Jesus and Sex: The Good News About Romance, Sexuality and Spirituality (Part One: Introduction)

 “What did you talk about in Sunday school today?” the mother asked her young son. “Sex,” the boy replied. “Really?” said the mother, blushing a bit. “What did you learn?”

“I learned that sex is dirty and sinful,” the boy said, “and that we should save it for someone we love enough to marry.”

This is a joke, of course; but like most jokes, it contains an element of truth.

For most of its history, the Christian church has had an ambivalent relationship with sexuality; and I assume this is probably true for most other religions as well.

On the one hand, the church has always recognized the necessity of sex for procreation; and it has often seen in marriage a symbol of the relationship between God and humanity.

Yet the church has also had a tendency to treat sex as something basically dirty or impure, to be avoided as much as possible.

Even today, the two largest Christian denominations (Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy) teach that sexual acts not “open to the transmission of new life” are sinful, even within marriage!

This ambivalence isn’t the only problem facing the church today.

Indeed, with revelations of widespread sexual abuse among clergy, and a worldwide epidemic of over-population, the church has lost a lot of credibility on issues related to sexuality.

Furthermore, the sexual ethos of much of contemporary America (and Western Europe) could hardly be more at odds with traditional church teaching.

Here we have a culture where pre-marital sex is the norm; where adultery, divorce and out-of-wedlock births are commonplace; where long-term homosexual relationships have the legal status of marriage; where polygamy (now called “polyamory”) is making a comeback; where addictions to pornography are epidemic; where promiscuity is rarely criticized; where the traditional view of gender as a binary is increasingly being challenged; and where many have come to see marriage itself as an archaic institution.

While most people would agree with the church in condemning at least some of the things on this list, we may rightly ask whether the church’s traditional teachings on sexuality are realistic, given the complexities of life in 21st century America.

Even more importantly, many are asking, does Jesus (and by extension, the church) have anything positive to say about sexuality?

Judging by the rhetoric heard in some churches, you would think all Jesus had to say about sex was how bad it is to do it outside of marriage!

I am convinced, however, that Jesus’ true message about sexuality is essentially a positive one. Far from being dirty or a result of the fall, sex is a gift from God to be celebrated!

Unfortunately, not everyone experiences sex as a gift. It’s for this reason, more than any other, that I think it’s so important to know what Jesus really has to say on the subject.

At the heart of Jesus’ teachings is a message of love and liberation that transcends culture and even religion; and this applies to sexuality as much as it does to any other subject! But understanding this message and applying it isn’t always easy.

In my search for a positive Christian message about sexuality, I have used many sources – including Scripture, church tradition (both past and present), and my own spiritual experiences. It’s my hope that by doing so, I can help shed some light on an often confusing and controversial subject.

 

 (Coming Next – Jesus and Sex, Part Two: Procreation or Pleasure? The Primary Purpose(s) of Sexuality)

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4 thoughts on “Jesus and Sex: The Good News About Romance, Sexuality and Spirituality (Part One: Introduction)

      1. That is such an incredibly beautiful photo. I love how the styling totally let’s that beautiful piece speak for itself and the only accessory is really the bold lipstick which looks stunning on her. Great find baeehxxT.erbsa

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