The Missionary Position: A Christian Take on Sex

Christians believe some pretty weird things about sex, right?

That’s certainly what I thought growing up. My caricature Christian was the ascetic, celibate monk that shuddered at the word sex. I thought Christians were anti-sex. My perspective made sense considering my only source of education on Christian belief was The Simpsons and Ned Flanders. But things changed when I became a Christian four years ago. My caricature, along with my opinions, changed as I adopted what real life Christians believed and although some of my current views may seem pretty weird to you, I hope this article is an opportunity to clarify the Christian view of sex. Granted, one article barely scrapes the surface and I don’t intend to cover the entire topic, but what I do hope is that this article lays a foundation for further dialogue.

Jesus, a Eunuch and a Prostitute Walk Into a Bar…

You are deprived without sex.

Perhaps it’s my naïve perspective, but this message is implicit in much of our surrounding culture. We’re often told that if you’re not doing it you’re an unfulfilled human.

Just think of a movie like The 40 Year Old Virgin. It plays on familiar ideas. If you’re a middle aged person who hasn’t had sex, then you must be just a little bit odd. Or if you’re facing a life without sex you have no option but to get some. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not out to condemn the comedic genius that is Steve Carrell. Nor am I putting out a call to burn copies of The 40 Year Old Virgin in Union Court. But what I am hoping is that this movie illustrates the implicit message of our culture: without sex you’re unfulfilled.

Christians take issue with this message.

This issue should not arise from some underlying pious or self-righteous approach to sex, instead, it should find its source in a deep and sincere love for people. Christians believe that you have an inherent worth, irrespective of your sexual experience. Whether you fit on the celibate monk, 40 year old virgin end of the spectrum, or find yourself leaning more towards the David Duchovny, Hugh Hefner end (or anywhere in between for that matter), you possess an inherent worth. When I began to investigate the veracity of the Christian faith, I was shocked by the life and ministry of Jesus. In particular, I was taken back by how Jesus’ love had no racial, cultural or gendered boundaries – it was universal and all-encompassing. And this was no different when it came to sexual experience. On the one hand, Jesus loved and valued eunuchs, people who were definitely not getting under the sheets (Matthew 19: 11-12). But on the other hand, he also valued and loved those who were having lots of sex, like an unmarried woman with a complicated sexual history (John 4: 1-26) and a prostitute (Luke 7: 36-50). Jesus never condones their sexual life; he’s definitely not a supporter of sex outside marriage. Nevertheless, he still acknowledges their inherent worth and loves them irrespective of their sexual experience. So as Christians try to imitate the love Jesus had for others, we necessarily have to push back against the cultural message that sex is somehow tied to the worth of a human. Instead, we believe that a person has worth because they are created by God and are loved by God.
But what then is the place of sex in a Christian worldview? Does it have any value?

What’s Sex Worth?

In early Christianity sex was often hated on. Many church leaders thought that it was a particularly dirty sin. They thought that if you gave up the celibate life it was indicative of moral weakness. Some even argued that celibate marriages were spiritually superior.

Now I and many before me, think these guys got it wrong.

Christians believe God made sex (Genesis 1: 28) for within marriage (1 Corinthians 7: 1-7). So sex definitely shouldn’t be hated on by Christians. I mean for God’s sake, one of the books of the Bible is a steamy ancient love letter (Song of Songs)! The Bible’s claim is that when used correctly, sex is good.

I get it – there are plenty of things you might find unappealing and unconvincing about the Christian take on sex. There are heaps of big issues here I haven’t even mentioned (all of which would need at least a couple of articles to be discussed properly). But what I hope I’ve given you are the essentials of the Christian perspective. And I hope these essentials are a foundation for further dialogue about sex and its place in our culture.