Sex is one of God’s better ideas. The mosquito is a bad idea, but sex is a really good one. The way that attraction works with all five senses getting in on the game is fabulous. The whole variety of courtship rituals, seduction, wooing, intimacy, orgasm, and the drive to cling to each other after the act, it’s all wonderful and powerful and terrific.
Which is why sex can get so messed up.
When sex (or withholding sex) is used to dominate, control, or manipulate; when sex is used as a substitute for relationship, or to avoid boredom, or to prove a point; when sex becomes casual, meaningless or pointless, it loses power, pleasure and purpose.
This is probably not the introduction to an essay on sexual morals that you expect to hear from a pastor, but here we go.
Most people think that the Bible is anti-sex and that’s simply not true. The Bible is filled with people having sex with each other, in more and in less appropriate situations. When people are having sex with the wrong people (as in King David making it with his best general’s wife Bathsheeba) or not having sex with people they should be (read about Onan’s refusal to do his duty by his dead brother’s wife in Genesis 38) bad consequences tend to happen.
The Bible does remind us to not have sex with people who are in committed relationships with others. That’s not because sex is wrong, but because it’s powerful and that power can break up people’s promises, their homes and their lives. Likewise “coveting” a person, allowing ourselves to become obsessed with someone when we or the other person are promised elsewhere, only causes pain.
Some in the straight community still believe that declaring ourselves LGBTQ means that we have thrown off biblical or societal mores regarding sex and that, as a result, our community is more promiscuous, casual and risky with our sexual practices. Generally speaking, I believe that our community is more conscious about sexual health and safer sex practices than our straight brothers and sisters, but mores and expectations about sex vary widely among us.
Rather than moralize about when sex is right or wrong, I think it’s more useful to ask if our sex practices are as powerful and purposeful as they can be. For example, we can ask, “Am I and the person to whom I am attracted free of promises to others which, if broken, are going to cause heartache down the line?” “Is the person with whom I want to share sexual intimacy in a moment a person with whom I want to share emotional intimacy over time?” Finally, “Am I using sex to avoid or obtain something better achieved by a different strategy?”
Sex is one of God’s better ideas and it’s one of God’s greatest gifts. When used to strengthen and deepen a relationship, it’s a gift that continues to grow. The next time you have great sex, thank God and cherish your partner. That’s what sex is for.
About Rev. Jennifer Yocum
Jennifer Yocum is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ serving as a Pastor in Forest Grove, Oregon. She is a writer, musician, singer-songwriter, kayaker and, conforming to stereotype, a former softball player who likes to wander the aisles of Home Depot while wearing comfortable shoes.