Saturday, 22 October 2011

Let's Talk About Sex

When I was maybe 10 or 11 years old, my parents gave me a book, about sex, by Dr. James C. Dobson (it was the original version of "Preparing for Adolescence").  At the time, I found it to be a very interesting read, for obvious reasons.  I can still remember several things that Dr. Dobson said, in the book, such as the fact that it was ok for boys to masturbate, but that it wasn't ok for girls (I'm not kidding, he really said this).  And of course, as Dr. Dobson pointed out, masturbation becomes sin, even for boys, if they think about girls in a sexual way while doing it.  (He never really explained how that was supposed to work.)  I also remember a few little quirky details, such as Dobson mentioning that a boy would often begin to find themselves attracted to seemingly random parts of a girls body during their adolescence (he used a girl's ankles, to illustrate the point). 

I couldn't argue.  (Yes, ladies, boys even find your ankles attractive sometimes!)

Looking back, I realize this book laid the groundwork, on how I would view sex for the next 20 plus years.  The bottom line is I bought the Christian message, on sex, hook, line and sinker.  That message goes something like this...a) masturbation might be bad, we pastors and theologians can't entirely agree on this, but it's definitely bad if you actually think about the opposite sex while doing it!, b) pornography, in any form, is for sure bad, very, very bad in fact (and this includes the lingerie ads on TV or the Sears catalog btw, just in case you were wondering guys), c) the only thing worse than pornography is sex outside of marriage, & d) the only thing worse, than pornography, and sex outside of marriage, is homosexual sex (in any context).

Even prior to my de-conversion, which began in my early 30's, I remember making the occasional observation, about sex, that just didn't seem to jive perfectly with my Christian worldview.  (Although, I'm not sure I would've thought of it in those terms at the time.)  For example, it wasn't hard to pick up on the fact that Christians seem to be just as driven by the "outward appearance" as anyone else in society.  Why do youth pastors, for example, have such a reputation for getting the "hot wife" (and the hipper the pastor, the "hotter" the wife)?  Shouldn't we Christians be less shallow, in this respect, since we are trying to emulate God?  In 1 Samuel 16:7 it says, "...Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (bolding mine). 

Oh well, I thought, perhaps the Bible is just describing the way things are here on planet Earth.  As such, maybe we shouldn't try to fight against it so hard.  Perhaps, instead, we should just accept the fact that "man looks at the outward appearance", and move on with that understanding in place.  After all, it's not like we don't take the heart into consideration, right??  We're still not as bad as those non-Christians who only care about the outward appearance (what heathens)!

Later I would also pause, to reflect and think, after learning (from their radio broadcast) that Focus on the Family had a phone line, specifically dedicated to pastors who are "struggling with pornography".  Really?  I mean, I knew pornography was a huge problem in society, generally, but is it really that major of an issue for pastors?  Apparently so.  The way they described it, "pornography addiction" was in fact a mammoth issue, amongst pastors, and one of the most active "ministry" branches at Focus on the Family.

But was Focus truly solving anything, I thought, or were they simply giving pastors a safe place to vet their guilty conscience and pray with a counselor for a few minutes (without risk of losing their job)?  After all, if someone in the congregation is struggling with pornography, and they are actually willing to come clean about it, who would they normally talk to?  Well...their pastor, of course!  How many of those very same pastors were struggling with it themselves, I wondered, but they had no one to go to?

Now, I don't mean to pick on pastors here.  For that matter, I don't mean to pick on Dr. Dobson, or Focus on the Family, either.  I simply want to make the point that there are some oddities about sex, if you want to call them that, which don't fit perfectly into the Christian worldview.  Even as a Christian, I could see that, but of course I just chalked everything up to this "fallen world" that we live in (and to Satan's corruption of God's "good gift").

Even still, I couldn't help but wonder, why did God make sex such a powerful force?  There had to be a reason.  He wants us to populate the earth, sure, but did He have to additionally make it so distracting, in our day to day lives, especially for those who sincerely desire to do His will?  Let's suppose that humanity's sexual urges were cut exactly in half, would that stop us from procreating?  Hardly!  But it might make things significantly easier, not only for those who are unmarried (and, as such, relegated to complete celibacy on the Christian worldview) but also for pastors (and the rest of us believers) who want so desperately to stay "pure" sexually. 

And what about all the marriages that breakup due to sexual indiscretions, of one sort or another?  Or the pastors who (sometimes famously) "fall from grace", as a direct result of being caught in sexual sin?  Can all of this really be explained by our "sinful nature" alone?  This seems to be the implication but, again, what if sex were a little less powerful?  Would it persist in being such a major issue, for Christians, or would we simply relegate it to the proverbial sin back burner?  (Like we do with gluttony, for example?)

These are the sorts of nagging questions I had about sex, while I was a Christian, but frankly they didn't bother me all that badly.  I just pushed them aside, as I always did with nagging questions, and it wasn't until years later (more specifically, when I began to think and learn about evolution) that they came bubbling up to the surface once again. 

During my de-conversion I would also consider an assortment of brand new questions, related to sex; questions that potentially cause a much more significant problem, for the Christian worldview.  I'll consider some of those next time.

So to the Christian, reading this blog, I would leave you with the following two thoughts, for now.  I realize they don't deliver a knockout blow, to Christianity, so there's no need to point that out to me (this isn't the point I am making).  Even still, I think they are worthy of consideration.  Firstly, why did God make sex so powerful?  And, secondly, could he have (safely) cut it in half, without losing any of His greater "purpose" for sex?

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