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?