One of the things that I truly enjoy about being at Seminary is the chance to hear some great speakers. A couple times a year North Park brings in Biblical scholars and theologians to speak on a variety of topics ranging from the Johannine literature to the Trinity. This time they brought in someone to talk about the Trinity, as well as the more interesting topic of sex--Lauren Winner.
Winner, a converted Jew, has written a few books, including one called Real Sex. I've only been able to read a couple chapters of Real Sex, but it's on the ever-extensive and constantly growing list of books to read. In her hour that she had today though, she spoke on the four lies the Church tells about extramarital sex, explicitly or implicitly.
- You'll feel bad afterwards. Youth pastors across America love to proclaim this, but in truth, there are many different emotions one may feel after sex ranging from elation to hung over. All sin promotes itself as being a pleasing and satisfying endeavor-- if the serpent had told Eve that she would feel bad after the apple, we would certainly be in a different place.
- While men are animals when it comes to sex, women have no sex drive. This is propagated with the purest of intentions of protecting our daughters against the sex-driven pubescent boy. The reality is that both men and women have sex drives. We need to educate accordingly.
- Premarital sex will leave you with scars and ghosts. While there are certainly consequences of having sex outside of the confines of marriage, we do not carry the ghosts of past sexual partners into our marriage beds.
- Marriage is the end all of sexual delinquency and final maturity into adulthood. All too often the Church promotes marriage as the final step into adulthood. Either through only choosing families to light the advent candles at Christmas or sitting the 28 year old single woman at the children's table, while the 24 year old married sibling is at the "adult" table, single Christians are left out of adulthood. Further, Winner spoke of marriage being another step in sexual formation with its own inherent struggles.
Winner pointed out that when the Church begins to talk about sex it always begins with the negative, when in fact God always declares sex to be good. And while the negatives are necessary to proclaim, the Church needs to extol the positive aspects of sex. Something else worth exploring that she touched only briefly on referred to people's thought that they govern their own bodies. She pointed out that in baptism we are joining our bodies to the body of Christ (also known as the Church) and we no longer, as if ever, have rights over what else to which we join our bodies. This seems to me a strong point of connection to begin to speak of chastity to post-moderns. The Church certainly should have a lot to say about the goodness with which God has created sex and we need to stop being drowned out by the culture around us.