One of the greatest disservices the Christian church has perpetrated against its members is on the topic of sex.
Yes, some churches discuss it. But even then, it’s all too often handled in a strangely provocative way. The pastor struts around the stage talking about great vacation sex or birthday sex (once you’re married, of course). Because, you know, he’s the leader of the cool church and you attract more new people if you have a series on how to have better sex.
They might talk about how having more sex keeps your husband from cheating or how to love bomb your spouse into not divorcing you. You might even hear about the 10 ways to seduce-proof your marriage. All of this quasisexual talk still misses the mark… by a lot. And then you get the churches that are just the opposite; sex is not discussed at all. It’s plain ol’ taboo, so we pretend like nobody wants it, likes it, or is having it.
What’s generally understood is that the married folks should have a great sex life, and the unmarried folks should not have friends of the opposite sex. Protecting hearts is the idea, I suppose. What the church doesn’t often address is the Grand Canyon gap between “sexual purity” before marriage and lots of amazing, married, emotionally intimate sex.
The heart issues around sex don’t go from taboo to glue just because someone paid for a honeymoon suite. I see client after client who doesn’t know how to sexually connect with his or her spouse or how to open up emotionally. They want to, are desperate to, but they were deprived of the building blocks of intimacy long before the wedding night.
There are many issues at play here, but the issue of the church lies in the Gender Lens young people are taught to see others through. It’s really just another form of objectification. Both genders are taught to see the other as sexually dangerous.
Now, this is never spoken overtly. But the covert messages are clear. Young men and women are taught to see others first by their gender, then by their character. Boys and girls are placed in different groups, programs, and projects. Boys and girls are not taught to emotionally or relationally connect in healthy ways. Girls are taught to protect their hearts and wall off their longings. Boys are taught to shame their sexual desire and masculinity.
But who are we kidding? Men and women are different. I’m not trying to gender neutralize here. I still think men should kill the bugs, and I love that when I have a flat tire there are three men jumping out of a truck to change it before I can find the trunk release button. I adore the men in my life. I have the most amazing, safe, male friends. I love that they are protective and bold. They bring a perspective I don’t have. I love their strong hands and tender hearts.
What I’m trying to get at is this: when we are taught to see people as their genders before we are taught to see their souls, we create an environment where sexuality is separate from intimacy. This far too often leads to emotional disconnection and intimacy aversion.
Instead of promoting sexual and emotional anorexia and calling it purity, let’s teach balance and containment with vulnerability. Gender differences have the potential to bring amazing color to our lives when we allow them. The separation of church and sex does a tremendous disservice to both.