Don't think about Bradley Cooper.
Now you’re thinking about one of God’s greatest gifts to earth- you’re welcome.
Did you know it’s impossible for the human brain to visualize the word “don’t”? I would like to use my previous little experiment there to prove my point. Don’t drop the ball, don’t screw up, don’t think about Bradley Cooper. All you can see in those moments are exactly what you’re not supposed to see- dropping the ball, screwing up, and thankfully, Bradley Cooper.
Don't think about sex.
You’re welcome yet again.
I grew up in a very conservative Christian world. We didn’t talk about sex because it really wasn’t an option, combined with the fact that I’m a girl from the South and sexual conversations become even less of an option. I definitely wasn’t supposed to spend any free time talking about or thinking about sex. Lust and sexual activity simply weren’t supposed to be on my radar.
Growing up my sexual conversations went something along the lines of: “Sex is a sin. Keep your marriage bed pure. Sign this purity pact. Your dad got you a purity ring. I can’t believe she wasn’t a virgin. Don’t have sex, you will get pregnant and die.”
Okay, that last part might be from Mean Girls but you get the point.
Needless to say I had very little, if any, sexual frame of reference. All I knew was sex and anything remotely related to it (i.e.: oral sex, porn, lust, shacking up, etc.) were to be completely avoided at all costs. Sin would follow me all the days of my life if I were to even stick my pinky toe into the muddy waters of sexual sin. No one even actually answered the question of “how far is too far?”
I got vague answers like, "don't do anything you wouldn't do in front of grandma."
Well at this point my sexually repressed and zit-covered teenage self would’ve nearly fainted at the thought of my grandmother catching me in the scandalous act of holding hands, let alone anything else. So yet again, my sexual frame of reference was completely out-of-whack.
In all honesty I just really wanted to have sex.
I was totally enamored by the idea of sex. After having heard how completely wonderful it was, within the context of marriage, but repeatedly told not to do it I felt very much like Eve in the garden. The more I was told “no” the more I wanted to say “yes.” I felt guilty and ashamed for wanting to have sex and then I felt guilty and ashamed for feeling guilty and ashamed of something completely natural.
I don’t know about other Christians, but the unwillingness to have open, honest conversations about sexuality and boundaries left me wanting more. I was curious because it all seemed so mysterious and forbidden. Yet the downcast looks and the hesitant and vague answers made me feel oddly humiliated for seeming so interested. It was as though because I was female and Christian that I should have absolutely no sexual desires. I should not only be abstinent but also nonsexual until suddenly I would put on a white dress and magically experience some sort of sexual awakening.
And then I went to college.
Armed only with my weak but shame-inducing naivety I entered one’s most formative years concerning sexuality. All I knew was not to have sex or think about it which simply wasn’t good enough for a rebellious teenager. I wanted answers and unfortunately I sought them in all the wrong places. There are people and places I’ll never remember. There are memories forever burned into my brain that unfortunately I’ll never forget. All of this in the name of exploration and curiosity, seeking answers to questions I was afraid and embarrassed to ask.
I thought being a virgin meant I wouldn't have sexual baggage.
It seemed as though if I didn’t have sex, if I just remained a virgin, if I didn’t ask questions, then everything would be perfect. But it wasn’t and it’s not and it never will be. Sex, sexual ethics, and sexual identity are so complex. Simply ignoring them will not guarantee their “success” or whatever that even means.
Even if I am a virgin it doesn't mean I'm not still broken.
Even if I’m not a virgin it means I can still be redeemed.
Either way, it’s time for me to talk about sex. I am a woman. I am a Christian. I am broken. I am on the way to being healed. People have projected their brokenness onto me and asked me to pick up the pieces. I have looked at men and asked them to be my god. I have failed and I have been failed.
But we have to start talking about it.
If there’s any hope for redemption and renewal we’ve got to bring our sexual brokenness out in the open. It doesn’t mean we need to wave our dirty laundry for everyone to see- that’s just asking for more brokenness. But in the context of safe, affirming relationships we must have honest conversations about sex. As girls we need to know it’s okay to desire sex and talk about where those desires come from. We need to know that marriage won’t solve everything or answer all our questions. We need to know it will open some doors and close others.
Sex is meant to be enjoyed, not worshiped.
Christians, whether we want to admit it or not, worship sex just as much as anyone else. It just looks different. Instead of glorifying sex outside of marriage like the culture around us we’ve glorified it within marriage. We have to take sex and marriage off of their pedestals. They’re going to let us down just like the anything else that we chase too hard and too fast. So many of my married friends are too ashamed to admit they don’t enjoy sex as much as they thought they would. It was glorified too much for too long and gave them false expectations and now they’re wondering what’s wrong with them.
If we continue to put our heads down and hope that the answers to our questions about our sexual identities will simply go away then we are failing the curious and brilliant people who come after us.
We can’t not talk about sex. There are scared and ashamed girls in youth groups and high schools and dorm rooms and church pews who need someone to be brave.