Latest Entries »

pornarticle2 We met Bek Curtis last week and she has kindly agreed to let me post her follow-up to the post she shared with us  on her struggles with and victory over Pornography. So here is a repost of her unplanned part II, titled ‘The ‘How’ of Freedom’:

I find myself writing once again on the topic of pornography, and once again writing with reluctance, fueled this time by different motivators.
I had a few people express frustration with the original article I wrote, due to the fact I didn’t expand on the ‘how’ of gaining my freedom, a frustration I can empathise with.
I am more than happy to share how God intervened, as the glory belongs solely to Him.
My reluctance however, centers around individuals who are struggling with porn addiction and looking at my ‘how ‘ and trying to emulate it to become their ‘how ‘, without checking with God to discover His perfect plan for individual freedom.

We are all unique, any addictions or self-control struggles we face are fed by a multitude of factors that vary from person to person. What drove me, may not be what drives you, and so the process of, and journey toward your freedom may look different to mine.
There are things I won’t write about, things I didn’t do in my journey, but things that may work for you. Tools such as mentoring, household/mobile internet filtering, counselling, accountability partnerships, and countless online support groups and resources.

Our God is a unique God. He is a God of relationship, not religion.
A formula created to unlock freedom is not what He is requiring of you. Instead He extends an invitation for you to have intimacy with Him.
When Jesus healed, He did not use the same ‘method’ each time. Some received healing through prayer, for another it came via a physical anointing of saliva mud, and for one courageous woman, an act of faith, just a touch of His robe was enough to bring about her healing.

When we rely on formulaic prayers and procedures, focusing only on our desired outcome, we miss the relationship, we miss the very key that unlocks our chains.

My freedom journey began with a distinct moment when watching a particular porn video (this is not a reason to keep watching until you have an ‘Ah HA’ moment!) there was a girl positioned in front of the camera, lying on a couch and whilst I truly cannot remember the sexual acts she was engaged in, I do remember her eyes.
Everything else in that moment faded away as I looked into this young woman’s eyes, into the eyes of a women who was clearly under the influence of heavy drugs.
I saw within those eyes a lifetime of pain, a lifetime of abuse and rejection. Her eyes held the burden of a lifetime’s striving for approval, acceptance, attention, love.

The eyes are the window to the soul, and hers was broken, crushed.

I wish that I could say that was it, the glimpse of this woman’s troubled life had changed me so profoundly that I never struggled again, but to say so would be a lie.
What did occur, was a shift in my thinking toward these women, a recognition that beneath the bravado were young women who longed to be loved.

I wanted to help these women.
I suddenly saw in front of me a harvest of souls waiting to be shown the love of Jesus. But how could I ever hope to make a difference, to reach them if I was sowing into their pain?
Each minute I viewed their outward cries for approval, I tightened the chains that bound them, that bound me.

I began to desire to be part of a solution.
I began to desire God and His will in my life above all else.

When I wrote the words: ‘My God is the God of freedom, for those who truly desire it’, in my initial article, I was sharing with you my ‘secret’ my ‘how’.
I desired God above ALL else. Above porn.

1. EMBRACE THYSELF
I resolved to stop making excuses and justifications for why I was drawn to viewing porn.
We humans are experts in defending our poor behaviour. We can make impassioned pleas and excuses for all manner of dodgy deeds.
I’ve raised three children through toddler-hood, I have witnessed my fair share of self-justification-tantrums!

Sometimes we don’t grow out of these tantrums, we just change the way we allow them to manifest.
But in order to face addiction head on you have to coach yourself to an excuse-free place. A place where self-awareness, self-examination, and recognition of self-responsibility is not only embraced, but practiced.
Whilst ever you are seeking to blame all or part of your behaviour on someone else’s actions or lack of actions as the case may be, you make a marked choice; to remain in addiction.

You may have a partner who doesn’t fulfill your sexual desires or appetite, you may be genuinely frustrated, angry, hurt or lonely, but while you allow resentment or rejection to dictate your behaviour you are choosing to give away much needed power that could instead be harnessed and used for self-responsibility and self-control.

2. RESTRICT
I set about putting restrictions on my phone, as that was where I had easiest access to porn.

This made it a very conscious and rebellious decision if I chose to go in search of content I shouldn’t.

3. RSVP
I embraced God’s invitation into intimacy, and I started talking openly with Him.

When I felt temptation coming on, I would tell Him. I would explain what was happening, and I would focus on Him, begin to thank Him, begin to worship Him.
Let me tell you, it’s hard to maintain sexual arousal, and a desire to view pornography when you are speaking, or in my case singing to the Creator of the universe!

Condemnation is an insidious thing and I believe it’s one of Satan’s greatest tools.
How many times have you felt as though you’re trapped aboard the ‘I’m sorry God, I did it again. Help me’, carousel?
Condemnation says, ‘Okay, you can’t keep saying sorry, this is a joke, just stop talking to Him’.
But God says: ‘It’s okay, come to me, I want to help you, let’s walk through this again, I’m here for as long as it takes.’

Brutally honest discussion with God is the key.
What’s stopping you? It’s not like He’s going to be shocked, He knows what you’re thinking anyway! But He is the perfect gentlemen, He will not force you to open up, He allows you to exercise free will and bring your thoughts to Him.

4. TAKE HOSTAGES!
My experience with addiction (and trust me, ’tis plentiful, as addiction and I have been buddies in various forms for many years), is that it is not so much a case of trying to talk oneself out of addiction, but rather into it!

There was always a voice that started out as a suggestion, a mere offering of an idea to view porn or whatever current addiction I was flirting with. *Cue the internal to and fro dialogue:
No, that’s not a great idea, I don’t really want to do that. Sure you do, it’s fine, it’s just this once. No it’s not just once, I won’t stop. Sure you’ll stop! This is the perfect way to prove it, just do it today and you won’t have to do it tomorrow. Hmmmm. You can stop whenever you want, you’re not addicted to this, you’re just choosing to do it. This isn’t addiction anyway, it’s just a habit, you can break a habit whenever you want’.
Repeated daily.

So my next step was learning to take every thought captive.
There is a reason these verses are in the bible (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

When you stop a thought in its track and acknowledge it, instead of allowing it to run with reckless abandon through your mind, you take it captive. That means it not longer masters you, but you master it.
Yes, it takes practice, this is a discipline that can feel like a full-time job. But it is a job that pays well! It even comes with a dental plan… (I may have just made that bit up. But you never know?).

When you take thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, you are commanding them to fall into submission under the Lordship of Christ! That is no small deal!
It is here that Jesus takes over. It is in this moment that you are choosing to give Him control, to work and weave and mend and heal.

5. WORD!
I found it really helpful to read through the New Testament when I was struggling. And not just reading for reading’s sake, but asking The Holy Spirit to allow the words to come alive in my heart and mind as I read them.
Again, it becomes very difficult to choose poor behaviours when you have chapter after chapter, verse after verse challenging you, giving you step by step encouragement and promptings on how to live well, abundantly.

6. DITCH THE GUILT
I don’t believe that shame and guilt are good motivators toward effective change. I believe instead that they lead to condemnation.
But when we fix our eyes on Jesus, turn them toward Him, just like the old hymn says, the things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace!
Glory and Grace, not condemnation and disapproval.

In the 2012 film, Father of Lights directed by Darren Wilson, there is a brief interview with Banning Liebscher of Jesus Culture, where he says:

“….there’s a generation that is experiencing more options than any generation in all of history.
So the tendency to materialism or distraction, is so available….ability, instant access to entertainment and social networks and internet and travel. There are so many options and choices in this generation. generation.

What excites me is that choices are powerful in the midst of options, not in the midst of no options.
And I think we’re going to see the most powerful generation the world has ever seen, come out of an environment that gives them options, and a generation’s going to rise that their “Yes” in their spirit will be so loud, it will drown out everything else.”

His words immediately resonated in my spirit, they told my story.

For me, Banning’s words were more than a prophetic declaration, they were a testimony of what was and is already taking place, for this is exactly what had happened to me during my journey. The ‘YES‘ to God in my spirit, became louder than any ‘NO‘ I would ever have to speak to the world.

That had been my revelation. That “YES” had been my key.

Let me finish by saying, there is hope. There is freedom. There is a light that shines bright in the darkest of places.
There is love, one who is love itself, waiting to enrapture you and lead you in grace.
He who is love, is able to transform you by the renewing of you mind.

Did you catch that? He is not just able, but willing to clear away the garbage in your mind, erasing the memory of all destructive and tempting images, and renew it to it’s created design! Ponder that!
May this be your testimony, because what He has done for one, He will surely do for another.
-Bek Curtis

 

You can hear more from BekCurtis by following her on the Twitterer  or by checking out and subscribing to her blog ‘Perfectly Flawed’

[To read part I of this post, click here]

[For some more stories about people struggling with and overcoming Pornography, click here]

 

For this final part of my series on lies I believed about sex I want to talk about the false expectation many people are given that because sex is intended for marriage, as soon as you get married you will be able to fully express yourself sexually without experiencing guilt or shame. Of the four things I touched on in my Relevant article, this was the one people seemed to resonate with the most.

Many of us who were raised in Christian communities heard some version of this line in an attempt to convince us that sex before marriage wasn’t worth the potential baggage. We were told stories of people who had sex before marriage and how this negatively affected their sexual relationship with their spouses. The message was clear. If you don’t wait, you are setting yourself up for heartache in your future sex life. If you wait, you will enter marriage guilt and shame-free and be able to enjoy sex the way God intended.

I’m not saying that this isn’t true to some extent. I’m incredibly grateful that my husband and I haven’t had any sexual experiences apart from one another. I think it’s a sweet and sacred part of our relationship and I love knowing that it is something we two have uniquely shared only with each other. But in many cases, our hyper-vigilant attitude towards pre-marital sex is very hard to shake once we’re married and it can take a great deal of time to get over the emotional barriers we put in place before marriage.

My struggle with guilt and shame wasn’t because I went into marriage believing that sex was dirty. I had been told since I was a teenager that sex was intended to be a beautiful thing. But when you spend so much time and energy trying to avoid it or being afraid of it, it’s hard not to let those experiences override simple statements like, “Sex is intended as a beautiful thing.”

If you think about it from a basic psychological standpoint, it makes no sense for us to expect people to be able to make such a huge change all in one instant. Many Christians have spent years – from the day they hit puberty until their wedding day- focusing their energy on keeping their sex drives in check. Then suddenly, in the space of just a few hours, they expect to be able to stop feeling like their sexuality is something they must carefully control and instead be able to express it freely. And not only that –but express it freely with another person.

Many of us have programmedourselves to feel guilt towards sexual feelings – this is how we keep ourselves in check throughout our dating relationships. But that “red light” feeling we train ourselves to obey doesn’t always go away just because we’ve spoken some vows and signed some papers. I have always enjoyed having sex with my husband, but it still took me several months to stop having that sick-to-my-stomach guilty feeling every time we were together.

As bizarre as it seems, I was actually embarrassed that I was no longer a virgin. Even though the whole reason for being a virgin was to enter marriage as a virgin, it had become such a crucial part of my identity that it was hard for me to give up. I had to tell myself over and over, “It’s ok. You aren’t supposed to be a virgin anymore.” But there was a part of me that was sure people were looking at me differently. If losing my virginity before marriage would have made me “like a piece of chewed up gum”, unsuitable for my future husband, how was losing my virginity to my husband supposed to feel different? Wasn’t I just my husband’s chewed up gum? (This is one of many disturbing and objectifying analogies I’ve heard before about why it’s important to save yourself for your spouse.)

Not everyone experiences these feelings,but for the many people who do, it is terribly isolating. Because, once again, we are experiencing something our churches and communities never acknowledged as a possibility. And we feel alone and broken and filled with a profound sense that this isn’t the way it’s meant to be.

Several people commented on my original article to say, “This is why you shouldn’t wait. Why would anyone want to live that way? It sounds like this totally ruined your ability to enjoy sex.”

I would say to those people that the problem isn’t with the waiting. Waiting, in and of itself doesn’t cause any of this. The problem is this huge gap between how we talk to teenagers and young adults about sex, purity, and abstinence and the expectations we put on marital sex. My husband’s and my difficulties in our sexual relationship stemmed largely from taking what we’d been taught about sex as teenagers and trying to apply it to a marriage.

The problem is two-fold. First, I think our churches need to re-examine how they communicate with teenagers and young adults about this (which I touched on in Part 2) and secondly, churches need to find a way to address the gap between “Don’t do that,” as a young single person and “Sex is the greatest” as a married person. In many churches, there is no mature discussion of sex directed at adults and no conversation whatsoever about how we move from the way we treat sex as singles to the way we’re meant to treat sex as married adults. By not addressing it, we act like this transition will happen naturally, leaving a lot of people isolated, hurt and confused when it doesn’t.

We need to start doing the hard work of addressing these issues instead of ignoring them.

[Lily Dunn is an ice cream connoisseur, a Disney fanatic, and a fellow raiSIN hater trying to live an authentic, grace-filled life. She lives and teaches with her husband in Daegu, South Korea and blogs at https://lilyellyn.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @LilyEllyn]  

 [To catch up on the rest of this series, click here]

as the sun goes down

casting ominous shadows beneath an ever-pinkening sky

so the battle lines are drawn

and the protagonists determinedly take their places

facing off with brutal expressions of intent

 

the people passionate about all things cat

are huddled together, talking strategy

ready to throw absolutely everything they have

at the mass of bodies and faces across from them

collectively known as those with a deep care for the environment

who compile and distribute petitions at will

and boycott companies who dare not be green enough

 

those who care so deeply about the children being sold into slavery

prepare for combat by sharpening the axes they brought to grind

every now and then pausing for a moment

to peer over the tops of their spectacles at their opposition

the-artists-with-a-tendency-of-posting-graphic-pictures-of-horribly-slaughtered-poached-animals

on your social media wall

nestled safely in between baby photos and engagement announcements

 

at some point someone fires a gun…
or perhaps it was a whistle?

i’m thinking some form of signal was possibly given

to launch the different groups screaming like rabid dogs at one another

and begin tearing each other apart

[the people who care about dogs suffering from the effects of rabies are at the judges table

loudly arguing about the insensitivity of using such a descriptive phrase]

 

turns out the ‘tearing’ was metaphorical

or virtual or something

but tearing was done

or at the very least, insinuated

as one group with a cause

sized up another group “with a cause”

["but not as important as our cause" each whispered in hushed tones]

[only amongst themselves of course]

 

the fall out

that inevitably ensued

was that “your worthy cause isn’t as worthy as my worthy cause

your guilt is too hip

and you clearly don’t speak for everyone, so your perspective is meaningless”

 

in the midst of all the uproar,

the accusations and the posturings,

the video clips and the event sharings

not to mention time out for the trolling of the comments sections [a group event]

the clouds gathered

the sky opened

the rain came down

and washed them all away

[or at the very least sent them scurrying back to the safety of their computer keyboards]

 

and a lone child was left standing

making the most of some unsupervised time in the mud and puddles that had formed

when suddenly a moment of significance passed

in which an idea seemed to swoop in from far up high in the sky

and lodge itself deep into the brain part of this innocent

who paused for a whole long sixty second minute

as she sought to take it in

looked up

and exclaimed, as if the most natural exclamation in the world,

 

“What if, I was able to view your cause as different to mine, but of equal value and importance?”

 

it was as if a mighty thunderbolt had struck at that precise moment

causing an immediate wave of

lightbulb after lightbulb blinking into existence

as each and every individual in the crowd

marvelled at this ingenious yet ever-so-simple piece of wisdom

 

or at least, it would have

had any of them remained.

but alas, there was no-one else to be seen.

 

as the activists and fanatics,

the poster wavers and the bearers of truth,

all those who championed a cause

at the exclusion of all others

were safely locked away

in the comfort of their lonely rooms

readying their next missive,

this one which would be the one

that would finally get them to realise why they need to climb on board…

 

 

 

 

 

There is this pervasive myth, particularly prevalent in the evangelical Christian subculture (though I’d argue it’s present in other parts of society too) that boys are sexual and girls (at least good girls) aren’t. In my article for Relevant  I called this the lie that “Girls don’t care about sex.”

If you are anything like me, you have countless times heard things like “Men think about sex all the time” and “Men are very visual so it’s up to you to keep them from seeing something that will make them stumble.” “You probably think kissing your boyfriend is very innocent because you aren’t thinking about sex, but he definitely is.” “Boys only want one thing.”

There are just so many things wrong with this. First off, I think it’s very degrading to men as it paints them as some sort of sex-fueled animals that must rely on women to curb and control their otherwise uncontrollable urges because they have no will power and their brains are too busy thinking about that one thing to engage with their actions. That is its own (necessary) conversation, but since I’m a woman I want to spend more time tackling the damage this does from a woman’s perspective.

These kinds of statements reinforce, directly or indirectly, that sex is a distinctly masculine thing. And this isn’t restricted to pre-marital sex. How many times have you heard a joke that is some riff on the woman who is not interested in sex and the man who wants it all the time? Many girls grow up believing that this is the inevitable reality they will one day experience.

And even if girls are looking forward to sex, they are very rarely free to admit it. Young Christian MEN are permitted, sometimes even encouraged, to look forward to sex within marriage, but when a young Christian woman expresses excitement about sex, she is perceived as crude and unfeminine

In fact, the only acceptable, feminine alternative for a young woman seems to be cultivating a fearful attitude towards sex. It’s something you are supposed to be able to enjoy in marriage, yet most of the married women you know only talk about it being uncomfortable or a sacrifice they make for their husbands. And worse, It’s something boys want and something you must protect yourself from. It’s something you can bring on yourself unintentionally by being careless about how you dress or present yourself. For most women there is a lurking, subconscious awareness of the potential correlation between sex and violence.

Without a model for how to be a woman who can embrace her sexuality even while setting boundaries, young women are faced with two options: admit to having sexual curiosities and interests and be seen as “slutty” or build up fear to protect ourselves from it. Many Christian communities are lacking a model for how to live purely without rejecting or denying our sexuality.

For years I was told that “girls don’t care about sex.” Well, as it turns out, I do. This has been a deep source of shame for me. I felt so unnatural and unfeminine for having a sex drive. In my experience, my youth leaders and pastors never really talked about girls’ sex drives at all. We preferred to pretend they didn’t exist. It wasn’t a “nice” thing to talk about. So naturally, I assumed no one else felt this way. For a long time I felt like a freak until I started to realize that I wasn’t the only one, not by a longshot. I just had never heard anyone admit it before.

Here is the truth: Many girls (yes, even Christian girls) think about sex. Many girls (yes, even Christian girls) like sex. If you are one of those girls, I want to tell you something no one ever told me. It’s OK. You are not a freak. You are not unfeminine. You are not unnatural. God created us, both men AND women, as sexual beings.

[I want to be very clear about one thing - I’m not trying to suggest that anyone, man or woman, should feel free to indulge in whatever kind of sexual fantasizing they want to. That’s not the point at all. I’m talking about an attitude I’ve witnessed that I believe builds shame in young women.]

Being a woman who cares about sex doesn’t make you dirty and it doesn’t make you less of a woman. It makes you a human being created by God, in the image of God, with the capacity and desire to love – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and sexually. God has given us both the desire and the ability to express love with our hearts, minds, souls, and BODIES. How cool is that?!

[Lily Dunn is an ice cream connoisseur, a Disney fanatic, and a fellow raiSIN hater trying to live an authentic, grace-filled life. She lives and teaches with her husband in Daegu, South Korea and blogs at https://lilyellyn.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @LilyEllyn]  

[For part IV looking at the Life of how Waiting for Marriage means Guilt-Free Sex, click here]

Perhaps the most often-encountered lie I heard about sex from youth pastors, conference speakers, inspirational books, and the impassioned speeches of parents was the idea that if you wait until you are married to have sex, God will reward you with mind-blowing sex and a magical wedding night.  

For those of you who don’t believe there are individuals, churches, and organizations who teach this, here are some ACTUAL QUOTES on the subject:

“For you, the person who waits, your wedding day and night will be everything: every Hallmark card, every romance novel, every poem, every religious text, and every little girl’s fantasy of what a wedding day and night should be.” (www.waitingtilmarriage.org) 

“Married people have the best sex!” (www.marriedandyoung.com)

“Put simply: When you get married, you’ve got a whole lot of awesome sex that you haven’t ever had yet.” (www.waitingtilmarriage.org)

“You’re fighting for (and earning) amazing sex for your future marriage.”(www.singleyoungchristianmom.wordpress.com)

Before my wedding night I had been told that honeymoon sex isn’t usually the best sex. I had heard that good sex takes work. I knew that it would probably be uncomfortable for me at first. What nobody ever, EVER told me was that it was possible that it just might not work at all. On my wedding night, my mind and heart were there, but my body was locked up tighter than Maid Marian’s chastity belt.

I entered marriage with the firm conviction that God rewards those who wait, only to find myself confounded by the mechanics. This brought with it a profound sense of failure. Not only had I failed as a wife by being unable to give my husband something he deserved after years of faithful celibacy, but I was a failure as a woman on the most basic level – unable to perform this one role I was biologically intended for. After all, there are 14-year-olds getting pregnant every day. How hard could it be? For the record, my husband did not express disappointment or any sense of entitlement – but I still felt these things thanks to years of hearing messages like the quotes above. And while we did (eventually) get things working, this was hard, frustrating, embarrassing, and a huge blow to both our confidences.

Some people responded to this part of my original article  by making this an argument for pre-marital sex. “Why would you want to have that awkwardness on your wedding night/honeymoon?” I don’t think there’s any fundamental problem with an awkward wedding night. In fact, I think we should embrace that kind of messiness more in our lives. I don’t believe everything needs to be tied with a pretty bow in order to be good. And I don’t think we have to achieve our most perfect selves in this or any other area to be ready for marriage. The problem wasn’t the awkwardness or the messiness – it was the false expectations and lack of comprehensive information that made us feel isolated and embarrassed, believing we were the only couple on the planet who had experienced this.

Saving sex for marriage is not a guarantee that you will have great sex, that sex will be easy, or in some cases, that sex will even be possible. All it guarantees is that the person you fumble through it with will be someone who has already committed to love you forever. To me, this is still SO worth it. I can’t imagine having stumbled through those experiences with anyone other than my husband. Figuring it out together has brought us closer and has taught us about communicating even when it feels awkward or embarrassing. But we could have done all of that without the added shame and isolation that came from those false expectations.

So now, I make it a point to tell my friends who are getting married the things that no one told me. “Look, this may not happen to you at all, and if it doesn’t, that’s great, but if, for some reason, sex isn’t as natural and intuitive as everyone told you it would be, don’t feel bad. Know that you’re not alone. Know that you WILL figure it out. I know it can feel like this has been built up into such an important and weighty thing, but you really don’t have to be so serious about it. Find ways to laugh together. Look at your wedding night as the night you start a new journey instead of the night you finally reach your destination.”   

[Lily Dunn is an ice cream connoisseur, a Disney fanatic, and a fellow raiSIN hater trying to live an authentic, grace-filled life. She lives and teaches with her husband in Daegu, South Korea and blogs at https://lilyellyn.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @LilyEllyn]  

[To continue on to Part III looking at how 'Sex is for boys', click here]

The first myth I pointed out in my Relevant article was this idea that “Any and all physical contact is a like a gateway drug to sex.”

Growing up, I frequently heard metaphors like, “Don’t start the engine if you aren’t ready to drive the car” used to warn teenagers that any physical contact (including holding hands and kissing) was a slippery slope straight into the jaws of fornication.

Let me be clear. There is some truth to the fact that physical contact leads to more physical contact. Our bodies are designed to respond to certain signals and stimuli in ways that prepare us for sex. That’s just anatomy. What isn’t as true and certainly isn’t as helpful is this idea that you should be scared of physical contact because if you hold your significant other’s hand, sex will magically or accidentally happen against your will.

I have three major problems with this way of talking about boundaries in a physical relationship. The first two have to do with negative consequences of carrying these ideas over into marriage

On this side of things, I can honestly say that there are SO many conscious decisions you have to make between kissing and having sex. Despite what Hollywood says, clothes do not take themselves off and bodies do not magically and effortlessly fit together. And after years of hearing things like, “I got carried away and it just happened,” we feel broken and inept when we discover that in fact, sex doesn’t “just happen,” but takes a significant amount of communication and maneuvering that isn’t what we think of as “sexy.” In that way, this whole slippery slope idea is more Hollywood than it is Scripture.

The second way this idea can negatively affect sex in marriage is that these kinds of metaphors and language reduce human sexuality to a mechanical operation. Before marriage it looks like this; “Don’t press this button or flip that switch or you’ll cause sex to happen.” After marriage it can look like this: “I pressed all the buttons and flipped all the right switches – I am expecting sex to happen.” And if it doesn’t happen, “What did I do wrong?” or worse, “What’s wrong with my partner that they aren’t responding the way they are supposed to?”

Human sexuality is complex and it can’t be (and shouldn’t be) separated from our emotional, mental, spiritual, or otherwise physical state. This kind of language and thinking enforces the idea that our sex drive is the thing that controls us, rather than teaching a biblical, holistic view of the person where all the aspects of our humanity are equally valued.

Speaking from personal experience, this kind of thinking can lead us to expect physical affection to always lead to sex. It had been so ingrained in me that men wanted sex always that I went into marriage believing that any time we kissed or touched or anytime my husband saw my body, we were going to have sex. Not only is that not reality, but it would be unhealthy in a marriage for a couple to only be physically affectionate with the end goal of sex in mind.

My third major problem with this concept deals specifically with how we are talking to teenagers about sex, purity, and abstinence. I have seen and heard many Christian leaders try to produce “purity” in teenagers by building fear. The message is often something along the lines of “If you take one step down this road, you will lose control and not be able to stop yourself.”

I have to wonder if this isn’t a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy with teenagers. If you are constantly being told (directly or indirectly) that you are incapable of making good decisions, eventually you will start to believe it.

I return to my earlier point that this view is damaging because it fails to look at the person (specifically the teenager) as a holistic being. This attitude ASSUMES that you must be controlled by your sex drive above all else. You set strong boundaries out of fear that your sex drive will take over and you will lose control.

If you are committed to waiting until you’re married to have sex, then it is NECESSARY to set boundaries on your physical relationships, but the fear of accidentally having sex shouldn’t be the reason for that. In fact, I don’t believe that fear is a good motivation for doing anything.

I wonder if instead of teaching teenagers that they need to set these boundaries because they CAN’T make good decisions, we honored them as whole human beings who possess a sex drive, but also will and intellect and emotions and, for Christians, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Teenagers (and adults!) are still growing in their ability to balance all of these things. Even as adults we need healthy boundaries around any activities that we may go overboard with and that would cause one aspect of our humanity to be out of balance with the others. Setting boundaries is a way that we help ourselves to grow in wholeness.

So instead of looking at it through the lens of “These are the things I’m not going to do because I am afraid I’ll lose control” I think it would be far more powerful to choose what you ARE going to do and why you are going to do it. “I’m going to set boundaries that help me make wise choices so that I can grow as a WHOLE and complete person.”

With this kind of attitude, the boundaries you set are not just about controlling or suppressing your sexuality. They are about engaging your mind and your will, creating opportunities to listen to the Holy Spirit and to grow in your ability to consistently make good decisions. Boundaries are not about restricting you because you are out of control. Boundaries are about creating opportunity for you to make the good decisions that you ARE capable of making.

[Lily Dunn is an ice cream connoisseur, a Disney fanatic, and a fellow raiSIN hater trying to live an authentic, grace-filled life. She lives and teaches with her husband in Daegu, South Korea and blogs at https://lilyellyn.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @LilyEllyn]  

[For the Intro to this series, click here]

[For some of my own thoughts on the 'How Far is Too Far?' during dating question, click here]

So i now have a few great things written about this topic and was struggling to find the best place to put them so i thought i would create this space over here:

Let’s Talk about Sex – my friend Lily Dunn exposes ’4 Lies the Church Taught her about Sex’ 

Sex Before Marriage – one of those topics that keeps coming up that there are a variety of opinions on – with input from Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

Sex During Marriage – this is a topic we hear a lot less about and some friends of mine graciously share their stories with us.

How Much Sex in Marriage – cos, you know, we like numbers

Let’s Talk About Sex [To Our Children] – a shared blog from Anne Marie Miller that went viral because this is something parents want to know!

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 458 other followers

%d bloggers like this: