Sex gets my attention and not in the way most people think. I love talking about sex, reading about it and learning about. I love deconstructing relationships and seeing how sex fits into it all. Thus my blog is riddled with articles like "Top 10 Sex positions, What Marriage is Really Like and an endless list of real life love stories and candid Confessions. So when one of the top stories of www.news.com.au yesterday (25 June, 2016) was an article "Waiting for marriage before having sex wasn't what I expected" I was on it like a dog with a bone. I was left however feeling quite bewildered and mildly disheartened. I genuinely thought to myself, so where do we go from here?
Have a quick read for yourself and it might make more sense. (Waiting for marriage before having sex wasn't what I expected, By Elissa Anne)
A few of my thoughts went something like this.....
Was it the Churches fault that she felt guilty for her sexual experiences?
Will sexual freedom and complete liberty in this area lead to "no shame" and greater long term relationships?
So how do you stand for morality and Godly principles in a way that is NEVER going to offend someone?
Should the message of abstinence (saving sex until marriage) cease to be preached so people don't feel guilty for their own personal choices?
Her book may very well cover a lot of those questions and I'll be the first to admit you can't grasp someones heart by just one article, but I genuinely pondered upon these questions and figured maybe a few other people did too. So here's my response. Before anyone thinks this is some kind of tear down. It's absolutely not. I am certain the Author of the article Elissa Anne is a brilliant human being, with a big heart and a caring soul. I agree that far too often the Church (as a whole) can be so quick to judge rather than understand. We can become so dogmatic over controversial issues that we forget the bottom line of, God loves all people regardless of their sexual choices, behaviour or dispositions. We can major on minors and forget that we ALL actually miss the mark. There is no "sin" bigger than another, but the fall out of sin is a very real thing.
I too agree there needs to be,
more compassion and less CONDEMNATION.
More grace and less guilt-tripping.
MORE OPENNESS AND LESS HIDDEN.
But grace does not call sin righteousness. Grace does not sweep things under the carpet. ALOT of people mistake mercy, forgiveness, empathy for grace. Grace is not mercy. Grace is not letting someone off the hook. The true biblical meaning of grace is unmerited and undeserved favour. Grace is the power to overcome sin. It's the grace of God (the POWER) that helps me overcome anything that is outside of Gods way. Grace doesn't just mean you can do something and then not feel bad about it. Grace is actually the power to change, and be convicted in a GOOD way that there is so much better for us.
Can I throw a few spanners in the works for just a moment? I've pulled out a few pieces of the original in italics.
"I feel strongly that it is time for the church to start preaching grace above abstinence. When statistics tell us that more than 90 per cent of people, Christian and non-Christian alike, have sex before marriage in Australia, we are kidding ourselves if we think that vamping up the abstinence message is going to stop people from having premarital sex." (Excerpt)
WHY is the message either or? can't it be both?
The bible tells us in John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
I believe we need to preach the truth in grace.
GRACE WITHOUT TRUTH LEADS TO BEHAVIOUR WITHout RESTRAINT AND SOCIETIES THAT SAY ANYTHING GOES. TRUTH WITHOUT GRACE LEADS TO JUDGMENTAL CHRISTIANS, MEANINGLESS RULES AND EMPTY RELIGION.
Both can be incredible damaging. The gospel should never be altered so that is palatable to mans taste. It's not meant to be easy to swallow, it is meant to change people from the inside out when they partake of the gift freely given to them. If we call ourselves Christians we need to make Jesus Lord of our lives not just our Saviour. We need to give Him access to all areas of our lives, including our sexuality.
The truth is the bible clearly values sexuality (and has a lot to say on the subject). We need to talk less about abstinence and more about sexuality as a whole. It is not about saving sex until marriage, it is about honouring your body as a temple of the Holy spirit (sexually, physically, emotionally) and not just pre-marriage but in every day of your life.
SAVING SEX FOR MARRIAGE IS NOT THE GOAL, HONOURING GOD IN ALL WAYS IS WHAT MATTERS the MOST.
The fact is abstinence should not take centre stage. Jesus should and everything should flow from an authentic revelation of His love and His lordship in our lives. As Christians our main priority should be preaching the good news of Jesus (not behaviour modification). We should love people with open arms and when (and if) they choose to open their lives to Him lovingly and sometimes brutally honestly help them along the journey.
"Being the perfectionist that I was in my teenage years, I latched onto this rule and avoided sex like the plague. I suppressed thoughts about sex and avoided all sexual urges". (Excerpt)
when you only focus on the "what", and don't EXPLAIN the "why" you turn what should be an inward CONVICTION into an external pressure.
"I started to challenge the idea that masturbation was a sin and pushed the boundaries of my own rules. I invited men into my life who kissed me and touched me in ways I’d never experienced before. One particular man probably saw me as his greatest challenge. My virginity would be his prize — if he could conquer me. He was an alpha male; strong, and in his own way, very patient. I threw away my boundaries around oral sex but I never orgasmed in his presence or allowed penetration." (Excerpt)
According to the Author of Hooked: Sexual activity is any intimate contact between two individuals that involves arousal, stimulation, and/or a response by at least one of the two partners. In other words, sexual activity is any intentionally sexual intimate behavior between two partners, or even one person if self-stimulation is used. The authors conclude that a definition of sexual activity must not only include sexual intercourse, but also anal sex, oral sex, mutual masturbation, showering together, fondling of breasts, even kissing if it produces arousal. Although she didn't go all the way with these men, biological process were well into play and the same hormones that are released during intercourse would be pulsing through her brain. Maybe sometimes people feel like it's not that special when there's barely anything left to explore and appreciate? Maybe we set ourselves up for disappointment when we hold unrealistic expectations and take our cues from Hollywood, mainstream media and our highly saturated porn culture. Listen not even Hollywood is as hot and heavy as it appears. If it was maybe their relationships would last more than a few years?
"At age 30, I finally met a man I was content to settle down with. He too was an intercourse virgin and we mutually decided to wait for sex until we were at least living in the same country — he’s American, I’m Australian. We pushed all remaining boundaries: sleeping in the same bed when we visited each other internationally; engaged in oral sex, Skype sex and mutual masturbation; saw each other completely naked and even showered together. But we did in fact wait for intercourse until we were legally married in February 2015. It had been blown completely out of proportion in my mind because of the rule I was taught as a child." "At age 32 I finally gave my husband the last piece of my virginity. But intercourse wasn’t what I had expected it to be. There were no fireworks or explosions. It all felt quite natural and not as supernatural or spiritual as I’d been lead to believe it would be. But it didn’t feel that way for me initially and I was disappointed. I’d waited 32 years of my life without ever having intercourse only to find out that I was still exactly the same person after I’d had sex as I was before I’d had sex. Sex didn’t change me. It didn’t fix me. It didn’t ruin me.
I agree we need to be more honest, open and candid about the very real temptations, struggles, and challenges of abstaining from sex outside of marriage and staying faithful within it. We need to tell young people, "the struggle is real"! You are not a bad person for having certain thoughts or feelings. But God wouldn't call you to something and not empower you to do it. When you miss the mark it does not change His opinion of you, but don't buy into the lie that sex is meaningless.
Sex does change a relationship. It's the most intimate act two people can engage in. It bonds you emotionally, spiritually and psychologically too. Don't believe me, look at the research. I could name a thousand credible scientific sources that explain the subject much better than I do.
Let me end on this. I married as virgin. I had never engaged in any kind of "sexual act" with any man apart from my husband.
Was sex on my wedding night what I expected? No way.
I literally had no idea what I was doing! But a blank canvas is not that hard to paint on. The pieces fit together and it's not that hard to find your rhythm.
Was it special? totally.
Was it the start of a great journey of discovery? Absolutely.
Would I make the same decision a hundred times over?
Did I expect sex to complete me? No.
Did it change me, definitely.
That day I gave one man every part of me. My heart, my soul and yes my body. I have been married for well over 12 months (8 years to be exact) with two beautiful children and the heat has definitely not left the kitchen. No matter your own personal story, there is grace for a better way. Your past does not determine your future.
Jesus loved and accepted all, then He asked those who loved Him to change how they lived and follow Him. They joyfully did so because they found life in Him. May we follow this order and not strive for the latter first.