Sex & the Sanctuary 2.0

As I stated a few days ago, I’m back. I have been rejuvenated by wonderful conversations with professors and friends who have made me realize that the only way to work through my thoughts about sex and sexual ethics is to write about it. So, before I get back to the business of writing about it I thought that I would share why I am writing about it. 

I started this blog after hearing a racy spoken-word piece in a sanctuary. Though I was at odds with the words coming out of the artist’s mouth, I was also clear about the fact that if we are going to hear these words what better place to hear them than in the safe space of the sanctuary. I was clear about that fact that the conversations I wanted to have about sex and sexual ethics must be informed by multi-vocal conversation, particularly conversation that acknowledges our humanity and our divinity or spirituality. I believe that in this day and age, our conversations about sex and the sexual ethic that we employ in our lives must come out of critical engagement and reflection and nothing less. This blog will not add to the sugar-coated conversations about sex that I believe are still running rampant in the church. I am not here to wag my finger at anyone having sex either because I am well aware of the ever-increasing population of single Christians having sex. Our conversation won’t start with “No you can’t have sex,” because clearly that hasn’t worked and we all know it. I’m here to talk about the “Yes, No, and the Maybe.” I’m here to treat the topic of sex in the church with the care that it hasn’t been handled with because the previous handlers have been treating people like one-dimensional poster boards and not the three-dimensional, full-bodied like a glass of a good wine, people that we are. And lest you think I’m avoiding what the scriptures have to say about it, I’m not. We will talk about sex in the Bible since that is how the foundation has been set for many of us.

I also want to know the questions that people are asking about sex and sexual ethics. The questions that they haven’t been able to discuss in church for one reason or another. I want to create a safe space where very little is not up for discussion because, if we are a people who believe that God knows all–including our hearts and our struggles as we are wont to say–we ought to be able to communicate with God and each other about sex maturely and openly. All I ask is that you enter this space with an open heart and mind and be respectful of your fellow reader’s opinions. 

Lastly and most importantly, I don’t profess to have all of the answers but I am someone interested in learning what the answers may be with you. 

So, with all that being said, let’s get back to talking about sex and sexual ethics. 

The Prologue

I sat there watching him speak about things one should never speak of in church. Attraction, sensuality, sexuality, passion, love of both the agape and eros kind. I clenched my nonexistent pearls with every word, hoping that he would stop soon. I was in the middle of “Killing Me Softly”, feeling “all flushed with fever and embarrassed by the crowd.” I scanned the room to see if anyone felt as uncomfortable as I did. Was anyone else squirming in their chair or in the pews that ascended to the top of the room? Was anyone wondering whether his words about attraction of all kinds were appropriate to speak in the same space that where we worship God? Who green lit this poem that allowed a man to speak of his feelings toward a woman in any other way but a holy way? I was at odds with myself, wanting to fully embrace his language of love and attraction in this sacred space but also being acutely aware of the fact that this space was sacred. But then I thought: What better place is there for one to deal with all of their natures, both the spiritual and the carnal, but in a sacred space? What safer space is there to take refuge in than in this space? What purer space could there be to talk about these things and not enter into judgment? It is supposed to be in the sanctuary that we can lay our burdens down, right?

There’s a song from the son of a prominent pastor that says, “Why can’t we talk about love?” This was his sentiment after dealing with critiques on why he made a career of singing about “secular” love instead of sacred love–translation R&B over gospel music. Here at “Sex and the Sanctuary” I am going to riff off his question and ask, “Why can’t we talk about sex?” Why can’t we, as the body of Christ, talk about sex?

Let us now talk about sex and…the sanctuary. All are welcome.