Editor’s note: Melissa Otterbein’s previous entry on the “10 worst things I was ever told about ‘Christian sex'” can be found here.
10. “Let me teach you something.Those who tell you that sex is intimate and sacred… they’re right. But please also know that you are God’s child, not an item to be assigned a value.Your sexuality can never make you worthless. It is your responsibility to respect and love the part of yourself that creates pleasure and life. Get to know yourself well enough to decide what’s right for your body. Always honor your boom-shaka, va-va-va-voom, and chicka-chicka-wow-wow,because this world is jam-packed with people who will try to tell you what those things are for. And if you lose your own voice amid the warnings, whining, and admonishments, you’ll lose the most important matter at hand: Your Creator gave you sexuality because He loves you. It’s a blessing. And it only belongs to you.”
-Abigail Wurdeman, “Sexual Responsibility”
9. “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”
-Song of Songs 2:7
8. In response to Rob Bell’s five year old son asking his wife, Kristen, what “sexy” means: “Sexy is when it feels good to be in your own skin. Your own body feels right, it feels comfortable. Sexy is when you love being you.”
-Rob Bell, “Sex God”
7. “You are not alone. Whatever you struggle with, whatever you have questions about, you are not alone. It doesn’t matter how dark it is or how much shame or weakness or regret it involves, you are not alone.”
-Rob Bell, “Sex God”
6. -The entire “Flame” video by Rob Bell
5. “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.”
-1 Corinthians 6:12
4. “Her desire for children doesn’t come from between her legs. It comes from her heart. She believes it’s possible God wanted to give His children a gift so grand, that He created the most intense bodily sensation.”
-Susan Diamond, “God’s Gift So Grand”
3. “The soul needs beauty for a soul mate
When the soul wants…the soul waits …
No I could never take a chance
Of losing love to find romance
In the mysterious distance
Between a man and a woman
For love and faith and sex and fear
And all the things that keep us here
In the mysterious distance
Between a man and a woman.”
–U2, “A Man and a Woman”
2. “Keeping one’s sexuality in an immature and unintegrated state makes it neither holy nor ready for real relationship. The idealization of being non-sexual as a symbol of spiritual maturity does not serve singles well. It hurts them in many ways. It keeps them out of what God designed as natural attraction, and it keeps sexuality dis-integrated from the rest of their personhood. … Sexuality needs to be integrated into one’s personhood. It should be connected to all of who you are, and it should show up in real life, not be sent to a dungeon. Get in touch with your sexual desires and the fears you have about them. Talk to a counselor if you have had bad experiences and get those things healed.
-Dr. Henry Cloud, “How to Find a Date Worth Keeping”
1. “If you are prudish or embarrassed by sex, your parents may still be looking down their nose at your sexuality, or at least that’s the way you are perceiving it. Work on reeducating yourself about the beauty of sex; desensitize yourself to the ‘no-no’ attitude you have toward it. If you feel ashamed, you may still be in a preadolescent stage regarding sex… If you are repressing your feelings, you may be keeping other sorts of adult functions from developing as well. All these functions affect one another, and as your repression of your opinions lifts, so will repression of sexuality and creativity… You can’t repress just one aspect of yourself; it usually affects many areas.”
–Henry Cloud, “Changes That Heal”
If none of those messages hit home, here’s another alternative: Gracious, comprehensive, and holistic dialogue to counter an all-too-often rote conversation about just waiting to have sex until marriage. This one’s particularly for all the girls out there— as many messages are disproportionately directed at girls’ “purity:”
To all the high school (and middle school) girls out there—if you have a friend who is being pressured into having sex, do her a favor and help her listen to and discover that voice that’s inside of her: her very own, somewhere, potentially pleading to be heard among the sea of other voices trying to drown or dissuade her. In a joint-survey, Seventeen Magazine and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy discovered that one in five teenage girls (22%) reported having sex because they were pressured to (not because they wanted to).Help a sister out and ask her to look deep inside and see what she really feels.
If anyone tries to shame you or invoke fear about a sexual decision you have made in the past, remember that you are more than your past regrets and realize that the person sharing this is more concerned with displaying pompous power than being a source of grace and guidance in your life.
Ask yourself some good questions. What does sex mean to you? What do you think is the purpose of sex? How do you believe you can honor yourself, your relationship(s), and God with your choices?
Don’t be afraid to speak up when you hear something that seems incongruent with what your heart, soul, and faith tell you— Even if it is someone from the church.
Challenge yourself to define your view of love. This is the most beautiful thing I’ve read about love and wish to include it as a reading at my wedding one day (way down the road):
“I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I suppose the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again. God risked Himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us.”
-Donald Miller, “Blue Like Jazz”
Melissa Otterbein is an HIV/AIDS behavioral researcher, writer, and triathlete. A self-described “recovering evangelical,” she ponders the intersections of faith, hope, and love on her blog “Like Birds on Trees”