One of my favorite bloggers, Rachel Held Evans, is about to publish a book that I can’t wait to get my hands on called A Year of Biblical Womanhood. She recently noted that her Christian publisher has suggested that she take the word ‘vagina’ out of a section of her book. Before you form a really strong opinion about any of that, go ahead and read her blog post about this, then form your strong opinions. The reason that her publisher suggested she take out the word, was that they feared Christian bookstores wouldn’t want to carry the book.
So here’s what I’m deducing from this: Christian bookstores might not want to sell a book because it contains the word ‘vagina’… because the that word is offensive to many Christians… because many Christians are awkward about sexuality and sex. I hate broad generalizations as much as the rest of you, so, if you don’t fall into the “many” category, I apologize for the sweeping statement. Thanks for not being weird about sexuality and sex, we’ll get to you later.
So why do many Christians get all hot and bothered (and not in the good way) about the topic of sexuality and sex? Why would we balk at the word ‘vagina’ in a Christian book? Obviously it’s complex. Some of it is cultural, some of it is political, some of it is emotional, and some of it is just plain a misinterpretation of the Bible. Knowing that this is a complex issue, I’m a fool for tackling this, but I’m going to try anyway.
My couples small group through church just completed a marriage study. Thankfully, the topic of sex came up (hear, hear, for a comprehensive Christian marriage study), which sparked a really interesting discussion about how the Church teaches her young people about sex. We talked about how our churches and families had addressed sex growing up, and the general consensus amongst those of us raised in the church was this: We were taught that sex was bad before marriage, and that is all we were taught.
Church, we’re missing out. By Church, I’m referring to parents, children’s ministry leaders and volunteers, youth leaders and volunteers, pastors, small group leaders, and fellow Christ-followers. The Bible addresses way more about sexuality and sex than just abstinence until marriage.
So let’s start where I think most of us can agree:
1. God created man and woman (including sexual organs)
2. God is pro-sex (within the parameters God has established throughout the Bible). If you’re not sure on that, read Song of Solomon – Yes, what you are thinking is what was intended – it’s racey stuff.
God spent time and creativity developing each detail of our bodies and when He was finished, he said it was very good. Every part of our bodies is fearfully and wonderfully made. Church, are we celebrating the beauty of our bodies or making one another feel shameful about “certain parts” (ahem, like the dreaded v-word or p-word that Christian publishers edit out of books)?
God loves sex! He spent time dreaming it up and creating bodies in such a way to enjoy it. Church, are we sharing that sex is good and not bad (within God’s parameters)? Are we talking about how very much “on limits” it is post-marriage as much or more than we are talking about about it being “off limits” pre-marriage? Are we holding one another as accountable to having sex within marriage as we are holding one another accountable to not having sex outside of marriage? Are we challenging our married folks to value sex, cherish sex, and cultivate sex? (If you don’t have a clue how to do this, read Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman. It’s the most hopeful and celebratory view on sex within marriage I’ve read)
The big question I’m getting at is this: Church, are we willing to redeem our culture’s view on sex and sexuality?
It’s possible, but we have to get over our own awkwardness. And it’s critical that we do because here’s the reality: There are lots of folks sitting in our church pews every week who are having sex. Some of them attend your junior high youth group. Some of them are in your college ministry. Some of them are in your senior ministry. Some of them are married. Some of them are single. But trust you me, sex is happening amongst your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and we ought to be talking about it.
So for those of you who are the parents who are talking with their kids about their bodies, about their relationships, and about their sexual choices, thank you. Talk with your other parent friends about your successes and frustration. For those of you who are leaders and volunteers in children and youth ministry, continue or start having disucssions with the leadership of your church about how you can be a part of redeeming our culture’s view of sex. For those of you who lead marriage groups, foster discussions about sex; it’s important. For those of you who have married friends, ask them how there sex life is? Healthy marriages include good sex, it can’t be excluded in marriage accountability.
So, Church, let us adhere to the wise musings of Salt N Pepa and let’s talk about it. I’m not talking about being crude or vulgar, but let’s be less weird about sex. Let’s celebrate it! Let’s make sure our married folks are having it! Let’s encourage our single folks that sex within marriage is incredible!
What are your thoughts on this? Did you grow up in a home or church that talked about sex? How do you think the Church can redeem culture’s view on sex and sexuality?