Unshaken Joy (And How To Get There)

Dear sexuality,

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You are misunderstood quite often, friend. And by quite often, I mean almost 99.9 percent of the time. Especially by Christians like myself. I’ve grown quite EXHAUSTED of these misunderstandings and distortions. For your sake. And for mine.


I have lived 28 years having sexual purity DRILLED into my mind. Any Christian who grew up within my age group remembers the “True Love Waits” movement, complete with Bible and unofficial theme song by Rebecca St. James (“Wait For Me”).

(insert hiccup laughter from watching this video)


But that DRILLING didn’t help me understand you, sexuality. Or why sexual purity was even really important. Instead, it caused me to demonize sexuality (though, really, my hyperactive conscience also had a hand there). Either way, you became a part of me that, like Voldemort, SHOULD NOT BE NAMED. I thought that if I acted like my biological urges didn’t exist, they would EVAPORATE so I could continue being a Christian nice girl. After all, Christian nice girls don’t struggle to maintain sexual purity–either in body or in mind.


FALSE. SO MUCH FALSE.


It took me nearly all of my 28 years to understand you even a fraction of a bit better. Even so, I think if most Christians are honest, we live in almost SHEER TERROR of you. Sexuality has become something to be feared and despised, rather than what it should be: A gift from God that is a part of us.


Don’t misunderstand me. I am a wholehearted believer that premarital sex is a sin. I firmly believe that, as a follower of God, I need to control my thoughts and actions, both inside and outside of a relationship. So yes, that means I believe (generally-speaking) that masturbation is not a good idea (yup, just wrote that. EEP!). We are not to live as slaves to anything except God. That, of course, means that as a single woman, I cannot act out of my biological urges or sexual desires. So clearly, I am a supporter of self-control and sexual purity. What I am not a supporter of is acting like you don’t exist or don’t affect us if we are good Christian people.


From my experience, Christians tend to fall into three categories when it comes to you, sexuality. There’s the “it’s fine whatever you do,” the “sexual purity is the ideal, but it’s TOO DURN HARD,” and the “DO NOTHING NEVER AND FOREVER. AND DO NOT SPEAK OF IT UNLESS IN VAGUE TERMS” category. I’m going to focus on the latter, which is what caused my skewed perspective.


The problem with the “DO NOTHING NEVER AND FOREVER. AND DO NOT SPEAK OF IT UNLESS IN VAGUE TERMS” category is that it creates this inherent FEAR of you, sexuality. It’s almost as if we’re told, “You can’t control it, so the best thing you can do is repress it and act like it doesn’t exist.” This is SO SO dangerous for, well, every person who is alive and breathing. It breeds a defeatist attitude that WE WILL FAIL unless we pretend to have no desires at all. So how should we handle you, sexuality, as Christians? I have a lot of thoughts, but I’ll start with these three.


1. Start talking about it, for real.


2. Stop being scared.


3. Your sexuality is fragile.


So  you, sexuality, are precious and an amazing part of us. I want to keep you from being distorted. I value you, sexuality, and recognize that you are a gift–whether or not I one day get married. You teach me discipline. You teach me delayed gratification. You’ve helped me have some amazing workouts! And I’ve learned I am not a slave to you. I will work harder to protect you. And I won’t be afraid to share my struggles honestly.


You are a part of me, sexuality, and I will not be afraid of you. I choose SUBMISSION, not REPRESSION.


Editor’s additional note, Sept. 8: I’ve had many wonderful married friends remind me that the battle is not over when you get married. Remember, marriage is not a finish line for any aspect of life–merely another path. What you do as a single person WILL ABSOLUTELY AFFECT your life as a married person in all respects–including your sexuality. Your outlook on your sexuality will affect your outlook on it as a married person, too. It’s time for us to understand and speak that truth to each other within the Christian community. Amen? Amen.

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