I’m Sorry: For Our Silence on Marriage and Sexuality

I’d like, if I may, to enter the conversation about the direction of sexuality in America (especially with the recent SCOTUS decision) with a humble apology.  A bit of plank-removal from our own eye, before we reach for the speck in our neighbor’s.  In hopes that we will be able to move forward with more clarity and purpose, as we begin with repentance.

“First get rid of the plank in your own eye;

then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

Matthew 7:5

 

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I’m sorry.

Not for our biblical convictions on marriage, but for how we, as Christ followers, have failed to fully recognize, claim and walk in the good gift of marriage and sexuality, as God gave it.

This new direction in our sexual ethic as a country didn’t just happen last week.  It started with the failure of the church to stand up for the purity of marriage long ago, on multiple fronts.

As my pastor reminded us last weekend, marriage is a divine covenant.  Not a social contract.  We have shown apathy over convenient divorce, and what that communicates about covenant.  I’m sorry for our lack of conviction over pornography secretly filling minds and destroying marriages in our communities.  The statistics  are unacceptable.

I’m deeply sorry for the ways we’ve seen sexual abuse or struggle, but looked the other way because we didn’t know how to address the hurt, or walk with our brothers and sisters into healing.

And most of all, I’m sorry for how we have not articulated the incredible power, wisdom and spiritual blessing found within the gift of married sex.

For decades the church has let the pursuit of whole and holy marriages slip through her fingers.  We’ve missed the deep spiritual riches that can be mined in the theology of our bodies and the one-flesh union of husband and wife.  The riches that make sexuality make sense and bring families into a place of wholeness and worship of the ONE who created us this way.

We’ve missed the message of the Gospel as God imprinted on our physical bodies.

I’m grieved over this.

As a millennial who grew up in the church her whole life, I got the message that sex is not something we openly talk about or seek to understand inside the four walls of the church.

Abstinence?  Yes.  (I heard that message loud and clear and I’m truly grateful for that witness).

Sex as revelatory, deeply unifying and better than the world advertises?  Not so much.

Through our silence, we unintentionally communicated that sexuality is an “unmentionable” and propagated the lie that sexuality and theology don’t really mix.

This lack of clarity on the significance and goodness of sexuality left me without answers in the face of a new marriage and a changing culture.  Over the past 10 years I’ve searched hard to find truth on the matter, truth that would form my thinking and my living with regards to sexuality.  I will say that as I diligently searched, I found a few great books and speakers who directed me to God’s word on the matter.  I have also learned a great deal from our Catholic brothers and sisters.

As I’ve begun speaking on the topic, I’ve seen firsthand how marriages in the church (both in my generation and even the generations before me) have suffered from the church’s silence on the issue.  Countless women from the baby boomer generation have thanked me profusely for being willing to talk about the beauty and power of sex in a church building.  I’ve honestly been shocked to hear that they have never had these conversations in the church before.  Their eyes and their tone tell me that they’ve lived with questions and hurt, yet knew clearly that the church was not the place to talk about their issues.  And as a result, they paid a price.  The price of broken and empty marriages because they never had the conversation of why sex matters and how to thrive within God’s design.

Our silence has led to the confusion we now face in my generation.  This confusion.

Our silence invited the world to hijack the message that was supposed to be ours to communicate through the beautiful gift of sex:

THE MESSAGE THAT GOD WANTS TO BE ONE WITH HIS PEOPLE.

God wrote that truth on our bodies when He created us man and woman and told us to be fruitful, so that every time a man and woman come together in marriage, that message is proclaimed clearly.  (Genesis 1:28)

Jesus, our eternal Bridegroom, is the only ONE who can satisfy our deepest longings.  Marriage, as God created, serves as a foreshadowing of our eternal destiny to be filled with His love forever.  That our deepest longings for love, belonging and purpose would be met in Him. (Ephesians 5:21-32)  

With this in mind, it is crystal clear that the conversation of sexuality is of utmost importance for the church.  

It’s our responsibility to understand and articulate this aspect of theology.  Not the world’s.  

It’s our calling to personally enter into, and experience the banqueting table of God’s extravagant love and invite the world to join us there.

So today, I’m sorry.  Really, I’m so very sorry. I’m deeply grieved that we have failed to celebrate, claim and proclaim the goodness of God in sexuality.  I’m far from being an expert.  And am very much in the beginning stages of learning and growing in my theology of sexuality and the body.

But I do understand that our sin of silence has helped fuel the massive identity crisis in my generation.  A crisis that leaves us without a clue as to why sexuality matters apart from our emotional and romantic feelings.  A crisis that says we are whatever we feel, and that we find our selves within ourselves.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

James 5:26

As I confess, I pray earnestly for healing in our nation, specifically for my generation.  For revival and an awakening of our hearts to our Maker, the One who can breathe life and restoration on the places that are broken and confused.

In the next post, I’ll share why I’m saying “Thank you”.

And why I see the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage as a fresh beginning.  A new start for the church as we find our own way to healing, and pray that we may prepare ourselves to share such healing with those seeking refuge from the sexual revolution.