How to Have Christian Sex

It starts by not wanting it.

The only appropriate sex position for Christians is missionary. So says the sufficient, inerrant Word of Puritans--I mean, God:
His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me. (Song of Songs)
This is what my childhood home church taught. No, it wasn't one of those a cappella-only Churches of Christ--just a normal, non-denominational evangelical church with a bad case of self-involved hermeneutics and historical ignorance.

Hundreds of years ago, the mortality rate was much higher, especially for pregnant women. Procreation was still an absolute necessity and the infertile were treated like faithless vessels of God's judgment. So in fairness to a time we'll likely never understand, sex had to be pragmatic for humanity to survive.

But the downside of any sexual ethic borne out of peril is that it creates artificial ontological imperatives. Meaning that it imprints circumstance and environment onto our being as truth, even though they're merely cultural constructs prone to decay and eventual irrelevance.

Such is the case with the Puritan sex code. First of all, Song of Songs is an allegory, not a sex manual (even if it was about sex, the stories of past saints in no way equate to a manual on anything). Secondly, what we do in the bedroom should never be dictated by culture.

The sexual revolution of the 60's and 70's freed us from much of that prudish nonsense. Oral sex, anal sex, bondage, dominance, sadomasochism can all be enjoyed by Christians under the almighty banner of consent.

Consent is a huge step for women and women's rights. Previously, a woman had to be cunning to get out of sex because it was part of her job as her husband's property. Plus, you had the whole "humanity might perish if I don't lie down and take it" narrative at play. But consent and rape culture awareness are slowly tearing down the oppressive fascism of patriarchy and its devaluation of women.

However, consent can only go so far. Anything would be an improvement to the give and take ethic where the woman gave and the man took. But taking turns on who gives and who receives so long as both say "yes" is incredibly naive.

Anyone can say "yes" and not mean it. The lyrics of rape culture's recent popular anthem, Blurred Lines, makes that abundantly clear. "I know you want it" is just one way that a person can be coerced into verbal consent. But there are countless ways that culture, history, even personal insecurities can manipulate us into disregarding our will and desires.

Therein lies the problem: our desires. In a culture where being true to oneself is the highest form of godliness, being true to one's desires is a close second. Yet our innate desires will rarely align with anyone else's. Thus, our very nature works against the efficacy of consent as our desires are not likely to consider anyone besides ourselves.

Every single one of us was born with the instinctual desire to live and survive. From our first breath to our first cry for food, our desires were focused entirely on ourselves and our needs. No one accuses an infant of not being giving enough; their lives subsist on receiving.

As we age, we're expected to grow out of this but there's very little motivation to do so. All of human experience revolves around receiving and so do all of our desires. We don't naturally desire to give away our food for the day because we want to receive it. We want to live.

Then Jesus came.

He didn't turn the world upside down because he performed miracles or hung out with lepers. Jesus founded a religion by sacrificing himself. All of Christianity is built on the notion of selflessness. All of our natural desires to take care of ourselves and address our needs were nailed to the cross as sinful and evil.

Consent will never work because we all desire to receive and put ourselves first. Rather than try to balance those desires with another equally selfish person, we need to have our desires transformed through Christ and his love. We don't need to create a schedule for who gets to be selfish when and proudly call it consent. We need new desires.

Receiving is an unavoidable part of our world but it doesn't have to be a desire. The desire to receive is only for the self, but the desire to give is actually for both. Sometimes giving just means giving, but other times it means giving another the opportunity to give. Though this is technically receiving, it's simply the effect of giving, not the locus of desire.

Our desire should always be to give, not receive. When we desire to receive, we cannot put anyone else first and we cannot be selfless. But when we desire to give, even when we receive, we do so selflessly. This is what it means to be Christ-like and walk as he did, denying ourselves.

In the bedroom, as in most areas of our lives, we have freedom. But we do not have the freedom to take, control, and dominate. Consent cannot account for human craftiness on both sides, but focusing solely on your partner's desires can. Do for them and trust that they will do for you. After all, where there is no trust, there is no relationship.

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