By Joe Wilkie
Warning: The following article addresses a very mature subject and uses the mature terms that go along with it.
It has caused the rise and fall of the world’s most powerful people, been at the forefront of billion dollar industries, contributed to both happy marriages and hateful divorces, been used in thousands of movies and talked about in millions of songs, and yet the church refuses to talk about it. What is it?
The dreaded “four-letter word” that is spelled with three: SEX.
I can probably count on one hand the number of times I heard this word in the church growing up. And I can count on no fingers (0) the number of times I heard the words ‘masturbation,’ ‘orgasm,’ ‘penis,’ ‘vagina,’ ‘sexual pleasure,’ and the like. You would think those words were banned by Christianity. As I grew older, questions formed on topics such as fornication, homosexuality, transgenderism, and pornography. But people in the church were too busy calling those things “gross perversions” to actually listen to the questions and have an open dialogue.
The church’s stigma surrounding sexual sins didn’t help me too much as a 12-year-old boy who was quickly becoming addicted to porn. Where was I to turn to seek help in the struggle? Twelve felt like such a young age to be dealing with this, so something must be wrong with me. And I was supposed to be a good baptized boy, not a porn addict. Does that mean I’d go to hell if I died? What would everyone else think if they found out?
In reality, statistics dictate that at least two out of every three men in my church were struggling with it as well, and four out of every five men ages 18-30.
And yet, I felt alone in my struggle, petrified to tell anyone at my church lest I be seen as a pervert. Why? Because Christianity, specifically the church of Christ, has done a terrible job with anything have to do with sexual education. The taboo nature of sexual topics and stigma attached to sexual sins keeps boys, girls, men, and women hidden in the darkness feeling completely hopeless.
Sadly, I know most kids in the public schools know every slang term for male and female anatomy by the ripe old age of five, as was the case with the kids on the playground with my brother. I was a “sheltered homeschooler” who was fortunate enough to escape that. But as five-year-olds walk around talking about male anatomy and teenagers get into hardcore porn and twenty-somethings engage in fornication and forty-year-olds have marital issues and sixty-year-olds divorce, the church buries its head in the sand and pretends that sexual sins and extreme marital issues couldn’t possibly affect the church of Christ.
It’s time to wake up.
The hypocrisy of acting as though we don’t struggle in these areas is largely contributing to nearly 70% of our youth leaving. We aren’t real with people in letting them know our struggles and we barely even talk about topics of a sexual nature, so Christian kids and adults have nowhere to turn except Google and the world.
“But wait,” you say, “it isn’t the church’s job to discuss this. That should be the parents’ jobs.” When it comes to overall sexual education, I agree. Parents should be at the forefront of their kids’ sex ed, and unfortunately, I believe many fail in this area. However, the church is tasked with the job of helping fellow Christians get to heaven and helping teach people about God’s view on certain issues. While the public schools, news, and social media tell the youth that homosexuality, transgenderism, fornication, and pornography should be accepted and that God couldn’t possibly condemn people for “loving someone else,” what is the church’s response? Is that really what God thinks? Of course not, but do the kids, teens, and young adults in your church know that? Do they know about what a blessing sex is (in the proper context) and how it’s a holy creation of God?
It’s time to make a change. It’s time to rethink the way we handle sexual topics and sexual sins in the church. So, as a former porn addict and a current happily married professional therapist, I am going to start a series reexamining Christianity’s response to sex, pregnancy, marriage, and the family. In this terrible world that has truly perverted sex, let us stand up and stop pretending that sex is the dirtiest creation of God.