For the Fellas on Sexuality
I know no clearer example of the modern, reductionistic approach to life than human sexuality. — Philip Yancey
As followers of Jesus we must think critically about sexual orientation through two lenses: created intent and cultural sensitivity. Unfortunately Fox News and the majority of evangelicals are very passionate about the first and less inclined towards the latter. The Church has done great damage to our hope for restoration as it pertains to sexuality. Frankly, we have chosen bigotry over the way of Jesus; the one who dined with the broken and wounded; the ones on the “outside”, the disenfranchised, and the boldest sinners among us. We would do well to ask ourselves how Jesus would navigate the tumultuous waters of human sexuality in our world.
I believe that sexual activity was designed to be experienced between one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage. It is a beautiful and powerful thing that God created for more than procreation. It is a celebration of what He has done and points to the intrinsic value He has placed on intimacy and the need to cultivate it. It grieves the heart of the Father when we boil it down to a purely physical act (see this great article from Andy Crouch in CT), but we live in a broken world. Things are not as black and white as we would like for them to be. It baffles me that folks find it so hard to believe that there are many naturally inclined to sexual desires outside of covenant marriage between a man and a woman. The LGBT community has had to waste too much breath defending it’s natural inclinations. I think it’s time we shift the conversation from whether or not our desires are innate to whether or not our desires are best.
A tragic irony I’ve seen in men is that often those who are most passionate about their conviction that orientation is a choice are hiding in their basements late at night looking at pornography while their spouse sleeps upstairs. Neck deep in a destructive “relationship” with 2d images (more on that in a bit). May God forgive those of us who heap shame on our brothers and sisters whose lifestyles are out in the open while ours hide out in the shadows.
I do not have a clear cut answer as to how we engage our LGBT brothers and sisters but I do know that it must happen with love, grace, and a thoughtful measure of cultural sensitivity. We must be passionate about the restoration of ALL THINGS. Our cities, our neighbors, and our own souls. There is a way to do this without laying down our convictions about created intent in regards to sexuality.
I remember hearing loud and clear as a young man that “lust is an animal that must be destroyed”. This way of thinking is not only counter-productive but it inevitably leads to sexual desires being viewed as dark and unhealthy. Which could not be farther from the truth. In college it was a popular practice among my male friends to “bounce our eyes” in order to ensure that our thoughts did not linger on a beautiful co-ed. Another ill-advised principle for young men. This practice completely objectifies women, portraying them as solely physical beings that we can’t appreciate until we’re married. Also, if it “works” then we are left believing that clever practices we’ve read in cheesy books will remedy any struggle we have along the way.
The only remedy for a lustful heart is more Jesus. I do not write that flippantly nor with disregard for discipline and self-control. I am all for implementing short term exercises that empower us to practice self-control (a fruit of the Spirit), but no cheap tactic will ever help us get to the root of the issue. If we are not satisfied in all that life in the Kingdom of God offers, we will “naturally” look elsewhere for satisfaction. Rebellion is deep in our DNA. The goal is not repression but redemption. Do not believe the lie that you will “always fight this battle”. Our God is at work in our hearts and won’t stop until it all belongs to Him.
For those battling sexual addiction, especially addiction to pornography, my friend Michael Cusick has written a brilliant book that I recommend without reservation.
If you’re like me there wasn’t a book on this planet or sage wisdom from the wisest soul that could have prepared you for the marriage bed. I received a laundry list of good and bad advice before experiencing sex in marriage. I am no master of sex (my wife could attest to that!), but I have learned a few things along the way that have enriched this sacred space in my life.
Learn to ask questions and perhaps even more importantly take the responses to heart. It is important to have an on-going dialogue with your spouse about how sex is going for both of you. If you think that you will just figure it out as you go along you are an idiot. No guy is that suave. There is no need to make it the most important thing in your home (it’s not), but it is a vital part of cultivating the romance, intimacy, and trust in your relationship with your spouse. Learn to listen and learn to share. It’ll start getting better almost instantly.
For some reason I was convinced that every time my wife and I had sex that it would be Song of Songs kind of epic. That ain’t true, and with kids in the mix it gets even more difficult to make the time for mind-blowing sex. Learn to hit single after single and at the right time you will be ready for the home run, and yes it is really great to hit a home run every once in a while. Take your time and learn how to play.
I encourage young men in marriage to be patient, not just on the honeymoon, but for their entire lives. For most women sex is a completely different experience then it is for men. My wife has shared with me that on average 10–20 different thoughts run through her head when we are making love. I typically top out at two! The discipline of patience is especially important when your bride is pregnant. She feels ugly, uncomfortable, and maybe even nauseous. Not exactly aphrodisiacs. Learn to wait patiently and respect the journey she is on. It will pay lifelong dividends. I want to be at the top of my game in the bedroom when I am 60. Keep long term perspective a major goal.
If I haven’t lost you yet, thanks for hanging in there. Sexuality is a complicated issue and I suspect will only get more convoluted as culture continues to shift. We must be careful not to buy into half-truths about sexuality. Our aim must be higher. We are not animals. We are adopted Sons of God created to flourish and usher in a new creation. We must offer dignity and walk in dignity if we are going to experience the fullness of what we were created to be. I pray that your sexuality would be testament to the goodness and creativity of the God who created you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on sexuality in the comments below. For the sake of other readers, please refrain from crass language or overly descriptive imagery.
(If you are a dude needing some time to navigate some of this in a safe environment, consider joining one of our Men’s retreats. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
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