Tag Archive: sex


“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

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aka ‘What The Back of His T-shirt Should Have Said’ [spoken word – Micah Bournes]

some powerful thoughts contained in this spoken word as a response to seeing a t-shirt with the words “Virginity can be cured” on it:

Marriage through the Years: Stories, tips and advice from couples who have been married for different numbers of years.

How to save your marriage [before you need to] [Series]

How to Love your spouse better [Series]

Marriage is not for you! [a great read for married people!]

How marriage to the right person is highly recommendable

An excellent blog on the so-badly-called “Honeymoon Phase” of marriage for newly married folks in particular [by my beautiful wife, Val]

The importance of being intentional about romance in marriage in year one, and year ten, and year forty.

Sex in Marriage [also a really good read for those of you who are not married]

Ten Ways to Love Well

What my Single Friends would like their Married Friends to know

The Best Wedding Ever?: A glimpse into the drum beat thick wedding march

Jamie Wright: the Very Worst Missionary

Sex, part 2: Why Wait?

I pretty much hate having teenage boys. 

I hate the looks they give. I hate the smells they make. I hate the skeezy little ‘stache that creeps up, slow and sparse, on their upper lip. But most of all, I hate the autonomy they have.

I hate that my baby boys have grown beyond arms reach and can now wander freely in this little corner of the world. I hate that they get to choose what they’re going to do and say, and that I don’t get to hover over them, correcting them and coddling them and giving them the WTF-are-you-thinking-?!-eyebrow every so often to keep them in line. Hate it.

Ugh! They’re independent. They are young men, responsible for their own actions. That is so scary it makes me want to barf.

And, perhaps it’s because I got knocked up at 17, but, of all the choices my kids are faced with and all the opportunities in front of them, I feel especially preoccupied with their choices regarding sex. Naturally, they love this. I mean, what teenager doesn’t want their Mom constantly reminding them that it’s gross and creepy to engage in sexual activity in public parks, behind strip malls, or in the recessed corner of the movie theatre?! What high schooler would hate it if their Mom sang, “Please do not have sex todaaaaay!” every time they walked out the door?! Surely not mine.

…Yeah. The eye rolling gets pretty intense around here…

But I want my kids to be armed with the truth (and maybe with condoms, but mostly with the truth), and the truth is that they should wait to have sex.

There are obvious reasons why:

1. You could accidentally create another human being (like I did, oops).

2. You could cause yourself or someone else emotional harm by sharing intimate behavior in an irresponsibly casual way.

3. Most compelling, you could contract a horrible, painful, itchy, burning, smelly STD, and your penis could fall right off.

But I believe there’s another really good reason to put sex on hold. 

It’s that when you wait to have sex, you are creating an important connection between the very powerful urges to do things that feel really good and the ability to control those urges. Otherwise known as self-control. This practice of self-denial and delayed gratification makes you a healthier, more poised, and better moderated person (who definitely still has a penis, phew!). Ultimately, self- control is a character trait ~or *ahem*, fruit of the spirit, for the Christian folk~ that will help you be a better long-term partner in your ’til-death-do-we-part relationship.

Listen. I don’t want to kill anyone’s romantic ideas about marriage, I really don’t – but it’s not like you get married and then you’re unfailingly super stoked to have sex with the same person three times a week for the rest of your God given life. I mean, married sex can be amazing – the longer I’ve been married, the better it gets (19 years, Suckas!!). But it really shouldn’t shock anyone to hear that married, monogamous people still have sexual thoughts, desires, and impulses which do not include their spouses. Porn happens. Crushes happen. (Seriously, everybody has crushes. Even Christian bodies have crushes.) The problem is that, in a culture that demands instant gratification and consumes sex like a drug, a quick brush with porn or a simple crush on a coworker can quickly spiral into something devastating.

To top it off, we’ve done a really bad job of teaching about sex in the Church. Our approach has been to shame girls for having it, and shame boys for wanting it. And when the smart kids ask, “Why wait?”, we shrug our shoulders like a hillbilly and say, “Because the Bible says.” Then we give the girls a purity ring and we give the boys nothing and we cross our fingers and hope they’ll cross their legs. So dumb.

ringWe’ve made virginity the goal, when it is purity that we should be aiming for; They’re not the same thing. Sexual purity is a life long spiritual practice that doesn’t begin or end with a single sex act, just as it doesn’t begin or end on a wedding night. So when we are asked, “Why wait?”, we should have an answer that empowers and prepares people to choose wisely for a lifetime. We should be teaching people something they can carry with them beyond their first roll in the hay.

Why wait? Um. Because you need to learn some freaking self-control. That’s why.

No kidding, the person who is a slave to their sexual desires will have a difficult road to hoe. ←Heh. See what I did there? 😉 But the man or woman who has a sense of mastery over their own sexual appetite will be far less likely to fall into the easy traps of addiction and infidelity that plague marriages today. I don’t mean to imply that postponing sex guarantees fidelity – it certainly doesn’t. And I don’t think this is a fail safe for a long and happy marriage, but I think delaying sex is a pretty solid beginning.

So I tell my kids, much to their horrified chagrin;

“I know it’s hard to be near the person you’re aching to touch and kiss and do… um… other… likenaked things with. I know! I get it. We all get it. But the person you’re with right now? That person isnot the last person you will have those feelings toward, and you need to know what it feels like to not act on those feelings, because a day will come when you will have to exercise self-control for the sake of the relationship you’ve given your life to – and, trust me, you will want to know how to do that. Do not relinquish that power without a fight. So, really, consider the wait. There’s value in waiting. (But if you don’t wait? Condom. Please. Because babies. And emotional wounds. And your penis will rot off…)

Waiting is an act of maturity and discipline that can help refine your humanity, and that of your mate. And while I still don’t think sex before marriage is the biggest deal of all the deals ever, I do think waiting is a good start toward a long and healthy life with the person you’ve chosen to love. Plus, statistically, married people have WAY more sex than single people. So exercise self-control while you’re waiting to get married, then use that well honed skill to help you stay married and – BOOM – buckets of sex for a lifetime! …That’s bad math, but still.

So, Why wait? 

Wait because self-control is a virtue necessary to living a life of purity, and waiting is just good practice. 

That’s it. That’s all.

[This is a reblog of a post that Jamie originally posted on her own blog which you should read and follow and subscribe to and tell all your friends about, or at least the less conservative ones, which you can find over here]

[If you missed part I of the series simply titles ‘Sex’ you can catch up to it by clicking here]

Jamie Wright: the Very Worst Missionary

aka Jamie the very worst missionary’s position on sex [part I]

My youngest son is about to turn 13, so for the next 9 months, until my oldest turns 20 (holy ape balls!), I will be Mom to three teenage boys.

That means our dinner table feels like a locker room… if locker rooms were full of nerds. The conversation tumbles easily from Xbox to music to girls to MineCraft to push ups to girls to movies to farts to money to girls to YouTube, and then back again, in an endless loop, so that over the course of one meal we come around to the subject of “girls” at least 9 times.

At least

Girl talk inevitably leads to sex talk. And, let me tell you, if there is one thing these guys like to talk about more than girls? It’s sex. So we talk about sex. Kind of a lot. And since (as far as I know) none of my children have gone and gotten married, we’re mostly talking about sex of the pre-marital sort; y’know, Virginity and stuff. The Big “V”. The Sacred Gift. The Golden Ticket…. These chats are exactly as awkward as you imagine.

Obviously, my children know that I had sex before marriage because I had a kid before marriage, so there’s really no getting around it. That same kid towers over me now; a full two years older than I was when his own fluttering heartbeat wound itself into mine. These days, I look at him and I think, “He can’t even keep his own room clean – how the hell did I manage an infant and a full time job at that age?!”

So, yeah, I was an unwed teenage mother. Classy, I know.

But oh, it gets worse, because before I invented MTV’s Teen Mom, I was a little bit of a ho-bag. Yup. I willingly did regretful things with my body, and I allowed myself to be used in regretful ways by some regretfully sleazy douchebags, perverts, and (in retrospect) probably pedophiles. Gross, I know.

I believed that sex was the best thing I had to offer the world. It was the only thing about me worth loving. And I learned, too young, that I could leverage sex to get what I wanted. My female parts had become my greatest asset.

glassThen I found my way into the Church, 19 with a baby on my hip, and while I lingered on the outskirts of the Christian bubble, guess what I learned… I learned I was right! Apparently, even God was super concerned with my vagina, and where it had been, and what it had touched. Apparently, my genitals were like a portal that led straight to my soul. I had been muddied – and everybody knows that once you muck up clean water, you can’t unmuck it.

It took me a lot of years and a lot of conversations with God (and with people who know more about God than me) to understand that everything I believed about my own sexuality was built on two huge lies.

The first comes from our culture, and it tells us that sex outside of marriage isn’t a big deal.

The second is from the Church, and it tells us that sex outside of marriage is the biggest deal of all the deals ever.

One allowed me to give it away freely, convinced I would carry no burden. The other forced me to carry a spirit crushing load.

Both are complete crap.

Sex matters. It’s the most vulnerable thing you’ll ever do with another human being. Commitment breeds intimacy, and intimacy is what makes sex freaking amazing. I’m not gonna lie, you can have hot sex outside of a committed relationship – but mostly it’s gonna be like… clumsy… and goopy… and ew. The better you know your partner, the better your sex will be. So basically what I’m saying is that wedding night sex is kinda “Meh.”, and five years sex is all “Yes!”, but 18 years sex is like “WOAH!!!” So go ahead and wait. Wait and enjoy the waiting, and then bask in all those learning experiences with your most trusted friend.

But.

If you’ve already gone down that path, you knocked boots, you got ‘er done, you did the nasty…. and now you’re not sure, or maybe you feel dirty and you’re rocking the walk-of-shame-face day in and day out, you need to hear this — I mean it, you really need to hear this…

You’ve had sex outside of marriage? *gasp* So what! You are so much more than your sexuality. And the God of the Universe, the one who turns whores into heroes, and drunks into prophets, and liars and murderers into leaders and kings – that God? He made peace with you and me and our promiscuous, pathetic attempts at love a long, long time ago. He gave you a Redeemer. Shame is no longer your burden…

Do I want my boys to wait? Absolutely. And they know it! But I refuse to tie their value as a human being to their junk like a shiny red balloon.

I want them to know that sex is sacred. And I want them to believe that it matters. I hope they will esteem the bodies of the girls in their lives, as they hold their own bodies to the same high standard.

But I also want them to understand that the kind of sexual purity the Bible calls us to doesn’t begin or end with Virginity – It’s way bigger than that. It’s way more significant. And it’s way harder to hold on to.

… ….. ….

To wait, or not to wait? That is the question…

[This is a reblog of a post that Jamie originally posted on her own blog which you should read and follow and subscribe to and tell all your friends about, or at least the less conservative ones, which you can find over here]

However, this particular blog post has a sequel to it, which Jamie has just recently written and which you can find right over here…

belgiumI remember the first article I was invited to write for Truth magazine back in the day had the title, “How far is too far?” so I wrote, “Belgium. Belgium is too far!” and then proceeded to write the rest of my article [for some reason, they let me stay.]

And the main point of the article was that if we are asking ‘How far is too far?’ then we are already in trouble because we are asking the wrong question. From the Christian perspective, basically knowing that ‘Sex before marriage is the greatest evil’ [it’s not, but you’d think so from the trailer!] the ‘HFITF’ questions is pretty much asking, ‘How much can I do with my girl/boy-friend before I have to feel bad?’ ‘How close to the cliff can I get without falling off?‘ [where falling off was a metaphor for ‘having a baby’ or something] or else quite simply ‘How close to evil can I sneak without being called it?’

In essence, the question we were all taught to ask was ‘How much can I get away with?’

And it’s the wrong question!

But we never knew that, because sex was such a dirty topic. It was a dirty topic at home as our parents were from the ‘Children should be seen and not heard’ generation [who must have all had sex by accident one day when they tripped on top of each other and their clothes burnt up in the friction as they fell, or something] and it was definitely a dirty topic at church [Sex was pretty much the ‘Voldemort’ of church. Voldemort being the ‘Saying Macbeth before theatre productions’ of the Harry Potter world. And so on.]

And so, because we couldn’t learn about sex from our parents or our church leaders, all that left was our friends and their illicitly-smuggled-from-deviant-older-brother ‘smuggled in brown paper bag’ magazines [which in my day had these little white stars posted over the n_p_l_s! Who, by the way were not always the best of teachers. [Our friends and magazines, I mean, not n_p_l_s. Although they weren’t much help either]

Oh parents. Oh church leaders. How you might have saved us much trouble and confusion and who knows what other kinds of traumas and complications had we just been able to sit around and have an open and adult conversation about S-E-X. We don’t blame you for it, because you had your own story passed on from your parents and society, and I really think you did the best you could. But it would have helped.

Today all of that is history as we have our good friend Uncle Google who has all measure of wikipedia entries, how-to videos and image galleries to walk us through it. [But it would probably still go a lot smoother if you just gave us the chance of a decent potentially-awkward-but-we’ll-get-over-it conversation before we turn 30 and without merely tossing a pamphlet, book or website URL on our pillows when we are out]

Let’s talk about sex.

This is a relevant conversation for Christ-following people for sure, but I believe it extends way beyond that. I think that healthy sexuality, purity, intimacy and self-control and other aspects  linked to relationships and sex are relevant for everyone because I believe that getting a healthy grasp on them [hee hee] is more about living well than merely living christian. So I hope you will find these posts useful:

First up I have two posts by the incredible Jamie Wright who blogs as ‘The Very Worst Missionary’ and has written two extremely helpful blog posts, in her own very unique style, which I think really captures the heart of at least some of what this topic is all about:

Meet Jamie Wright, aka The Very Worst Missionary

And now a glimpse into the story of Steve and Helene from Helene’s side:

Helene and Steve

I will start with the here and now – Steve and I have been married two and a half years and together six years. I feel very blessed and fulfilled by our physical intimacy, and am looking for many years of exploring what that will look like in the various seasons that await us. Knowing where the other comes from with respect to sexual history makes us want to honor the other, and bring healing and peace and respect to the other in a way that no one else can. With that comes a humbling responsibility and great power, but also a deep desire to bless the other and receive the joy of sex that God intended for us to experience together. I am sure it will not always be like it is now – sometimes it will be better (whatever that will look like, I don’t know yet) and sometimes it will be worse, but I have a deep trust that this is something we both want to prioritize because we have been uniquely placed by God in a position to offer that to the other. I would say that right now, our biggest challenge is that we often feel like life gets in the way of us making time to be intimate as often as we’d like. Thankfully we are quick to notice it and since we don’t have children and have a fair degree of freedom in our activities, we plan impromptu time in bed or put a hold on our calendar for a romantic evening on short notice to remedy the situation. Life is good.

But it wasn’t always like this. What I had to bring to the table on our wedding night was a soul and body so disconnected by a misguided sexual past that I thought I would never be able to fulfill my role in sharing wonderful physical intimacy with my husband. And it really broke my heart, because I felt that Steve had spent so many years (mostly) holding back from physical intimacy until he found someone to marry, while I was out carousing with any guy who wanted to lay a hand on me, and now all that brokenness made me unable to give something to Steve that he so rightfully deserved. I felt shame and disappointment and guilt. I felt unworthy and dirty. And more than anything, I felt scared to give him access to my body and my soul together as one – which is something I’d never done with anyone.

You see, my body hadn’t always been mine. My childhood, despite my wonderful parents’ love and care, was filled with physical attacks from a violent brother as well as the unwanted advances of a male babysitter before I even reached puberty. At a young age I learned that my body was something people could use to hurt me. I learned that those closest to me were the ones who would hurt me. So I simply dissociated my soul from my body – if people wanted to use my body for evil that’s fine, I could keep it at arm’s length and not be affected by it. In teenage years I became very promiscuous – which seems counterintuitive but I learned later that it is a very common way for survivors of childhood sexual abuse or violence to cope with a feeling of powerlessness. It was as though I had to affirm that my body didn’t matter, therefore what happened to me as a child didn’t matter. What it did however, was widen the chasm between how I related to my body and how I related to my soul – I didn’t understand how the two could coexist together as a whole. It also taught me that you can have countless partners but that you never have to trust anyone, especially the ones you become closest to. So in a weird way sex became a tool to keep people at a distance, not bring them closer. I had no concept of what it could mean to have sex with someone and respect them, or be respected for that matter. By the time I entered my thirties I had left that wildly promiscuous past behind, perhaps more as a result of finding fewer people willing to engage in the practice because of my age, or perhaps because unbeknownst to me I was growing up a little. Then Steve entered the scene. We started dating and he told me about not wanting to have sex before marriage. I thought “well heck, I’ve never tried THAT before!” Since nothing else had worked to that point with respect to finding eternal love, I was willing to give it a shot. Not only was I attracted to Steve in the conventional way at the onset of dating, but I was also very intrigued by the idea that someone could value a relationship with me that wasn’t based on the physical. In hindsight it is an incredible story of redemption that the Lord would have put Steve on my path, because out of that relationship came a deep reconciliation between my body and my soul, and a feeling of wholeness has emerged that I had never thought possible.

It was not easy at first though. I didn’t know how to be sexual and at the same time stay engaged emotionally and spiritually with him. I knew that I could not treat this incredible person the way I had treated sexual partners in the past – by using him as an object. At the same time, I did not know how to stay connected with him during physical intimacy because I had trained my soul to just go hide somewhere deep inside whenever I was naked with somebody and to leave my empty shell of a body for the person to use as they saw fit. At that point, we’d just gotten married and I wanted desperately to give him a wonderful sexual experience, but it all came crashing down on me. All those years of protecting myself had essentially disabled me from knowing how to let somebody in, body and soul, into my life. So in the first few weeks/months, I remember letting “it” happen but feeling pain and incredible sadness that I couldn’t connect with Steve in that way. I felt a lot of rage and guilt that all these years I had been able to have “great sex (whatever that means!)” with strangers and now with the one person whom I loved and trust, I couldn’t do it. But that was actually a blessing, because what was happening was that for the first time in my life I cared enough about someone that I did not want to use him and let him use me. I wanted to experience what God intended for us to experience, but I didn’t know how. I felt too broken to have anything to offer. I was at an impasse, so I went to see a counselor who helped me sort out all these feelings I was having. She gave me and Steve tools for overcoming this initial difficulty in our intimacy. She gently encouraged me to start trusting Steve in a way that I had never trusted anyone before. At first, I sometimes had to make him stop in the middle of the act because I couldn’t stay with it emotionally and I did not want to let myself dissociate from my body. It was better to make the whole thing stop than to let myself go back to that secret place inside and leave my empty shell in bed with Steve. It was awkward of course, and I am forever grateful that Steve gave me the space and unconditional love to work through all these emotions – all the while he was experiencing his own disappointment that sex with me wasn’t quite the amazing and exciting experience he had hoped it would be. What made the difference was that I knew he trusted me and trusted that I was committed to getting past this and having a wonderful physical connection with him down the road. He never pressured me, something for which I am, again, so grateful to him. Within that sacred, safe place I began to heal.

After about a year, things started getting better. I found myself looking forward to sharing intimate time with Steve whereas before I had to talk myself into it a little. I started trusting him, trusting my body to be a source of joy and pleasure and not a source of pain, trusting that it is possible to have someone touch me with respect, with love, with care. And I feel so incredibly grateful when I find myself wishing we spent more time in bed together now–after my journey it is such a blessing to find myself in such a mundane, simple predicament: simply to wish for more intimate time with my husband. More importantly, all the time Steve and I spent not being fulfilled sexually has created a relationship that is based on trust and mutual respect and we have learned to find other ways to feel valued and loved. I look forward to and love the times that we spend physically intertwined together, but I also look forward to and love the times when we just sit and talk about what we’ve been reading and thinking about, cook together, kayak together or serve others together. We were able to develop an incredibly supportive and challenging relationship even as we were struggling with relating to one another sexually, which had two pretty awesome outcomes: one, we appreciate the lightness and depth of our physical intimacy even more because we worked hard for it, and two, we don’t worry about how it would affect our relationship if for some reason (sickness, distance,…) we couldn’t show our love physically to one another. We know so many ways to show and receive love and to feel connected to one another, one of which happens to be sex. It’s a wonderful gift, but not the “end all be all” of marriage in my opinion.

[to read Steve’s side to this story, click here]

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