I was shocked when they announced the title of the next book study that we would be doing. I was sitting in a room in my church next to Zack, surrounded by other small group leaders. “This is a conversation that we need to have more often in church,” my pastor said. “The world is talking about sex, but the church is often silent. We need to change that.”
He went on to share how struggles with porn addiction, adultery, sexual promiscuity, and uncontrolled lust were shattering church families and individuals within our own body. “That’s why it’s crucial for all of us, as leaders, to equip ourselves within the area of biblical sexuality so we can lean into the brokenness and pain all around us.”
He held up the book that would become our newest study. It was titled, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace. I sat there amazed that a church pastor and leader was initiating a book study for all his church’s small group leaders on the topic of sexuality and purity. This wasn’t the norm in mainstream Christianity. Topics like porn, masturbation, and lust weren’t everyday conversations within the church.
My heart silently rejoiced.
This would be a game changer and much-needed shift in our church culture and I couldn’t wait to dig in.
We would finally have open and honest conversations about one of the most crucial and personal areas of our lives.
Why We Need to Embrace Conversations About Sexuality
As modern Christian women, I think many of us would be surprised if our pastor initiated a book study (for men and women) on the topic of sex, sexuality, and purity. Although these conversations are slowly becoming more common within Christian circles, they’ve been largely ignored by many churches for far too long. This silence has created a Church culture of embarrassment and shame when it comes to topics surrounding sexuality. This is tragic.
Related: Why the Church Needs to be a No-Shame Zone
God and sexuality have become opposites rather than complimentary companions. And as a result, this is the one thing Christian girls don’t know about sexuality.
We forget that God is the author, designer, and creator of our sexuality. We forget that conversations about lust, secret sins, porn, masturbation, and erotica should be happening within the Church. We forget that we are spiritual beings as much as we are sexual beings. We forget that the Church should be the first place we breach these topics, not the last. We forget that our sexual struggles are something God wants us to bring to Him, not work through on our own. We forget that our sexuality is a beautiful part of God’s greater story.
One of the drivings motivations in writing my new book, Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart, was to help bring these conversations back into the church. Back into small groups. Back into Christian circles. Back into normal conversations.
Jesus Wasn’t Shy About Sexuality
When Jesus met the woman at the well in John 4, He wasn’t shy about her sexual struggles.
He wastes no time in getting to the heart of her sexual pain and brokenness. She tries to keep the conversation on the surface by talking about theology and religion, but Jesus takes a deeper dive. He goes for her heart. He asks her to call her husband, already knowing that she had been married five times and was currently living with a man who was not her husband (v. 16-18).
He sees straight into this woman’s inner longings and knows she has been trying to fill a spiritual need with temporal fixes. He offers her love, compassion, and calls her to embrace the Living Water that will never run dry. Amazed and astonished by His insight and willingness to meet her in her brokenness, she runs off into the city rejoicing in God and telling everyone about the Messiah.
That same Jesus who leaned into that woman’s sexual pain and brokenness is the same Jesus we serve and worship today.
He is not a God who is shy or embarrassed by our sexuality, but a God who created that aspect of our lives and wants to help us embrace it rightly. If Jesus Himself wasn’t shy about pursuing conversations about sexuality, then we, His Church, shouldn’t be either.
I want to encourage you with the same words I wrote in Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart:
“As you think back on your personal journey, what has shaped your beliefs about sex? Whether negative or positive, what has been most influential in your life?
So much of the confusion surrounding our sexuality is a result of being discipled by the world. The only way to redeem our sexuality is to turn back to the One who created us. Instead of continuing to listen to the world, we need to be discipled by the One who designed us. The One who loves us and Created us. The One who understands our sexuality and has a good and beautiful plan for it.”
Conversations about sexuality belong in the Church and amongst God’s people.
Related: 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Talk About Porn in the Church [Sarcasm Alert!]
Will You Help Start the Conversation?
He holds the answers to life, health, and freedom in this area. I pray you will join me in leading the charge by starting these much-needed conversations within your own church. I pray that my book would also be a helpful tool and resource for you as you begin talking about sexual issues more amongst women.
God and sexuality go hand-in-hand. Let’s be intentional as Christian women to disciple one another in the area of sexuality as much as we do in everything else.
I’d love to hear from you below!
- What is the climate of your church right now? Is sexuality a normal topic of conversation or is it taboo?
- What do you personally wish more Churches would talk about regarding sexuality?
- What can you do to lead in your church by bringing these conversations to the surface.
As the Conquer Series and Every Man’s Battle Studies proliferate among men’s church groups, I don’t think it is true anymore that the church is not dealing with sexual issues, at least among men. In fact, ever since Promise Keepers, it seems as if purity/anti-porn/accountability have been essential features of what is now the most common forms of men’s ministries. Most of the churches I have attended never had much of a men’s ministry. Women’s ministries were universal and they were usually focused on mothering, home maintenance, and mutual encouragement or were bible studies from Beth Moore or Priscilla Shirer or some other popular women’s leader.
I don’t think Priscilla Shirer or Beth Moore are interested in taking up the mantle of introducing sexuality into women’s ministries. Most churches now look at sexual issues entirely from the framework of bad men sinning and women being betrayed by their bad sinning pervert husbands. From this perspective, men’s ministries are designed to get men to “man up” and live porn free. Women’s ministries are support groups designed to teach women how beautiful they are in God’s sight and to lift everyone’s self esteem.
Berean research has an interesting article about this trend called “The Cult of Women’s Self-Esteem” (https://bereanresearch.org/the-cult-of-womens-self-esteem/)
Meanwhile, men are told what colossal screw ups they are and how they need to get right with God or else. “Accountability” is the favorite buzzword for men’s groups. For women’s groups, I very seriously doubt any of them will ever focus on the sexual sins of women and lead to anything resembling accountability. If sexual issues are discussed at all in women’s groups it will solely to inform women on the likelihood that their husbands are betraying them with lust and/or porn and how the women must work together to end the scourge of toxic masculinity in their midst.
Hey, Mike, I’m guessing the “C” after “Mike” stands for cynical? 😎😁
Seriously, it wasn’t that many years ago you would have been spot-on in your evaluation that within most churches the moral and social sense both preached and taught was:
” Husband/Boyfriend = Bad” and “Wife/Girlfriend = beloved-by-God victims.”
Today, however, with the advent and widespread prevelance of such mainstream 12-step based programs as “Celebrate Recovery” and Sexaholic Anonymous – combined with greater pastoral awareness and openess towards the sexual scourge that has enveloped our nation – including churches and many, many church people – those days od male shaming and female uplifting are quickly being deflated/minimalized … despite the #metoo and other women movements. Many of today’s churches and congregations have come to realize that the sexual/porn addiction epidemic is not solely a “Bad male” issue, but one that is absolutely no respecter of age, sex, color or church affiliation. And that can’t help but be a good thing – for all of us.
Talk to a urologist before talking to your pastor. The male body produces thousands of sperm cells a day which are meant to be excreted. Keeping the fluids flowing is important for good health. Keeping them bottled up is bad for the tubes and sexual organs. If you have a wife who is willing and available, that’s the best solution. Otherwise, masturbation is an effective way to reduce prostate cancer and other urinary diseases associated with abstinence. Most pastors understand that this is not like alcoholism or drug addiction. It is the regulation of a basic bodily function. Of course it can be abused, just as when people eat too much or sleep too much. If it becomes a problem, get help. But the fact that 90% of men do it reflects the physiological reality. Telling men to abstain completely is both cruel, unnecessary, and physically unhealthy.
I met a devout Pentecostal woman who used Matthew 16:18-19 to believe that if she had enough faith she could “bind the calories” in her food so that she could eat whatever she wanted and not gain weight. 100 pounds later she gave up and started dieting.
It would be nice for men if we could just “bind the semen” and make it disappear so that we could live celibate lives without the pressure from our sex drives.
Sadly, many of the so-called anti-porn ministries counsel against masturbation and assert that the body will re-absorb the semen after a while and there will be no adverse consequences to the prostate as a result. I’m not sure if there has been a definitive study on this, but I always get the feeling reading those people that they are just angry at men and their stinkin’ sex drives and they want men to be miserable because they deserve it for looking at porn and because being miserable builds character, as in: http://i.imgur.com/tIY7J.png
I am a divorced Pentecostal woman, who used to be Roman Catholic, who is living a life of celibacy but also fear of intimacy with another man because my ex-husband shattered my confidence in myself as a sexual being and I also contracted HIV. I just have no idea what God’s plan is for me…am I meant to never have sex for the rest of my life, never to enjoy the intimacy of marriage. I do sometimes masturbate but am I sinning?
Hello, thanks for reaching out. I’m sorry to hear about your difficult situation. I pray that you will find comfort and restoration. The Bible does not categorically condemn masturbation and Christians do have different views on whether it is sinful (including many of the authors who write for Covenant Eyes). However, we would all agree that masturbation is wrong when 1) it’s an out-of-control habit or addiction 2) it’s accompanied by pornography. The Bible is very clear that lust is sinful, which is defined as an inappropriate desire for something that’s not yours. It’s similar to greed (see Ephesians 5). As a single person, I believed I was able to masturbate without lusting because I didn’t look at pornography. However, I found that the more I gave in to the impulse, the less control I had over those impulses. Though I was not lusting after particular people or images, I did have an inappropriate desire that could easily become an out of control habit. I do not know whether this is similar to your situation or not. But I would encourage you to pray about it and study God’s Word. Anything that is good will bring you closer to God. Anything that is sinful will make you further from God. If you feel convicted that it’s wrong, you should be willing to give it up for the sake of your relationship with God. Here is an article that gives a balanced perspective with biblical principles: https://www.covenanteyes.com/2013/01/14/masturbate-without-lusting/