Women, following Jesus and Sex

In the past two days I have had four conversations about being female and figuring out what to do with one’s sexuality. In each conversation the women with whom I talked, shared about her struggle, past or present, to understand how to integrate her sexuality and the rest of her personhood.

Men are expected to be sexual with in the Christian culture and women are expected, in ways both unspoken and spoken, to have no sex drive at all and/or to not enjoy sex. I’ve heard talks from older women who speak of the fact that “it is one’s wifely duty to have sex with your spouse, even though you won’t enjoy it. Or, You are to only have sex to please him, but it will not be fun for you.” I rarely hear older women encourage young women by sharing the joys of sexuality and the marriage bed.

It is also rare for a woman to speak of the struggle with sexual temptation. And it was only recently that I’d ever heard a female talk about her struggle with pornography. The expectation is that women do not struggle and will not enjoy sex.

I’ve been surprised how many of my conversations with women of late have had to do with an unhealthy idea of sex, sexuality and singleness or marriage. There seem to be many women wanting to know what to do with their sexuality as they seek to honor the Lord and not divorce themselves from their sexuality. Simply because a woman is a  spiritual creature and follows Jesus does not negate the fact that she is also a sexual creature.

The fact is women do not have a place with in much of the current church context to talk about sex and sexuality. There isn’t a feeling of freedom given for women to come out with their struggles with loneliness and the temptation to fill loneliness with porn, sex or lude conversations. There isn’t room for women to talk about their struggle to remain pure and wait for their husband or in many cases to even talk about enjoying sex once they get married.

Women are sexual beings and this idea that women need to hide or ignore their sexuality is quite damaging. In my own life, my attempts to remain pure in many ways caused me to divorce myself from my sexuality all together. I was in full time ministry with students for years and now continue in ministry and therefore, I basically made myself become a-sexual. I didn’t acknowledge that God created me and my body to work in a certain way and I stuffed any desire I had away, because I believed even sexual desire was shameful. I also believed that women do not talk about their desire to have sex. This is not uncommon. I’ve talked with many women this year who have spoken of their journey with sexuality similarly.

I have had to do a lot of work to integrate the emotional, spiritual, physical and sexual elements of my personhood. In doing so, I’ve had to address all kinds of misconceptions, lies of the enemy and tactics used, and I’ve had to do so without a guide, mentor or friend who knew how to navigate these waters.

As a woman who pursues Jesus, I long for every part of my life to be integrated into His way. This does not mean ignoring the difficult aspects, it means pursuing Jesus with every thought, behavior and action. As women, we must create spaces to talk and walk with one another with these questions. We must allow room for conversation around challenging topics and build a healthy image of sex, sexuality and self. As we become holistic in our walk with Jesus, we must not ignore our sexuality.

Here it is, women, we must come clean! come out! and speak of our struggle, ideas, hopes, dreams and feelings in regards to our sexuality. We must initiate conversation with trusted friends and be a trusted friend who creates places of safety to discuss the joys of a great sex life in marriage, the struggle with physical choices made, as well as the difficulty of desire deferred for those choosing to wait. So here goes, a blog I’d never thought I’d write, but an issue with which so many women with whom I come in contact struggle. So come out! Come clean and speak freely!

If you are female, do you have a place to talk about sex, singleness, sexuality in marriage and living a life that pursues Jesus in these areas?

With what questions do you wrestle?

How have you dealt with desire, waiting, shame, struggle or even not wanting to have sex with your husband because you’ve been brought up to believe that sex is bad?

10 thoughts on “Women, following Jesus and Sex

  1. Cari
    So crazy to see this post today. Our bible study group just read the book “Weird: Because Normal isn’t Working” together. We met last night to discuss and spent a lot of time talking about the section in the book on sex and how as women there is this “don’t have sex, it’s bad, it’s against what God wants…oh, okay now you’re married, become sexual” and the struggle with what does sexuality really look like?? The world has certainly expressed it’s version of sexuality and sexual behavior but what does it look like from God’s perspective? How does God want me to express my sexuality?

    Anyway – interesting discussions for sure!!!

  2. Cari, a friend sent me this and another of your blogs because they hit on what I am struggling with in this moment. I am divorced, came to Christ in 2007 and baptized in 2008, and made the decision after ending my last relationship where we lived together to honor God by staying pure until (if I do) I get married. It was fine until I entered in to another relationship with a great guy who is very understanding of my decision. Unfortunately, we gave in to our desires and I feel sick about it, guilty, like I have destroyed my relationship with God by betraying Him. My boyfriend blames himself but honestly we both allowed the situation. I have told him that it can not happen again but now that I have broken that promise, should I even bother trying to keep it again?

    Thank you for your message and know that your words do touch and impact others.

    1. thanks so much for sharing your journey. I’d love to email back and forth with you if you’d like to talk about anything. In the mean time know that God is not shaming you. Continue to seek Him and He will continue to guide and be with you. You are loved.

      1. I would absolutely love to email! I am the only christian in my immediate family aside from my kids so it’s difficult. Thank you for your words of encouragement through your blogging there have been many times that I had your blog emailed to me and it was exactly what I needed at that time. It took me too long to actually subscribe. You are an inspiration!

  3. Cari – Just saw this pop up on my newsfeed and had to stop and read it before going into a meeting. The meeting is prep for Sex, Dating, & Relationships panel we are doing at Sr High tonight at MVPC. I am moderating the female panel, and I have been prayerfully approaching tonight because of the great misconceptions and misgivings, especially concerning women’s sexuality. Thanks for the virtual pep talk! Can’t wait to see you (and sing with you:-) soon! xo

  4. This post was so interesting to me. What a shame that there are women that think of our God as someone who would want only half of his creation to enjoy sex! What a fun part of life they’re missing out on! That literally broke my heart.

    At the same time, I think there are so many misconceptions within evangelical culture about sex, and I’m really struggling through what I believe about them. As a widow, I’m suddenly faced again with what I believe about singleness and sex, and I’m trying to decide where my convictions lie. The whole idea of “if you wait ’till you’re married, sex will be perfect for you” is such a myth, nowhere in the Bible does it promise that or does it ever say that we can “earn” blessing.

    It is true that as women of God we’re not invited to share about our sexuality. I find that as an American culture women’s sexuality is just a weird thing in general. I have certainly found this to be true as a widow. The topic of widowhood and sexuality seems to be strictly off limits. It seems that suddenly I’m a-sexual. Which is strange, because one day I was enjoying a very meaningful sexual relationship with my husband, then he died suddenly, and now I’m not getting any, so this is a very real part of my grief, and it’s something that I have no space to talk about.

  5. Hi. Hope you’re still out there. I’m married and I have a shakey sexual relationship with my husband (almost 4 yrs). I wasn’t a virgin when we married, but I was determined to get it “right” at least once in my life and managed to not have sex with him before we wed. We’ve struggled ever since. I’m desperately trying to figure out what’s wrong with me. I’ve always kinda wondered if this (original post) is part of my issue. I literally cannot wrap my head around concepts like “my sexuality” or “sex is such a ‘fun’ part of life” or the idea of “enjoying” sex openly or the idea that frequent sex is a good thing or ok. I just feel horrible all the way around. Any comments are greatly appreciated…in my quest to figure out what sex means….

    1. Hi,
      I’m sorry that I’ve not gotten back to you earlier. I can feel your heart ache in the midst of your words. Your relationship with sex and your understanding of it is an important part of your understanding of your feminity and your intimacy with your spouse. What do you see as your greatest road block? Sex is a gift. It is not a shame. But often history tells us we must be ashamed of our sexuality.
      What is it in your story that first tell you that? Where did you first encounter sex and build your relationship with and attitude towards sex?
      These would be questions to explore.
      Thanks for sharing your heart. Please feel free to dialogue this out with me

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