In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be interesting to discuss this pervasive, yet oddly-avoided topic. Like the issue of sex-trafficking, the issue of sex itself is somehow both over-sensationalized and underestimated. Following are two prevalent perspectives, and some questions to consider… When I describe the messages of “Culture” and “Church”, I am, of course, exaggerating. But not much. I raise this subject because some of the teens we see trapped in pornography and/or prostitution are buying into one or both of these ideas: that sex is everything, and that sex is nothing.
Lie #1: Sex is everything.
Culture: Being sexual is foundational to being human. That is, we are sexual creatures, first and foremost. We have other incidental thoughts, feelings, and behaviors- but they don’t define us the way that sex does. To live without a variety and volume of sexual expression is to not live fully and meaningfully.
Church: Sex is the ultimate experience- the sacred gift- to be barricaded throughout youth, and opened in marriage. It is a divine gift (therefore requiring no further elaboration) and will no doubt prove mutually fulfilling and satisfying from your wedding night until death do you part.
Lie #2: Sex is nothing.
Culture: Sex is only physical. It’s like shaking hands. Only more fun. You can experiment sexually (online or in person) with no risks, no damage- to yourself or anyone else. Caveats: make sure your partner is 18+, get consent, use a condom. When you get married, you can “turn off” your desire for others.
Church: Sex is so unimportant that we are not going to bring it up. Except possibly to instill shame and fear. Just don’t think about it. When you get married, you can “turn on” your desire for your spouse.
Questions that emerge:
What if we are spiritual creatures at our essence? What if the compartmentalizing of physical, sexual, mental, emotional, and spiritual is not possible/sustainable? Ask anyone who has tried to maintain “something on the side” without effect.
What if sex- married or not- is not the defining ingredient of our shared humanity?
What if sex results in a deeper connection with another person- wanted or unwanted- in ways we can’t control?
What if singlehood is prolonged, or forever?
What if we live in a world that is saturated with pornified media and messages? An entire generation is absorbing all they know about sex from skewed images and videos.
What are my kids learning from my life about healthy intimacy?