Let’s Talk About Sex and the Church / by Joellyn Hoekstra

Yes, I am going there. In a way it feels like I’m not even allowed to write about it. Not allowed, me? We Christians should be the ones speaking up excitedly about sex. It is another upside down topic in my opinion. Who is borrowing from whom? This is what gets me heated. We are not encroaching on secular territory for a dapple with a bit of fun. Sex belongs to God. It was given to us as a wedding gift with the intention of enjoyment and reproduction. The world is trespassing, and we need to reclaim our territory. Satan has always been a liar. He’s a self-proclaimed deceiver of truth. He does not create. God is the Creator. Satan only distorts what is good, and I hate to say it, but I feel like we’re letting him have this one.

As I mentioned in my introduction post, I will gladly give myself as an offering to get us thinking, talking and maybe even changing. I’m looking at us here, married Christian love-makers. We are engaged in a beautiful covenant bond with God, and that bond is sealed when our bodies are united before Him. We indeed honor Him when we become one. Not in hiding, but fully open before our Maker. What a magnificent design! My intention is not to exclude other married friends, but I feel pressed to call on fellow Christians in particular to speak up on the topic of sex. I am no expert, but the silence I am hearing on this subject cannot be better than trying to open the discussion in a healthy light. The sacred beauty of sex is precious to me, and I think it needs to be talked about in this way: out in the open and with great respect.

I have been wrestling with these thoughts and concerns since my husband and I were young and dating. We sought people out. We asked questions like, “why wait?” and “how far is too far?” When there was loud silence coming from the very people who could be celebrating sex and the true gift that it is we wondered, at times, if the world was right. Just do whatever pleases you with whomever at any time. Thankfully we walked along with other couples who were asking the same questions, and together we have come across wisdom and jewels from mentors and experienced Jesus following lovers. I only want to build on that collection for future generations, and for my children’s sake in particular.

Sex is incredibly profound. We people, here on earth, often don’t know what to do with something so fierce. It’s dangerous in our hands and we aren’t always careful with it. Actually, the world isn’t careful with it at all. I fear that sex has been stolen and dragged violently to the secular world where it’s being feasted on and degraded shamelessly. When we think of sex we are reminded of billboards, movie clips and pornography forever etched in our minds. We think of anything BUT pure. Doesn’t sex deserve to be embraced with care and admiration? Can it be redefined within the healthy, safe context of marriage?

We have an amazing gift among the good days and the bad. When we haven’t got our groove figure out yet. If we are feeling insecure. In our youth or after many long years. In the trenches of parenthood and other occupational stresses. In our waiting. After a fight so nasty it seems beyond repair. In times of great rejoicing. If we have given our bodies to the work of growing babies and we feel unsure in our new skin. In transition. When we feel misunderstood, and when there are no words. We have the most creative design in our midst. And it is ours. Sex is a gift and a pleasure to us and to God. We become one flesh and we mend. Together we heal. Simply appreciating the beauty of our other half, vulnerable before us, and being real ourselves. In the brilliant covenant of marriage. Naked and full of adventure. 

God created our marvelous bodies, and He joyfully gives us the gift of intimacy and sex in marriage. Scripture is very clear about riding ourselves of sexual immorality, but I fear we have confused the two. In the first chapter of the Bible we are told that God looked at us and said, “it is good.” Have you ever thought about the fact that God saw it fit to give us physical organs for the purpose of sexual pleasure only? They weren’t slipped in, accidentally, later on down the road. Forgive me for being so frank, but please tell me what else the clitoris is supposed to offer if not pleasure? And it is good.

My husband, Aaron, and I have been open to sharing honestly with other believing couples, and we have had the privilege of walking along with them and hearing their stories as we share ours. Most of them of both love and of shame intermingled. It absolutely breaks my heart to hear from a newlywed couple that they have struggled in their sex life because they feel guilty. Guilty! For having sex in their new marriage! I can’t even tell you how common we have found this to be. When the point of reference for what sex should be like is coming from a dark, hidden part of their lives, they cannot separate it and sex for them becomes dirty, wrong and shame worthy. Even in their marriage. Something intended to mend us has been fracturing instead. They feel like Christians by day and heathens by night. It’s a lie, and Satan loves it. 

We live near a small, Christian college full of students that I love and admire. We had a student (and dear friend) living with us for a time. On more than one occasion he actually arranged for a get together of his friends and soon-to-be married folk to come over and have a healthy conversation about sex with us. Seriously. We just sat around a bonfire and talked about sex with admiration and deep respect. He was concerned that the conversations on this subject among his friends were either nonexistent or unhealthy. We were attempting to re-imagine what sex could and should be for us. Talking about it with delight and without crudeness was refreshing. 

What can we do, Church, to shine the proper light on this hot topic? Pursed lips and shrugged shoulders are not enough to offer our brothers and sisters. Open the conversation up for them. I can tell you with absolute confidence that they are wondering and thinking about sex. Give them some hope about a healthy and vibrant sex life in marriage. Let’s not stand by and let them wander alone. There are slippery slopes and jagged drop offs. They need a hand. Our trustworthy, safe hands. Not the advice from a world being flippant and degrading with one of the most creative and dangerous gifts ever given. 

I want to challenge you (and myself) to be willing to open up the conversation about sex and provide some real insight. Together we can offer a far better resource than the internet for answers. Just be there to listen and be merciful. We may not always know what to say, but the fact that we aren’t disappointed in our questioning (or stumbling) friends will make a world of difference. This can create a safe space for future discussions. Let’s make it clear to these sweet, new lovers that we are someone they can turn to. We are someone they can trust. Offer knowledge, and think of your own little ones grown up some day, without shuttering. Maybe you and I will be presenting treasures of wisdom to someone who will someday offer it back to our own children. Society is perverting the gift of sex, and that is not going to change. I only wonder what could happen if we were more readily available to offer a different perspective. 

And for heaven’s sake (literally) you are free to talk about this with delight, and to enjoy a great sex life with your spouse, too.