December 16, 2017

OK, I’m Blushing…

Modesty, Bouguereau

By Chaplain Mike

Why does everything have to be an “issue” for Christians?

Why do we feel the need to speak publicly about every matter under heaven?

Why is so necessary to make it clear “where we stand” on everything?

Can’t (shouldn’t) there be some things that we deal with quietly, privately, personally, face to face and heart to heart, rather than in public venues?

When and why did Christian leaders start to think we would serve the world better by adding to the cacophony of voices about sexual matters rather than quietly, humbly giving perspective to our overly sexualized culture in wiser, more discreet ways?

When did privacy, modesty, and restraint cease to be important virtues for us?

Are we so afraid of being called “prudes” that we feel we must talk publicly about sexual matters in detail in order to stay edgy and relevant?

Don’t we realize that buying into the world’s practice of making sex a matter for public discussion only adds to the confusion our society faces when it comes to sexual morality?

The Veil, Bouguereau

I know the arguments contrary to what I am saying here, and I am not buying them.

Yes, we live in a sexualized culture.

Yes, we are exposed to sexual images a thousand times a day. Yes, our children are exposed to sexual matters at earlier and earlier ages.

Yes, people who have grown up in such a world are dealing with many, many issues related to sexual brokenness.

Yes, we need to learn to think Christianly about human sexuality.

Yes, certainly in years past, the church has not always provided adequate wisdom, compassion, and theological perspective on these matters to God’s family.

And, certainly, we have not always had a good testimony in the world about a good and loving God and his interest in our blessing and well being with regard to this and all activities of life in his creation.

However, don’t we want to teach and convey that the deeply personal experiences of one’s sexuality and sexual relationships are to be thought about and handled within the framework of Christian virtues like chastity and modesty? within communities where such discussions can be held among those we trust and respect?

Shouldn’t we be hesitant to speak publicly about such things, except on rare occasions, deferring most of the time to families and friends, pastors and counselors, who can deal privately and considerately with people’s intimate questions?

I have concluded that what we have here is yet another instance of trying to fix what is broken by high visibility sermons, media, and church programs rather than by building genuine community and institutions that encourage and enable people to know and walk with God in their daily lives.

Why am I focusing on this today? I blush to report that I came across the piece, “The Cult of the Orgasm: Thinking Christianly about the vibrator boom and unsatisfied sexual desire” over at Her.meneutics, Christianity Today’s blog for women.

Yes, really. I’m blushing just reading the title.

Crown of Flowers, Bouguereau

In the post, Anna Broadway opines about a new cultural trend (publicly advertising and making available sexual aids) and tries to help us think Christianly about it and the issue of masturbation, particularly as it relates to single Christian women.

After citing a couple of lame ways Christians in the past have addressed sexual self-gratification by trying to find instructions about it in the Bible, she basically admits that the Bible does not broach the subject. That being said, she then launches into a typical form of Christian teaching we fall back on when the Scriptures prove they aren’t interested in what interests us.

In the end, she exhorts her sexually-frustrated readers to “cry out to God” as the solution. So typical.

I left a comment on the piece. Before I did, I started reading the other comments, and by the time I had made my way down through a few of them, I began to feel frustrated myself about the discussion. It reminded me of so many conversations I have been involved with, on a variety of topics, with other believers. Most of it is simply useless talk, missing the point, complaining about one aspect of the author’s viewpoint or another, thinking that we are being good Christians because we have an opinion and are willing to speak it, with little sense that talking with a bunch of strangers on a public forum about matters like this is itself an obscenity and helpful to no one in the end.

Here is the comment I wrote:

The author basically admitted it: the Bible says nothing about masturbation. Where does that leave us? So many areas of life are not addressed by Scripture that we need to think for ourselves, wisely and lovingly about life and our own relationships. Teach people to do that, find ways that friends, mentors, and counselors can talk in private about such personal matters with individuals and couples who have questions, and leave it at that.

Why do Christians think everything has to be an “issue” that we must address?

The cultural indecency I would like to address is not the fact that anyone can buy a vibrator at Walgreens. Rather it is this: Everything must be discussed publicly. No. it. does. not.

Not all matters have a public solution. Nor must they be addressed from pulpit, by public media, or in a public forum. And if one thinks something like this should be, the answer is not to carry on pointless web discussions that only add to the cultural noise, but to direct us toward private life and community as the setting where true conversation and personal help can be found.

I’m well aware that some may accuse me of hypocrisy for saying this as a writer on a blog like Internet Monk, where people talk about their lives and we discuss personal issues. Fine. But listen to me now as I repeat words I have said before. Life and spirituality is local. Despite the false intimacy and sense of connectedness our media persuades us we have, I am not your pastor or personal mentor. The level of “help” you can receive from reading a post or participating in a blog discussion is far less efficacious than the personal help available to you in your local community and in face-to-face relationships. As I’ve said before, this is not where I live, and neither should you.

So please, can we just stop the blush-producing talk? God gave us that reflex for a reason.

Comments

  1. Dear writer,

    Surfing to your site straight after Christianpost, I can really appreciate the breath of fresh air this post brings. Thank you.

  2. This reminds me of how evangelical megachurches always try to out-do each other talking about sex. Every time they launch into a sermon series relating to sex, they act like it’s something revolutionary and edgy that no other church has ever done before. No, it’s not. Sex is one of the most overused topics for sermons (even more so with high school/college/young adult groups.) Ed Young the Younger’s church had a particularly egregious instance of this a few years ago.

    I don’t think sex is bad; as a single twentysomething male it’s something I’m quite looking forward to. However, I’ve heard the standard sex sermons a million times and the way the church approaches the issue tends to be painfully banal. And what’s more, it tends to be extremely un-compassionate to those of us who are lonely single people rather touchy about this subject, especially when the pastor starts gushing about how sex is the best thing ever and basically telling all of us single people that we’re missing out. It seems like his goal is ultimately to make us feel jealous and “covet” the same sort of relationship he has.

    This is not an issue at my current church, but it has been elsewhere in the past. In other words, I totally agree with Mike that the church ought to be more discerning about teaching on sex and maybe focus on teaching people on a smaller scale mentoring sort of basis rather than as the prime feature of Sunday morning entertainment.

    • At the megachurches I attended during my middle and high school years, every other month the Sunday School lessons, BIble studies, and youth group meetings seemed to be about sex. The problem was, after a while, there didn’t seem to be anything more to be said. We knew what the Scriptures said. Yet there was still this repetitiveness that didn’t seem to take us seriously as whole persons, as people capable of thinking about and discussing other issues.

      IMO, this is what would have been most helpful: getting us to think about other things. If all we ever did was focus on sex, even from the Christian point of view, then we’re going to think that’s all that is important and the only thing worth focusing on.

      As to the whole pastors referencing their own sex lives thing, as a single person I would concur that I do NOT want to hear about his sex life from the pulpit. On the rare occasions that it happens, I say to myself, “Yes, I know. You are married and you have biological children. Obviously I know you have sex. Let’s move on.”

      • See my comments below for my own experience in helping lead a youth ministry in a mega -church. Kyle, the “sermon series”, with seemingly random topics, chosen at a pastor’s whim, is one of many reasons why I am now a part of a liturgical tradition, where the pastor’s messages are drawn from a lectionary. Keeps me focused and on track with telling God’s story in an order that makes sense, and keeps me focused on topics of true significance.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      …especially when the pastor starts gushing about how sex is the best thing ever and basically telling all of us single people that we’re missing out.

      AKA the Christian (TM) version of “I Get Laid and You Don’t, HAW! HAW! HAW!”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Sex is one of the most overused topics for sermons (even more so with high school/college/young adult groups.) Ed Young the Younger’s church had a particularly egregious instance of this a few years ago.

      The Seven Day Sex Challenge, delivered the same day St Boniface (and all other liturgical mainstreams) celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. (I can’t get over that synchronicity…)

  3. Question. You know how Paul says basically he didn’t covet until he knew what the law of coveting was and then that was all he could think about and his trespasses just kept abounding? Am I over analyzing or is that kind of what is going on with talking non stop about things like sex? I mean you walk into church not necessarily thinking about sex or your desires but you leave after that sermon and it comes over you in waves? Maybe I am WAY off but I think that by talking about it obsessively it isn’t going to make people stop doing it in the ways that many condemn. Just a thought.

    • That’s kind of the way I feel when I see young couples (and even a few older ones) engaging in PDAs during services. Now all my attention is focused on why they think this is an appropriate setting in which to be doing such a thing instead of focusing on the service. Of course that may be as much my fault as theirs, but still I’m astonished by the change in culture. In my childhood churches, they would have been called out from the pulpit and told to stop it. Now the leadership turns a blind eye toward it. From one extreme to the other.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. The more you dwell on something, doesn’t matter if it’s “you shall not…” or “go ahead, it’s ok…’ or even “here’s some practical advice for the issue of…” , the more you guarantee people will drift towards an unhealthy fixation. The law was give to increase the trespass, to paraphrase.

      I believe the whole idea in sending Jesus was to give us a HEALTHY fixation, so that all the unhealthy fixations would have less of a hold on us. Of course bring up Jesus in one of those “issues” type discussions and you’ll be met with “Yeah of course Jesus, but…”

  4. So where can we get a ticket for the play “Vagina Monologue?” :p

    Seriously though…these are my thoughts Chaplin Mike. I really don’t think the church should talk about sex or sexuality until it can understand, grasp, and really live in grace. Also I would suggest that until it gets comfortable talking about sex without criminalizing it, it should also refrain from discussing it.

    Here’s what I leanred from different church experiences, Campus Crusade, etc… When I was a fundgelical the culture that existed punished honesty. The person that came out and said, “Hey I’m having difficulty with lust…” is the one who undergoes a beat down. In my case after I confessed my sin struggle I might have well had a last meal, worn a target and then stood at the front of the firing range while Pharises pulled out their weapons.

    I got stoned by Pharises, had an accoutability partner for 8 years who ended up living a double life, and was sold another accountability program that was quite legalistic. In addition I had to contend with my Crusade director who thought it would be a good idea to put a career in jeopardy to teach me a lesson about the consequences in sin. I also leanred that no matter what the church, ministry, etc.. is that it is not a safe environment for the broken, wounded, and hurting. And that especially applies to the topic of sexuality.

    Why am I saying all this? Especially on a public blog? Becuase I believe I am but the tip of the ice berg. I believe there are many people out there hurt, wounded, who then have to deal with a repressive religious structure that comes down upon them. As a result many people lie and become decitful so they can survivie and be a part of the system. Ted Haggard wasn’t created over night. Instead he was in a system where he could not confess his sexual sin and difficulty. The church at the time never would have allowed it, and that’s why it probably festered and grew until he went down in flames.

    But my experience with accountability and what I was sold was a contributing factor in my faith falling apart. I say this because I think the church needs to be gentle, klnd and live in grace. Today it doesn’t, all it knows is how to use rhetoric from a stage of a mega church, or to be in a private office and undergo a dress down and yelling by some fundegelical pastor/minsitry leader etc…

    So until the church knows how to live out grace I really think they should back off the sexual topic. Becuase otherwise people get hurt. And the pain goes deep. Chaplin Mike….I was a fool for thinking that the chruch is a hospital for sinners.

    • Hi Eagle! I started reading a novel on Sunday and throughout it you have crossed my mind. Uh-oh, let’s not start getting weird here. ha ha

      You have mentioned in previous posts about your story, your struggles, and the condemnation you received from it. Well……this book is based on the book of Hosea where God asks Hosea to marry a prostitute and then not have sex with her (initially). She is drop dead beautiful! He has to visit her in the brothel a few times and throughout the pages I’ve read so far he is very busy telling God the struggles he is having, the temptation that is oh so near, that he doesn’t know how long he can go on like this for the feelings that rise up in him when she’s close, etc.

      The reason you have come to my mind is the book is written as if this man “Michael Hosea” was so close to the Father, he can tell Him anything. ANYTHING. Imagine that?

      If we as Christians don’t think God understands our natural human instincts and wants to help us with them we’re screwed! It’s been so “don’t do this” and “don’t do that”. Stay away from sex, it’s evil, until you’re married and then it’s fantastic. Really? Telling people it’s evil, it’s bad, don’t lust, don’t touch, don’t think….then the ring goes on and all is well now? Oh sheesh!

      I hope I am not being inappropriate here, going off topic or making Eagle or CM blush, I just thought it to be refreshing that this book, so far, has been about lust, sex, and waiting and it’s really, really good! And it was God’s plan. He knew the woman wasn’t “pure”, He knew she’d had many, many partners, He knew it ALL! And He wanted this prophet to marry her anyway! Do we understand the severity of this??? It’s NOTHING like most Christians today. We are so dead set on virgin, virgin, virgin, sex bad, sex bad, marriage good, marriage good, we miss the whole point of the Redeemer in the midst. Nowhere does He bring condemnation or guilt or lies or hypocrisy. He brings redemption that is ro full of love, if we fully understood it, we’d drown.

      I’m not saying, let’s all go out and get crazy, I’m talking about experiences like Eagle’s that are, no doubt, rampant and the feeling of despair people have as they walk away, with their tail between their legs, the guilt sack heavy and their faith faltering. Christians, in some circles have seem to forgotten that sin is sin and Jesus died for the redemption of it all. Whether you struggle with lust or greed or doubt.

      I’m rambling and I don’t think I’m making any sense. I think I’ll stop for now.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Eagle: Long ago, I came to the conclusion that Christians are just as screwed up sexually as everybody else, just in a different (and often opposite) direction.

      And I say this as someone who’s seen a LOT of sexual screwups over 20+ years in Furry Fandom.

    • Hi Eagle,
      Your story is all too common. A loved one of mine is in a 12-step program for sexual addiction. A Christian for years, this one fell hard and didn’t feel safe to share it with anyone in the church. The problem grew in that secrecy. How could an upstanding Christian admit to being so lowly in sin? In the small support group there are fallen pastors and youth-group leaders who not only lost their jobs for admitting (or being caught) in sexual sin, but most have lost their wives and families too. Secular workers are not necessarily shunned for cheating on their spouses. I agree with HUG, Christians are just as screwed up sexually as everybody else.
      I don’t think the problem is only the sexual mistakes — but the further mistake of lack of forgiveness and understanding. The worst sinner is forgiven by Christ, but not by many who claim Him.
      I enjoy your comments.
      Kris

      • One other point I forogt to make is when I realzied how subjective evangelicals are about what is “sinful”. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I kept getting beat up of lust and then I had this dawning moment of all these other sins that wever never mentioned in church.

        • scottee says:

          This is one of the most annoying things to me too. People in churches want to condemn sins, but only the ones that they’re obviously not doing (**cough** **cough**). So if you’re a married family going to a church in the suburbs, it’s ok to condemn premarital sex, homosexuality, laziness, vulgar language, and abortion. But no one ever talks about coveting, greed, gluttony, pride, lying, oppression, bitterness, or gossip. At least not in a local (“close to me”) context.

    • Brendan H says:

      “Accountability partner”….*shudders* …sounds like an Overseer.

    • Eagle,

      I am with you man. The “accountability partner” thing is total BS. I’ve tried to be a part of it, because I do what I dont want to do and dont do what I want to do regarding certain areas in life that shouldnt be discussed if you get my meaning.

      Anyway, we need to have confession. Like the Catholics do it. You confess, pray, and are absolved from all guilt. You start new and fresh. I would much prefer confession over an “accountability” program that is nothing but crap.

      I just hope you don’t give up on faith. My faith in Christ has deepened as my disillusionment with the “fundegelical” church has increased. A lot of it is thanks to this blog and knowing that I am not alone in my feelings.

      • I agree 100% about sacramental confession. Protestants were foolish to throw it out. The same goes for the rest of the sacraments, imo.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Another thing about sacramental confession (even pointed out in a novel by Mormon author Orson Scott Card) is that sacramental confession is Confidential like you wouldn’t believe. Secret and confidential, handled in private with no danger of gossip. (Considering how common gossip is in churches, that alone is a big improvement.)

      • Milton…right now I am not sure what I believe. I really felt like I was brainwashed in some of the evangelical ministries I was involved in. As a result it’s all on the table. Evangelicalism really tainted and colored so much of my life. From my relationship to my parents, family, freinds, co-workers, professors when I was in school, etc.. I was so focused on trying to “man up” and expressed Biblical manhood that it was suffocating.

        So today it’s all on the table. This means questioning and revisiting what I believe about the following:
        -The Bible
        -Family
        -Friends
        -Career
        -Money
        -Health
        -Sex
        -God
        -Church
        -Sin
        -Possessions
        -Enjoying life
        -Nature
        -Laughter

        I’m trying to learn is it possible to enjoy life and people without it being poisoned by spiritual application all the time? Can I enjoy the presence of someone without thinking, “Are they saved?” Can I enjoy a movie, companionship, etc… without having to find some hidden spiritual evangelical Christian meaning?

        • Patricia says:

          Hi Eagle
          I relate to what you write. I, too, consider myself “recovering” from churchianity. I’ve had to detox, and re-examine a lot of what I got submerged in theologically. For myself, I’ve gone back to the stewardship parables, and notice what didn’t happen. The master left the talents/minas/vineyards – and all related decisions – in the hands of his trustees, without specific instructions on how to invest, or tend. It was more like, here’s some valuble stuff – do your best with it, and when I get back, we’ll have a look at what you did. And I’m tending to think that that is how this bodily life works, too. There’s too many religious people who want everything spelled out, with lines to cross or not cross, and i’s to dot so they can “be right.” Or at least be more right than that other guy over there.

          As for binary thinking with regard to salvation, I think that’s a little simplistic, too. Too often, salvation is equated with merely a get-out-of-hell free card achieved by holding correct viewpoints. I’d recommend some George MacDonald to free up from that.

          Blessings,
          Patricia

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Evangelicalism really tainted and colored so much of my life. From my relationship to my parents, family, freinds, co-workers, professors when I was in school, etc.. I was so focused on trying to “man up” and expressed Biblical manhood that it was suffocating.

          Eagle, when I get back from my vacation (after July 4th) I’ll see if Chap Mike can put me in email contact with you. Evangelicalism is only one type of Christianity, and these days I belong to another, older type.

          When I write my attempts at SF and fantasy, I find the non-Evangelical and post-Evangelical Christ showing through — in forms, in symbols, in hope. I’d like to pass you some of my stuff touching on the subject; story can reach where sermon and lecture can’t.

          I’m trying to learn is it possible to enjoy life and people without it being poisoned by spiritual application all the time? … without having to find some hidden spiritual evangelical Christian meaning?

          There is a difference between “some hidden spiritual evangelical Christian meaning” and finding echoes and parallels between Christ and fiction/reality/whatever. The first is a Captain Planet lecture; the second can be a Sense of Wonder and Depth like you wouldn’t believe, echoing to the ends of the earth. ANd you can find echoes and parallels everywhere, from Lord of the Rings to My Little Pony.

    • Eagle, you and me are in the same boat in a lot of the same ways, struggling with the same things, questioning the same things. It’s why I’ve been doing that Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem series on my blog. It’s why I get so heated when certain people comment on my blog. You and me are more alike than we realize.

  5. In my lifetime I’ve now seen both extremes, and I’ve concluded that evangelicalism, much like the larger American culture, is fairly schizophrenic about sex. Approaches range from prudishness to near voyeurism, from taboo to too much information.

    I grew up the the absolute taboo era. Never heard word one about human sexuality from teachers or parents, and they certainly never bothered to put a biblical framework to it. It simply wasn’t brought up.

    Now we have the opposite extreme: people opining about everything even when scripture doesn’t (evangelicals tend to do this in other areas of life, too, and it often backfires and makes them look silly, but that’s another conversation)

    We need to find a middle ground. I think our european brothers and sisters have pretty much done this. Maybe we could learn from them.

    • Peter Johnson says:

      Well spoken John; balance is good, and needed.

    • “Approaches range from prudishness to near voyeurism, from taboo to too much information. ”

      Very true. And I suspect we are seeing both because they are flip sides of the same coin. Absolute silence and voyeurism are both the marks of someone who is fascinated by a topic.

      • Damaris says:

        “Absolute silence and voyeurism are both the marks of someone who is fascinated by a topic.”

        Profoundly true, Danielle.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          These days I don’t think it’s possible to grow to adulthood without acquiring some sort of sexual paraphilia. Everything is so Eroticized, both outside the churches and inside — the main difference is on the inside the Eroticization is most often Negative. Seems the best you can hope for is that whichever paraphilia you end up with is only embarrasing instead of truly destructive.

  6. Thank you.

  7. In 14 years that I have been in our congregation I cannot remember it ever being discussed unless was in a law text (Jesus saying, “If you even look at a woman (not your wife) in that sexual way, then you are an adulterer).

    We don’t do any self-help stuff during our worship service whether it’d be about sex, or being a better husband or wife, or how to be a good parent, or how to be a better Christian, or ‘how to’… anything.

    We don’t believe that God is trying to make us better (in a sermon, or in a worship service), but rather He is trying to kill us off! So that His Word of forgiveness can actually bring us back to life…NEW LIFE…in Him!

    Do you hear that kind of talk in very many churches today?

    You should.

    • Tokahfang says:

      Aye, our priest’s sermons are always about God or our relationship to him… not wandering around to other stuff. If you have a practical question or need counsel, he’s there, but sunday morning is 100% about the Lord.

      • Your priest is doing it the right way.

        Thanks be to God!

      • You see, though, I think there’s a danger in thinking that some topics are about us and some are about the Lord. Certainly we do run the rick of becoming navel-gazers and not ever seeing past ourselves, but I also think it’s a risk to have a very distinct holy/secular or spiritual/non-spiritual divide. We are holistic people and things that affect us physically affect us spiritually as well, and vice versa.

        Of course there is a time and place for everything, so I do agree with you that a Sunday Morning service isn’t the best place to deal with issues that are very personal in nature.

        • Absolutely, right Phil.

          I came out of just such a church.

          The end conclusion there was that God is not really into our marriage, our parenting, or our work. Even in relationships, we would see this. Friendships become solely a means for evangelism. We always congratulated ourselves for being so much more spiritual than those people who talked about those kinds of things.

          What does it really mean to live for Christ in our marriage, or in parenting our children, or in our relationships, or in our life ambitions or goals. Life hates a vacuum, and if these things are not talked about, then the world will fill the void.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Friendships become solely a means for evangelism.

            As in they’re making friends with you only so they can sign you up for their Fire Insurance.

            You want the magic of real friendship, you wind up going to G4 Ponyville.

          • “As in they’re making friends with you only so they can sign you up for their Fire Insurance.”

            Wow. I never thought about it that way before. Creepy.

          • “Friendships become solely a means for evangelism.”

            Ever notice how, during a conversation with a Christian you just met, it becomes painfully obvious that they are doing everything in their power to find a reason to drop the What God Is Doing In Your Life thing so they can assess how spiritual you are? Or to figure out where you stand on faith/religion so that they can assess the need to witness to you? I love that. Not.

          • I like when I meet older Christians. They just come right out and say it. “Do you know the Lord?” I say yes, then we can have a regular conversation.

          • I would much prefer that, Milton.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “As in they’re making friends with you only so they can sign you up for their Fire Insurance.”

            Wow. I never thought about it that way before. Creepy.

            Anecdote from when I was at Cal Poly Pomona in the late Seventies and dropping in at the local Campus Crusade. Cal Poly Campus Crusade was relatively mellow (contrasted with that in the nearby Cal State Fullerton), but it still had frequent “what were they thinking?” moments. This was one of the most spectacular:

            A Billy Graham Crusade was coming to town (Anaheim Stadium, actually), and at the Campus Crusade meetings everyone was exhorted to “Bring Your Unsaved Friends to the Crusade”. (Never mind that all my friends wouldn’t fall for any invitation to a Billy Graham Crusade.) Well, everybody except me went into freakout mode; I literally heard “I’ve got to make a Heathen friend so I can get them to the Crusade and get them Saved! And I have only X days to do it!” Pretty much word-for-word, in a “What do I do now?” panic voice. And I heard it more than once.

          • Friendship as a means of evangelism. I do not miss those days….it was an awful feeling where I had to pretend an interest in someone just so I could whip out the 4 Spiritual Laws. If ther person wasn’t interested, neither was the Christian interested in that person. Even showing love or being a friend. How sad is that….

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            You know how I got out of that Discipleship/Shepherding group in the mid-Seventies that gave me a similar burn job to yours? I discovered Dungeons & Dragons and things just blew up between me and them. I got more real inclusion and belonging with my D&D group over the next couple years than I’d ever gotten in the Name of Christ.

          • HUG, you’re into fantasy. Have you ever read the Wheel of Time series? It’s one of my favs.

    • Wow, that’s awesome!

      • Louis du Plessisl says:

        How about what somebody (I think tongue in the cheeck)called”flirt and convert”?Nice idea , but I wonder if it has ever worked?

  8. Peter Johnson, Newcastle, Australia says:

    I will preface my comment by asking the writer, ‘Why do you think that the issue of ‘Everything must be discussed publicly’ is an issue that you think needs to be addresed publically to the contrary?

    My point is that YOU have determined what YOU think needs to be discussed publically – so why cant OTHERS make THEIR choice?

    Perhaps you have some Biblical advice on this matter – if so, I am pleased to be admonished accordingly. I dont see any such advice in your article.

    I cant help but think you want people to observe your own sensibilities and practices accordingly. Frankly, I think you are making a big deal about nothing in particular. Some may wish to discuss in public that’s their free choice. Others privately, that’s their free choice. In either case we are to ‘do good’ and not dishonour our Lord.

    ~~~~
    > “I’m well aware that some may accuse me of hypocrisy for saying this as a writer on a blog like Internet Monk, where people talk about their lives and we discuss personal issues. Fine.”

    Do you mean ‘Fine – they can say what you want’, I dont really care?
    Or, ‘Fine – you are dead right but be blowed if I am going to stop discussing things publicly on MY internet site’?

    Mr Monk, Sir, I think you may need to clean your own house first if you want to take your own article seriously. I wont go so far as accusing you of hypocrisy, but I really dont think you have thought this thru sufficiently and considered you own practices in regard to your argument. Perhaps you need to do a radical re-think of you modus operandi.

    To all those who take it seriously and respond accordingly, good for you – but remember you are doing so in a public internet forum and not in private at a ‘local’ level – I applaud you for publicly commenting.

    Furthermore, I am always impressed by Jesus PUBLIC ministry among the villages and cities alike, talking to those with all kinds of issues, and taking responsibility for the healing of the brokenness of so many that were in the path before him. He didnt shy away from any, but he did give the legalists something to think about in the process of his public ministry.

    ~~~~
    Furthermore,

    > In the end, she exhorts her sexually-frustrated readers to “cry out to God” as the solution. So typical.

    I would encourage you to readdress your criticism here for to castigate anyone for encouraging others to ‘cry out to God’ in the face of the issues they face is such a hugely self-righteous thing to do – is it not? Are you the one to mediate betwen a person and their Lord, and tell them when and where they should or should not ‘cry out to God’?

    And,
    > with little sense that talking with a bunch of strangers on a public forum about matters like this is itself an obscenity and helpful to no one in the end.

    Think again! You claim that such a practice is ‘helpful to no one’ places you in a position of infinitely knowing everyone and their needs and what will benefit them intimately. I thought only God was omniscient.

    ~~~
    Mr Monk,

    My view is that a good mix of both public and private is reasonable, but I wont dictate to others what they should, or have to keep private, nor will I tell them what they should or shouldnt pray about, nor consider I am the arbiter on the mode of discusion on the many and vexing issues that confront so many of us in such a perplexing world.

    I respect your ability and willingness to contribute to the public discussion on matters of faith and life, but I think you have lost the plot on the main premis you put forward in this article.

    I invite you to rethink your position and post a follow-up article.

    Peter Johnson.

    P.S. I didnt have a clue where to buy a vibrator, nor do I need one, but thanks to your article here now I and many others do (know where to buy one, that is). OK, I’m blushing …

    • “Rethink my position and post a follow-up article”?

      I don’t think so. I’ll stand by my position as well thought-through. Here it is again, in summary:

      The Christian church doesn’t have to deal with all matters publicly and indiscriminately. There are matters (like the one addressed by the article I referenced) that should be handled “within the framework of Christian virtues like chastity and modesty and within communities where personal discussions can be held among those we trust and respect.”

      I think that is perfectly defensible as wise practice.

      • So that is why you are discussing this publicly?

        • I am not discussing the issue brought up by the author. I am discussing the appropriateness of addressing such matters publicly. Is that so hard to understand?

          • I can understand where you are on this subject. It is sort of the way I felt when the issue of mr Weiner’s indiscretions came up and I was subjected to graphic photos with my cheerios. Just because we can post these things doesn’t mean we should.

          • Peter Johnson says:

            Mike,
            This author brought up three issues, which you are right to say you are not discussing – but avoiding.
            The forst two go to the heart of your concern about what gets discussed where and when.

            The issues I raised are –

            1) The right for anyone to choose whether they publically or privately discuss an issue.

            2) You willingness to determine what should be discussed publicly in preference to privately in such a way to criticise others in exercising their free choice.

            The lack of clear biblical injunction and principles in support of your determinations.

            3) The matter of your apparent omniscience in knowing everyone and what is good or not good for them.

            4) Your willingness to criticise others for suggesting they take their problems to God and cry out to him for his advice.

            To the above I will add …

            5) Your unwillingness to engage in discussion that is critical of your position, as I have outlined above. I trust this does not demonstrate a tendency toward infallibility.

            Peter

          • Peter,

            There’s a difference between constructive criticism and common bullying. I think you may’ve crossed that line.

          • Peter,

            This blog exists, in large part, to provide a critique of today’s American evangelicalism. It has been doing so for over ten years now. It is hard for me to respond to your criticisms in this one instance without referring you to the approach always taken and often defended here.

            But here are a few thoughts…

            1. Individuals do have a right to comment on issues as they see fit. I also have a right to express my opinion that they may not be wise in doing so.

            2. If you had read carefully, you would have seen that the issues raised by the author are not addressed by scripture. Therefore, we must approach them through wisdom and discernment. I am trying to address this from 35 years of pastoral experience.

            3. As for omniscience, please. That’s just an insult unworthy of response.

            4. The “crying out to God” advice is not wrong in itself but so often used in trite and unhelpful ways that it sometimes needs to be called out. Cliches generally do not help anyone.

            5. Criticism is fine and I hope I’ve answered yours. I prefer that commenters at least present alternative ideas rather than just attack.

          • Wow, I can really feel the love.

          • I wasn’t offended by your article, and I know the context and the point you were driving at. I heard a lot about sex that wasn’t helpful to me when I was a teen, and a lot of the youth goup activities were geared towards having fun, but we were no help to our community. We had no guidance in what we should be doing as christians, and I mean not having sex and you should go to school (where everyone is talking about safe pre-marital sex) is the only guidance I got. I felt on the fence most of the time. Once I became an adult I decided to get busy with what I felt the Lord was calling me to do, once I felt free to make choices where I didn’t have to be here to hear this, or there to hear that. and to be honest, my life is a lot more free now. I quit thinking about sex, and started thinking about writing more, building up healthy relationships even with the ‘wrong’ people, and I am more involved in my community and outreach opportunities. Now that I am focused more on God than on topics the world craves to hear about, I am apart from the crowd, and hopefully people around me like to be around me because of that.

      • Chaplain Mike,

        Mr. Johnson is right! The only thing that I got from this article is where to buy a vibrator. I was so clueless before!

        Just kidding, of course.

        I appreciate your willingness to suggest that some things just shouldn’t be spoken about in a public forum. I have long thought this to be the case with “hip” pastors like Mark Driscoll, who talk openly about sexuality and finance and all those other “self-help” hot-button issues. While the church shouldn’t be neglecting self-betterment, we should be focused on the much larger issues. Jesus speaks only briefly on the matter of sexual holiness, and yet the church makes it into a HUGE issue. However, Jesus teaches over and over and over that the scope of a godly person is much higher and broader. Jesus speaks much more about justice, about love of neighbor, about maintaining a unity with God that propels the kingdom forward in this world.

        The whole discussion about keeping certain things private reminds me of a book I saw just recently, and I’m interested in checking it out. It’s an argument for keeping the Christian identity secret. I’m interested in exploring this subject of private vs. public a little more, and would love to hear more from the iMonk community.

        By the way, here’s the link to the book:
        http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Faith-Public-Square-Concealment/dp/1587432269

        • Peter Johnson says:

          Joshua, You’ve made the caim that I am bullying, in the post above.

          I reply here because there is no right of reply available in the post above.

          Here is your opportunity to state you case, otherwise it is an unsubstantiated and offensive claim against me because of its abject emptiness..

          Peter

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Nice passive-aggressive blame-shift there, Peter.

          • Haha Peter you couldnt reply above because it automatically cuts off replies when you get three or four comment in. These threads would be running off the screen if it didnt do that.

            You remind me a little bit of nedbrek!

      • I’m not catching the vibe that CM is being hypocritical by posting on this subject publicly. Go back and read more carefully. You’re missing the point altogether.

        As far as “crying out to God”, I once counseled with a guy who had dated a woman for years, but wouldn’t commit to marrying her. They were both previously married, and in their forties when he finally gave her an engagement ring. Just a few weeks before the wedding, he came to me and told me that he couldn’t marry her, because she didn’t have a solid prayer life…”We were praying together the other day, and I kept telling her, ‘You need to cry out to God. Lift your voice and cry out to Him!’ And she wouldn’t do it. She said she didn’t communicate with God that way. I just don’t think we’re compatible.”

        After much discussion, we uncovered this man’s own fear of commitment and failure as the true reasons he was considering backing out of the marriage. God was a convenient excuse for his own lack of commitment.

        “Crying out to God” is thrown around far too easily in evangelical circles. Again, it’s telling people that real faith is built around emotional experiences, that God will respond if we appear to be sincere enough; and God knows you’re not really sincere unless you’re weeping or yelling. Get emotional enough, and God will be there. My wife’s aunt commented this past week about a wedding she attended, that “I could just feel the Holy Spirit moving.” I wonder how she could tell? Because she was crying? Is that an emotional response to the Holy Spirit, or to the fact that two people you care about are enjoying a beautiful wedding? Every time you get chill bumps in church, it’s not necessarily the Holy Ghost, folks.

        Does God want to hear our petitions? Of course. But I don’t believe that He’s only moved enough to produce our desired outcomes because we put on a theatrical display. He knows our hearts. Our shouting and wailing isn’t the thing that produces miracles. God does, in His time, in His will. And you know what? Sometimes, He doesn’t produce the miracle. It’s His choice. If you treat God like an intergalactic vending machine, then be prepared to discover that weeping and wailing won’t entice the machine to give us a Coke when what we really wanted was Dr. Pepper. All we can say is, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Again, it’s telling people that real faith is built around emotional experiences…

          Just like Drama Queening, Except Christian?

          …that God will respond if we appear to be sincere enough; and God knows you’re not really sincere unless you’re weeping or yelling.

          Question, massmind: When does that turn into a “scream enough and get what you want” temper tantrum?

          Get emotional enough, and God will be there.

          And Legba will open de gate, and de loa will ride you as his horse.

        • Lee, I LOVE this post!

        • Josh in FW says:

          Love this.

      • CM, I think a man telling a group of women, in a mostly female space, that they have assembled to discuss sexual issues publicly; that you know better than them when it is appropriate to discuss these things, is arrogant at best. Our society does not have a very good track record when it comes to female sexuality. Maybe it’s best to assume that women, have a better grip on which women’s issues need to be discussed publicly, and which do not.

        • I appreciate the point, and have no wish to be insensitive to women. I took the article from more general perspective. I would have written the same thing if there had been an article about Viagra television ads. This is an evangelical church problem, not a male or female thing.

    • @Peter: the point is not what is someone’s “right” or their abiblity to make a choice, it’s what represents wisdom, what puts forward the mind and heart of Christ. If you thibnk the cause of Christ is well represented by direct sermons or articles about vibtrators, sex, and orgasms, then put forward your case, otherwise you are just pounding the table. I think you’ve missed the point of much of what Chap Mike has written. If you are new here: Chap Mike is nowhere close to omniscient, and I’ve never known him to pretend to be so.

      • Greg…I think we may have a troll on our hands…

        • Well, you meet some of the nicest trolls here @ the Imonastery; that’s how I met the Sola Sisters, during Damaris’ posts on spiritual direction. Maybe this is “meet a troll Tuesday”.

          • Yeah, I dunno, maybe it was his “abject emptiness” comment, but I’m getting the feeling that this troll ain’t so nice…

          • maybe we could have a “bring-a-troll-to-iMonk-day”… 😀

            or not… 🙁

      • I’m glad CM isn’t omniscient. I don’t want him to see me naked. Reading his posts on IM and being his facebook friend is as close as I’m willing to get right now. Go Braves!

    • To Peter , who has prbablyl gone back down under by now

      My view is that a good mix of both public and private is reasonable, but I wont dictate to others what they should, or have to keep private….

      Well, make up your mind, because when you come up with your “good mix” your are, in fact doing what you say you don’t do. Unless you are a total relativist, and you think there are as many “good mixes” as there are people. I think your gripe is that someone took a stand on something that you don’t consider “stand-worthy”. If that’s the case then state it, but it seems that you also have some kind of standard on this issue, it just doesn’t square with Chap Mike’s.

  9. I began my own journey in ministry in a senior high ministry in a very large church. It was pretty typical…smoke machines, rock concert-style worship, crazy games, etc. I invited my niece, 15 at the time, to attend, and she did. Our youth pastor was really dynamic, a great speaker, and no matter what his topic was, he almost always said something about sex, because it was a teenage audience, and he felt it had to be addressed consistently.

    My niece attended for a few months, and stopped coming. Later, as an adult, she told me that she heard about sex so much at our youth group, she decided to go ahead and try it as a teen. She said she had never really considered the possibility before hearing about it week in, week out, for a few months.

    The approach in that ministry was “Don’t eat those cookies…they are so good and tasty…but you can’t have any.” We saw students that we considered to be our “brightest stars” fall over and over…teen pregnancy and sex before marriage was a big issue with the group. We provided the kids an environment where we peaked their emotions and played with them in order to relay a message, and I believe now that we taught them to seek the same mountaintop experiences outside of the church walls…in the context of their romantic relationships. The end result was disastrous. And our response was to keep telling them, “No, no, no.” The parents of the teens and the church leadership would often lay responsibility for the teenagers’ purity at the feet of the youth staff, instead of having the parents own some responsibility for their kids’ behavior.

    I have to agree, CM, that the issue of sexuality is one best handled privately. One of the girls from my last small group at that church became pregnant outside of wedlock several years back, after I had left that environment. I had remained close to her family, and in close contact with her, and she often called in the years after high school. For several months, though, I noticed there was no contact. I spoke with her former youth pastor, who told me, “She’s pregnant.”

    I called this young lady, and we caught up on what was happening in life. Eventually, I told her I had heard about her situation. She began crying profusely, apologizing for what she had done. I was heartbroken that things I had taught would make this young lady so ashamed that she felt she couldn’t talk to me about her problem. She was a dancer, and I reminded her of a time when she showed myself and another member of our small group a dance she had choreographed for the church. I told her that I was as proud of her that day as if she had been my own daughter, and that I was just as proud of her on the day I found out she was expecting. We both had a good long cry together, and now she’s a happily married mom, and a great one at that. I really believe, CM, that I did more good ministry with that young lady with one private phone call, reminding her that I loved her no matter what, than I had in the previous four years that she had sat under my public teaching.

    We often create a culture of shame and secrecy in our churches, and church leaders portray themselves as models of perfection. I wonder sometimes if pastors don’t rail on issues like sexuality, abortion, politics, etc….because they believe that they are above reproach in those areas, and can appear to be squeaky clean to their congregations. Funny how a lot of pastors make homosexuality and premarital sex pulpit issues, but never talk about adultery or porn….Could it be that they know these are the pet sins of the people that pay their salaries? Hhmmmm….

    • ” I really believe, CM, that I did more good ministry with that young lady with one private phone call, reminding her that I loved her no matter what, than I had in the previous four years that she had sat under my public teaching.”

      Exactly. Thank you.

    • “Funny how a lot of pastors make homosexuality and premarital sex pulpit issues, but never talk about adultery or porn….Could it be that they know these are the pet sins of the people that pay their salaries? Hhmmmm….”

      Talking seriously about porn in church I think would open up a can of worms that we would rather just remain with the lid on. That subject is too dangerous, because it affects every single one of us. We just need to pretend it doesn’t exist.

      • Wouldn’t it, though? Imagine if we started having serious discussions about sin in church! I mean, besides the sins of the Muslims and homosexuals and abortionists. What if we actually started self-examining, and stopped the ruse of the aforementioned “accountability partners” (AKA two guys who meet for coffee every week or so and confess sins to the most minimal degree they can muster), and started really hitting sin head-on in our sermons? It would make for an interesting Sunday morning…and less people in our pews.

  10. I am not really I am bothered by these matters being made public per se, for those who wish to discuss them publicly. It is just sex, and I see no reason to keep such matters off the table. I do agree that our culture has a “problem” at this point with sex being made a matter of public pre-occupation. That said, modesty—or keeping sexual mattes “local,” whatever we mean by that—is just another form of being pre-occupied about sex. In fact, I think evangelicals spend so much time worrying, dreaming, and feeling guilty about sex…about how it must be taboo, and managed, and prayed about, and denied, and then (in marriage) enjoyed … that they are among the most sex-preoccupied people in America. Thus, the presence or lack of discussion about sex on blogs does not strike me as the root problem. It is rather, that sex so often appears to us to be the most spiritually pressing question.

    This story is only tangentially related, but perhaps it will illustrate what I am driving at. I attended an evangelical college in Illinois. This particular year, in the women’s dorms, everyone was discussing “I Kissed Dating Good-Bye” by Josh Harris, and the seemingly important question of whether peck kissing other people, or being romantically infatuated with them at all, might somehow taint someone sexually and morally for their rest of their lives. This concern led some people to think about swearing off dating (which generally lasted until the next time someone asked them out). But in any case, any discussion of the topic could get people crowded around a table within a few minutes. Around the same time, a friend of mine tried to get a discussion going of poverty and related issues. Guess how much interest that generated?

    This is just an anecdote, and not one to be taken too seriously, but it prompted me to ask myself: how can people sit in rapt attention for 2 hrs or more to discuss a fairly small sexual/relational matter like kissing, as though one’s spiritual life hinged on it… and yet, if you viewed the question in the context of the major cultural and social and international problems confronting humanity at this moment, it is totally inconsequential. It was one of those moments caused me to see how much we perceive spirituality as personal, sexual, and related to an internal world in which one is tainted, empowered, corrupted, or successful in various ways—and how remote we see social questions from the matters of one’s “personal life” and “personal faith in Christ.”

    On another note, what the blog post does illustrate—perhaps not so much by its existence “in public” as by its very content—is that evangelicals have developed a symbiotic relationship with contemporary American beliefs that sex is important, that sexual pleasure and fulfillment are among our most pressing problems, and that faith ought to get promote these ends.

  11. Vacuous articles like that just go to show evangelical leaders have way too much time on their hands and can’t seem to find enough to do.

    • There is that, too.

      • This never-ending fixation with other’s bedrooms and objectifying sexual activity is so spirtually dysfunctional. I don’t see the same constant drivel being applied by evangelical talking heads to the bathroom and going into great detail on alimentary functions, but neither do I see much logical difference. Our conversational objectives have devolved into to using the titillating, while claiming to somehow edify or enlighten as a convenient cover.

        • The Singular Observer says:

          Look, a lot of rule making is about power, which in turn is about control. When your power extends to another persons’ sexuality, your power & control is near-ultimate. Hence, a lot of religious leaders try to do that.

          • Surely you are not suggesting that there may be one or two bad apples in the evangelical bushel who are insecure controlling/dominating figures? (That was rhetorical; there is enough unadmitted behavoral pathology among pastors and leaders to write a psychaitry textbook).

        • Not only is it about power, but I also think it comes from the smug nature of certainity that many evangelicals have. Evangelicals have problems with pride…you see that in certainity with how many minor points are expressed with 100% certainity. The same holds true for what happens in the bedroom, there are things that are not covered in the Bible that Christians are making rules for. That’s screwed up…also given how taboo many fundgelicals make sex I think another element that enters the picture is their desire to be moralist and perfect. Many Christians don’t realize their sin nature or they forget it. At the very nature of all people is a desire to compare themself to another and to come out on top. That’s why sin has rank for fundys…they always need to have someone below them. But when it comes to sex do fundy pastors and other Christians harp on sex and criminalize it so that can appear to be moral, and do this with an unconscious desire or envy of those who do what they are criminalizing? Does that make sense?

          If you want to have a healthy understanding of sex I actaully find it healthier out side the church. I carry around so much guilt from evangelical teachings. They certainly do know how to rob the joy out of life by always having an opinion on everything.

  12. I guess I didn’t see the article linked to be all that blush-inducing, but I also was a campus pastor at a large public university for a number of years. Sure it’s not something I’d want to have a conversation about with my parents, or a lot of people for that matter, but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be articles written about it ever. I do think that Christians do treat sex as the ultimate forbidden fruit, and that ends up causing all sorts of problems. But perhaps it’s not just Christian who are preoccupied with sex, but Americans in general. Being a powerful nation with a high standard of living, we have the luxury to spend our time wringing our hands over such things, I suppose.

    I do really hate sermon series on sex that attempts to be uber-relevant or hip, though. I just didn’t get that same vibe from this particular article. It was pretty tame, all things considered.

    • It really did not make me blush either, and I actually find that sad.

      • I don’t understand why you find that sad? I thought the article was stupid, but I saw nothing in there that I felt *should* make me blush.

        While I agree that the mega-church obsession with sex has reached the point of ridiculousness, I would never want to go back to the days where Christians–especially Christian women–felt shame at the mention of sex. You may be trying to make a distinction between talking about it in a blog and talking about it in everyday conversation, but I don’t think you really can make that distinction as clearly as you hope. If people blush when reading a blog, they’re much more likely to blush (and keep quiet) with people who know them. I’m not sure you can take away one avenue without taking away the other.

        Finally, on the one hand, I kind of wish churches would just stop talking about sex–especially sermons of the “here’s how to have awesome married sex” variety (it is cruel and unusual punishment for people to be forced to imagine their pastor’s sex life). Mostly because churches (and Christians in general) do a terrible job talking about sex. HOWEVER, I will say that one of the benefits of this mostly unfortunate uptick in church sex talk is that church women are becoming more informed and yes, more empowered in their sex lives. Recent studies have shown that evangelical women actually report some of the highest rates of sexual satisfaction, which is a change from before. Female sexuality is more complicated than male sexuality, and since Christian women don’t usually access secular sources that talk about sex, keeping this conversation out of the Christian sphere will only serve to make them more uninformed and less satisfied. It simply will.

        Of course, I wish that Christian women could just feel free to get their information from credible secular sources instead of feeling the need to have everything be Christian-approved, but one step at a time, right?

    • Phil, I think that was the point of the article…That Americans in general are preoccupied with sex, so why does the church have to join in?
      It isn’t just evangelicals, either. One of our local liturgical church denom pastors, who’s church we attended several times as visitors, always seemed to bring sex into the sermon, and I mean always, even when it was a real stretch. After one visit, one of my kids said something to the effect of “Good grief! That guy must think about sex ALL the time because he sure talks about it enough!”

      So, yes, Chaplain Mike, maybe if we Christians concentrated on other things, we wouldn’t be so drawn into the sex crazed modern culture.

      • I guess I’m having a hard time linking the particular blog article with the overall trend. I actually found the article on CT to be relatively thoughtful. I don’t think the proper response to a sex-saturated culture should be to ignore it altogether or to engage it in a silly way (hey everybody! let’s have sex everyday for a month!), but I do think we can address the issue in a frank and honest way. I guess I find blogs to be a relatively discreet medium in which it can be done in a more appropriate way.

      • My point is not so much that we should be concentrating on other things, although that certainly may be part of the discussion here. It’s more that evangelical churches and writers, etc. have become so invested in using public forums for addressing personal issues that we are not devoting proper energy to building the kinds of communities in which these matters can be addressed with more appropriate modesty, wisdom, and discernment. I do not the see the apostles running around the Greco-Roman world, which was at least as “sex-saturated” as ours, publicly proclaiming Christian morality and directly confronting or discussing sexual practices in the culture. I do see them mentioning these things occasionally in personal, pastoral letters to congregations that were built to be communities of love and fellowship, where believers could help each other personally to live holy and healthy lives in Christ.

        • I am trying to visualize the Apostle Paul advertising for his XXX rated sermon! You are right, though. The apostles mentioned sex but did not dwell on it ad nauseum, but stressed the completeness of life that devotion to the Lord could bring. They did not dwell on the awesome romps in bed that you could have with your hot Christian spouse…

      • I used to read Anne Jacksons blog and one of the things she lamented, was how anytime she wrote about sex there would be a big spike in hits to her blog.

        As a joke, she would sometimes mention sex on totally unrelated subjects, just to get people to read a blog topic that was near and dear.

  13. MelissaTheRagamuffin says:

    Years ago the sitcom Roseanne did an episode where the son, DJ, asks his father if he masterbates. The father, played by Dan Goodman, responded by saying, “You know it’s one of those things that everyone does, but nobody talks about it.” That’s how I kind of feel.

  14. Scott Miller says:

    “When and why did Christian leaders start to think we would serve the world better by adding to the cacophony of voices about…”

    I think it was when the culture war really got in gear, and evangelicals were taught that they had to make a stand. It comes from bad theology, and the preoccupation that culture warriors have that “America is a Christian country”. If we just got back to the way it was in the ’50’s then everything would be all right.
    Which is amusing, because Paul never said to have a culture war with the Roman Empire, to take a stand against the polytheism of the day. Their faith was inherently a culture war thing.

  15. Anybody else sees the irony and comical way the comments thread pans out?

  16. Sorry, i strongly disagree.

    What i’ve witnessed people work through in Celebrate Recovery programs has thoroughly convinced me that our strange need to act like we can’t talk about certain things royally messes with children’s minds, to the point that some of them grow up and have to go to 12-step programs to even learn how to open their mouth and talk about those things in the first place. And all the avoidance-behaviors and cultural shame attached to the mere mention of things leads some people to have deeply traumatic psychological barriers later in life. Next thing you know, brothers and sisters don’t want to confess their sins to one another and prayer for each other to be healed because they’re just not even supposed to talk about such things. It’s just sick and unhealthy so far as i can see.

    –guy

    • I agree guy! As I was saying above in response to Eagle, do we not think God knows the framework of our bodies? Isn’t He the One who created the response in the first place? And then we’re supposed to SHUT IT DOWN for fear of being sinful? Yup! And then years later, we are drinking, drugging, using sex or preaching to deny it’s presence.

      Wow!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Isn’t He the One who created the response in the first place? And then we’re supposed to SHUT IT DOWN for fear of being sinful.

        Analogy in the Creation Wars re the Omphalos concept. If God created everything last Tuesday with a false perfect 13-billion-year chain of physical evidence to be denied on pain of Eternal Hell, why not create a response in you that must be shut down on pain of Eternal Hell?

        Same pattern.

        • Another excellent point made by the Headless Unicorn Guy

        • The Singular Observer says:

          I’m sorry HUG, it was last Thursday. As in “Last Thursdayism”. You are obviously a Tuesdayist heretic 😉

          As to those who complained about pre-occupation with sex: It has always been thus. It is a biological imperative – the desire is there to ensure procreation. Quite simple. That being said, I agree with Chaplain Mike above – not everything needs to be thundered about from the pulpit.

      • Cunnudda says:

        Yeah, self-control is evil. How dare anyone suggest that any primal urges we are created with should be suppressed! In fact, I feel like punching that person.

    • Is that what I said–act like we should not talk about certain things? I don’t think so.

      • Well, then i’ve misunderstood you because that’s precisely what i understood you to be saying in your article. Openness and authenticity about sensitive subjects is bad and we need to still be ashamed or embarrassed or humiliated to even need to utter the word even if we have reason to. That’s more or less what i took you to be saying. If you meant something different, i didn’t see it.

        –guy

    • Peter Johnson says:

      > brothers and sisters don’t want to confess their sins to one another and prayer for each other to be healed because they’re just not even supposed to talk about such things.

      Guy, Good point regarding allowing people to develop their ‘voice; from an early age.

    • A CR meeting is hardly preaching from the pulpit on Sunday morning. CR is small groups, often divided by gender, and a smaller community of people on the same path with similar struggles. It is not being blasted from the roof top or blog world, it is still a confidential meeting. Not really the same thing. A well run, true CR meeting may be exactly what CM is talking about. It may be just the place to discuss such matters.

      • Thank you.

        • I guess my tentative response would be: Perhaps evangelical pastors are preaching it from the pulpit so that the congregants know that it can be discussed in private. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt there that they want to make themselves available on the subject (because the things they usually say probably shut down more discussions than they start up), but I do think that when pastors don’t discuss it publicly, it’s not immediately apparent that it’s allowed to be talked about at all. Hence the reason why in CR groups, it’s terribly hard to start talking about it at all.

      • But the real question is does CR drive people into the corner like rats by attaching stigma? Does it also separate people from others. My opinion is that everyone has some problems..in some shape, manner, or form.

      • False. There’s big group during which there are testimonies and lessons that do include a great deal of honesty and frankness often even to the degree of the sharing that takes place in small groups.

        –guy

    • Yes, I agree…I do think it’s a subject that we shouldn’t talk about in too much detail or overplay as a way to attract people. But it IS important, and acting like it isn’t won’t solve anything. If we don’t talk about sex, people will get their ideas about it elsewhere.

      • the over exposure from the internet is where most kids get their sex education. heck, no talk needed! everything under the sun displayed in graphic detail…

        kids today way more sex savvy than i was growing up. technology does that: makes things much more accessible.

        some people do recoil from the over-exposure. most will be enticed by the curiosity factor. but kids still have to live in a real world in spite of the escapism of make-believe computer games & internet porn…

        i had my talk with my 3 boys about sex. nothing technical really. but i did express my attitude about it & let them know they could always talk to me about it or anything they had concerns about. i coached them about the dangers of internet porn & how it was so prevalent & that anything imaginable could be found if searched for. i did not put any parental controls on their computers. i had wanted to instill in them a proper respect for women & not think of them as ‘things’ offered to the voyeur looking for cheap thrills. i think they will manage their masculinity with much more self-esteem than i ever did. sex related shame/fear issues difficult to deal with later in life, but nothing is outside the realm of God’s merciful restoration. thank you Jesus…

        • I remember when I was a kid and I approached my dad with a question about oral sex. He grimaced, his eye brows and checks went up and I knew I asked something I should not of. I think I was about 10 or 11.

          • i too remember asking my mother what the f-word meant after hearing it on the school playground. parochial school btw…

            she visibly recoiled & told me i would need to ask my father. but by her response i knew it was not something that would be discussed with sensivity & tact…

            [sigh]

            i was about the same age. nope, i never did ask my father. i figured the word sufficiently ‘bad’ to warrant silence while sorting out the context on the playground of course. that is where the earliest sex education begins anyway…

  17. Thank you very much, CM. I’ve felt the same way for many years, but taking this view simply gets one labelled as a “prude.” The inappropriate openness seems to me part of the larger culture of having nothing that is sacred, nothing that should induce “shame” (the very concept is antiquated!) and nothing that can’t be exaggerated or parodied for shock value.

  18. Peter Johnson says:

    Thanks Mike, for your response. I will leave it at that. 🙂 Peter

  19. Kenny Johnson says:

    Honestly, I disagree. While I can see a point about the “sex sermons” as being inappropriate, I don’t feel the same way about a blog post. In church, if I find something uncomfortable or inappropriate,

    While we think of blogs as social and public. And I think to a degree, they are. I still consider much of it a “private” act, not unlike reading a book. Yes, others are participating, but it comes with anonymity — or at least a sense of it.

    I think the blog post was a fine place to discuss a sensitive issue like that with other Christians. Besides, it (potentially) helps Christians avoid a private conversation with a pastor who might tell them they are going to hell for masturbating.

    And as a fan of this site and your writing, I have to say, I think Peter has a point. I think you’re discussing of this article, even in the context of criticizing Evangelicalism now airs a subject that your deemed “private-talk only” to the public. And I think we need to be careful about casting stones.

    • Kenny Johnson says:

      oops

      “I don’t feel the same way about a blog post. In church, if I find something uncomfortable or inappropriate, but a blog post is quite different. I could have never started reading in the first place.”

    • Kenny, I just find it so typical of the evangelical approach. Some new development takes place in the culture with regard to sexuality and we automatically think we have to respond with a “public stand” to express our “worldview.” It gets so tired after a while. And in the meantime we fail to do the things “on the ground” in building the kinds of families and communities in which we can trust each other, listen to each other, pray for each other, and talk about hard things in appropriate settings.

      • This little snippet , above, is to me the heart of this: yes, there’s a LOT to be done redemptively in this area, but this issue, among many others, is handled much better in the confines of the more private arena of true community. Problem is, there is precious little “true community” out there, and we’ve placed the larger part of our energies on 1)the sermon 2)some kind of public pronouncment or ministry 3)some kind of action to change things socially or politically We don’t know how to work “from the ground up” as it were. We don’t really believe that ministry is first LOCAL. And by local, I don’t even mean local congregations listening to a local sermon, I mean something more “on the ground” than that.

        I think this methodology makes pastors nervous because they are not the main players, and hence, they cannot control it. One sign of that: my church has gone to “sermon based small groups” so that the community can get much more of a “good thing”. I think not: each ‘church family” or community could ;use that time to talk about the subject of this article, and much, much more.

  20. As I mentioned earlier, I do think that Christians should talk about marriage, relationships, parenting, and other intersections with this world, but the whole Christian fascination with sex seems odd. I do think that Chaplaim Mike is right that this is partly an extension of the the need for churches to try and be relevant. It’s like we’re waving the flag and saying that we’re not prudes and we think sex is wonderful, so that people not following Jesus will still like us.

    I think these articles by sex, such as the one mentioned by Broadway tell us more about the writer than the actual subject.

    Ms. Broadway:
    I understand that, but for sex, you would feel like you have nothing to say or write. I also feel like you are a little obsessed by the topic, and as a result I feel quite badly and embarrassed for you. I understand that you feel the need to titilate and to shock.

    It’s kind of like the party where you see a friend, have a little too much to drink and start saying totally inappropriate things or the insecure friend who always needs to say the outrageous thing to get attention. You genuinely feel bad for them. So, in this case, I feel bad for Ms. Broadway.

    • Wow. Have you ever even met or spoken with the woman on whom you’re practicing this armchair psychology? I have, and she is NOTHING like this caricature you’ve drawn. Do you really think that slapping all these labels on your sister in Christ, based on a handful of articles you happened to disagree with, is a Christian thing to do?

    • I am not sure how, what I said was a caricature.

      Here is the dirty little open secret about sex in the blogging world and on the internet. If you want to be relevant, you want to have hits on your blog or your articles, you talk about sex.

      Most of us would have the same response as Chaplain Mike. We would bluh. If you had a friend, who you met at your women’s fellowship, someone in leadership, who everyone was listeing to and she started talking about vibrators and orgasms, what would be your response? Is it appropriate for open conversation. This is relevant, because this is exactly, what Broadway did, but on the internet.

      If they started talking about this, would you think that they had a serious problem? Maybe, if anything, I was wrong to make light of people with issues. But, the fact that she is will to engage in this kind of discussion, really begs the question, regarding her own issues.

      Moreover, I could have just dismissed her, but I didn’t. Instead, I said that I genuinely feel bad for her, and I do. And yes, Gina, that is the Christian thing to do.

      If anything

      • “We would blush”

      • Well, you’re talking about these issues in public, are you not?

      • By the way, I have probably already said too much here. Clearly this is a subject that makes me “cranky” as my six year old might say. So, this is where my wife would give me the look, which basically means, “shut up already.”

        Talking about sex in the matter that Broadway did, had to have been at least partially motivated by the desire to create controversy. Why is it controversial? It’s controversial because she is writing for a Christian website, and not Vogue. Generally, I don’t appreciate this kind of motivation. It’s implicitly self-serving, as if to say, “look at me.” What is the difference between talking about sex and other inappropriate/controversial things? Maybe nothing, but it is true that certain subjects raise my hackles more than others, and there was something about Gina’s response that just annoyed me. Maybe she is just being a good friend, and for that she should be commended.

        Generally, I don’t like to post unless I can be more positive than negative, so for being more negative, I am sorry.

        • I’m sorry I annoyed you, DB Beem; I promise you that was not my intention. You have every right to disagree with Anna and to say so. But to proclaim that you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what someone’s motives were when you really don’t — I just don’t see how that’s a constructive part of Christian discourse.

          As I said, I know Anna. And I can assure you that the person you’ve described here does not remotely resemble the person I know. That’s the great danger of assuming that you know all about a person just from having read something that she wrote. None of us can do that; it’s just not humanly possible, and wasn’t meant to be.

          • If I may add one more thing (heck, we’re all thinking of Columbo today, anyway 🙂 ):

            I think there’s a mentality in the church that “nice Christian girls don’t speak about such things.” Now, I cannot tell you how very much I wish that were true. I’m a fan of Victorian novels, which should tell you something right there. 🙂 The virtues of chastity, modesty, and decency are very important to me and an integral part of my faith. I most likely would have been right at home in the “good old days.”

            As it is, however, you and I live in a time when we’re utterly swamped with sexual imagery and ideas everywhere we turn. Try to imagine what it’s like to be a chaste young Christian woman living in such a time, conscientiously practicing your faith and holding on to your morals and ideals; trying to share Christ with people in a sex-saturated culture who treat you like some kind of two-headed freak; and trying to explain to the church where you’re coming from, what you have to offer, and what kind of support you need in your Christian walk. (As other commenters have noted, the message we tend to get from some leaders is “Everyone shut up about sex. Now I’m going to tell you all about how much I love my hot wife.” 🙂 )

            Put yourself in that place for a while in your mind, and I think you may begin to see that what we women in that position need — just like pretty much everyone — is a little support and understanding, not our fellow Christians calling us sex-obsessed exhibitionists every time we try to talk about certain subjects. Turn your eyes away if you need to — I completely understand that — but at least make an effort to understand this path we’re trying to walk.

  21. should there be any hint of fear regarding sex, sexuality, sexual pleasure, the sexual component of our gender+humanity???

    there is a lack of real respect for the topic in the world (expected), but also in the church. the ‘swinging’ pendulum still unsettled it seems when the topic is approached…

    [sigh]

    each individual must come to terms with their sexual component. it is not a global/corporate identification we can easily couch the subject in. since it is such a private/intimate part of our design, both the bold approach or the avoidance approach does more harm than good for those trying to navigate its impact on our existance.

    too casual? too shameful? with all the free info out there on the internet, what people need are other people, close confidants, they can share their concerns with.

    since most of the human population neither blind, nor having hairy palms, i would think the manner we as believers candidly remove shame while clothing sex in the respect it deserves should be a beacon of sanity in a world run amok.

    and yes, i agree that trying to ‘compete’ with the worldly approach to sex neither wise nor helpful to those trying to set their moral compass by such information. how do hormone infused teenagers deal with such powerful changes? i think the individual wants to be able to accept the gift of sex as God intended while figuring out what the heck to do with such intensity. can they receive godly counsel in a safe setting where they are helped to set personal boundaries? is there still a deficiency for such sensitive help in the church?

    wow. makes me wonder how the heck i made it thru such a tumultuous time in my own life…

    [no blushing occurred during the writing of this response] 😉

    • this has got me thinkin’…

      hmmm…

      are parents the ‘best’ source of sex education for their kids? my dad certainly wasn’t…

      they can provide the critical attitude about it, but not the factual issues. it seems such info best received from a respected impersonal source. not sure where i was going with this…

      hmmm…

      • Sex Ed at my school was actually informative and not super awkward. Which was good cause my parents still havent told me that sex even exists and I’ve been married 4 years!

      • MelissaTheRagamuffin says:

        In my work I see a shocking number of adults who don’t seem to have a real firm grip on how babies get made. This is the end result of abstience based sex-education, parents opting their kids out of sex ed, and not talking to their kids about sex. But, really, how are parents supposed to teach the birds and the bees to their kids if they don’t really know it themselves? Over the last seven years I have become a HUGE advocate of sex education in schools.

        • COMPLETELY AGREE. The idea that the only thing we ever need to know about sex we will learn from our parents? I’m sorry but that’s just absurd. My parents told me where babies come from when I was quite young (sad, sad day for me) and the thought that people would argue that what I knew at 7 should be similar to what I knew at 18 is kind of scary.

      • I think sex education should be covered by public schools. This needs to be addressed as a health issue as well. And many Christians while screaming about sex ed and claiming they want to educate their children at home fail to do so or will never have that talk.

        • Melanie says:

          Agree. Having had sex and having conceived a child does not equate to knowledge about sex or ability to communicate about it.

  22. I’m with you on this one CM. It isn’t good enough for us as individuals to simply try and live out our lives in accordance with our beliefs; we somehow feel the need to let the rest of the world know as well, with the mistaken belief that we can actually influence or force others to act or believe as we do.

    We confuse our forgiveness with moral authority, and church leaders who feel the need to weigh in on every conceivable issue because of their position are as bad as actors believing they have a voice in whatever cause they choose to champion simply because of their fame and talent.

    • Suzanne says:

      One of my son’s fondest moments of his college days was when a non-believing friend of his told him what an influence he was on her because he was the first Christian that she’d ever met who did not judge her and tell her she was wrong, but loved her for herself. To me, that was a sad commentary on the state of the church in this day…

  23. It’s very difficult to find someone who’s willing to forego the “What Christians Should Believe About ______ ” announcement in favor of quiet, personal, heart-to-heart wisdom that is directed at someone’s particular situation. In many cases, the one-on-ones are just such announcements, but thinly disguised. It’s a true gem when you find someone(often, I’ve discovered, of the older generation) who’s willing to hear anything you have to tell them and allow their convictions about the matter to flow out of their interest in and affection for you. Yeah, I cringe whenever I hear yet another declaration about what Christians should think about sexual matters.

    • “It’s very difficult to find someone who’s willing to forego the “What Christians Should Believe About ______ ” announcement in favor of quiet, personal, heart-to-heart wisdom that is directed at someone’s particular situation”

      Funny thing….Jesus would be the latter. It’s all over the NT, He never waivered from Who He was or Who His Father was, but he had all of those…..quiet, heart-to-heart, personable and wise conversations with the worst of the worst and none of them walked away unchanged.

      If you find someone who has their convictions flowing through the very grace they themselves have received, you most certainly have found yourself a gem. May we all be touched by the Father in order to be this to those He brings in our path!

  24. One of the real meaty issues Chaplin Mike brings up is this:

    But listen to me now as I repeat words I have said before. Life and spirituality is local. Despite the false intimacy and sense of connectedness our media persuades us we have, I am not your pastor or personal mentor.

    In some senses public discussion of sex is just the presenting issue.

    As much as I love reading at Imonk, it is not the same as real life.

    My real life I live in community, it is about humans. It is about my friends seeing me in my strengths and weaknesses. It is about me being vulnerable and willing to take and give love and correction. I have to grab myself often and readjust my thinking. I absolutely love the idea of Christian community (some call it church). The only problem I have is the real thing. A more earthy way of putting it is that it is meant to be lived up close where we smell bad breath, get grumpy with each other and offended. And then we have to forgive.

    I have often thought that the problem with iMonk and the thousands of blogs out there is the illusion of community it brings. The problem is that we don’t really see or know one another, and therefore in a real way never get challenged to be more Christlike. Don’t get me wrong, we do in our heads but that isin’t the same as having my community nurture and challenge me.

    • My best friend lives in Abu Dhabi. Does that make him any less of a friend that our communication is not face to face? I have never met Jeff or Michael, yet I can honestly say that they have become friends.

    • My best friend is in Wisconsin. But we have a history, he knows me in the flesh, not through emails. We have stayed best friends even though we have lived apart for 20 years. I saw him a few months ago. It was if we were never apart.

      If you have never met Jeff or Michael, do they REALLY know you? Are they your real christian community? My comment was meant to support what Michael said ‘Life and spirituality is local’.

      I have spent 25 years online (my business is IT), yet my online friends could never address the real me because they don’t know me. Some people would claim something like this is their church (I actually knew someone who started an ‘online church’).

      My point is that all of us need real community, not the illusion that we get here. That is not to denigrate what there is here, I absolutely love it, and it spills out into my local christian community. But it can never replace a real pastor or mentor, or close friend.

      • Ken,

        I hope that you are counting your blessings. Because a lot of us here don’t have communities. A few friends here and there, but that doesn’t and frequently isn’t enough, in our tangible world. I think that in certain safe places, we can be more ourselves electronically, than we are able to tangibly.

        • It is not always easy to get into community. I actually moved to Canada from the Middle East 11 years ago and had to make friends here. It was terribly lonely for about 3 or 4 years.

          It requires sacrifice at first, and a willingness to be vulnerable, or real in some way. In my case it ended up befriending other newcomers to the church I attended.

          I believe that the metaphor the bible uses ‘the body of christ’ is actually a real entity, and that the new testament teachings of what that means are many.

          I have lived it out by deliberately getting involved with other believers in small group and social situations. I will admit that there have been times I have been with people and kind of gone ‘ggrrr’ I can’t see myself friends with this one! But I have the conviction that we need one another, the kingdom of God is not for Lone Rangers. Some of the ‘ggrrr’ people turned into good friends, it just takes time.

          Just recently I read through a good portion of the letters in the New testament. Interestingly enough, a lot of them are about the subject of community and getting along with others.

          BTW, I have not always been this way, just the past 6 or 7 years when I realized that I was not going to grow in my Christian life by remaining alone and not having relationships. People around us are a visible means that God uses to extend grace to us.

      • “If you have never met Jeff or Michael, do they REALLY know you?”

        Yes. I understand where you’re coming from, but I think it’s one of those things that you will doubt unless you experience for yourself. I made several very close friends online about 5 years ago when I used to blog. Some of them I’ve since met and some I haven’t. I have close friends locally but I still consider some of these people some of my closest friends. Sometimes you come accross someone online who understands you better than most others and who sees life in a similar way, which is hard to find in life. It would be foolish not to cultivate these relationships because I have some notion of what “real” friendships should look like. It’s not a substitute for face to face relationships, but it can be a great suplement to them.

      • I partly agree that online connections can be imaginary or divert us from local communities.

        This said, I am with those who suggest that it is possible to develop very real and important connections at a distance. Technology makes this possible, in ways that may have been unforeseen a few years ago. There will be new kinds of connections and new kinds of communities as our communications technology changes. They aren’t unreal, just different.

        I met my very best friend online and know him only via distance communication for a long time. We lived on opposite sides of the United States.

        Then I married him. Couldn’t be happier.

  25. David Cornwell says:

    It almost seems that what is going on with evangelicals is a Christianized voyeurism. Our culture is in the process of destroying any concept of privacy or “personal” to the point that we bare it all, all the time, to everyone. We look into everyone’s windows, they look into ours. Nothing is considered a “private” concern anymore. If we can do it, we can make it public it seems. Evangelicals are just joining this trip into the unnatural.

    I remember when I was 16 and 17 and we came to the Canterbury Tales in Lit class. We just had a taste of if, but it was enough of a taste that I wanted more, so I went to the library and read all the juicy stories. But it was private. And I felt no guilt. Also every time Id hear of a risque novel, I’d find it and read it, but always in the city library.

    Later, when I was still 17, I was a freshman in a conservative Christian college. I still had lots of curiosity. I went to the library and found the Kinsey reports about male and female sexuality. They were big thick books. Whatever one thinks of the findings, they were awfully interesting reading to a 17 year old. But I read them back at a desk on the edge of the stacks where I would know who was coming. I would have been deeply embarrassed if someone had recognized what I was reading.

    I’m far from being a prude. Neither are my wife or children. In counseling situations with people who sought out my help, I’ve talked about almost every conceivable sexual subject. But there is a time and there is a place, and the way we do a lot of it today seems just plain weird. And resolves nothing.

    • David, you’ve done it again. Said exactly what I was trying to say: “…there is a time and there is a place, and the way we do a lot of it today seems just plain weird. And resolves nothing.”

    • There is something to be said for resolving one’s curiosity but doing it in a private manner. No need to proclaim to the world: “I’ve read the Kinsey reports!”

      A bit of shame and discretion never hurt anybody.

      • I actually disagree. I think shame never did anything BUT hurt people. I see no redeeming value in shame. Guilt maybe (and discretion for sure), but not shame.

    • Ironically, at my favorite local book store, the Christian section is right next to the Sex section, so invariably the people who are too embarrased to stay around in the sex section, will take their books and read them or look a the pictures in the Christian section.

      So, right next to Michael Spencer’s Mere Churchianity, I will find the Joy of Sex or some other sex self-help book.

  26. dumb ox says:

    It begs a lot of questions. If the Bible doesn’t say anything on the subject, I assume that it also said nothing on the subject when the cultural warriors were making everyone guilty, sinful, and dirty over this. Enemies of the faith won’t say we were wrong; they will say that the Bible was wrong. What else are we wrong about? This is a bigger embarassment than the Camping fiasco.

    Why must we have something to say about everything? Well, how can you be “relevant” if you don’t? [end sarcasm]. This is what happens when the mysteries of the faith are drug out onto the horizontal plane. We’re like the rich young ruler: just place that eternal life trophy next to all my other possessions.

    Perhaps this will end the pragmatic view of the bible as a self-help manual (no pun intended) .

  27. dumb ox says:

    It seems like relevevance and situational ethics are indistiguishable.

  28. Melanie says:

    Love the use of Bouguereau!!

    Just a few observations and reactions that I have experienced from a single Mum (adoptive) who grew up in the church (not un US) but didn’t alway walk the straight and narrow, who is a nurse and teaches health (including sex ed and biology) in both Christian and non-Christian schools.

    1. The loneliness of singledom is not all about sex. It is about isolation, being invisible to the culture of couples. the continual focus upon sex by various churches and ministers who rub salt in wounds and torment with hopes over which singles have little to no choice or control.

    2. Given the content of the ‘talks’ on sex I have been subjected to from ministers and members of the church and , the knowledge base that some Christians have in regard to sex generally is at best minimal and at worst, lies. This applies to many Christian schools also.

    3. Given 2, if the information that families rely on to discuss (or not) sex with their children combined with the negative, avoidance and controlling stance of many Christian schools (again not in US) and the willingness to abdicate the whole topic to the church it is no wonder I see 16 and 17 year olds desperate to find a spouse… NOW! they are afraid of of both missing sex and having sex.

    I dont see the church in general has having a legitimate voice on this topic. Not until it lives it. If singles are continually eyed with suspicion (must be having sex or wanting sex and hence, be sinning), the pregnant teenager must marry ASAP to cover her sin, the local prostitutes don’t know the names of any women in the local church (because they are supported by them, not because they are married to clients!!) and homosexuality and gender diversity are not approached with love, the church should wisely hold its tongue.

    Closing statement… having sex, having had sex, wanting to have sex or being a Christian or in a church neither qualifies you nor gives you the right to brand ‘sex’ with your own spin and force it onto any individuals in range who all have their own personal struggles.

    PS if you are a parent and you want to be able to honestly and confidently teach your children the’ facts’, do a course and place the content within the context your faith. Don’t leave it to the Christian school or church.

    • I like what you had to say about it. Many churches act as though they are only preaching to married couples. In fact that is exactly what they want. They want to bring families to the church and miss sometimes altogether bringing individuals to christ. I encourage everyone to read some church statements and visions and you will literally see this typed out on many of their websites, or if you attend the churches, this will be preached. Not everyone thinks about sex all the time. Paul didn’t and he was very healthy. I don’t and I consider myself healthy. I have other dreams like of becoming a missionary someday, and doing what I can everyday to be a person those around me can feel safe to be around rather than just another person who will try to get something from them (either sexually or financially- which is another topic more personal than should be preached on over and over.) There are many books on the topic and Wild at Heart and Captivating bring them up, but they were not helpful to me at all. I didn’t know Captivating was pretty much only meant for married woman (when I bought it) who should expect too much from their husbands. I don’t go to churches anymore that preach to married couples and ignores the single people and widows.

    • David Cornwell says:

      This may sound very negative, but I’d do everything in my power to keep my children or grandchildren out of any evangelical sex education that I’ve heard about. I know of one church (a mainline church) that does this well, through a comprehensive approach in partnership with professionals and parents. And it is in the context of Christian love, faith, and community. It begins with young children with age appropriate material and goes all the way up to high school. Parents are involved every step of the way. It is fact based and attempts to help older kids when they come to difficult choices. It also opens up a community of people that these kids know they can approach to discuss anything. And this isn’t a high profile happening with splashy hype from the pulpit.

      But most churches aren’t up to this. Which is just fine. They should just keep on being the church.

      • Melanie says:

        I recently attended a course for sex ed teachers (secular) by an agency whose motto is “Safety, Pleasure and Respect”. They teach and advocate abstinence by choice and deferral by decision. I was told by a lecturer not to tell anyone at the Christian college I attend because they would not like it at all (she though it was a great idea)!

        I sincerely wish many (not all) Christians would honestly face this information without fear.

    • Fantastic comment, Melanie

    • I agree with Melanie. I think the Church is “hopeless” on sex. Too instructing, too prudish, too much like the Pharasees, banning what isn’t banned in the bible. I have no idea how this can be fixed. I have left the Church after many years in it, partly because of being exasperated that there is too much of “man’s hot air” fron the pulpit. I don’t have Chaplain Mike’s squeemishness over the public discussion of masturbation, but perhaps am on the same page as him, in that there is just too much verbiage on it.

      Here’s the thing: if the author of the article concluding womens’ masturbation is a sin had not publically come out with that atatement in the first place, the loud responses refuting her concusion wouldn’t have been needed. But because people were being told something not banned by the bible is a sin after all, the noise happened,

      Christians should go easier on people.

  29. This is the kind of website I am talking about when I say that churches are trying to bring families to church rather than individuals to christ and talks too much about sex and not enough about christ.: http://www.pvumc.org/childrenandfamilies.asp

    • I wonder is there is a church out there somewhere that openly invites the following – criminals, prostitutes, abused and abusers, liar, cheats, adulterers, addicts, misfits, the ostracised and rejected?

      I would go.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I wonder is there is a church out there somewhere that openly invites the following – criminals, prostitutes, abused and abusers, liar, cheats, adulterers, addicts, misfits, the ostracised and rejected?

        The gamers, the otaku, the furries, the bronies, the “giant brain in a jar” kid geniuses?

        The guys who’ve been so burned and rejected by RL women that they’ve gone into imaginary critters because the only way they can think of a woman a virtuous or approachable is if she is visibly not human?

        (35 years in SF litfandom and D&D, 10 in comics, 20 in furry. I have observed the majority of first generation fans of all these types come out of dysfunctional-to-abusive families and were the Omegas of their entire school career. My writing partner counsels furries, and every one he’s counseled had a high school career that he describes as literally Hellish. His exact words: “Going head-over-heels into a world of imaginary talking animals beats sucking a load out of your parent’s shotgun.”)

        • I would like to understand the terms you used. =) I think I understand what you are saying though. There is a seperation we all have from God until we are reconciled, and there is the way we as people have been seperate from each other as well. Just look at the way Adam and Eve started acting toward one another, and then there was Cain and Abel. The reason I mention this is because God has been laying it on my heart to be that sister to men that have really lost respect for women because in the world there is an emphasis on being sexually appealing and when we’re not we feel less than human. God seem’s to look at things differently though, and I have been confidently talking to whoever there is opportunity to speak to with a ‘brotherly’ love where they can feel safe because I am one person not interested in having sex with them. I struggle with this, too, and so does the church because I have always been told as a married woman I need to avoid talking to other men unless in the presence of my husband, but this seems to contradict looking at people as though they are brothers, and sisters, and it seem’s to keep sex on the pedistool.

        • textjunkie says:

          Keep talking, Headless. I like your posts. 🙂

  30. Cincygirl says:

    “Why am I focusing on this today? I blush to report that I came across the piece, “The Cult of the Orgasm: Thinking Christianly about the vibrator boom and unsatisfied sexual desire” over at Her.meneutics, Christianity Today’s blog for women.”

    At this point a gentleman lowers his eyes, mutters a quick “Excuse me ladies” and hurries across the hall to the little boy’s room. 😉

  31. dumb ox says:

    “The Cult of the Orgasm”

    I was going to say that sex is not the Ultimate Concern. I guess I was wrong.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “The Cult of the Orgasm”

      Like Ancient Near East fertility cults? Like Baal-Asherah? Artagatis? Bloody Ishtar?

      Or maybe Priapus?

  32. Thank you for pointing out some of the flaws I noticed about the her.meneutics article. I am not one who is shy in talking about sex in heart-to-heart conversations, however, the article to me was not done in a tasteful manner. It was sort of in-your-face and not careful in its execution.

    It would have been more beneficial to the body of believers to focus an article on single women and the misconceptions churches have about them. Myself and SEVERAL friends are having hard times fitting in with the church culture because they like to put labels on us, set us in our “groups” and thereby ignoring us.

    Also, I think the problem textually with the article is the lack of a Biblical basis. (Not very good hermeneutics!) Doctrine 101 you cannot create a belief from a obscure or isolated passages. I mean really, there is more evidence that polygamy should be “accepted” than even tithing a certain percentage of your income.

    Upfront I will say that I am like Sweden when it comes to this specific issue but it brings about another problem I have frequently noticed the past few years. We as Christians have created “laws” like the Pharisees when God is not specific about those things Biblically. Therefore there is a lot of peer pressure guilt of committing a “sin” when in the Bible it is not something condemned by God. These gray areas (not just this one but others) are where we depend on the Holy Spirit (and HIM ALONE) for guidance. However, we have gotten away from that and allowed public opinion to influence us instead of God Himself.

    I do hate that churches treat sex like propaganda to get people to come to their church. Where is the gospel in that?

  33. Does it ever bother anyone else when a pastor will be SUPER frank about sexual matters in order to make you feel utterly uncomfortable and blushing? Almost feels like a form of manipulation…

  34. textjunkie says:

    I actually didn’t see a lot to blush about in that article, other than the fact the author didn’t really seem to know much about the topic and still was of the school arguing that masturbation is somehow evil. Yeesh.

  35. A very hearty AMEN to everything you wrote here concerning that article, Chaplain Mike! I so agree with you.