I’m tired of destructive messages and lessons about sexuality. The world around me tells women the prettier they are the better their lives will be. It tells them their worth is in “owning your sexuality” which tends to mean the more experience you have the better. We tell women their worth is in what they look like and then bash them for being the self absorbed selfie generation. All of this is frustrating. But what’s more frustrating to me? The destructive messages the church gives young women about sexuality. Messages like the following
“Having sex before marriage is like have multiple people spit in a cup of water and then asking someone you love to drink it.”
“If you aren’t going to wear a one piece bathing suit on the youth trip, you have to wear a tee shirt to cover up.” (Because a woman’s stomach is very distracting. A man’s chest? Not so much)
“Men are visual creatures. They can’t help their thoughts. It’s up to us as their sister’s in Christ to keep them from stumbling.”
“When you and your boyfriend draw up boundaries it’s important that you be the strong one. You have to be the one that enforces them because it’s easier for women to stop than men.”
We need to talk about sexuality better. We need to be able to advocate for purity and abstinence without resorting to tired and cliché gender stereotypes. Women are not more capable than men in controlling sexual desire. If there was ever an area where words needed to be chosen thoughtfully and carefully this would be it. How we talk about sex matters. I can’t speak for men but I can speak for the girl I was, the woman I am now, and the women I know and love.
We are tired
Tired of being treated like objects. It’s not pleasant even if we’re viewed as a “precious object” to be put on a shelf and kept safe from the dirty world. It’s still objectifying. Some of us have made choices. Choices that we may now regret. Or maybe we don’t regret them. Some of us made choices without knowing all the facts because nobody ever bothered to talk to us about our choices expect to say “don’t!” and “wait”.
Some of us didn’t get to make a choice. The choice was taken away from us. And when that choice was taken away from us what did we do? Blamed ourselves. After all he couldn’t help himself. It’s up to us to keep the boundary lines clear.
We lift up an athlete’s decision to wait until marriage while describing the woman who didn’t want him to as a temptress bent on making as many men as possible break their purity vows. We impanel a jury of men to decide which types of yoga pants are appropriate for women to wear in public. We send girls home from school for wearing tank tops because their shoulders are a distraction. We make virginity an idol and worship at its feet.
My worth is not tied to what I do sexually. My worth is bound up in the nail pierced hands and side of Jesus Christ. He saw me, loved me, and called me worthy before I even took a breath. Purity is not a physical marker. It’s a heart condition. Let’s figure out how to talk about it without damaging the hearts and souls of the women in our lives. Teach girls to respect their bodies not for the men in their lives, but for themselves. Teach men they can control their baser urges not for the women in their lives, but for themselves. So both men and women of faith can present themselves as a pleasing sacrifice to God and as a willing temple of The Holy Spirit. Let’s not take the easy cliché ridden way out. Let’s do the hard nuanced work. It’ll be worth it.