[Guest Post by Lisa Velthouse] – Should we talk about sex?
If so, when?
And what is OK to say, and what isn’t?
And what, oh what, would our youth pastors think if they heard us now?
Christians in a dating and marrying world are typically aware that the Bible’s teaching on sex reserves it for a married husband and wife.
They are often also aware that the Bible celebrates married sex unabashedly.
Song of Songs, anyone?
As to the practical implications of all that, however, the clarity quickly fades into big questions and big confusion.
But let’s get our grounding here, and begin by remembering that the Bible is not about sex. The Bible teaches about sex and talks about sex, and we all would be wise to listen and obey its teaching. But what the Bible is aboutis not a what.
It is about who.
About Jesus, the perfect one who died under the complete weight of our sinfulness. About God, whose love was and is the engine for total forgiveness and joy. About anybody and everybody else, whom God loves and whom Jesus died for and whom didn’t and can’t and won’t deserve it.
Sex is a secondary issue at best. But that doesn’t mean sex isn’t worth talking about.
In fact, talking about sex is one way to dig out from the confusion, questions, frustration, and guilt that often surround this issue. Here are four ways to talk about sex before getting engaged.
1. Talk with God.
It has to start here. Ask for his strength to help you be obedient and to find joy in obedience, and for his grace to forgive you in your disobedience. Get to know the good news of his love, and understand that it means no obedience can bring you any more deserving of him, and no disobedience can make you out of his reach.
2. Talk with a trusted friend within the Church.
Have someone in your life who knows the gritty details of your life, including what role sex has played in it. It’s probably ideal that this person be of the same gender.
Admit your failures and be honest about temptation.
Ask the friend to encourage you in the gospel, reminding you that obedience is beautiful and that God is not surprised by the presence of sin in any person.
3. Talk with the person/people you’re dating or considering dating.
Yes, talk from the very beginning. Agree together that God’s plan for sex is best, and work toward obedience in that direction. From experience, in this phase of a relationship it helps to talk minimally about sex. Treat it as something that is genuinely off the table for the time being.
Focus on other ways to connect: communication, affection, conflict resolution, time together. If your relationship moves to marriage, those connecting points will be part of what promotes a great sex life for life.
Note: If you can’t agree together upon the importance of honoring God’s plan for sex, then, biblically speaking, you have bigger issues to deal with, and they’re about things far more foundational than sex.
God’s authority and goodness, for starters.
4. Talk with the person you’re engaged to.
Now you know that sex is going to be a part of the picture, so begin looking in that direction as you prepare more and more for an actual marriage.
Practice celebrating the idea that sex is for marriage: looking ahead together and gearing up for the lifetime of experiences that will be uniquely yours. Encourage each other in obedience; this discipline will be useful and beneficial for the entire life of your relationship. Begin talking about specifics, not to experiment prematurely but to hone your expectations together and to anticipate serving each other selflessly.
Look forward to what the two of you don’t yet have—the waiting is a bliss worth relishing.
Lisa Velthouse is the author of Saving My First Kiss and the 2010 memoir Craving Grace. Formerly Brio magazine’s “Brio Girl” and columnist, she has also been a contributor at RELEVANTmagazine.com, Christianity Today, and other venues. Lisa is a Marine Corps wife and a new mom living in Southern California. Find her at lisavelthouse.com, at her Facebook fan page, and on Twitter: @LisaVelthouse.
[Photo: Grace E. Jones, Flickr]