Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thou Shalt Not Think About Sex

The world seems to be reeling with the recent whirlwind of the Ashley Madison scandal, where a website that is designed specifically to help people have extramarital affairs and get away with it (they even arrange alibis for you) was hacked by a group of cybernauts with a dark sense of humor. The names, addresses, and sexual preferences, some of them quite shocking, of each user were posted for the public to see, and many celebrities, politicians, and public figures have become objects of embarrassment and shame. Worst of all, Josh Duggar, producer of the conservative Christian TV show “19 Kids and Counting” was literally caught with his pants down after his name and sexual preferences on Ashley Madison were revealed on the internet, much to the shock and humiliation of his wife and children.

People all over the blogosphere and beyond are labeling Duggar as the poster boy for phoniness. One of my Facebook friends, a devoted liberal and atheist, posted a link to Duggar’s story with the comment what a hypocrite attached. The staunch anti-Christian crowd seems glad to point their fingers at another Bible-thumping lunatic who doesn’t practice what he preaches. It just goes to show that all this religion crap is just what it appears to be: all crap, and no substance. These Christians, with all their righteousness and rules, are no better than the rest of us dogs. So ha. 

 I wouldn’t be surprised—in fact, I’m quite sure—that hundreds if not thousands of users on Ashley Madison are conservative Christians. I’m also not surprised about the now-viral list of Duggart’s sexual preferences: “experimenting with sex toys,” “sex talk,” naughty girl,” etc.

For many Christians, sex is a big secret, a dirty thing, a shameful act, something that’s only talked about in whispers or joked about with slang words. Many if not all of the Christians I know live by the doctrine of Thou shalt not talk about sex, thou shalt not think about sex, thou shalt not be sexy. In Christian circles, sex equals shame. Women grow up thinking that sex is something they are required to give their husbands whether they like it themselves or not, and that sex always has to equal babies, and that all men are horny beasts with only one thing on their minds. Men are yelled at to keep their hands out of their pants, their mind out of the gutter, and their eyes off any shapely female thing that happens to meander by.

Regardless of your tight chastity belt, filtered internet browsers, and battery of scripture verses that condemn the foibles of the flesh, you can’t deny or drown the fact that we are human beings with desires, most especially desires for intimacy and sex. And people who have been taught that their desires are perverted and evil are faced with two choices: either constantly suppress and fight their identity as a human being, or allow their desires to completely overrule all sensibility and prudence, as in Josh Duggar’s case.

As another fellow blogger put it, If you do not learn how to communicate about sex in a healthy, honest way before marriage, you will not suddenly develop that ability after marriage.

It is an inescapable fact that we are human beings with sexual desires, most of them more powerful than any other desire we have. And if we aren’t taught to deal with those desires in a healthy and prudent way, we’ll satiate them however we can, even to the expense of our families, our friends, and our dignity. Enter all the pornography addictions, unbreakable masturbation habits, and dabbling with prostitutes and extramarital affairs. Not to mention that our sex-saturated culture has photoshopped breasts, written porn under the name of E.L. James, and bedroom advice columns at every turn.

I myself was brought up in a household where sex was as mysterious as the nap fairy, who left candy corn on the kitchen counter if I would only leave Mommy in peace for half an hour. I remember my shock and curiosity when I saw a picture of male genitalia in a medical textbook, and how my nine-year-old self innocently brought the book to mom with the question “Mommy, is this true?” in reference to one paragraph that was to change my entire life. After some hems and haws, the book vanished from our house and I was forced to satiate my questions by sneaking into the basement of the library to thumb through all the “dirty” books with their awkward illustrations of human copulation (I wonder…who gets hired to illustrate sex textbooks?) But my story isn’t unique, and many of us, if not all of us, had our first introduction to sex in a less-than-favorable way. 

 But here’s the point of this soapbox speech: God gave us our sex drives. God created penises and vaginas and orgasms and clitorises: they are beautiful and good, and we shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about them, to say their real names. He designed men and women to desire each other’s bodies. If He had wanted sex to be any other way, He could have made it so, but He wanted it to be a lovely, vulnerable, and total gift of man and woman to each other. 

Our sexuality is a gift. Can we misuse it? Absolutely, just like we can misuse the gift of money, intelligence, or power. But how we use it does not change the fact that it was created by God, and that it is good.  

When we say sex is bad, we’re lying. When we rail against it in our churches and shush our children and coldly perform the necessary duty with our spouse, we’re lying. Lies don’t beget freedom.  Lies beget fear and shame, and fear and shame drag us lower and lower into the pit of deception until we are so torn between our desires and our misinformed consciences that we self-destruct. 

 It’s easy to sit here and point fingers at Josh and call him a hypocrite, but we have also played a crucial role on this tragic stage. We have been too silent about all the good things about sex, and too outspoken about the bad. We haven’t communicated properly with our spouses. We haven’t educated our children and trained them to handle their desires prudently and healthily. We are to blame. We are the problem.

Our culture tells us to “Follow our hearts.” Do what makes you happy! Chase those dreams and don’t let anything stand in your way. If you fall out of love, look elsewhere because you DESERVE to feel happy. Life is too short to spend it unhappy! And so we do follow our hearts. We go from person to person, thing to thing, desperately trying to find happiness. We use our emotions to make decisions. It’s encouraged, it’s applauded, it’s the norm. No one cares about the path of destruction we leave behind us. All that matters is that new dream, new love, or new life.

Like I said before, we are the problem. We are the ones who need to change. We need to educate our children properly about sex as God intended it. We need to communicate openly and honestly and lovingly with our spouses. We need to realize that sex is good, sacred, actually, and that it should be treated with respect, reverence, and honesty.

If your name is on the list, run to Jesus.
If your spouse’s name is on the list, run to Jesus.
If you think you would never stoop so low as those other schmucks, run to Jesus, but maybe a little bit faster.


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