be fully aware of biblical sexual ethics and do our best to live up to them with God’s help. There is abundant grace for transgressors, but also a call to abandon the sin we crave that rivals the richer pleasures of our loving Father.

I love to talk about sex. It’s my favorite subject in psychology and one of the areas I would love to specialize in as a psychologist. Considering how conservative I am, weird is likely an understatement. But the subject of sexuality doesn’t scare me. Sexuality means a lot of things to different people; it’s far more than the sacred act of intercourse in marriage or the broken behaviors outside of marriage. Sexuality affects culture and the church, and Christians must be willing to engage the subject gracefully. God called us to change the world, not to be Victorian prudes. Scripture makes it clear we are more than our sexuality, as I pointed out in my last blog posting. We shouldn’t be defined by sex. But we are sexual beings nonetheless, in need of intimacy and community. We must find the appropriate balance in our churches to answer the important questions. And I assure you, the questions are there. If we as the church refuse to proclaim and constructively dialogue God’s theology of sex, secular culture will provide its own answers. It does not share the church’s fear or feelings of discomfort on the topic. So let’s talk.

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