I don't own the rights to this photo.
The Root Problem
Do you know what one of our root problems is in America? We don't have constructive conversations about sex in safe places with safe, trusted people. The Church, let alone secular society, lacks even more where such things are concerned. We (including the Church) let Hollywood tell us about sex. Hollywood is an entertainment industry. They entertain, they don't educate. We let "entertainment" magazines tell us about sex. They entertain, and occasionally educate. We let hurt people tell us about sex. Hurt, unhealed people have been hurt by the very thing they are trying to tell the rest of us how to apply! We let fictional books tell us about sex. The key word here is "fictional." We don't have candid conversations in our homes or churches. We leave it to the govt to have that conversation in our schools. Why? We are afraid. Why are we afraid? I can't say for sure. I believe we are uncomfortable and perhaps have yet to confront our own sin and confusion.
The Church is afraid to have the real conversations about sex on a practical level. We have the memorized ethics and Bible verses down, but practical everyday application is lacking. It's like the word "sex" is evil or taboo in the pulpit or confidential small group. Sex can only be talked about in the context of marriage seminars when it is talked about in churches. I've been to those discussions, they don't answer practical questions - they are simply a list of to-do's that the current speaker finds helpful. Talking about the physiology of sex is taboo in the Church. God made sex so what is the problem? If it was good to Him, why is it so taboo to his Church? Now don't misunderstand me. The topic of sex is not for every place, every time, nor for speaking to just anyone about in your church. We have to use wisdom and discernment in such discussions. However, the discussions aren't taking place nearly as often as they need to be in America's churches. Instead, they are taking place on line with some Christian influencers who are putting out questionable, less than Biblical content at best, and outright falsities at worst. *Our political figures are also involved in the discussion, but I have a different take on their why. The Church is really good at telling people what they should not do and reading from a prepared sermon, but heaven forbid we have the hard, honest conversations with real people about sex and all of its complexities. I see a few Christian speakers, organizations, and writers trying but mostly we are just scared of sex, particularly in some more fundamentalist, Christian circles. And we wonder why our kids are doing what they are doing? We wonder why this country is the number one exporter of porn and sex trafficking? People in Christendom and in this society don't want to talk about what is uncomfortable - you know the elephants in the room. It's time to have the hard, uncomfortable conversations. Now or never Church!
Other Things that Blow my Mind
How is it that grown people don't know what a sex act is and what is isn't? The miseducation here, especially in Christian circles, is alarming. I had a conversation a few days ago that left me scratching my head and a little sad. How is it that we still don't understand what rape is and isn't and the power dynamics that go into it? How is it that we don't understand what consent is and isn't, and who can and can't give consent? Where is our compassion for the people who have experienced rape, particularly in the Church? How is it that we have people who don't know who they are and they believe anything and everything about sex and even about their perceived gender? Where is our compassion for the people who are transgender or who don't know what to think of themselves, particularly in the Church? When does the Church start having conversations that are really uncomfortable, truthful, compassionate, and practical about sex? When do we stop letting our political figures and parties direct the conversation? They after all, have an agenda - I don't care which side of the isle. Now or never Church!
We Need Some Clarity
I want to be clear on a few key points:
1) To do this, we will have to have truth AND grace AND compassion. They are not mutually exclusive to changing or influencing a culture. Their ingredients working together are a necessity to have helpful, live-giving conversations about sex, gender, and society. Fear can have no place. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18a).
2) We will have to understand that the goal must not be to control others or their actions or beliefs, but to love people and help them to know that God loves them and made them with a purpose. If they know God loves them and they have a purpose, their actions and beliefs will fall into place without any interference from anyone else. I will say again, perfect love casts out fear (and the need to control anyone).
3) My next statement is particularly pointed and it must be said. We have to understand that government interference in the bedroom of consenting adults will never work because law does not equal revelation. Only truth, love, and grace bring revelation = heart change. Those who seek to use law to change people only seek to control them, not to love them. Control is about fear. Those who fear do not know love (1 John 4:18b).
*When I see political figures talking about sexual ethic in society or gender (even if I agree with them), I always wonder what the motive is because of the nature of politics - do they truly care or do they want control? The fruit of their efforts will tell their story. I choose to give them benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise.
4) You can't change in a culture what you won't talk about with transparency and honesty in your own life. In other words, if you (or I) won't confront your (my) own sin, confusion, apathy, pain, etc., you and I can't with any integrity, confront a culture. I will say it again, now or never Church!
If we want our society to take the American church seriously, we will have to come to the table with more than a list if religious don'ts. Those are rules with no real power. We will have to come to the table with listening ears, compassionate hearts, love, truth, and grace. It is in these tenants that our true power (I'm not talking about political power) resides. Love is the greatest of all things (1 Corinthians 13:13). Love has already won (1 Peter 4:8, Proverbs 10:12)!
With much love for America and the Church,