The other day, pop princess Katy Perry said something interesting:
“I think when you put sex and spirituality in the same bottle and shake it up, bad things happen.”
Although that specific quote was about Lady Gaga, I think it’s indicative of something much bigger and much worse. Put simply, our culture has divorced God from sex.
I’ve long said that popular culture often acts as if God might have invented humanity and thus sex, but he was completely caught off guard that sex was an enjoyable activity. He was convinced it was a very clinical activity designed for baby making. But then Prince showed up and told us all that sex was in fact awesome. Upon hearing this, God was as shocked as I was the first time I used the Shazam app on my iPhone to automatically tell me the name of a song I was listening simply by me holding up my phone near the speaker. (I swear, that thing is voodoo.)
That’s what we’ve been told. That God and sex don’t go together. And if you say something enough times, people start to believe it’s true. Even pastor’s kids like Katy Perry will reinforce the barrier between God and sex. You can’t have both in the same bottle. They’re oil and water. Cats and dogs. Spencer and Heidi. They just don’t go together.
So what has our response been to this dynamic, to the idea that God and sex shouldn’t be in the same sentence?
I’d love to say Christianity has knocked it out of the park and ransomed the beauty of this gift from the world, but I’m not sure we have. In fact, I think we’ve caused our own damage in four ways:
1. Sometimes, we teach guilt, not abstinence.
I touched on this a little in the Stuff Christians Like book. Lots of our churches and youth groups teach kids for years that “Sex before marriage is bad.” And I agree with that message. I’ve seen the damages of pre-marital sex hundreds of times. The challenge though is that’s only half of the message. I wish when we taught abstinence we would say, “Sex before marriage is bad, but sex when you’re married is awesome.” Because what happens is that during your formative teenage years you hear over and over again about how bad sex before marriage is. And your head and heart shorthand that idea and just tell you that, “Sex is bad.” Then you get married, on your wedding night, you’re supposed to magically, instantly shed all your guilt and fear about sex. We’re taught guilt for years and then left on the doorsteps of our marriages to figure it all out by ourselves.