Friday, April 15, 2011

Christian women and sexuality

Some years ago I struck up a friendship with one of the women, unfortunately now deceased, who volunteered at the welcome center at my church. She was an attractive, friendly divorcee, had two daughters and worked in the health field.

During our second or third conversation, she wistfully confided to me, "I've been celibate for four years" -- obviously, not liking that -- and a part of me out of compassion felt like giving her what I knew she wanted. (Of course, the Biblical prohibition against sex outside of marriage kept me from trying to seduce her, not that I would have been successful anyway.)

I attend a lot of Christian singles events, these days dominated by folks in their 40s and older and probably a majority divorced, which means they have experienced sexual intimacy in a way that I haven't (though I admit to having occasionally crossed some lines that I shouldn't have). And probably most of them, including the women, "want it."

I was fortunate to grow up in a church that promoted a healthy view of sexuality -- beautiful if done right but ugly if done wrong. However, many of us didn't, that it's a subject that should be avoided until the proper time -- that is, the wedding night -- which I never understood. And as much as we may want to say differently, there still exists worldwide a cultural double standard that sex is somehow OK for us men but that women should give it only grudgingly. (Perhaps if a woman decided that she actually enjoyed sex for its own sake she may leave her partner if he doesn't satisfy her. While I can't say for sure, I surmise that's the motive behind the euphemism "female circumcision"; in cultures that practice it only the man is apparently supposed to derive pleasure from sex. Trouble is, that's not how God made us.)

And then, there's the issue of true intimacy, what most people, I would say especially women, are seeking but often not finding. Two girls in my childhood denomination, but not my specific church, that I knew fairly well who came from what I now know to be dysfunctional backgrounds became pregnant while still in their teens, one at 14. In the book "Beyond Culture Wars: A Mission Field or a Battlefield?", author Michael Horton noted that one out of every six abortions in the United States happens to an evangelical woman, which also suggests that something else other than "the act" is afoot. That's probably why my heart went out to the woman at the welcome center who expressed her cravings -- I understood what she really wanted.

Once in a while I receive on-line tips on how to get a woman into bed, and today I probably could if I really wanted to. That, however, smacks of exploitation, which I don't believe is how a truly strong man should operate -- he should focus on what he can give to, not get from, a woman. Last year I wrote about the late Teddy Pendergrass' performance of the 1978 song "Close the Door," which I didn't realize then but understand now is about true intimacy in the context of a committed relationship, hopefully marriage. God help me to "man up."

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