Last weekend I attended Mission U, a United Methodist Women event. Mission U is an annual event that offers courses on various mission study topics. The course I attended at the southern Arizona Mission U discussed the Bible and human sexuality.
The class and discussion were interesting and occasionally hilarious (spend two days discussing sex and sexuality with forty women 60 and over, and you’ll see what I mean). I disagreed with some arguments, agreed with others, and heard some new ideas. But the most surprising and transformative part of the weekend for me was that I was at a church in a room with Christians talking about sex and sexuality.
My parents never talked to me about sex or sexuality (which, admittedly, would have been super awkward). I managed to miss sexual education in school because we moved before my old school held it and after my new one did. My youth pastor never addressed it. There was no one in my life with whom I felt I could discuss these topics. True, as a single young person, one could argue that I didn’t need to be discussing sex or sexuality with anyone, but I disagree.
In the U.S., sex is a very present and prevalent cultural influence. Books, music, movies, art, theater, the media, etc. all offer multiple and varying opinions on sex, but the church offers either silence or the words of people like Mark Driscoll, who referred to women as “penis homes.” I believe that the church’s silence needs to end; it needs to begin a conversation about sex and bring sex out of the darkness into light.
I definitely understand the impulse to remain quiet. Sex can be an awkward topic, and people, especially church people, prefer not to talk about things that are uncomfortable. It took me years before I could just say the word “sex” instead of whispering, “you know…sex.” On top of that, Christians have been conditioned for centuries to view sex as shameful and dirty, to stuff it in the closet, and to keep it in the dark. (Side note: You might say that the church affirms married sex. But does it actually? Have you ever heard a leader in your, or a, church affirm married sex? I haven’t. All I’ve heard is that premarital sex is bad and that one should wait until after marriage to have sex. That isn’t exactly saying that married sex is a good thing.)
So why do I think the church needs to start talking about sex? First, So that Christians, especially young ones, have somewhere to go with their questions, unlike me. And let’s face it – unless you’ve home-schooled your children and also denied them all access to the outside world, by a certain age they’ve heard something about sex, and they will have questions. It’s a given in this day and age, at least in the U.S. If the church has nothing to offer in response to those questions and doesn’t even provide space for the questions to be asked, then people will find their answers in popular culture or in people like Mark Driscoll. I, personally, am not okay being seen as a penis home. So please, let’s talk about…you know…sex.
The METRO Center of Tucson
Global Mission Fellow US-2, Class of 2015-2017