Tag Archive: relevant magazine

In the last day of so, i have seen the phrase and hashtag, “Christian Cleavage” showing up all over the internet and so, being a curious guy, went to take a look at what my extended family is up to this time.

Turns out it all started [was re-ignited?] when an apparently prominent Christian blogger, Jarrid Wilson, wrote a blog post titled, ‘The Problem with Christian Cleavage’ that apparently caused so much controversy and mayhem that he quickly took it down, tweaked it a little and replaced it with the new version titled The Importance of Modesty and Self-Control.’

This is not a new topic in the church. ‘Girls coming to church with their boobs hanging out’ has been debated probably from the time Adam sent Eve out to the nearest fig tree for ‘a quick shop’.

This is something i have had a fairly strong opinion on for a fairly long time, but knowing how minefieldy [it’s a word!] a topic this is, have tended to wait until it blows over – the people on both sides of this heated conversation can get quite animated and pointy.



Jayson D Bradley’s Christian Cleavage probably isn’t the problem’ which was reposted on Relevant Magazine was the first article i found, subtitled ‘Our talks about modesty break down when we assume the worst of everyone.’ Typically this has been largely the stance of women on the matter, feeling the need [often merited] to have to stand up for themselves. And there is so much truth in this.

Jayson ends his article with three points which he briefly extrapolates:

Some of Church’s teaching on the topic can be drawn out to send the wrong message when we tell both men and women that:

1. Men can’t be responsible for their behaviour.

2. There’s something shameful about women’s bodies.

3. Sexuality is the most important issue in the world.

Taken to a broader perspective than simply what women wear to church, this conversation spills over into the even more significant one that was all over social media last year when the #YesAllWomen tag and movement gained a lot of attention and focus. Concepts like Rape Culture and slut shaming and the need for a deeper understanding in areas where women have often ended up feeling like the perpetrators rather than the victims when crimes have been committed against them. [Questions like “What was she wearing?” and statements such as, “She had been drinking too much” making it seem as if the woman was somehow responsible for being raped]

Rachel Held Evans deals with this side of what has been dubbed ‘Modesty Culture’ really well in her post, ‘Modesty: I don’t think it means what you think it means’ summing up the church issue side of it well when she writes,

We know what it’s like to be told over and over and over again by red-faced preachers that our legs, our breasts, our curves, our bodies have the bewitching power to “make our brothers stumble.” So it is our responsibility to cover them up, to dress modestly to “please our brothers” by keeping them on the path of righteousness.

She even puts a very different spin on it, reminding us once again how the church likes to elevate certain issues or sins above others and harp on certain things while leaving others [often more mentioned things] largely untouched:

In fact, nearly all of the Bible’s instructions regarding modest clothing refer not to sexuality, but rather materialism (Isaiah 3:16-23, 1 Timothy 2:9-12, 1 Peter 3:3). Writers in both the Old Testament and New Testament express grave concern when the people of God flaunt their wealth by buying expensive clothes and jewelry while many of their neighbors suffered in poverty. (Ironically, I’ve heard dozens of sermons about keeping my legs and my cleavage out of sight, but not one about ensuring my jewelry was not acquired through unjust or exploitive trade practices—which would be much more in keeping with biblical teachings on modesty.)

There is so much truth in what these and other people are saying and quite possibly the loudest Truth on this topic that does need to be spoken and understood and taken seriously. BUT the essence of it leads to the conclusion, stated or not, that guys are ‘the bad guy’ and that it is ALL about guys sorting themselves out and letting women wear whatever the flip they want to.


The other side of the argument, i saw demonstrated in this piece by Jennifer Leclaire, titled ‘Why do so many ‘Born-again’ ‘Spirit-filled’ Women show off Cleavage in Church?’ This side of the argument is typically held up by men as it focuses on women needing to be the ones dressing modestly and not ‘causing their Christian brother’s to stumble.’

Crosswalk.com had another article similarly titled, ‘Why Do So Many Women Show Off Cleavage in Church?’ and while this one is written by a guy [could not find his name] it is framed as being a piece brought up by his wife.

Jennifer frames her opinion on the topic in the traditional way of looking at the effect that women’s choices have on the poor, struggling men around them:

Paul instructed Timothy that women should “adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation” (1 Tim. 2:9), and he told the church at Corinth that “our unpresentable parts have greater modesty” (1 Cor. 12:23). Regardless of how hot it is outside or how busy we are, there’s no justification for Spirit-filled women to come to church wearing clothes that cause some men to pay more attention to the things of the flesh than the things of the Spirit.

The second article quotes a previous piece by Sharon Hodde Miller in which she comes up with three possible ways of looking at the issue in a way which doesn’t shame women, but still invites them to be aware of and acting on the issue to some measure:

How do we discuss modesty in a manner that celebrates the female body without objectifying women, and still exhorts women to purity? The first solution is to dispense with body-shaming language. Shame is great at behavior modification, even when the shaming is not overt. But shame-based language is not the rhetoric of Jesus. It is the rhetoric of his Enemy.

Second, we must affirm the value of the female body. The value or meaning of a woman’s body is not the reason for modesty. Women’s bodies are not inherently distracting or tempting. On the contrary, women’s bodies glorify God. Dare I say that a woman’s breasts, hips, bottom, and lips all proclaim the glory of the Lord! Each womanly part honors Him. He created the female body, and it is good.

Finally, language about modesty should focus not on hiding the female body but on understanding the body’s created role. Immodesty is not the improper exposure of the body per se, but the improper orientation of the body. Men and women are urged to pursue a modesty by which our glory is minimized and God’s is maximized. The body, the spirit and the mind all have a created role that is inherently God-centered. When we make ourselves central instead of God, we display the height of immodesty.

i do believe there is some truth in what these and other people are saying. BUT the essence of it leads to the conclusion, stated or not, that women are ‘the bad guy’ and that it is ALL about women sorting themselves out and doing everything they can to ensure that men don’t stumble.


i have stood in the sidelines of this online debate for months, maybe even years. Because i know that taking either one of these sides and holding to it strongly is likely to get you shamed with a ‘How dare you make this all about us?’ from the women if you’re supporting ‘Modesty Culture’ and an equally scathing, ‘What a lousy Christian you are!’ if you fly the ‘Women, wear whatever you want,and men stop being such sexual deviants!’ flag.

But i haven’t been happy.

i haven’t felt that either side has gotten it particularly right.

Because for the most part, it feels like opinions from either side are delivered to a large extent in a manner which comes across very much like, “I’m right and you’re a dick if you think the opposite!”

The extremes are quite extreme on this, and i haven’t read too much that falls closer to some kind of third way, or a call upon both men and women to step up to the plate.

To be honest, i have heard a lot of ‘Me!’

And therein, i believe lies the problem. Or a huge part of it.

Let me state that i do inherently believe the problem is with the guy. i should be able to control myself. It should not be up to the women to have to dress safely so that i don’t stumble. The problem is typically not the women’s. It is the guy who has the struggle.

But having acknowledged that, perhaps as the woman who understands and gets that the issue and problem belongs to the guy, there is a way of responding in Love that sounds a little bit different from, ‘Well you should really just sort yourself out then.’

Perhaps, as someone who recognises a problem in someone else, there is something i can do, as an act of love, to make it easier for them. And this is the point that i have failed to see expressed much if at all.

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul deals with the very real at the time issue of eating food that had been offered to idols. What is interesting to note is how the chapter begins:

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

His opinion on the topic is absolute. Food offered to idols is not an issue. It’s not a sin. It is absolutely okay. But then on top of that, he makes provision for someone who may struggle in the area, introducing it with this key line:

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

The eating of the food is not the issue, but if you are are in the presence of someone who is weaker and doesn’t get that that is the case, then choosing to stay away from the meat is the most loving thing you can do.

If i am an alcoholic, then the problem is mine. It’s not your problem, it’s not your issue and you should not be blamed for me being an alcoholic. The fact that you choose to drink should not be in any way responsible for me drinking or not. But, if you know that i struggle with alcohol, then surely a loving act, when you invite me round for a meal, would be to not serve alcohol. Not because you have the problem, but because i have the problem, and you are aware of it, and want to love me well by choosing to not even create the smallest bit of temptation.

This feels like the same thing.

To conclude that the problem is with the guy, so i will wear whatever i want, does not feel to me like a loving response.

To get so heated about this topic, whichever side of it you stand on, and be calling the other side names of any type, instead of having some open and honest conversation and really trying to listen to and hear what the other person is saying, feeling, experiencing, also does not feel to me like a very loving response.

And after all, that is the undebatable command – you will be known by the love you have for each other.


From Worst Christian Book covers of 2014 to how to respond to Trolls or other people online you disagree strongly with, to a whole bunch of really helpful, insightful and great articles on race-related things and some reflections on our time at Robben Island, this has been another crazy  week of much to read, watch and ingest, and i would hate for you to miss any of it and so i have compiled this Don’t-Miss-Out summary of some of the greatest and lamest and most interesting moments from the web this past week.

Catch up on some of the gems you missed and share them with your friends:


MOST UNLIKELY CHRISTMAS GIFTS: If you haven’t finalised your Christmas Shopping yet, there will most likely still be time to order any of these, which i imagine will be sticking firmly to the shelves:


Worst Christian Book covers of 2014/2015


MOST HELPFUL.INSIGHTFUL IN THE ONGOING RACE CONVERSATION: i have continued to read a LOT around this topic and keep on finding SO MANY POSTS that are just so good. i took three of the best of them and stuck them together in this blog post:


The Wisdom of Others in Talking about Race
But then immediately found this interview with Christian Rapper Propaganda which made some of the aspects of it even clearer and it is worth reading the whole thing on Relevant Magazine, but at the very least part 2:


Interview With Propaganda by Relevant Magazine, Part II


Why I run with Trolls: While a lot of people think that engagement with people who are strongly opposed to an idea you might be discussing is a waste of time, i give some ideas on why it might not be.




Journey to Robben Island series: Last weekend i was privileged to go with tbV and a group of about twenty young up and coming Christian leaders to spend the weekend at Robben Island and i posted some snapshots into that experience.




18 Badass women you probably didn’t hear about in 2014: Suggested by my friend Lindsay Brown, here is a remarkable list of some stories that didn’t get as much noise as they could have this last year.


CLASSIC PHOTO MOMENT OF THE WEEK: Go and order some Thai food for my wife and this is the Customer name they assign to me:




MOST EPIC USA MEETS SA VIDEO: With over 200 shares just from my Facebook blog page, i imagine you have probably seen this already, but if not then watch how Trevor Noah takes on the might of Americaland in this clip from The Daily Show:



MOST INSPIRING SONG: Absolutely love Asumbonanga by Johnny Clegg and he released a new version of it to coincide with the one year remembering of Nelson Mandela’s death:





Watching The Ellen Show where Ellen is chatting to her ‘Most amazing teacher of the year’ who is this white lady working with mostly Asian kids and the moment in the video where the teacher says, “Some of them don’t even have English names yet.”


“A movement starts when the founder really knows Jesus. You know how a movement dies? When the followers only know the founder.” Francis Chan @crazylove

“There is no point being in the right place at the right time if you are not then willing to do the right thing.” Mike Pilavachi @MikePilav

“Convictions don’t change the world. Rather, people who faithfully and tenaciously pursue and live out their convictions change the world.” Eugene Cho @EugeneCho

Analogies are like sandwiches; I’m making one right now.  @Benjamin_G_Lund

Assistant measured my feet and said “You’re an eight” I couldn’t.  @FemmeDomestique
Hashtag Game suggestions i’ve submitted:

When Harry met Slalom

Lacrosse and the Switchblade

The Good, The Badminton and the Ugly

And now for something completely discus

Brought my Celeb Tweet love up to 4 with this Retweet from Parks and Rec’s own John Ralphio:

Jean Ralphio favorited your Tweet

Dec 11@rejectedjokes Oh no. Love us some Jean-Ralphio. Well played dude. So. Much. Fun. #ParksAndRec
What about you? What blog posts or articles caught your eye this week? What has been making you think or laugh or be challenged or go, ‘Wo!’? What have you written on your blog that is worth taking a look at?

Leave us a link in the comments for our weekendentertainment…


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]

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]

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]

“I’ve heard people say that growing up as an evangelical Christian meant they never talked about sex. That wasn’t my experience. I grew up in the thick of evangelical purity culture and we talked about sex A LOT. We just spent all of that time talking about how and why NOT to have it.

As someone who followed all of the rules and waited until I was married to have sex, I was assured that I would be guaranteed an easy and rewarding sex life. When reality turned out to be different than what I’d been told, I was disappointed and disillusioned. I blamed myself, convinced no one else had experienced what I was experiencing. But when I timidly started to bring it up with my married friends, I realized that many others also felt let-down by post-marital sexual experiences that weren’t everything they’d been led to expect. I started to wonder if maybe the expectations themselves were wrong. Maybe what I’d been told or inferred about post-marital sex simply wasn’t true. “

Lily Dunn Bio

A few weeks ago I wrote an article called “4 Lies the Church Taught Me About Sex.” that was published by Relevant magazine online.

Many people wrote to say that the article had hit a nerve for them. They too had experienced churches, youth groups, and other Christian communities that used guilt, shame, or the promise of future rewards to encourage abstinence. Many also said they had experienced similar disappointment, disillusionment, and confusion after marriage and had felt alone in those feelings.

I used the term “the Church” because this experience was not restricted to my particular church – I saw and experienced this kind of language in my friend’s churches, at youth conferences, in books and Christian magazines, and even from missionaries in other countries. Perhaps honing in on the evangelical subculture would be more appropriate, but I don’t believe this is something only a narrow margin of Christians have been affected by. When I refer to “the Church,” I don’t hold myself outside of that. I too, am the Church. And because I am part of the church, my desire is to work towards her wholeness.

I didn’t write the article out of bitterness or regret, and I certainly wasn’t making the point that waiting isn’t worthwhile. I wrote it because I deeply believe that the reasons WHY we do things matter. In fact, they might matter as much as the actions themselves. I wanted to call into question the way much of the evangelical Christian community has handled its discussion of both pre and post-marital sex. Restricting sex to marriage is a value we hold, but the way we talk about it matters. The reasons people are waiting (or not waiting) matter.

I believe the Church is meant to spread truth, but some of the teachings I encountered about sex simply weren’t true. Much of the struggle and disappointment I did experience would have been avoided had I simply not been given false expectations and unhealthy ways of viewing sex and sexuality.

The article received a lot of attention from Christians and non-Christians alike and I was able to respond to some of the questions and concerns it sparked in a follow-up post on my blog, but this is a big topic and there’s a lot more that can be said. Brett has graciously given me the opportunity to expand on some of my points from the article. I’ll be doing a series of posts that flesh out my original four points and hopefully address some concerns that have been raised. In my next post I’ll talk about the idea of physical contact as a “gateway drug” for sex — how this language and attitude about our physical relationships can be harmful as well as some thoughts on better ways to think and talk about setting necessary boundaries.

[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 lilyellyn.wordpress.com You can also follow her on Twitter @LilyEllyn]

Lies about Sex: Part I – Physical Contact and Boundaries

Lies about Sex: Part II – The Myth of the Magical Wedding Night

Lies about Sex: Part III – Sex is for Boys

Lies about Sex: Part IV – Waiting for Marriage means Guilt-free Sex

this is an article written by shane claiborne for relevant magazine that encourages the church to get creative in their imagination of what a new world could look like – what are you dreaming up?

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