Let's Talk About Sex

In 1991, Cherly James and Sandra Denton, also known as Salt-n-Pepa, released a song titled, "Let's Talk About Sex." In the opening stanza, they recorded, "Let's talk about sex for now to the people at home or in the crowd. It keeps coming up anyhow. Don't decoy, avoid, or make void the topic. Cuz that ain't gonna stop it. Now we talk about sex on the radio and video shows. Many will know anything goes. Let's tell it how it is, and how it could be. How it was, and of course, how it should be."

Cherly and Sandra aren't licensed therapists or Christian counselors, but they, like others, have a propensity to talk about and experience those things related to sex. And understandably so. We are sexual creatures (Gen. 1:28). The issue, therefore, is not that we want to talk about sex. Rather, when discussed in its appropriate context, the issue (or question) is, "What is being conveyed when we talk about sex?" 

Unfortunately, even well-meaning Christians do not discuss physical union appropriately. Many are merely taught, "Don't do it until you're married." Or they hear, "If you have sex outside of its proper context, you might get pregnant or inherit an S.T.D." "You'll bring shame to our family," some have heard. "It's sin outside of marriage," people are told.

Within this stream of thought, sex is defined purely by its prohibition or the devastating realities that occur when it is not conducted in its proper context (i.e., marriage). When we define sex on these conditions, not only are we under-developing  the fullness and beauty of sex, but essentially sex becomes nothing more than law.  "Don't touch, don't taste, don't look." This, according to the apostle Paul, in conjunction with our sinfulness, will only produce in us every reason to disobey and conduct ourselves in an inappropriate manner (Rom. 7:8).

We, therefore, need more than prohibition. We need the gospel. Apart from the resulting grace of the gospel and its specific application in this area, we have no equipping power to do the things that we, as Christians, are required to do, sexual purity included. For those with children, you understand. The moment you tell your young child, "Do not touch," it is the very thing she wants to do. She needs more than law. Indeed, the law is good, but she needs the power to obey it. 

I believe we must say more about sex than, "Don't touch or don't taste." Comparatively, the world preaches a much more appealing message. Watch enough television commercials, look at several billboards, or browse the internet long enough and their message is striking. Although the world elevates sex to deity, they provide a much fuller understanding of it, albeit wrong, than those who simply say, "Don't touch or don't taste." 

What, then, shall we do?

As a parent, I believe it is my obligation to talk to my children about sex. Many years ago (i.e., before my time), perhaps parent(s) could wait until their children were in their early teenage years. Today, unless children are completely shielded from the world, it seems that we cannot wait this long. I cannot walk through the mall or take a stroll downtown without my daughter (and wife) being bombarded with sexual images. I would much rather, therefore, take a proactive approach and introduce my children to the beauties of sexual union (and sexual desire) at any early age (and continue to develop their understanding as they mature) than take a reactive approach finding myself in a somewhat awkward position having to explain sex when my daughter points to a magazine in the checkout aisle at the grocery store and asks, "What's that?" The Bible has the answers. It is my duty to be as informed as possible on this topic to help my children, and even my wife and I, understand this gift from God.

As a pastor I equally feel, in its proper context (e.g., a Bible study, counseling, etc.), I should talk about sex. Many adults, I am finding out, do not know how to engage this subject with their children or in their marriage. The majority of my pastoral counseling reveals this. Most of my counseling is related to sexual issues (e.g., pre-marial sex, pornography, adultery, withholding sex in marriage, masturbation, answering the question, "What is the purpose of sex?", etc.). 

Whether young or old, parent or single, people have questions about sex. We need to, therefore, talk about it. "Let's talk about sex." If we, as Christians, do not, someone else will. 

Along with the Bible, two books that have been beneficial in this area are, Sex and Money: Pleasures that Leave You Empty and Grace that Satisfies by Paul Tripp. Tripp exposes the reality revolving around sex (and money) as idolatry. He puts sex in an appropriate context that will help us to better understand this gift. Another book that is helpful is Timothy Keller's book, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God. Although the topic is woven throughout his book, he has a chapter explicitly addressing issues related to sex and marriage. While each of these books approaches the topic from different angles, collectively they are helpful in providing insight into this delicate issue in a gospel-saturated manner.

I am still learning, biblically, what God says about sex. It was my naivety on the subject that sparked my desire to know more in accordance to the scriptures. I do not want to talk about sex like Salt-n-Pepa, but I do want to talk about it biblically. In our sexually infested world, it is necessary. And remember, if we do not talk about it, someone else will.