Tag Archive: Lies about Sex


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]

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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]

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