Christian teaching on sex should be more than “don’t do it”

Christian teaching on sex should be more than “don’t do it”

I fear that many people think that the Christian teaching on sex is “it is bad, don’t do it”. After all, many of the public statements from Christian sources on this topic are to oppose something that doesn’t fit the Biblical ideal. There are many “thou shall nots” when it comes to Christian teaching about sex.

This idea is reinforced by the fact that many churches rarely speak about love and sex from the pulpit. These issues are discussed in marriage counselling and sometimes in training events, but seem to be less prominent in preaching programmes. Many Christian households also avoid speaking about sex to their children due to embarrassment or cultural reasons, leaving the children to then work things out for themselves.

Where do young people get their information about sex from? The school system does teach on this topic, but mainly in terms of biology and how not to get pregnant or catch a disease. The message the school delivers is “you can sleep with whoever you want, just make sure you both agree and are safe about it”. Schools are not the only source of information, however. Many just search on the internet to find answers and unfortunately discover either pornography or other encouragements to do whatever feels good. In the absence of strong, compelling Christian teaching on sex, the world is discipling our children into a view that is destructive for them and society as a whole.

If you’ve never spoken to your children about love and sex, please do! I find that parents are the ones who are embarrassed about speaking of these things; the kids are not. It is part of your responsibility to prepare them well for the world we live in.

I have recently started a sermon series in my church on the book of Song of Songs. I asked how many people in the room had ever heard a sermon series on this book; the result was around 10%. There were many in the room who had been in churches for decades and heard a great deal of Christian teaching, but this book seems neglected in the modern church. It wasn’t always this way. In fact, Song of Songs was one of the most popular books to preach and write on in the medieval period.

Song of Songs is a love poem. It catches our attention for its dramatic metaphors, but the message at the heart of this book is simple and powerful. Love and sex are great gifts from God in the right setting. There is joy to be found in marriage and love. And this joy, these great gifts, are a pointer to a greater love, of Christ for his church. When we understand the power of the gifts of love and sex, we will understand that the church teaches a much higher view of sex than the wider culture does. More than just recreation, it is something that unites married people and helps us to understand the deep love Jesus has for us.

That’s something the church should teach more often! If we show people the danger of using God’s gift poorly, we should also present a vision for using it well. No-one is that excited by a list of “thou shall nots”. Yet a vision of faithful relationships which bring joy and passion is compelling. This reminds us of the covenant God who has faithfully loved his people and continues to do so.