Of all the dilemmas that make up the human condition, the most misunderstood, confusing, and yet important one is relationships/sex. It’s also my least favorite. Let me explain.
In speaking with friends, I’ve heard that one of the hardest things about being homosexual and Christian is constantly battling the feelings of “Why did God make me this way if this is wrong?” I’m not going to delve into being homosexual and Christian issues because there are entire books written about that (though you can read a great essay on the topic by my good friend Dave Ellens), and it’s not a topic that I’m an expert on. I can, however, tell you that I wrestle with that same question with being 26, male, single, and Christian. There are no guidelines for being in your mid-twenties, being Christian, and still being a sexual creature.
The problem is that my religion is obsessed with sex. In fact, so obsessed are we Christians with sex that we refuse to talk about it. Ever. When you really think about every major issue that Christians seem to care about, it all comes back to sex. Homosexuality, infidelity, promiscuity, and even abortion are all the major issues that people are judged or ostracized for from the church, and those who struggle with any of these issues better not mention it. Instead, we seem to prefer those issues stay hidden until they find their way out in much more dramatic fashion, so we can keep a nice clean front porch, regardless of how much decay there is inside. And in my opinion, the problem always comes back to the fact that we just don’t talk about it.
The more the scandals like Ted Haggard come to light, it seems all the more clear that these are issues we need to be talking about. And we do not have to come up with the answers (I can’t stress that enough), but we need to allow people to talk about this and struggle with this. The more that people are forced to fight these battles in private, the more they are going to lose. People are sexual creatures, and whether you’re a Christian or not, that sexuality is going to find a way out, and if there’s no public discourse without punishment of shame and rejection, it will find its way out in very unhealthy ways.
I bring this up because I’ve been struggling a lot personally with that in the last couple years. The thing is, I am a sexual creature (this becomes more evident to me with every passing day), and that’s part of who I am, and I have been miserably bad at finding a balance between not being a slave to that, but not repressing it either. I’ve begun to notice that sex is exploited everywhere, and it’s the most controlling force I’ve ever experienced. I am the ideal demographic for 70% of the commercials out there, the ones that completely exploit sexuality and women to sell a product. And it’s sickening how well it works on me. However, I wonder if my sexuality would be far less controlling of me if it wasn’t so forbidden to talk about or express. Because apart from marriage, there is no celebration or even understanding of sexuality within the Christian community, and that has to change. And since I have yet to find a woman that I really would like to spend the rest of my life with and not rush into marriage with, this is an issue I will struggle with, as it has been made very clear to me that God did not design me for celibacy.
Think about all the hasty Christian marriages that happen. Now I’m not saying all of those are just a mad rush so that the couple is “allowed” to have sex, but when a group of people are told that sex is very wrong when not in the context of marriage, and their desires to have sex are growing at alarmingly difficult to control speeds …well, you do the math. And to make matters worse, if you do wait until you find the right partner and not rush into marriage, that’s more time to have it drilled into your head that sex is wrong, and then when you get married, it’s okay! … but what do you do then? I’ve heard from many friends who said they were scared of sex because of the big switch from it being something wrong to something beautiful. Not saying it should be the other way around, but wouldn’t it be nice if the line wasn’t so thick, and the switch so drastic? I’m even beginning to wonder if the whole pre-marital sex sin is just basically a nice rule for kids who probably won’t be safe and end up making a big mistake. The fact that I feel that’s such a controversial statement is proof enough to me of how much importance Christians place on sex.
For a while there I actually hated sex, because all it represented to me was a controlling disgusting force that was exploited and served anywhere possible, and always left a healthy dose of guilt afterward. I don’t feel that way anymore, but it’s still a struggle to understand, and even more of a struggle to celebrate (that one may be impossible to figure out).
But more and more I hear from friends who have long been harboring pornography, masturbation, or sex addictions, and we as Christians naturally treat this as the most shameful revelations possible. Why is that? If someone has been selfish or greedy for a long time, they do not have the same sense of shame. But even desire sex and you should be filled to the brim with guilt.
Now granted, I am not at all endorsing rampant sexual promiscuity with no thought for consequences or guilt, as there are many psychological and health reasons why people should control themselves in that regard. I do, however, wish it just wasn’t such a big deal. And it is my hope that the more I can talk about this honestly, and encourage others to talk about it honestly (which is why I more and more appreciate ministries such as xxxchurch), the desires inside me to do things that I end up greatly regretting will die away with the mystique of the forbidden. Because too often they can control me better than any drug out there and I’m forever left wondering “God, why did you make me this way if this is so wrong?” I know I’m not alone in that struggle.