Clergy, Christian parents, and all those who view sex as sacred are appalled and/or outraged. Condemning the movie as "smut" and "filth," they proclaim that movies like this "send the wrong message about sex." I agree. But I have a question for those of us who understand the importance of living by biblical principles in regard to sex: Are we sending the right message?
Last year, I was asked to do the middle school sex talk at a Christian school. In recent years, the school had brought in representatives from a local faith-based pregnancy center to give "the talk." The teachers complained that the agency's presentation was from a primarily negative point of view. The speakers warned the young pubescents about the dangers of teen pregnancy and STDs and went into graphic detail about all the horrifying things that can happen to our body parts if we don’t follow God’s commandments.
Sadly, that was the primary message many of these kids were getting at home and church as well.
A fresh, more positive approach was needed, the teachers said. So I was asked to give "the talk." I had done many talks before at the school as a drug and alcohol preventionist. I did not follow the popular "Just Say No" theme. Rather, I focused on what the kids needed to say yes to--positivity, integrity, healthy relationships, a healthy sense of self-worth, and bringing honor to God.
I eagerly accepted the challenge of addressing the topic of sex. Those kids will never be the same. In fact, I'm reasonably sure the teachers will never be the same.
I gave no warnings or disclaimers. I came right out of the gate with this:
I LOVE sex!
Sex is one of the most awesomely amazing gifts God has ever given!
There is nothing in the world I would rather do than have sex with my wife!
The color drained from every adolescent's face. Eyes glazed over. Mouths fell open with nothing coming out. I thought for a moment that one of the teachers would need CPR--all indications that mine was not a message they were familiar with.
I know I never heard such things when I first starting pondering sex as a child while perusing the intimates section of the Sears Wish Book. Most parents from my generation avoided the topic like the plague. That’s why schools had to pay people to come in and tell kids what the parents didn’t want to talk about. If my friends' parents dared to broach the subject with them I'm reasonably sure the words awesome and amazing were not part of the conversation.
The directive given by parents from my generation, and often reinforced at church and school, was a classic mixed message: Sex is dirty and wrong. Save it for the one you love. Is it any wonder we’re all in therapy?
I've gone to church my entire life (spanning over a half-century) and I never once heard a sermon about sex being a beautiful, pleasurable gift from God. Honestly, I'm surprised Song of Solomon is still in our pew Bibles. I would have thought that, by now, someone would have come up with a sanitized, PG-rated version of Scripture that goes straight from Ecclesiastes to Isaiah.
Your breasts are like two fawns, the twins of a gazelle (Song of Solomon 7:3, NCV)? I don't remember ever getting a gold star in Sunday School for memorizing that verse. (And by the way men, don’t ever tell your wife her breasts are like twins of a gazelle. It won't get her in the mood. Trust me, I know.)
I talked to the kids very openly in the classroom that day about what God intended sex to be. And, only after presenting sex for what it truly is—a pleasing present from our Creator meant to be enjoyed--did we talk about the boundaries God has put around sex; boundaries given not because He is a prude and doesn't want His followers to have any fun, but so that His incredible gift can be enjoyed to the full.
To illustrate my point, I brought with me into the classroom a little plug-in fake fire. You see, kids (and men) are all about visual aids. I turned the fire on and enlightened the students about the benefits of being around a fire; that sitting in front of a fireplace makes us feel cozy and warm; that fire illuminates everything in proximity in a beautiful golden hue; that it brings a sense of satisfaction and contentment.
But then I shared that those benefits can only be enjoyed if we keep the fire in the fireplace. That it is only when a fire is in the confines of a fireplace that it is beneficial and safe and enjoyable.
The reality is, when we take the fire out of the fireplace it can burn our house down. Our Heavenly Father, out of His great love for His kids, places similar boundaries around sex.
By God’s grand design, sex is meant to make us feel cozy and warm. It is illuminating. The sexual act has incredible physical and emotional benefits as it brings two people together in the most loving and intimate way. But take sex out of the confines of marriage and it can be raging and destructive. It is no longer safe. It ceases to serve its God-designed purpose. It can burn our lives down.
Hollywood is not bashful in presenting boundary-less sex as the secret to true happiness and contentment. Millions have fallen for that lie and and have been burned.
The opening this weekend of Fifty Shades of Grey will rile up a lot of believers. But rather than protest what we're against, how about we promote what we're for? Let's cut through the shame that often blankets this subject and speak more openly about what sex is meant to be. Let's seize the opportunity to talk to our kids about sex being a beautiful, pleasurable, awesomely amazing gift from God, designed to be enjoyed to the full in the context of marriage.
Lord knows we're getting inundated with wrong messages about this subject. Let's openly promote the right message.