If aliens from outer space were to observe earth, they might get the impression that the world is obsessed with sex…and that Christians don’t even know it exists.
Why is sex such a difficult topic for so many Christians to talk about? I think there are several reasons, some better than others, all understandable, but none good enough to remain silent. Let’s start with why we don’t want to talk about it:
- Sex is personal. By God’s design, sex is meant to be shared between one husband and wife alone. Sex is a unique kind of intimacy that is exclusive, intimate, sacred, and hidden from others’ eyes. So, in this way, Christians’ silence about sex makes some sense.
- Few have modeled talking about sex well. For those willing or wanting to talk about sex, they have very few models to follow. Many parents, pastors, and other Christian leaders are needing to set out like pioneers into uncharted territory, for no other reason than their leaders did not forge a path for them.
- It can stir pain, shame, and desire. Many of us have personal stories of struggle, embarrassment, abuse, addiction, abortion, or infidelity, if not in our lives than in the lives of others close to home. If we don’t feel healthy in this area, discussing sexual issues with others can trigger feelings that leave us hurting, vulnerable, or tempted.
- It is contentious. Few topics are more personal and divisive today than issues related to sex and sexuality. Husbands and wives struggle to see eye to eye on their sexual relationship, churches are wrestling theologically with LGBT+ questions, LGBT+ friends and neighbors may pressure Christians to affirm their sexuality or be cut off, and other public voices are insisting that the traditional biblical understanding of gender has got to go. To speak up can feel like painting a target on your chest.
With all this in view, do Christians need to talk about sex? More to the point, do you need to talk about it?
I believe it is important that we all do.
For the exact same reasons I’ve listed above.
Sex is personal. Although God created sex to be a private matter, we live in a world where most all of us have been negatively impacted by sexual sin. And so to be able to steward sexuality rightly in your life, you’ll need the wisdom and kindness of someone who can support you. Whether married or single, in what ways do you struggle with sexual integrity? Who in your life are you having honest conversations about this with so that you can grow in sexual integrity and faithfulness? Who can you talk with about how you’re navigating physical desire in your life?
If you’re married, talking with your husband or wife about your sexual intimacy is a part of growing to love one another better. How are you each experiencing your sexual relationship? Where does it feel most like a loving embrace to you? Where do you feel least honored?
Few have modeled talking about it well. If we do not break this cycle, it will only continue. For the sake of our own generation and the next, we need to break the silence about sex that is rampant among Christians. The world around us brings broken and misguided ideas and images about sex into nearly every space, meanwhile people are starved to know their hearts and bodies mean more than that. Some healthy guidelines for how to talk well about sex include:
- Be honest but not graphic.
- Speak in ways that bring honor rather than dishonor to others.
- Speak of sex as an expression of faithful and fruitful love, rather than use, abuse, or recreation.
It can stir pain, shame, and desire. Sexual wounds and sexual addictions are simply too weighty to walk with alone. Silence may offer you a sense of security, but it will not heal you. You are worth too much to let others’ sins or your unwanted sexual behaviors continue to harm you and keep you from the relationships you want and need. As Goethe said, “If you want to be healed, you must expose your wound.”
It is contentious. Christopher West has said that if you want to know what is most sacred, look for that which is most fiercely opposed. Matters of sexuality are a hotbed of strife today for this reason. This is precisely why we need Christ-followers—those whose minds are rooted in God’s Word and whose hearts are ablaze with God’s holy love—to come with both words of truth and hands of service. John Stewart Mill was correct: “Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
Why must we speak and act? Putting it concisely, “Do not become overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Or, as a wise friend put it recently, God’s design is too beautiful and important to not speak up about.
Leave a comment below. Do you agree that sex is too important to remain silent about? Which reasons above are most compelling to you? What does it mean to engage the culture “with both words of truth and hands of service”?
Want to hear more this week? Check out the latest Becoming Whole podcast; Two Reasons You Don’t Want to Talk About Sex
I don’t want to talk about sex because of all the shameful things that were done to me as a child, teenager and still as an adult in my marriage and then all the shameful things I have done as a result of it. All the pain and brokenness it has brought into my life. I find that just speaking aloud the things is too much. It feels disgusting and dirty. The words for private parts, just the word “sex” brings up no good thoughts. It’s so foreign to think of it as a loving act, created by God for intimacy, that is a metaphor for the close relationship He has with us. The words “making love” feel like this lie, because if that is what love is, I want no part of it.
Sue, thank you for your vulnerability. I’m so sorry this has been your experience. It breaks my heart, and I know you are not the only one who feels the way you do. Please reach out to our team if you’d like to work through any of this. Grace and peace to you, dear sister.