(This is related to my last post, The Myth of the Christian Eunuch)
Like virtually every human being who’s ever walked the planet, Christians are insane about sex. Some people would even argue that Christians are particularly insane about sex. My friend Dan is one such person.
“Look at the gay issue,” said Dan to me just the other day while I was trying to get him to either change the subject or pick up the check. “You take Christians out of that arena, and you’ve got no fight at all. Christians don’t seem to worry about anything as much as they do who’s having sex with who.”
“Whom,”I said. “Who’s having sex with whom.”
“They worry about gays having sex,” continued Dan obliviously. “They worry about premarital sex. They’ve got this whole Sexual Purity, ‘I’m saving myself for Daddy’ creepiness happening. Christians’ whole thing seems to be about repressing anything having anything to do with sex. Especially in themselves. And then they act all surprised when people like Ted Haggard and Jimmy Swaggart happen. Do you think I don’t see you inching the bill towards me?”
So I think it’s clear: I need to make new, less observant friends.
But let’s think about this idea that Christians have for so long been so intent on repressing their own and everyone else’s sexuality that what they’ve grown to adapt is a profoundly unhealthy orientation toward sex and sexuality generally.
Well, I think Christians do have a very serious problem with sex, and for a very good reason: Nobody can have sex without utterly losing control of themselves.
For most people, that’s a frightening enough prospect: Everyone prides themselves on the degree of control they keep over their lives and themselves. And sex is the one thing that’s 100% guaranteed, every single solitary time, to … well, cause you to at the very least shudder whilst making funny faces. When you have sex, you really do become an animal—and an exceptionally stupid animal, at that. So everyone’s crazy about sex, because everyone knows that sex is always right there, just waiting for the chance to obliterate the control over their mind and body that they like to think they have over themselves. It’s an extremely terrifying force, that way.
And that’s just the normal, everyday reason for which humans obsess on repressing sexuality. Christians have a humongous additional reason for fearing and repressing sex. As one good Christian commenter on my last blog put that reason: “Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.”
And there you have it: the reason behind 2,000 years of Christian sexual repression, boiled down to eight words. Christians equate being filled with the Holy Spirit with being Godly in nature and behavior. And being Godly in nature and behavior is the direct opposite of being the humping, grunting, out-of-control animal that every Christian invariably becomes whenever he or she has sex.
So Christians are stuck with this extremely troubling formulation for their existence:
Being sexual = being an animal = not being filled with the Holy Spirit = betraying God. But:
Being human = being sexual. Therefore:
Being human = betraying God.
Yikes! What Christian wants to actively and purposefully betray God? Not one. So what do each of we Christians do? We try to control our sexuality. We try to be bigger than our sexuality. We try, through the exertion of our sheer will, to dominate our sexuality.
And—the vast and lucrative Christian “You Can Rise Above Your Sexuality” industry notwithstanding—we find, in the privacy of our own mind, that we can no sooner repress our lustful, animalistic sexuality than we can control how often we blink every day.
But, ever “faithful” (not to mention spurred on by the terrible guilt that is such an awful part of the Christian experience) we keep on trying to control our sexuality—and we keep on failing at it. And what do we do then? We hide that failure. We pretend we’ve proven victorious in the war against our sexuality. We pretend we’ve risen above it, that we’re past that, that we’re better than that. We pretend we’re more Christ-like than that.
And then we’re living a lie.
Which means we’re then involved in what we should understand as some serious sinning.
Now, what was that one big thing that Christ said, again?
Oh, that’s right: “The truth will set you free.”