The Importance of Thinking About Sex Now: A Response to Single, Evangelical Women
The other day I posted “Livid at the Evangelical Sub-Culture & Its Epidemic of Sexless Marriages.” Perhaps the most important blog post I’d ever written, it’s definitely the most sexually explicit. More than 1,400 people have read it, which is unusual traffic for this blog. Some enthusiastically agreed. Others adamantly disagreed. That’s fine. My goal, as per usual, is just to get people thinking about the difficult issues and trying to figure out how to discerningly address them. Human sexuality is a complex subject that requires thought and wisdom, especially for followers of Christ.
If the most painful responses have come from married men, then the most confused responses have come from single women. They’ve been pouring in. Ladies, I wish I had good, simple answers for you. The truth is that I don’t, so I cannot in good conscience pretend that I do. My one immediate thought, however, keeps being that at the very least it’s good for you to have gained exposure and be thinking about these things now. If you’re a virgin with zero sexual experience, this is abstract stuff completely detached from any firsthand experience. But thinking about it now still helps later.
If you’ll tolerate me as a married male sharing my thoughts, here are a dozen examples that may provide clarity:
- Hearing that women are biblically encouraged to enjoy sex is a game-changer. It’s not just about the man, pleasuring him and fulfilling his desires ‘s pleasure. It’s also about the woman, pleasuring her and fulfilling her desires. Suddenly sex becomes reciprocal and self-sacrificial.
- Having a working knowledge before engagement that a husband who expects sex more than once a week isn’t a pervert can help foster a healthy schema for marriage after you say, “I do.” That alone can change your perception of men, and might really help your future marriage.
- Learning that giving and receiving oral sex really isn’t uncommon for christian couples may help to tear down this unspoken assumption of many that it’s ungodly or unnatural. It’s better to consider it now than to simply get it, eh hem, thrust upon you during your honeymoon.
- Understanding that semen tends to go everywhere and that it’s not weird or gross is important in not getting freaked out. That challenges this Hollywood portrayal in which there really aren’t any bodily fluids. Instead it establishes the expectation that sex is intrinsically messy.
- Being aware now that many women don’t achieve orgasm during vaginal intercourse can alleviate later pressure, disappointment, and frustration. If vaginal sex doesn’t get the job done, it’s not merely OK but good to pursue orgasm through manual and oral stimulation.
- Being told that sex isn’t all about the Big-O can radically alter one’s assumptions going into it. It’s a little cliche, but a lot of times sex is more of a journey than a destination. It’s about the experience of exploring, enjoying, and being united with your spouse–not just climaxing.
- Knowing that a husband who desires his wife to wear lingerie isn’t disrespecting or degrading her can seriously alter the bedroom dynamics. Wearing sexy things doesn’t objectify her nor is she a slut. Instead lingerie can enhance the God-intended attraction. That’s a good thing!
- Presupposing that you and your future husband may have quirks can turn those things from embarrassing and shameful to accepting and enjoyed. Many spouses have fetishes. That’s not unusual. Just like in the rest of marriage, those things can be the fun stuff that only you know.
- Preparing yourself mentally to try new things and trust your husband is important. That can help you avoid one of those horrible traps of always having to have the lights off, refusing anything but the missionary position, never having sex in any room but the bedroom, etc.
- Expecting that sex takes practice can help you stick with it if things don’t go swimmingly at first. It becomes a craft to practice. Not unlike learning to play the piano, it’s something you improve at. Only it’s a team sport. Don’t worry. Your future husband will enjoy the process.
- Preparing for it to hurt the first time is probably a good thing, but mentally linking sex with pain and fear in your mind isn’t good. I’m aware of wives who so feared their husband’s penises going into marriage that their wedding night merely served as confirmation bias. (And, no, there was no history of sexual abuse.) Knowing that helps avoid that outlook.
- Avoiding the “TMI trap” is crucial. This is especially important for those coming from reserved family cultures. Hearing another woman say, “My husband and I had sex last week” isn’t TMI, for example. Don’t giggle nervously or make it a big deal. A big problem faced by many women is thinking they’re open to communication about sex when in reality they’re not.
As I wrote in the previous blog post, it seems to me that a big part of the problem is the sexual repression and suppression faced by young women within the evangelical sub-culture. Inundated by the themes of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Every Young Woman’s Battle, True Love Waits, and all the rest, I cannot say it’s everyone but is it any wonder there’s a big part of a generation of young evangelical women who feel like sexual desire itself is sinful? They struggle to suddenly flip the script and not think sex is disgusting after being married. You reap what you sow.
Look, I’m no expert. I have spent a fair amount of time studying sex–including its emotional, mental, physical, relational, spiritual, theological, and socio-economic dimensions–but I don’t claim to have a graduate degree in this stuff. That being said, what I feel pretty confident about is this: Single, evangelical women in particular need to be hearing a more comprehensive and more nuanced view that ranges from the Bible’s warning passages about sexual immorality to Scripture’s celebration passages about sexual pleasure. The whole spectrum needs to be taught.
It seems to me evangelical women of the Millennial generation are more than sufficiently taught about the need for purity before marriage. They got it. What most of ‘em need is to begin preparing for good sex lives once they are married, which starts with simple exposure. Following upon on a theme from the prior post, they need to cultivate a “Marital Vision” that celebrates sex. I won’t pretend that my list is infallible, but hopefully things like it will curb the corrosive influence of the prudish evangelical sub-culture and instead help cultivate a healthy, biblical view of marriage.
A lot of people think exposure to ideas is dangerous, that by talking to unmarried singles about sex you’re indirectly encouraging them to start romping. I think that’s nonsense. It’s like when people called me a heretic because I vocally questioned and challenged the doctrine of the Trinity. No, wrestling through the Trinity is what enabled me to affirm it. Deflecting my doubts and objections was ruining my faith. Addressing them stabilized my faith. My sense is the same pattern holds true here. Deflecting issues around sex ruins marriages. Addressing them now stabilizes marriages later.