About 5 years ago I was introduced to the world of Christian conversations about sex. I had just started working for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and I sat in a Bible study of 30-something, married women who were discussing the topic of Biblical sex lives. They described their frustrations and how to communicate those frustrations to their husbands, but they described the “positives” as well.
Being a single gal, I didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation, so I sat there with my hands neatly folded, saying little. Watching for their cues, I conjured up a look of concern or sympathy when the conversation seemed to warrant it, and I chimed in with a laugh when the group found something to be comical. I may have looked like I was tracking with them, but I really couldn’t relate at all.
At the end of the study, the leader turned to me and said, “Sorry about this, Sharon. This must be really awkward for you!” But rather than admit, “Yes, I just met all of you and frankly I don’t want to think about your sex lives!” I instead answered something like, “Oh no, I am learning a lot about this aspect of marriage.”
It was at that moment that I figured this is what it means to be an adult. The older you get, the more you will need to sit through your married friends’ conversations about sex without blushing or giggling. Sex is just a normal part of married life. No biggie. Better get used to it.
Interestingly, this approach to talking about sex is somewhat new to the Christian culture. Most of our parents did not talk about sex so casually. For some, sex was almost seen as a dirty little secret to be kept well hidden. And I think that is what our generation is largely reacting against. Not only was the secular culture unable to relate to our extremist approach, but we had actually debased sex by being so conservative about it. God gave us sex as a gift, but we treated it as if it was sinful and wrong. And that had to change.
So in response, Christians now talk very causally about their marital sex lives. They beam about how wonderful it is, and even go so far as to describe, in detail, the techniques they use to attain that goodness. All the while, I sit by and try to listen, to be supportive and rejoice with them in their happy sex lives, acting like the adult that I am who has adult friends who do adult things.
Well after 5 years of this, I am starting to wonder if we need to rethink our approach to discussing sex. On the one hand, it is a good thing that Christians can finally affirm their marital sex lives in a healthy way. God DID create sex, and it is beautiful, and He should be praised because of that.
BUT, is there a line? After all, sex is one of the most intimate acts between a husband and a wife, so do we make it less intimate if we talk about it incessantly? The way many of my married friends describe it, it sounds more and more like a carnal instinct engaged in to elicit pleasure, not an act of worship. In our desire to discuss sex in a more accessible way, have we compromised it on some fundamental level?
And in addition to that, there is also the issue of being single and guarding your thought life and your desires. Women are not always known for being tremendously visual creatures, but I have to admit that when a married person describes their sex life in any sort of detail, I have to fight off the visuals that ensue. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be a guy! What’s more, when you have your friends going on and on about how glorious sex is, it makes it a little bit harder to stave off your own desires, or to at least keep yourself from thinking about it.
All of this is not to say that we should go back to the old way of talking about sex. By no means! BUT, I wonder if we should return to a more reverent way of discussing it. I don’t mind talking to my married friends about it, but it’s one thing if I am counseling them or listening to them about how to love their husband better in that area of their marriage. It is a very different thing to hear all about their bedroom escapades. As a single person, I don’t need those images floating around in my brain.
Granted, I am not married so you married folks may have some insight to lend that I do not have, and I would be glad to hear it! But this is just one single person’s perspective. I not only want to guard my thought life, but I want to make sure we are guarding the act of sex as well. I’m not sure it’s enough to simply wait to have sex until you’re married–Jessica Simpson showed us that you can accomplish this feat and still have a complete misunderstanding of the sacredness of sex. That said, we should not only protect the holiness of sex with our actions, but with our conversations as well. Whether you are talking about it with a single friend, or even your married friends, I would hope that your words reflect the kind of sacred intimacy that we Christians profess it as having.
What do you think??