This post, which is sort of a follow up to last Saturday’s post, is a bit different. I suspect someone will misunderstand and say I am advocating sinful behaviour; I am not. I do believe we can learn from all human behaviour, both good and bad, and I do think ignoring what is happening always ends badly. I also like to deal with truth, even when I don’t like the facts. You may be uncomfortable with this post – I get it, I’m not fully comfortable with it.
For as long as I have been aware of sexuality (the late 60’s) there have been those who said women could have sex the way men do – meaning they could enjoy sex with just about anyone, anywhere, any-time (this, it seems is “equality”). Until fairly recently I rejected this. It didn’t fit with what I believe (see yesterday’s post about how our beliefs colour our reality), so I kept denying it. I said the women saying they were enjoying such sex were lying to the world and/or to themselves. I said they didn’t really enjoy it, rather they enjoyed being rebellious. I said they might enjoy it for a bit, but would pay a horrible price. I said they were rare aberrations.
However, the voices of women saying they enjoy uncommitted sex kept growing in number, and I was eventually forced to examine what I believed.
The belief I had was God had made women so they could not enjoy sex outside a healthy relationship. Some might do it for a time by force of will, but it couldn’t last and they would pay a horrible price emotionally and sexually. Of course, this belief is not biblically based, but I had connected it to some things in the Bible and treated it as if it was a biblical truth. I wanted it to be true, I didn’t want women to be able to enjoy promiscuity, and I wanted them to pay for their sin when they tried. Because of all this, I held on to the belief even when I should have seen real life proved it wrong. I eventually examined and rejected the belief, but it took far longer than it should have.
Now I see a growing number of women who enjoy sex outside of long-term committed relationships. Yes, the data shows sex is better for both men and women in long-term relationships (you know, like marriage) and women often get the short end of the stick in non-relational sex, but clearly some women can and do enjoy sex apart from relationships. When I say enjoy, I mean want it, pursue it, enjoy it physically (orgasm and all) and not feel bad about it mentally or emotionally.
What does this mean?
It means female sexuality is not what we’ve been taught. There are still clear male/female differences in sexuality, but they are not as polarised as we thought. It means woman have a greater capacity, maybe a much greater capacity, to desire and enjoy sex than we have admitted. Perhaps many men are threatened by this.
It also means sex in marriage can be better than most of us have thought. Sex is not a male desire women indulge and sometimes enjoy; sex is a human desire both men and woman want, seek, and enjoy. This actually fits well with what Paul seemed to think about female sexuality. In 1 Cor 7 both women and men were told their sexuality did not belong to them, but to their spouse. Both women and men were told they could not say no to their spouse sexually. Additionally Paul told Timothy widows under 60 would want sex so much they would not stick to a vow of celibacy and service to God.
Why don’t we see many women like this in the church?
The church has taught that women are sexuality receptive. Those who experaince something else feel wrong, or at least they realise they need to hide how they feel to avoid problems. We suppress female sexuality, and we say unkind things about those who are not sufficiently repressed. Maybe we expect women to balance men out, fearing what would happen if they didn’t resist to some degree. We want unmarried women to have no interest in sex, and we expect them to say no to the men who shouldn’t ask but “really cannot help themselves”. Perhaps we have made women sexual gatekeepers because our shame about our own sexuality causes us to feel we need a gatekeeper. Maybe they allow us to act a part that makes us feel “manly” knowing they won’t let us do some of the crazy things we suggest. (I certainly can see I did this in the past.)
The women in the world who are enjoying (immoral) sex view sex as something to be enjoyed. They feel good about their bodies, including the sexual parts of their bodies. They put time and effort into learning about their sexuality and finding ways to make sex better. Aside from their willingness to have sex outside marriage, I don’t find anything wrong with this.
Over the past few years, I have written about being a sex positive Christian (I find 22 references in the last three years). Maybe it is time for the church to start being openly sex positive. A vital part of that is having sex within God’s guidelines, but we need to find and reject man-made rules and restrictions that have nothing to do with God. If secular women can have good sex outside marriage, Christian women can have fantastic sex in marriage. It is clear to me there’s a major change in how women perceive and engage in sex. Let’s give those in and outside the church a godly alternatiuve to the garbage the world is offering.
You will note I have said “perhaps” and “maybe” a number of times in this post. I have more questions than answers. Want to help me kick this around in the comments?