Posted 15/6/07

Sex! The world’s favourite topic of conversation – certainly the internet’s – and something that, as a man, some would have you believe I think about every 3 seconds I’m awake (I don’t by the way… a fact that would no doubt gladden those whose offspring I teach for a living…). Now, the interest generated by naked pics of Jude Law or the Paris Hilton sex tape suggest that there are those whose sex lives the world at large very much want to know about. I am not one of them. Therefore, out of consideration for my wife and you, the reader (hello mum and dad!), I will spare any gory details whilst considering how, as a Christian (andybeingachristian, remember), the world’s and our own fascination with sex can be reconciled and harnessed to some sort of usefulness.

So, for any beginners here, sex is a good gift from God (he didn’t have to make reproduction fun!) useful for furthering the species and bonding two people in intimacy within the stable and consecrated framework of marriage. Hooray. Were everyone playing to the rules the world would be a very different place, albeit one somewhat lacking in the staples of teen pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, rape, infidelity with subsequent divorce and damaged children, heartbreak, insecurity, body dysmorphia and all the social problems therefore arising… But, let’s get one thing out of the way. Those who have known me for the decade that I was with Nina prior to being married would be quite right in not letting this hypocrisy stand were I not to acknowledge that we weren’t exactly shining examples ourselves of how to save yourself for marriage. Without dwelling too much on the fact and upsetting anyone along the way (still here mum and dad?!) I would like to offer the following observations:

a. We were different then. Whilst, to my eternal relief, God didn’t appear to forget about me, there were times when I certainly seemed keen on forgetting about him. Only having joined CCB would I ever claim that my adult walk with God was anything more than half-hearted. There is little to be gained by nailing ourselves to metaphorical crosses for those sins we commit before we are right with God (or afterwards I know, but we do have a greater obligation to try and sort ourselves out at that point!). Jesus already did the real thing – to far greater effect.

b. It was wrong. I don’t feel like we got away with it, or that the end justifies the means. For a start it was probably a large reason why our Christian walk spent so long in the spiritual ‘Dry Spell Institute’ prior to joining CCB. That’s not to say it couldn’t have been worse sin-wise (theologically suspect I know, but still). I have only ever been with my wife – the woman I intend to spend my life with. That is significantly preferable to having put it about the neighbourhood! However, had you asked in years gone by why we weren’t married, we would have informed you that we weren’t ready for that level of commitment, either practically or emotionally. It was deceitful of us then to imagine we were ready physically. It was a case of writing a cheque we couldn’t yet cash. In terms of our witness to non-Christian friends, the discrepancy between the walk and the talk (behaviour and faith claimed) was very much noted and a significant bushel to our lamp…

c. Marriage has been a real blessing. Everything has been better once married, and it is no co-incidence that our married years have seen us return to God’s fold with a happy heart. Only once we were married did we really feel blessed as a couple by the sexual aspect of our relationship… Hats off to those couples for whom the wedding night must truly be the most exciting and well-deserved prospect of their lives!

d. God uses sin, even whilst condemning it. As I wrote on Monday, God is in no way constrained by the wrongdoings of man when it comes to His plans. Paul writes that ‘what God has joined together, let man not separate’, whilst Perks has spoken of the pain caused when humans try to wrench apart the superglue of a sexual bond. We were very aware of our responsibility to follow through on our premature actions – and took care never to lightly be parted. Where other unmarried couples may have accepted defeat we, quite frankly, have fought and worked for our relationship more than anyone else I know in order to bring it the point of happy marriage that I firmly believe God intended us to reach. God never authorised our sinful behaviour, but He certainly used it to keep us together.

Right… that’s some long-winded ‘not dwelling on it’. Let’s hastily return to the matter of the world. Western society has sex on the brain. There’s no doubt about it. Let’s take breasts, for example. They appear to be used to advertise everything from insurance to toothpaste. They appear to be utilised in promotion of every film, television programme and play in London. They are on every magazine and newspaper on every shelf – that’s men’s and women’s mags – in every shop, not to mention on the side of every bus. And that’s before we even get to the internet… where two clicks of the mouse in front of me could unleash a torrent of pornography beyond the comprehension of most in humanity’s long and varied history.

Enough is enough, surely? Never mind the church – is there anyone left in the world who truly believes this is a good idea?? We vilify the sex offender, but titillate him at every turn. We preach respect and equality between sexes to girls, but forbid them to walk 100 yards without being confronted by an airbrushed image of an idealised girl in underwear, against whom she’s going to be judged by society at large. We urge sexual responsibility to the young, whilst bombarding them with a message of promiscuity and ready nymphomania in all they watch or read. Here is truly where the visitor from the ‘less civilised’ world rubs their eyes and wonders which they’ve entered – Sodom or Gomorrah… again surely enough is enough?!

Yet in this mess of a sexually super-charged society we find perhaps our best chance to show ourselves as something different, perhaps even something better. The way we (and I’m speaking from a man’s perspective here) conduct ourselves among the landmines of sexualised convention, compared to how little the world expects of us, will be noticed more than almost anything else short of shouting ‘I’m saved!’ from the office window. To be the one who abstains from an office game of ‘Who would you rather…?’, the one who doesn’t read the lad-mags, the one who doesn’t loudly voice their desire to bed whichever celebrity is being discussed or comment on the anatomy of a female colleague, the one who doesn’t boast of ‘getting lucky’ on a first date… these things will be noticed by those around us and may well be appreciated, particularly by women sick of being compared like slabs of meat whilst being pressured into pretending it’s all the best thing ever.

No-one wants to see a Christian tut-tutting and shaking their head in judgement at the way another is living, but we can nonetheless withhold our endorsement of sexual misbehaviour, if only by doing something different ourselves. Believe me, I am not, never have been, nor will I ever be, perfect – Nina would be the first to point it out. But I refuse to surrender to my lesser nature, and neither should anybody else. ‘I couldn’t help myself’ is the most pathetic phrase a man can speak, and it’s spoken all the time to excuse every different level of infidelity by men cosy in the knowledge their society will condone such an abdication of self-control. We are better than animals and, contrary to popular belief, our world is crying out for fidelity, faithfulness and respect. They would certainly go a long way towards restoring faith in the church as whole.


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