Many Christian leaders love to acknowledge, at least in words, that sex is a good thing, created by God for mankind’s benefit. Yet the reality is is that if sexuality was bluntly discussed in full honesty, most Christians would check their thoughts so scrupulously just to be sure it turned out to be a “biblical” or “pure” conversation. What they mean is that we need to be careful of how we address sex, lest the chat lead someone to fantasize about someone’s body all day with drool running down their chin. That would be lust. That would be sinful.
But please allow me the liberty to be frank with you: I’m going to talk about sex in this blog without shame and with full conviction that God would have us know the truth about it and not another misplaced moral drama of how we need to be on guard for sexual sin. I hope to be able to convince you that such a position actually makes it harder for the Christian to identify as a sexual being, especially in the case of single Christian men.
Where to begin? Well, we all know what sex technically is, where two lovers get down and dirty with each other. Why? Because they each have desires, the longing to feel sexual release as well as emotional bonding. Sex brings physical and emotional pleasure to both individuals in a relationship. It is only when we enter our teenage years that we discover our new found yearnings and wonder why we want what we want.
This is when all the preaching begins. The exhortation is to treat your desires according to God’s will. And what is God’s will?
The youth pastor stands in front of the congregation, wearing a pink T-shirt that says “Jesus is Word!” He smiles with clean white teeth and says “You guys know what God thinks of sex? I’ll tell you. He thinks it’s good. It’s a good thing. Amen? But I’ll tell you, God placed sex in a special compartment: marriage. If we experience sex outside of marriage, we’re missing out on all the fun sex can be! Imagine! Would you rather have fleeting sex with someone you don’t even know, or with the partner that God has placed in your life?”
The conversation ends as awkwardly as it began.
You see, we are taught that sex can only be righteous in marriage. If an unmarried couple shows affection to one another, they have sinned against God and will suffer consequences, now or later.
We don’t know exactly what these consequences are, but I’m sure there must be something.
Saving sex for marriage becomes the moral mantra of the hour. If it is true that sex before marriage is sinful, then what about sexual desire altogether? What happens when single men and women discover their desires only to be told that what they essentially feel has to be evil since they aren’t married? This idea centers on the fact that Jesus warned us about lust: “Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her in his heart.” Why don’t we think for a minute. If He was speaking to married men in this context, about how loving someone isn’t only about having a sausage stand but actually being devoted to that one special person, then His argument is completely valid and rational. What good can come from cheating on someone who has really been good to you anyway? But no. For some reason or another, single people soon become the target of this verse. Since it is true that single people can commit adultery (at least in the case of a single man with a married woman or vice versa), then we must oddly conclude that to desire bodies at all is sinful as a step forward in our “logic.” In other words, in the view of these pious pastors, if a person even remotely acknowledges sexual desire outside of marriage, then they are probably riding the lust band wagon and need to repent, even though these same exact people preach that God created sexual desire and it is “good.” Since sin is not only a matter of how we treat others but a matter of the heart as well, then we sin when we fantasize about that gorgeous butt.
It is a strange thing indeed that these desires can only be viewed as legal in marriage. May I ask what marriage is? Most of us picture the legal procession that takes place in your local neighborhood church near you. And that’s it. When asked what marriage really means, few would think of it in those terms.
Marriage is simply when two people want to love each other as deeply as possible. That’s it. It has never had anything to do with a legal contract. I honestly believe that that is what has stripped marriage of its meaning. Why does every good thing have to have some legality behind it, especially when that legality doesn’t serve to make it any better? We become obsessed with marriage’s righteous standard that we never emphasize its true beauty. We go a step further by making sexuality a complete taboo in our hearts. As a result, no Christian will ever appreciate sex and marriage as it ought to be. They will hide from their feelings until they are married and even in marriage there will be safe guards against such things as pornography and masturbation. There seem to be so many ways of sinning sexually that the idea of enjoying sex isn’t worth it in the long run. It’s better to be single all your life. Sex is just too dangerous.
Married men and women will be able to relax, but single people will inevitably suffer the pangs of conscience every time sex lingers in their minds. Sex was meant to linger in their minds! An important question must be asked: if “lust” as Jesus defined it is essentially the same thing as sexual desire, how can the single Christian ever think it good to be sexual? They are trapped, with nothing to help them but vague books about “purity.” And all the while, their feelings will not disappear. Every time they cave in and masturbate, fantasize, view porn, or even admit or confess what they want, they have sinned. For men there is a particular obstacle. Because feminism has caused a breach between men’s communication with women, men have more reasons to feel guilty about their desires than ever before. I once viewed a ridiculous video on Facebook about how a Christian man is begging his girl college mates not to dress too revealing and how that was a threat to his purity. This is what happens when we believe what liberals and conservatives preach about sex: men become afraid and defeated around women, and therefore will fail to give women the love they need. Male youth pastors love to talk about a man’s responsibility in marriage. It makes them chivalrous boy scouts.
Paul seems to give a much better solution to single people. In a letter to the Corinthians (I believe), he says it is better to marry than to burn. If someone is sexually overwhelmed, it would be good for them to take a partner, one who is willing to help them with those needs. But must they go through a boring ceremony to do so? Can the person not find someone they love and simply make love to them? They can admit that they are sexual at last without shame. And they can seek to deal with it appropriately.
There is a lot more I think I could have said in this blog. I feel as if my thoughts haven’t been elaborate enough. This is indeed a deep issue. Suffice it to say that I think Christians need to stop stressing sexual purity because it creates a subconscious backlash against actually being grateful that one is a sexual being, created by God to glorify Him. You shouldn’t have to go through all the morally correct drudgery of “marriage” to feel pure in God’s sight. True purity comes from hope in Christ. Love is the result, binding two people together in wonderful harmony. May it never be condemned. And if single people can’t help their desires sometimes, it’s OK; they shouldn’t have to go to secret clubs where men share their “personal struggles with purity.” Those sessions will make the matter more hopeless. It will be all about “not doing this” and “doing that.” That is not enough. It will never be enough. Be grateful that you are a sexual being. It is one of God’s greatest gifts.