Lust, Sex, and Connecting in our Culture.
Sex…something rarely talked about at any depth in church, except inferring to it as part of a marriage union, or cautioning us about dancing or spending too much time alone with the opposite sex. However, we are living in a culture that is obsessed with sex. It is everywhere: in advertising; in movies; on billboards; internet, etc. Oh, and of course there is pornography. A multi-billion dollar industry… more money is spent on porn every year in the USA then the combined total spent by all the franchises in professional football, baseball, hockey, and basketball combined. Recent literature states that almost 50% of all people in the USA are sexually addicted. This isn’t just a male problem. It includes a significant percentage of females too.
What is a sexual identity?
So lets talk about it a bit. We all have a sexual identity as part of who God made us to be. Our inner spiritual being that is contained in our fleshly vessel affects our heart. Gen.1:1-2; 5:1-2 reminds us that our humanity is a reflection of our Creator, and our sexuality is an aspect of our humanity. Our sexuality is God-given, and God reflecting. Human sexuality is a beautiful, powerful gift from our Creator.
We don’t really understand what it means to be human and spiritual and sexual. We generally only think of our sexuality as only erotic. But to be masculine or feminine is much more than expressing oneself erotically. Our sexuality provides us a way of feeling about life and seeing and interacting with others, but Eros is only one aspect of it.
In our culture today, we know how to use sex for a lot of things, but we don’t understand how it works, or what to do when someone has trouble with her sexuality. One way or another, everyone will have some trouble with their sexuality.
What kind of role does the Church play?
One of the most difficult things about our current struggles with cultural sexual brokenness, is that in the arena of divine and human interaction, the very place we ought to find the most help with our sexual self-expression, too often we find the least. The church is meant to be a community of spiritual nurture and healing. But most of the time it avoids or misapplies how the gospel addresses being human and being sexual. The result is devastating.
Lust – Motives?
“We often misuse our God-given desire to connect with others. We have the right impulse to not be alone but we struggle with this because our natures are flawed. Because we are spiritually broken people, we engage in disordered living. If we are disordered in our hearts, our approach to connecting is fractured. This brings us to lust. We lust when we co-opt something or someone to meet a legitimate desire we have in a way that honors neither us nor the person/thing we desire. Lusting is fragmented living. Lusting comes out of desires that are normal – even God-given – but our bent vision and short cutting strategies mean that when we attain what we desire, we do not find fulfillment or contentment.” (Ryan, T – “Ashamed No More” – 2012)
Lust must surrender to love, before we will have a wholesome, healthy experience. Whenever I have discussed or heard lust discussed in a church community, never do I hear anyone identify that the starting motivation or root of lust is a legitimate Godly desire. That this person, be it myself, or a friend of mine is wanting to make a connection, but is going about it in a dysfunctional manner. As a culture we can be so obsessed with sex in an erotic or romantic perspective, and then be so two-faced about it. A 20-year-old man is attracted to this 16-year-old girl whom he met while working alongside her at a restaurant. He ends up having sex with her ( after being romantically connected to her for a year prior), and is then charged by her parents for rape, and put in prison for 2 years. We are so quick to point the finger at this guy who acted out his desire to connect, be it dysfunctional in God’s eyes, but one step over the line by societal standards. Rom. 3:23 says that we are not perfect and never will be on this earth. However, in this area, the church seems to present very little “grace”.
Are our expectations for a life partner realistic, or are many of us too idealistic?
I’ve talked with many guys who feel that the Christian women they have pursued, have rejected them because of some idealistic notion that people shouldn’t have these types of desires to connect in a sexually obsessed culture. Men and women need have grace for each other. This perfect Adam you are waiting for may not exist exactly as you have been lead to believe. Sure, I as a man want to draw near to God. I want to apply the golden rule that Jesus gives us to every relationship. I desire to respect and cherish any woman I seek after for a relationship. I want to know her emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, and sexually. However, it seems to me that many Christian women minimize the sexual attribute of our humanness. However, many people I meet in this culture think of sex as only erotica, or romanticism. It is connected to our spirit, and is much more than this. I would love to identify 5 goals we should identify or attain as people to bring us closer to this self-awareness, but I am still wrestling with this myself. However, I think the church community as a whole needs to present this issue in a much more open and gracious discussion then it has over the last 20 plus years.
Questions to ponder:
Have you ever experienced frustration or disappointment because of this stumbling block?
How does your church community proactively approach this subject matter?