Why Must Everything Be About Sex?
“But, Emily, why do you talk about sex all the time?”
If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this question, I would be able to fund my own traveling circus. (Don’t laugh. It is a long time dream of mine). It seems that many people have a hard time understanding how my faith, my love for God and his Word mix with a topic that has been denigrated to an unholy status. The idea that I simultaneously field questions about Hebrew and difficulties with the female orgasm makes many people nervous. Bible study and sex are just two things that do go together in most people’s minds, and to be honest, they didn’t go together in mine for a very long time.
I grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist home. Sex was not a bad thing, but neither was it something that we discussed. Sex intimate, good, but oh so private. About the only thing we that was discussed was the need to wait until marriage to engage in this mysterious enterprise.
One of the consequences that I lived out due to this mindset was the complete inability to fight back or even hold my ground when sex was used as a weapon against me by my ex husband. Over the few short, but horrendously long, years of our marriage he attempted to deconstruct every aspect of my personhood, and my sexuality was not exempt from his attacks. If anything, my lack of experience and naiveté were something that he banked on to demonstrate why I would never be a satisfying sex partner and therefore justify his use of porn, his desire for threesomes and wife swapping.
Thank God, I knew enough to immediately fight back on the last two, but imagine my surprise when I learned that there were women in my church who did not and gave in to their husband’s demands because they believed that as submissive wives they were obligated to do his bidding. And really, this isn’t the sort thing you bring up at this months Beth Moore Bible Study and Tea. Somethings just do not pair well with macarons.
Who do you ask about sexual issues? As a woman, you can’t go to your pastor because he’s a man, obviously. You can’t ask the church ladies because they are the ones who taught you that all a woman has to do to improve her husband’s behavior is submit more. If you do work up the courage to hint at the possibility of something being amiss in the bedroom, you shut down with a pat on the hand, an “I will pray for you”, and the barely concealed dismay that shuts you down every time. Looking for answers in books is risky business, who knows what you might find? More of same advice that never addresses your predicament or suggestion to “let boys be boys” and turn a blind eye to the behaviors that are destroying your soul.
But to return to the question, why do I talk about sex all the time?
First off, I have never been good with secrets (at least, not my own), and I have never been able to suffer silently all that well. This resulted in me complaining often and loudly about what I went through. It took a year of that hellish marriage for me to make the first whimper, but once I did there was no shutting me up.
Secondly, do you know what happens when you start talking about the one thing everyone else has been dying to talk about but were too afraid to say? They start talking to you. Quietly, behind closed doors, at the edge of the sanctuary, in phone calls that embarrassed them so much they can’t look you in the eye the following Sunday, and they will never sit next to you during one of Beth’s teaching times again, but oh, how they talk. And something happened to me in those conversations, I realized I was not alone. I was just the only one who did not have enough shame or sense to keep my big mouth shut.
Thirdly, I take the Bible very seriously. I believe that God does want to redeem and restore all of us and that includes our sexuality. Our reproductive organs are part of how God designed us, and when God looked at his creation and declared that it was very good that was in a world that included all the fun bits of our anatomy. Among his original commands to humanity was to be fruitful and multiply. Now we tend to look at that simply in the terms of baby making, but in case you didn’t get the memo, that boils down to a command to have sex.
So how can sex be bad?
When it is used against you, when it is warped and twisted into something that does not convey love, that does not foster intimacy, and is not the ultimate physical demonstration of unity between a husband and wife. None of this was God’s design for sexuality, but we live in world that finds great delight in perverting the beautiful and desecrating the holy.
I realized that if I was to live what I believed then I needed to know how to engage my sexuality in a manner that reflected God’s design. I needed to have more than just polite answers and proper conversations, because none of what I or the other women who came to me experienced was polite or proper. It was vile, it was devastating, and it was degrading. And how do you combat the lies that supported such acts? With truth - the truth that God loves me, all of me, that he is not scared of my sexuality, an his holiness is threatened by the evils I had endured. And if I needed to know this, then how many other women needed to know it too?
But finding that truth isn’t easy. I had to search most of it out on my own, and eventually that searching led me to seminary where I learned that God does address these issues with a boldness that makes me look shy. Oh, we may not preach these passages, we might skim past them in a Bible study, or try to pretty them up with all the right church euphemisms, but when you dig in to what God is saying in these passages you are confronted by how blunt he can be. It was in his boldness that I was able to begin piecing myself back together as woman, as sexual being, and as his child. And I think that is a message that needs to be shared, shouted from the roof tops, and screamed into gutters, so I will keep talking about sex and searching for those dollars, I have a circus to fund.