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Real Sex

In a Christian landscape, what's important about sex is nurtured when we allow sex to be ordinary. This does not mean that sex will not be meaningful. Its meaning, instead, will partake in the variety ofmeanings that ordinary life offers. Sex needs to be clumsy. It should at times feel awkward. It should be an act we engage in for comfort.
Our task is not to cultivate moments when eros can whisk us away from our ordinary routines, but rather to love each other as eros becomes imbedded in, and transformed by, the daily warp and woof of married life. For in household sexuality, we see the ways our daily human stuggles offer the only language we have to call ourselves to God's grace.

Lauren Winner, Real Sex, p. 81, 83.

Sex and the Lies We Tell

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Stark Contrast

I've been getting into the great habit of working out in the mornings after class, either running my bacon off, or throwing some plates around. The downside of all this is that I don't shower before class, which for my classmates, is a little much, but I sit in the corner and keep my arms by my side.

The gym is a part of North Park and it's only a couple of months old, so all the equipment is brand new and the treadmills still work. Plus they have about 5 flat-panels in front of the equipment with everything from the Food Network-- my personal favorite-- to VH1-- which I've decided has the dirtiest programming allowed on television. And if you're down in the weight room, you have to deal with 103.5 KISS FM being blasted at volumes to make the most hearing impaired ask you to turn it down. I typically have my iPod with me loaded up with great music; right now it's The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and David Gray. But because I download more podcasts than a college students does keg stands, I typically listen to the latest sermon from Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, or John Piper.

As you've probably already gathered, there is a stark contrast between what I have going on in my headphones and what is out there for the rest to hear. This became very clear to me as I was listening to Piper's latest sermon series on marriage. Right now he has about 4 sermons the beauty of marriage drawn up by God and how it mirrors Christ and the Church. How Jesus laid down his life for her and what that means today. As he was expounding on this great truth, when leaking in from the speakers came smack that, all on the floor, smack that, give me some more, smack that, till you get sore, smack that, o-o-o-o-oh.

As Christians, how different is our picture of sex and relationships than what the world has to offer? Immensely different. We are called to live in such a way that honors God, not ourselves. Ultimate fulfillment will not come in smacking it, but knowing that God has designed marriage to be the ultimate reflection of the relationship between Christ and his bride. This deep intimate knowledge, where we are not ashamed of who we are or how we look before one another, but we know the forgiveness that Christ has laid out for us on the cross and how that brings about forgiveness and understanding in our marriages.