Practicalities of Talking About Sex in the Church

The world is screaming at us about sex. Non stop sexual advertising, pornography, TV shows and movies all constantly communicate the worlds standards and ideas. The church remains shockingly silent. Which in itself communicates something about sex, doesn’t it?The only way for the church to take sex back for the world is to start talking about sex. And not just in vague spiritual ways. People are looking for real answers!

You don’t wait for your pastor to lead the charge. They have their own brokenness they are dealing with. If you know and understand God’s truth about sex, then you need to start talking about sex. With your kids, your friends, and people  you mentor. We have to speak the truth about sex , but how?

I want to share some things I’ve learned from the past six years of teaching and writing about sex in the church, in hopes that it will give you the courage to start talking.

Depersonalize

Most conversations can be depersonalized. You don’t need to share specific details about you and your spouse Rather you can talk in terms of,” most men or women…. “  To communicate empathy, you could say something like, “a lot of us have trouble with….” Talk in terms of general categories like men,women or Christians.

Educate don’t Prescribe – we are all unique

Every single person and couple are unique. We come with different baggage, insecurities and even physical bodies. What works great for you may not for someone else. Our job is not to prescribe or convince but to educate and let individuals discern what is right for them. Don’t start giving people “you shoulds“.

Use personal stories  – only when it helps them understand.

Sharing your own personal stories of struggle can be a great way to encourage others and to help them understand what you have learned. Share in general ways and filter everything through God and what He has taught you.

Focus on yourself, not your spouse

Always focus on yourself and what you’ve learned, not on your spouse. Always shift the focus from their frustration with their spouse, to what they can do different. Don’t ever take sides because you have only heard one side of the story.

Avoid first person – they should not be able to visualize you and your husband

When talking about the physical aspects of sex, always avoid speaking in first person, as if you are telling a story. What you say should not cause someone to visualize what you and your husband do in your marriage bed. Don’t say things like, ” The other night I was ….

If you can’t say it in person, then don’t say it.

Years ago, I woke up in a panic when I realized I had taken readers into my marriage bed by describing a scene. After retracting the article, I wrestled with where the lines are when I write about sex. I decided that I should never write something that I was not willing to say face to face with someone else. If I can’t teach it in a class, then I shouldn’t write it. Though you may not write about sex, many of us communicate using text or social media. Be very careful and don’t say what you aren’t willing to say in person.

Final Thoughts

People are looking for answers in the area of sexuality and it is a huge opportunity to minister to others. Instead of waiting for your pastor to start talking about sex, become a resource to others. Though we need to be careful about what we say, our attitude, comfort and tone communicate as much as our words.  Help others learn that we can talk about sex in good and healthy ways. Maybe even consider leading an Awaken Love class!

Talking About Sex in the Church – Walking the Tightrope

I have taught sex classes to Christian men and women for over 6 years. I have also written pretty detailed instruction articles on the blog for everything from oral sex, to frenulum orgasm, to how to enjoy intercourse. Along the way I have wrestled with what topics I should address and what felt like too much. At what point would I lose my audience because I wanted to educate and provide answers? Where is the line between respectful instruction and graphic detail? How do I vulnerably share the struggles and triumphs of working on my own sex life without letting people into my bedroom?

The lines for teaching about sex require careful discernment and humility. Though you may never  teach sex classes, I believe that only ways Christians can take sex back from the world, is by talking about sex. Like Juli Slattery says in Rethinking Sexuality, instead of letting the world disciple us about sex, the church, meaning us, need to disciple others about sex. We have to learn to talk about sex and walk the tight rope between helpful information, and going too far.

Providing the Whole Story

From the first class I taught, I always believed that women needed the whole story about sex. How could I just tell women how wonderful God intended sex to be in marriage without providing answers about how their body worked, or how to make sex fun and creative. As part of the class,women are emailed a short article about sex every day. Some of the articles get, shall we say, “pretty detailed”. I don’t send the articles to try to convince the women to participate in certain activities. Rather I send the articles to educate and empower them. I want them to decide with their husband what to enjoy in their marriage bed. I want to open their minds to consider the amazing freedom God gives us. We cannot provide answers to the spiritual aspects of sex without providing real answers on how to create a mutually enjoyable experience.

Respectful Details

Some of my favorite books about sex are secular books, Orgasms by Lou Paget and She Comes First by Ian Kerner. I like the books because they provide detailed suggestions for technique without becoming graphic. Using black and white sketches they make sense out of positions and acts in order to enjoy each other.  They depersonalize the information while still capturing the importance of relationship. When I teach or write, I try to provide important details that will help you to create the experience you want with your spouse. I don’t need to personalize instructional details.

Connecting with Stories

One of the most important principles we need to understand about sex is that it is a journey. I do not have everything figured out, and I never will. Through vulnerably sharing my own struggles, I hope that you will connect with my story of constant growth. Snowboarders say, if you don’t fall once in a while, than you aren’t learning anything new. The same is true in our sex life and in intimacy with God. If you don’t feel bruised once in a while, than you haven’t stretched yourself. If you don’t feel scared out of your wits once in a while, then you don’t really need God. I share my struggles because I want to spur you on to experience the highs and lows of going for it.

Final Thoughts

I consider how I speak and write about sex to be a reflection of Christ that is within me. If I am going to maintain credibility with church leadership or even other Christians, I have to understand that I must handle the topic of sex with the utmost care and humility.

But learning to communicate respectfully about sex is not just an issue for me or other Christian bloggers. If we are going to start talking about sex in the church, then we all need to figure out how to walk this tight rope. The best resource for a young bride in the church should be sitting down one on one with a married friend. Women struggling to enjoy sex, should find encouragement and guidance from married girl friends. Guys looking for answers should find Godly men willing to move beyond joking to have a serious conversation packed with answers. We all need to learn to talk about sex in respectful ways.

So next time I would like to share some of the practicalities that I have learned about talking about sex in the church.

 

 

Talking About Sex in the Church – RETHINKING SEXUALITY

After 6 years of teaching Awaken-Love to Christian wives and husbands, I am painfully aware of the need to talk about sex in the church. But we cannot limit ourselves to just talking about sex within marriage. God created us as sexual beings from the time we were born. We need to understand what the bible says about all areas of sexuality and even equip ourselves to minister to others.  Dr. Juli Slattery has written an amazing book and curriculum called Rethinking Sexuality that is both grounded in truth and steeped in grace.

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Understanding and Handling a “No” – Sexual Rejection

Those of us bold enough to initiate sex will eventually hear the dreaded word “no” from our spouse. How we react to that “no” will either move us toward disconnection or create greater intimacy in marriage. Though hearing a “no” is never easy and can literally throw us into a tail spin, we have the power to choose how we react. We can refuse to make the “no” personal and instead lean into connection regardless of whether we have sex.

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Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot – Encourage Your Husband

As much as we want our husbands to be more romantic, work on intimacy or better meet our needs, we have a hard time not shooting ourselves in the foot. Even when our husband tries, we complain, or negate their attempts until eventually they just give up. The best way to encourage growth in your husband is to get excited about the small steps he takes.

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Does Your Husband Initiate Sex?

I have this theory that in many marriages, wives train their husband not to initiate sex until we give the signal that we are open for business. We like to control our lives, including when and where we have sex. So, we develop subtle, or not so subtle signals. Maybe we linger as we kiss, or we touch more than usual, or we just tell him, “do you want to have sex tonight?” And our husband simply waits.

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Creating Community at Awaken-Love

When I first found Christian sex blogs, I quickly realized that I learned as much from reading the comments as from the articles. The information authentically shared by individuals gave me a window into the struggles and triumphs of men and women just like me and my husband. But this window didn’t just inform me, it spurred me on towards growth. As I heard the testimonies of others I began to believe that God could change me too. Community creates growth, whether in person during an Awaken-Love class or anonymously on the Awaken-Love blog.

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The Importance of Dreaming

This weekend I met a young mom at a craft fair selling beautiful pottery and we struck up a conversation. I shared that I also used to create things during naptime to help keep my sanity as a young mom. When I admitted that I don’t get down to the woodshop much anymore, she asked, “So what do you do now?”

Without missing a beat, my oldest daughter replied, “She’s writing a book.”

“What about?”, she asked.

In a split moment I had to discern, am I supposed to tell her what I really do?

“The book is going to be about sex. I actually teach sex classes to Christian Wives”, I quietly offered.

“That’s awesome!”, she said, “It is so needed! I would totally be interested in something like that. I’ve got to introduce you to my husband!”

As she enthusiastically shared with her husband what I do, I heard him quietly say, “I thought we were doing okay.”

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The Power of Righteous Anger

“Does anyone else here feel angry!”

It wasn’t the first time a woman had said this during an Awaken-Love class. A righteous anger boiled up as she realized how God’s gift of sex had been distorted. That same distortion had impacted not only others, but her own marriage bed. A righteous anger that I pray fuels the power for change – not just for herself but for others.

Messages About Sex

We had just finished sharing how we learned about sex as kids. Women were aghast as they realized how few good messages they received. People with the greatest influence in our lives, parents, pastors and extended family, shared few positive messages about sex. “No wonder we struggle so much with sex” we thought to ourselves.

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The Importance of Non-Sexual Touch

In February I speak to a couple of Moms groups about sex in preparation for Valentine’s Day. It has been years since my 4 girls were babies, and much of it seems like a fog. Sex definitely was not at the top of my priority list and I have been thinking about what I wish I had done differently to navigate through baby land. The place I would start would be having a conversation about touch.

I remember spending long days at home chasing little kids, wiping noses, reading with a full lap of girls, and rocking babies to sleep. When my husband arrived home, the last thing I wanted was for him to touch me – especially if it might lead to sex.  And so I kept my distance from him. I didn’t linger with my kisses, I didn’t cuddle too long before I rolled away from him in bed, and I pushed him away.

I suppose part of my reasoning was to protect my husband. I didn’t want to lead him on and later disappoint him. But what it really did was train my husband to expect sex on the days that I allowed him to touch me. So the pattern began.

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