A couple weeks ago
I asked my Facebook friends and fam why it seems to be difficult for Christians to talk about sex, even sex within marriage!
I understand sex is deeply personal and elicits extreme opinions. I totally relate with anyone who feels wary to share such personal opinions or experiences with someone who will likely misunderstand when there isn’t time to give a full background or context.
These conversations probably take place more than I realize. They might not happen on social media or at a church potluck brunch. They’re more likely to happen on a couch with friends or discussion after a certain movie or news article.
Fair enough. I get all that.
But my question is: When you want to make a statement or ask a question about sex… what stops you? What makes you think twice? What keeps it trapped inside? If the thought never leaves your brain, it never has the chance to become ‘normal’. Hidden thoughts and questions can seem isolated and abnormal if no one asks out loud.
it’s never true.
There’s always someone else. So it’s a shame if the reason we keep it inside is actually fear. Fear is a terrible driving force towards our decisions.
*Discretion, privacy, wisdom… all of these are good things to consider, of course.*
Have you ever overheard a conversation where someone speaks plain truth about sex and, not only did your ears perk up, but your heart gave a leap of relief that someone else was frank enough to say what everyone else is thinking?
That’s why it’s worth it.
That’s why I think it’s important. It’s a shame that any number of Christians would decline talking about sex, but rather sit back and be subject to the existing cultural conversation on sex. We are supposed to be salt and light, and that means we need to influence the culture and the conversation.
Introducing my 4 favorite videos on sex and marriage
Esther Perel: The secret to desire (20 min)
This woman is a relationship genius and asks the exact questions that would take me several weeks to articulate. Who knows why I clicked on this video; I honestly don’t remember. But doesn’t the title entice you? This talk is not fluffy and sensual like the name might imply. Rather it raises to light some questions that sound impossible to answer, yet brew underneath all modern committed, long-term, romantic relationships. If you’ve read Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, or even briefly considered that marrying for love is a novel idea when placed in the midst of thousands of years of social history, you can feel the weight of the requirements of a romantic partner in 2016. Perel says,
Everywhere romanticism has entered, there seems to be a crisis of desire.
…now we want our partner to still give us [security, adventure and a passionate marriage], but in addition I want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and my passionate lover to boot, and we live twice as long.
listen for: what makes sexual desire in this age so different than ever before?
I loved this talk because I can relate to everything she says. I want stability, safety and dependability, but I also want adventure, novelty and mystery. And I want it to be that way for the next 50-70 years. It’s a lot to ask one person for, but it’s what we ALL do. Perel explores this dynamic beautifully. If you don’t want to spend the time to watch, there is a transcript so you can skim through.
Ran Gavrieli: Why I Stopped Watching Pornography (15 min)
I love this video! I shared it back in March in my roundup post but it’s very appropriate for today’s compilation and I’d love to hear what you think. This video’s relevance to me is shaped by two factors: 1) My whole upbringing through high school was steeped in religious and spiritual influences. My teen years especially included a lot of don’t-do’s. A wide variety of people taught me and encouraged me to live like Christ (failing to mention his political revolutionary tendencies) 2) I spent 4 years at a private, liberal arts college for women where I learned what feminism was and attempted to reconcile it with my Christian faith. I’d say I’m a follower of Christ, and a feminist.
Gavrieli’s perspective is valuable to me even though his faith background isn’t mentioned. His opinion stands outside of the faith-lens that so many Christians are taught through. Therefore, he has something refreshing to offer. Half of his argument against porn? It cultivates unhealthy norms for how to treat real women.
It’s not about erotica or healthy sexual communication. It’s all about male domination of women, subordination of women. It’s not only the sexual practice; it’s a way of being.
If God made sex, and sex is good, then what’s the problem with pornography? If your answer involves God’s design for sex within boundaries, I agree with you, but this video can take the conversation further.
If we were to ask porn how does it define something as sexual? What qualifies, what defines something as sexual? Porn would laugh in our face! What do I find sexual? Whatever men find arousing!
Listen for: how “sex with no hands” represents subordination of women.
Brene Brown on Empathy (4 min)
What a cute little video! While it’s not about sex, and it’s not explicitly about marriage, it’s got a hefty message. The difference between sympathy and empathy is helpful to know if you deal with kids, with healthcare populations, with a spouse, with anyone that doesn’t have a perfect life! That seems to be all of us. If you haven’t heard of Brene Brown before, she’s another genius who is adding significant context to the conversation on vulnerability and shame. Her work is relevant for anyone who interacts with people! Her book Daring Greatly is one I’ve noticed lots of people reading, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection.
listen for: what not to say when someone’s in a tough spot
adina river on self-care and sexuality (6 min)
My girlfriend introduced me to this goddess (I’ll admit she’s only human… but she radiates self-love and beauty!) the day I was typing up this post for you all. Adina, girl, you are amazing. I am so grateful I was introduced! Her videos are tasteful, honest and encourage you to get to know, and take care of, your body. They are definitely not for the conservative or for those practicing abstinence (Seriously, this girl is very European), but if you have boobs, you should check this one out for sure!
I find mindfulness and body positivity really important, but I don’t prioritize either like I want to! Adina naturally radiates self-love and mindfulness and she makes it look so easy! I felt a little nervous recommending her videos to you, because she talks a lot about sex! Then I read the introduction to this post, and if I don’t tell you about her, I’m not walking the talk. If you want to hear more on actual sex tips, check out her YouTube channel and subscribe!
This video, however, is applicable for every woman, married or not. This is not a video about self-examination, rather self-massage. Although, as a nurse and a woman, I wonder if doctors encouraged women to touch themselves the way Adina describes, if we’d be way more excited about checking our breasts! She tells you at the start,
Believe it or not, breast massage is helpful on so many levels. It eases your menstrual flow, increases your sexual energy, improves your breast shape, reduces lumps and cysts, and most of all, deepens the connection with your breasts.
listen for: why you should talk to your breasts
So there you have it! I’ve introduced you to 4 new perspectives on issues that play a part in every marriage. Every couple has to decide how much to invest in these conversations. The latter 3 videos don’t even require a partner to get started! Start conversations (internal ones are good too!) on loving your own body, balancing the struggle for stability and adventure, displaying empathy to those around you, or deciding how much outside influences (like pornography) will affect your private life (and to what extent).
food for thought
Which video do you want to watch first? Which topic rubs you the wrong way? Do you find it easy to talk about sex with friends, your partner, or is it difficult to speak about any of this without fear of judgement? I’m so curious to hear what you think of these videos. Leave your questions and comments below!