Why Your Sex Life is Their Business

By Amy Juran

couple in country

Contrary to the words of Salt N Pepa, “If I wanna take a guy home with me tonight, IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” it’s actually really important that we talk to friends and family about our sex lives (or lack thereof).

The funny thing about sex and sexuality is that it’s always influencing our behavior and decisions, even in Christian relationships, and yet we rarely want to talk about it.

I would consider myself a pretty private person. This is not necessarily because I have much to hide, but because I think there are some things that are not anyone else’s business, and it takes a certain degree of trust between people to earn this kind of vulnerability. My view of sexuality used to be very much in line with this, considering how personal physical intimacy is. However, I’ve found being transparent with trusted friends and family about my sexuality is one of the healthiest things I could do for my romantic relationships.

In her book Real Sex, author Lauren Winner touches on the idea of “communal sex.” Communal sex does not mean sex between multiple people, but that sexuality is something meant to be talked about and worked through with other believers. Winner asks the reader the question of whether or not it’s appropriate to ask our Christian friends about their sex lives, and – on the flip side –  whether we should be talking vulnerably with others about our own physical intimacy.

God calls us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galations 6:2) and to speak truth in love to each other. Sharing in our personal lives gives us the opportunity to grow together and challenge ourselves. It can develop a beautiful community striving for God’s will, and can prevent and heal so much of the hurt that comes with isolation.

We’re all familiar with this situation: a friend starts dating someone, and they are happy and blissful at first, but little by little start to pull away from close friends and social situations to spend time with just that person. Sometimes this can be an indication of an abusive or controlling partner, but sometimes we tend to think our relationships and sexuality are our business alone.

When we believe this idea, we naturally start to isolate from others.

If you’re unmarried it’s important to set physical boundaries with your significant other, but when you are both being driven by emotions it can be easy to flex the lines. There can also be an element of shame that comes with crossing those boundaries. It can be easy to want to avoid the judgment of others by not sharing your struggles. But when you get other people involved, and they are able to ask you the tough questions and keep you accountable, they can restore the validity of promises you made to yourself, your partner, and to God.

If you’re married, it is still important to talk about your sex life. To some this might seem like a violation of the sacredness of marriage, but it’s actually the opposite. In James we read, “Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” By sharing in community about our struggles and our joys, we can build each other up and bring peace to the fact that everyone hits rough patches.

God never intended for us to do this life alone. (Tweet this!)

He desires rich, challenging and caring community, and this can only be accomplished when we are transparent with each other. The result of this community is a healthier view of romantic relationships. It allows us to see things from the bigger picture and keep God at the core of everything we do. From now on I’ve chosen not to shy away from conversations with trusted people about sexuality because I know healing, growth, and relational intimacy will come from it.

Relationships…

This summer our offices will be researching, studying, and looking at the beauty, complexity, and chaos that relationships bring. Most of our study will be around dating and how this fairly new concept is changing for today’s teens. As we started compiling resources our social media coordinator pointed me towards a blog that her friend, Holly Clark, writes on pleasepassthetea.com. One specific entry caught her eye. Enjoy!

JeremyandHolly

“Finding a balance between spending time with the person you are dating and trying to build community with others is not an easy task. Jeremy and I started dating our freshman year of college. As you know, if you have gone to college, this year especially is complicated in itself.

Jeremy and I were trying to navigate a very new relationship while trying to find genuine friendship. Unfortunately, I didn’t want people thinking Jeremy and I were just your typical “high school sweet-hearts” so I tended to focus more on friends than I did on our relationship.

But soon, my relationship with Jeremy suffered and we struggled to find a good balance. So, I started inviting Jeremy to join in on my time with my friends, and my friends loved him. I began to trust others with our relationship and it was such a joy to have people support us together. This was the beginning of why community became such a crucial part of our lives together.

Relationships have always been important to me. I desire genuine, intentional relationships and love bringing people together. And I knew that my relationship with Jeremy was a gift from God; ultimately I knew we could be a couple who loves people well and brings others into our relationship.

So, throughout college and our dating life, we went through a very consistent cycle of wanting to build community and struggling to find a balance of time alone and time with people. We seemed to always choose to be with others.

Our view of community has changed significantly since college. While at Whitworth University, awesome people were just always around. It wasn’t a struggle to find intentional people and we didn’t have to trust God. Now that I am graduated, I know community is way more than just people you think like you do; it is dependent on Jesus Christ being the head of the body.

Before, I was completely dependent on my own ability to be a good girlfriend and friend. And now, I know that in order to have a healthy community, Christ has to be the focus. Since Jeremy and I have been married, we have come to realize that without Christ being our focus, we cannot have a healthy relationship, and if we aren’t healthy together, we cannot be healthy in community.

I have learned not to try to please others because I cannot. I have learned not to try to put others before my husband because he is my main priority. And I have learned to trust that God is going to provide community in my life because true relationship is a gift from God. I have been blessed by people who support my marriage and remind me why having people in our life is so important. I have spent countless nights at the dinner table with a group of people that I love, sharing their hearts over a great meal. And I have shed countless tears over relationships that have hurt me.

In the end, all of these things are gifts from God. We are called to love our neighbor and I believe this means being intentional with the people that God puts in our path. For me that means loving my husband first, loving the people around me and continuing to live into community because I believe I am called to bring people together. I have learned a lot about the complexity of relationships and I know I will continue to pursue, fail, cry and find meaning in loving others.”

Please…No More Answers

Always looking for answers

Always looking for answers

We seem to be living in a time where answers are plentiful but not very good. The missing Malaysian flight is proof of that fact. I turn on the news and it seems every single detail is shared, “this just in, a U.S. navy ship is now 400 miles away from a potential wreck site in the Indian Ocean. When we last reported they were 410 miles away. We will track this story as it unfolds along with every other detail.” Now this could be an exaggeration of how news works these days, but not by much. In our 24/7 news cycle we are constantly looking for new answers. However, in our constant search for answers we find that we are unable to be comfortable with the unknown.

Maybe that is why we see fewer and fewer young people who confess a faith in Jesus and even less in God. A solid majority still do – 86% – but only 58% say they are “absolutely certain” that God exists. That is lower than it has ever been according to a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project.

This reality came to life this week like never before. For the first time ever, one of our volunteers was in a school classroom where not one student had been to church or confessed a faith of any sort. That has never happened! But I am sure it will happen more and more in the future.

Faith doesn’t play a part in our lives as much as it once did. But our search for answers only continues to grow.

Remember, faith is a belief in the unseen. That includes a belief in things we just can’t answer. And for this generation, heck, even mine, that is not a comfortable place to sit.

Levi's Ad

Levi’s Ad

That is why I was so intrigued when I saw the ad to the side. It reads, “#equipped to be true.” This is a tribute to the narcissistic world we live in. It says that what I believe is truth, while also pointing to the fact that truth is not found in God but in relationship with others and in material goods.

Recently I asked a professor I deeply respect what the different is between how he used to teach when he was younger and now. His response was powerful. He said, “When I was younger I wanted to teach everything that I knew. Now I only teach the things I think are important and equip my students to find answers to the rest on their own. Thus, allowing them to learn how to learn. I am teaching them that not everything needs an answer. Sometimes they just need to have faith and allow for time to reveal what is needed to be seen.”

Now I know that as we grow older our questions change. And if our past is prologue, these young adults may develop a stronger belief in God over the course of their lives, just as previous generations have. But we have to provide dialogue, not just give in to the temptation to always give answers.

As I speak to youth I am constantly reminded that in my own journey it was when I didn’t have all the answers and had to start living by faith that God became more real, not less. It began to influence decisions I made because He was placed above everything else.

May we not forget this truth so that a new generation can live by faith and not some made up answer to fill the void of the unknown.

More Crowd Surfing…

crowd surfingThe first time I ever crowd surfed was at a Pearl Jam concert.  The first time I ever did a stage dive was also at the same concert. So when I went to a Pearl Jam concert last weekend you better believe that these memories surfaced.  I remember the feeling of being lifted up by hundreds of people as I slowly made my way from the back of the crowd to the stage and then back again. It was exhilarating and scary.

That was in 1993 and I was still in high school.  My life was different then and so were my goals. But the one thing that stuck with me in that moment was the rush of adrenaline I received by being surrounded by so many people who were laying their hands on me, lifting me up, and helping me reach a destination.

A couple of weeks ago, when I saw Pearl Jam again, the concert was much more tame. It didn’t have the same energy that the first concert did in 1993. Some of that has to do with the dynamic of age. The crowd this time talked about back pain, waking up early to take care of kids, and healthcare. The crowd when I was younger could care less about any of that. However, I think there was more to this tameness then just age. I think it was more about movement and where we are as a society.

Smart Phones

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

All of these words have one thing in common. They all require you to stop moving for a moment to record what it is you’re doing.

cellphonesNow I must admit that even I participated in the madness by posting to Facebook my love for the band. Even though I disagree with most of their politics and some of their songs, they still have a place in my life. But I was surprised when I got home and discovered how few pictures and videos I got from the concert compared to the many others that went. The next day I saw people post several videos, pictures and thoughts to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. In fact, at one point when I looked out over the crowd during the concert I saw just as many phones as I did heads.

And no crowd surfing.

So why do I share all of this? Because I think this is a symptom of something bigger. Social media is teaching us to stay within ourselves. Although we are sharing our experiences with the world we really aren’t experiencing the very thing we are posting to our Twitter or Instagram.

This doesn’t mean that we have to crowd surf but I do think that we need to do more within a real community and less within a virtual one. This requires conversation, laying hands on one another, and lifting up one another.

Like it does when you crowd surf.

It takes faith, it takes community, it takes risk, but most of all it requires the participation of everyone around you. Now I am not advocating that you crowd surf to experience the same thing I did when I was younger. In fact, don’t…you might get hurt. However, I am suggesting we do less standing around with our phones and do more life together.

The thrill of being lifted up, the laying on of hands, and being pushed in a particular direction should be a part of the Christian community. It is exhilarating and scary…just like it is when you crowd surf for the first time.

Hannah Montana is Dead

Miley on SNLIn fact, Miley Cyrus declared that she murdered her on Saturday Night Live this past weekend. And from the looks of her recent antics on the VMAs, SNL, and just about everywhere in the social media sphere I would say that runs truer than ever before. Hannah Montana is dead and we are not going to get her back.

I’ve not spoken about Miley yet mostly because others have done a good job of breaking down what they are observing. If you want to read some good explanations of what we see happening with Miley I suggest reading a blog from a good friend, Walt Mueller. His post last month on Miley and her recent transformation can be found here. He also writes some on the VMAs here. Which includes an excerpt on the realities of the world that Disney has brought us through their legion of former Mickey Mouse Club members (Justin Timberlake, Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera) and TV show break outs (Selena Gomez, Amanda Bynes, and Miley Cyrus).

What strikes me most about Miley is not just her transformation, but the overall trend among today’s young pop stars to one up one another sexually. I just learned this weekend of Rihanna’s newest video and song, ‘Pour It Up’, which promotes stripping and has her simulating sex acts throughout the video. It makes Britany Spears new video for her song ‘Work B***h’ tame compared to Rihanna’s video and Miley’s videos for her recent songs ‘Can’t Hold Us’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’. Now this is nothing new. However, the level at which they are upping their game is. It has moved from scantily clad to almost nothing. From a few sexy dance moves to having sex with the floor.

Sex, it seems, still sells. Only it looks like we need more of it to notice any difference.

Many of the videos we are able to watch on YouTube today we could have never dreamed of watching 15 years ago without calling it soft porn. In order to stand out in todays pop culture you have to sell your sexuality. And at a younger and younger age. Which means making your video pornographic. It’s no wonder why we are seeing pre-teens and teens engage in sex earlier and earlier.

I remember having a conversation with a parent a few years ago about Miley. She beamed at the fact that she was a believer in Jesus Christ and was waiting until marriage to have sex. She expressed how happy she was that their was a female that her pre-teen could look up to and model her life after. At first, I shared her excitement but then I started to think about the long history of artists like Miley that have done the same thing. Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, and Britany Spears at some point confided in their desire to wait. They sold their purity to break down the fear that parents might have and used their virginity and innocence to gain trust. But around the age of 18 that changed. They moved from an innocent role model to a sex symbol. However, I don’t remember a former child star going so far so quick as Miley.

When Miley said that Hannah Montana was dead on Saturday Night Live I felt those words hang in the air. Miley is right. Hannah Montana is dead. But it’s not just Hannah Montana that I mourn for in this current state of our culture. It’s what this statement symbolizes for me as a parent, for the teens I work with and the world we live in.

PlanBChildren and teens are exposed to more sexually provocative messages and sexually mature messages then ever before. Many long before they are ready. Our social media coordinator at Project Six19 was with his 3-year-old daughter recently at Walgreens when he saw a Plan B package for sell next to the candy. If you’re not familiar with Plan B it is emergency contraceptive. It was not found behind the counter or in the pharmacy but right there near the M&Ms. Not only do we have to talk with our kids younger and younger about their bodies but now we also have to talk to them about things like this…long before they are ready. Then place the fact that we have to teach our children that todays favorite childhood celebrities might be tomorrows sex symbols means one thing.

Yes, it does look like Hannah Montana is dead and all the innocence that came with her.

As I reflect on Miley’s comments, her actions and those of her counterparts, and the Plan B cartridge on the candy aisle, I don’t blame anyone in particular. We’ve all contributed to this. We buy Miley’s music, watch Rihanna’s videos and buy Plan B for our teenagers so that they can skip the reality of the consequences of the decisions they made without realizing that we may just be creating others. No, I don’t blame anyone but I think it is time we start recognizing what is happening and taking responsibility where we can.

First, we’ve got to take some responsibility for this demand for the sexualization of the young men and women who feel like they have to bust free of this prudish image by flaunting their birthday suit in front of millions. Miley, Britany and Rihanna are no less valuable then you or I. And it is not just women. Daniel Radcliffe who you might remember for playing the part of Harry Potter is also getting into the mix and moving from child actor to adult by posing nude in several of his recent endeavors. It seems like it is a calculated career move. One that none of them would make if it didn’t pay the bills.

However, we must remember one fact. They were each made in the image of God just like you and I. Our sexuality can be a beautiful and wonderful force if in the proper context. But it can also be a tool for manipulation.

Second, GK Chesterton once said, “when we go knocking on the door of a brothel what we are really looking for is God.” Our deepest longings for sex, food, things, or whatever it is that we crave is really just a longing for God. We see this throughout Scripture. It is the reason I rejoice in the redemption story that all of the Bible points to and our opportunity to step into it through our relationship with Christ. I think there is a lot of longing happening in the stories of each of these individuals. As well as those that participate in their success by watching, viewing, and sharing their videos, music and movies.

Finally, let’s recognize that there is something holy that we are seeking when sexuality is placed before us. So often we want to place rules and restrictions around sex and relationships as Christians but I don’t think they work unless it is an act of obedience. That is why we must use the power of sex as a catalyst for discussions on the one that created this great gift and point individuals towards God. Only then can they understand the beauty of their body, the gift of their sexuality and where it is to be shared.