What’s Up with Sex in the First Place?
“When your soul is full, you turn down even the sweetest honey.
But when your soul is starving, every bitter thing becomes sweet.”
Proverbs 27:7 (The Passion Translation)
In my latest blog, I began to unpack the last two puzzle pieces in this ongoing series. How does our faith (relationship with God, theology, values) inform our sexual expression (behavior)? There were a few questions to begin the conversation:
- What informs the boundaries or limits I have around sexual activity?
- Is my behavior incongruent with my faith and beliefs?
- What do I believe God says about gender, sex, marriage and relationships?
- What interpretations of scripture do I believe around sexuality?
But there is another question I often discuss with the men and women coming to WGA. Why do good Christian men and women uphold boundaries around their sexual expression for a season—then suddenly toss them out? Before we begin to explore this complicated question, let’s back up and ask a precursor. What is sex for in the first place?
What was God’s intent and design for sex in the first place? The most obvious purpose for sex, of course, is procreation. The earth must continue to be populated or that’s the end of people. For those of us who don’t have the inclination, I’m so very glad there are folks who are doing just that. Another biggie is the idea of “union” with another person. A man and woman, the same yet complimentary, bringing everything of themselves and lives together, even their physical bodies in covenant unity. Certainly this must reflect the intimacy, mutually submissive and unselfish love of the Trinity (at least as much as possible in a fallen world).
Finally, there is the absolute pleasure of sexual intimacy. God has wired our bodies for pleasure. Science tells us our sexual equipment has more nerve endings than any other parts of our body. The big payoff is orgasm–pretty potent stuff, and God invented it.
But we can’t stop there because it’s not just about the physical intimacy in sex. It’s also about the emotional and relational aspects that are equal, if not more powerful. To a heart that’s starving, sharing life with someone can feel off the charts! You feel valued when you’re affirmed, desired, wanted and sharing pleasure with someone that traverses life and that culminates in physical intimacy. We long to belong. There’s a loneliness that prevails when one is faced with deep, unmet longings.
And now we’re back to the original question. Why do good Christian men and women uphold boundaries around their sexual expression for a season—then suddenly toss them out? Is it merely selfish rebellion? Maybe it’s weariness waiting on God’s timing or just simple longing and loneliness? I imagine it’s combinations of a lot factors.
You know how you feel after you’ve had a huge meal? You ate more than you wanted to and it’s even kind of uncomfortable? Then a commercial for Dairy Queen comes on and it’s like “gross, that doesn’t look good at all!” Well, the same thing goes with our souls. When your emotional needs are relatively being met, hopefully you’re pretty content. But if there are long seasons of neglect and deprivation, even crappy, toxic, garbage-can kind of love can look tantalizing. We settle for so much less as the above proverb so eloquently expresses.
Sadly, that’s many of our stories. I personally felt unlovable, ugly and unwanted in many ways. The only way I felt validated was by being sexually available. The only way I felt like I could keep someone interested was by being sexual. My starving desperation lead me into unhealthy and dangerous situations. I didn’t understand the emotional needs underneath the behavior. Those real needs for belonging, attention and affirmation felt like they were getting touched in these sexual situations, but not in reality. Primarily, it’s because these needs are more emotional than sexual. Perhaps this can give us a clue as to why good Christians abandon their convictions surrounding sexual behavior—sexualizing their emotional needs. And though it’s still considered sinful, we can find empathy for that kind of path.
Some Questions to Consider
Why did God put these kinds of boundaries around our sexual expression? Why is the only context for expressing our sexuality in a covenant marriage between a man and woman?
How do I feel about these boundaries—angry, defiant and God’s a big buzzkill?
Or, do I feel they are for my best, for my health and to experience less destructive consequences?
Where am I at emotionally with these questions?—that would probably be a good place to start.
Why do some people seek sex without the emotional connection? Some seem to want relationships that include sex without the commitment… why is that? Why is sex considered to be the center of a relationship?
Grief in Sexuality
Recently, I have found myself in a season of grief in my sexuality around the very things in this blog. I’m grieving the unmet needs that led to some very poor and desperate decisions regarding sex. I’m grieving those choices that left me more wounded and empty. It’s also sad I gave myself away so easily, because I wanted to be loved. Sex was introduced to me at an early age (14), and I was not emotionally ready to deal with this big and complicated force. I often wonder how life might have been different without that exposure. There were years of shame for simply having same-gender attractions. My sexuality never felt good or right, and because of that early sexual experience, I adopted a gay identity far too early.
As I look ahead, I realize I might never experience that kind of “union” with another person for which we are created. As I said earlier, there’s something very powerful emotionally and relationally about sex. I might not ever feel wanted or desired in that way. I’ve spent a good amount of time in this blog talking about sexualizing emotional needs and that sex isn’t the center of relationship. Our longing to connect deeply is ultimately met in our relationship with God. Still the grief over bad choices, damaging situations, unmet needs and not experiencing something that is simply human is real. The grief is real. Being honest before God and entering that grief with Him is the best place to start. I look forward to seeing how He will bring continued healing and resolution to those sad places of my heart. This is why WGA exists.