By Frank Powell
Things aren’t always as they seem. Take Prince Hans in the movie Frozen, for example. That fool pretends to be a charming, stand-up guy. And when Anna needs him most, Prince Hans pulls an Okie-Doke on her, leaving her for dead. What a jerk.
I seriously think I threw my couch pillow at the TV the first time I saw it. My wife then stared at me with a look like, “Did you really just throw a pillow at the TV over a cartoon movie?”
I was slightly embarrassed. But I don’t regret my actions.
Hollywood has built an industry on the “Prince Hans Principle” (yeah, I just made that up). Movies will paint a character one way, then drop the bombshell. But let’s be honest. Hollywood doesn’t hold the rights to this principle. Unfortunately, things aren’t always as they seem in the real world either. This is true of people, political and social ideas, and everything in between.
If you grew up in Christian culture, the “Prince Hans Principle” applies to many things, but it especially applies to sex. I remember the first time someone told me sex was a gift from God. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to slap them for insulting God or cry because they might actually be right. In the days and weeks that followed, I started to realize sex was a gift from God.
And it changed everything.
You see, I always thought sex was from Satan. Christians just borrowed it for pro-creation or something. But the more I talked to other people and studied Scripture, the more I realized things weren’t as they seem.
Today, I see sex as a beautiful, powerful gift from God. But getting to this point wasn’t easy. And I still have baggage from the years of lies I had to destroy. Some (or maybe most) of these lies I acquired from my Christian culture. Others I picked up from Hollywood, friends, etc.
Regardless, here are seven lies Christians believe about sex.
1.) SEX IS DIRTY, NASTY AND ONLY USEFUL FOR PRO-CREATION.
So, what if I told you sex is a gift from God? I know. That destroys the foundation of your understanding of sex. But it’s true. Sex isn’t dirty and nasty. And its purpose isn’t solely to keep the world populated.
But, for most Christians, sex is like that annoying family member. You know the one. God didn’t bless him (or her) with qualities like self-awareness. But he has a double portion of obnoxiousness. You dread family gatherings because the annoying family member will be there. But it’s your family. So, what choice do you have?
Sex and Christians have a similar relationship. We seem to tolerate sex because it is necessary to carry on the family name. But aside from that, it has no real purpose. So, we just deal with it. Because, well, we have to.
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What if Christians embraced sex as a gift from God? What if the church viewed sex as a gift to be enjoyed by two people within the covenant bond of marriage? What if the church encouraged married people to explore sex? What if the church taught and discipled single people to see sex as a form of enjoyment and pleasure instead of the annoying family member no one wants to be around?
We might just build anticipation and excitement around God’s design for sex. Maybe single people would want to know more about this gift. And maybe they would share their current sexual struggles because they want to enjoy God’s gift … God’s way.
2.) CASUAL SEX IS FUN AND INNOCENT. EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT.
So, golf is fun. White water rafting is fun. Sex is … fun? Is that how far sex has fallen in our culture?
Well done, Satan. Let’s give him a hand, guys. He has taken a mysterious, private and extremely powerful gift and turned it into something … fun? Something like golf and white water rafting. Something recreational. Really?
Don’t get me wrong. Sex is fun. But it’s more than a recreational activity. Much more.
And while our schools give condoms to sixth graders, the church does little to raise expectations around sex. It’s almost as though Christians believe it’s better to hand out condoms than teach abstinence.
Look, it’s not a stretch to say marriage in our country is falling apart (at least partly) because sex has lost its mystery. Sex is nothing more than a recreational activity. It’s fun.
Meanwhile, God says sex binds two people together physically, emotionally and spiritually. There’s nothing simple about that. Until sex is seen as a powerful expression of covenant love, wrapped in mystery and complexity, marriages will continue to fall apart.
3.) IT’S OK TO HAVE SEX IF I AM IN LOVE.
In 10th grade, my U.S. History teacher said something I will never forget. “Love is not something you fall in and out of. Love isn’t primarily a feeling. It’s primarily a decision.”
Now, if you are wondering how love and U.S. History are connected, I wonder the same thing. But don’t derail my point.
At the time, I thought my teacher was ignorant. After all, as a 10th grader I had fallen in love several times. But now I see that I was never in love. I was infatuated.
Sex isn’t for two people who are “in love.” Sex is for two people who are married. Two people committed to one another for the duration of their earthly lives. If you and your “boo” are madly in love, get married. If you can’t get married because you are 15, trust God’s eternal plan for sex is better than your present one.
Sex outside of God’s design will always be a source of brokenness because it’s for people who are married, not people who are “in love.”
4.) IF I REMAIN PURE BEFORE MARRIAGE, GOD WILL REWARD ME WITH GREAT SEX.
Yeah, I thought this before I was married. And it’s not that the statement was made explicitly. But somehow I concluded it. And I have talked to other Christians who concluded the same thing. So, there must be something in the church water.
I am going to be real. Five years of marriage has taught me that sex is hard work. Yes, it’s pleasurable. But if you believe angels are going to sing “Hallelujah!” while fireworks cascade around you the first time you have sex, prepare for disappointment.
So, why save yourself for marriage? Because it throws out any chance for comparison or emotional residue. It frees you and your current (or future) spouse to explore sex without baggage.
That’s worth the wait. I promise.
5.) IF I HAVE SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE, I AM TAINTED FOREVER.
The church has implicitly (and explicitly) taught this for decades. And it’s not true. Yes, it is God’s desire for every man and woman to enter marriage without a sexual past. But it’s also God’s nature to take even the worst scenario and make it beautiful.
So, if you made mistakes sexually, God can and will forgive you. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, God can and will heal you. Don’t believe the lies you hear. You can still be used by God. You can still have a marriage that flourishes, and you can still enjoy sex with your current (or future) spouse.
But you must let go of shame and trust God’s power to completely forgive you.
6.) IF I THINK ABOUT SEX, I AM WRONG.
God created you with sexual desires. And he doesn’t expect you to suppress them. He expects you to control them. And, again, the church’s failure to address sex gives Satan an open door.
God expects you to control your sexual desires, not suppress them. I will be the first to say lust is sin. Jesus makes it cut and dry (Matt. 5:28-29). But almost every teaching I hear on lust begins and ends like this:
“Lust is wrong. Don’t do it. Let’s pray.”
What the church needs to do is differentiate between lust and sexual desire. Lust is desiring something that is not yours. Lust is looking at another human being more as a piece of meat than a creation of God.
Sexual desire, however, is natural and healthy. It must be controlled. Of course. But it’s natural. So, don’t suppress your sexual desires. If you do, don’t expect to turn them on when you get married. At the same time, don’t give in to your sexual desires. Pray for self-control. Have an accountability group. Talk to someone you know and trust. But don’t give in.
7.) HAVING SEX IS A MORE SIGNIFICANT SIN THAN PORN, MASTURBATION OR LUST.
This was my attitude as a teenager and young adult. I knew sex was wrong. And I thought that having sex outside of marriage would result in God turning me into a gnome or something.
So, how might a teenager afraid of becoming a gnome keep himself from having sex? Use other means to “release” what I thought was uncontrollable sexual desire.
“What’s the problem, Frank? That sounds like a great idea?”
Yeah, except it’s not.
Going back to Jesus, he says, “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matt 12:34). What is Jesus really saying here? Your external actions are just an overflow of your heart’s desires.
So, having sex is simply an outpouring of a heart and mind filled with lust and impure thoughts. There is no distinction between adultery (having sex) and porn, masturbation or lust (other means). What matters is the condition of your heart.
The goal for Christian purity isn’t physical abstinence as much as it is a heart free from impurity and lust.
Sex is a beautiful gift God gives to married couples. The church must create space for healthy discussions about sex. This will be awkward, yes. But until Christians understand the mystery and power of sex, we will continue to be plagued by skewed expectations and broken lives.
About the Author: Frank Powell is a devoted follower of Christ, college/young adult minister, husband to
@tiffanipowell, dad to Noah and Micah, avid blogger/writer, sports fan. You can follow him on twitter here and read more blogs here!