There’s a shirt my youth pastor used to put on that mentioned, “I practice safe sex. Instead of crossing my fingers I cross my legs.” He instructed us guys need to have intercourse for the physicality and women need to have intercourse for the feelings, and in the event that they labored collectively, we might make it to our marriage ceremony night time and the Vacation Inn by the airport. All we needed to do was cross our legs.
However within the wake of #ChurchToo, lots of these pastors telling us to attend have been caught in sexual abuse, infidelity and misogyny. The allegations and uncovered criminality rocked the church. “Crossing our legs” wasn’t working.
The church’s mode of sexual dialogue triggered repression and abuse, and this calls for we work out an answer.
The Church Must Play the ‘Penis Game’
You might have heard of “the Penis Game.” You and a gaggle of associates/family members take turns saying “penis” louder and louder in a public area till somebody turns into too squeamish to say it once more. In most contexts, the Penis Sport is chauvinistic and regressive, however the church might take a couple of cues from the sport and begin talking in frank phrases about intercourse, sexuality, and our our bodies.
It’s a battle even in church-adjacent environments. In 2017, Lifeway Retailers pulled rapper Sho Baraka’s album The Narrative off their cabinets due to “language.” That language? Baraka claims it was his use of the phrase “penis” on one observe.
Church buildings usually keep away from phrases like “penis” or “sex drive” as a result of intercourse is one thing “the world” talks about. To counteract the world, the church tiptoes round intercourse and paints it in scary phrases to create limitations between lay individuals and potential promiscuity. The church doesn’t provide filters or different methods a congregation can navigate exterior messages. As a substitute, the standard “wait for marriage” sermon simply delivers the standard veiled threats: undesirable pregnancies, STDs.
So we develop fears of our our bodies in addition to our intercourse drives and start shoving these undesirable needs into the closet of our brains and shutting the door, leaning arduous towards it and hoping the intercourse drive and needs we’ve saved in there gained’t burst by the door and wreck our purity and credibility.
Let Her Converse
In case you solely listened to retrograde sermons to form your views of intercourse, you’d assume girls solely pursued intercourse for the emotional intimacy it offers. You’d assume feelings and intercourse have been at all times in rigidity, certain collectively by manipulation—males utilizing feelings to get intercourse; girls utilizing intercourse to entry feelings.
You’d additionally hear in these sermons how girls are temptations to males, and must be crossing their very own legs to assist mood the male intercourse drive. You’d assume girls held accountability for maintaining males pure. Turtlenecks and chastity belts and all that.
However what you almost certainly wouldn’t discover within the context of these sermons have been the precise voices of girls chatting with co-ed teams about sexual needs, beliefs and theology.
First, the concept that the bodily and emotional parts of intercourse are separate is a false dichotomy. Intercourse is 2 individuals bringing their bodily and emotional and non secular identities into union. Not one bodily human and one emotional human, however two complicated, all-or-nothing people below God’s design serving and respecting each other.
Second, when girls are made answerable for the intercourse drives of males, they’re conditioned to really feel answerable for sexual abuse, usually defaulting to silence for worry of the retribution they may obtain for his or her perceived function in that abuse. Girls don’t come ahead as a result of they assume they have been unsuitable for having been within the scenario within the first place. Or they shouldn’t have been sporting these garments. Or ingesting that a lot. The disgrace and false accountability flows out of this damaged view of a lady’s sexual tasks.
After we don’t give the stage to girls, we’re solely perpetuating reductionist theology and an abusive cycle.
The Bible offers solutions for a 21st Century sexual ethic within the Music of Songs. It speaks frankly about sexual want and offers room for the voices and passions of girls.
A love music constructed on the holistic actuality of unity, the Music of Songs is 2 lovers unashamed of their our bodies and unashamed by the joy they uncover within the physical-ness of the opposite. It talks about the great thing about the lady’s breasts (4:5), the person’s “ivory tusk” (5:14), and the intercourse they get pleasure from collectively inside marriage. The poem doesn’t tiptoe round something; as an alternative, it offers a lens for us to grasp what actual intimacy appears like.
The Music can also be an equitable textual content. The lady speaks nearly all of the traces, and he or she initiates intercourse, saying issues like, “Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me!” (2:5-6 ESV).
Each the lady and the person in Music of Songs submit to 1 one other, and neither carries a purely emotional or bodily want. They each carry an irreducible combination of the 2.
When the Music does communicate of abstinence, it doesn’t do it with threats or shame-laced ways. A number of instances, the lady tells the only characters to attend till the suitable time to “awaken love.” There isn’t a discuss of repression, which is a catalyst for disgrace and frames intercourse as evil. As a substitute, Music of Songs talks about abstinence by way of a self-control which lives in freedom and acknowledges the price of ready till intercourse can glorify God essentially the most.
For the church to provide sexually wholesome disciples, we have to cease making want scary and forcing girls to be emotional keepers of the male libido. We have to comply with Music of Songs and be unapologetic in our needs whereas cultivating holistic conversations that includes various voices, particularly feminine voices. After we try this, we’ll give intercourse each the respect and the wonder it deserves.