Slept-in-beds and purity culture kids
Oof. I felt so much of this in my bones. That image of the British woman dancing with herself by the bar will stay with me for a long time. In recent years, I've come to believe (mostly die to my therapist's insistence) that our bodies are CRUCIAL to understanding God...that our bodies are conduits of God's grace and an amplifier of the Spirit"s voice. Full stop. I'm trying to unswaddle myself so I can feel it all to the full.
Sara, wow, this is such an evocative and beautiful piece. I think I am so used to hearing theologies of sex spoken as disembodied sermons or abstract think pieces. But sex--desire--is a fully embodied reality, one that Christians do well to remember.
As a single straight male entering my third decade, I definitely thought I would experience the intimacy of marriage and sex by now, and it was the lingering affects of purity culture which made me deem even the desire for intimacy (a much more placid term than "sex"(!)) as something unholy and against God. A lot of great counseling and mentors have helped redeem that in my life, but there aren't any books written for single thirtysomethings, about exactly what you said: recognizing both ends of desire and living within that tension. It's funny how--even though I inhabit a very different body and location in life--there is still so much truth I can learn from you and your expereince.
Just so very grateful for you voice!
Man, you know it's good when you copy lines in journal to mull over later. Here's what sticks with me: "...a Christian sexual ethic layers up to acknowledge desire and hold it with patience. Because the mere existence of desire does not mean it is good. We’re called to ask, what desire brings health?"
"You tell him something that makes more sense in half-sleep about wishing you could unzip his skin and crawl in like a sleeping bag. After all that has happened in your life together, you still want to be closer." I just really resonate with that feeling.
"As evangelicals, we were often taught to not trust our body, because the body is the keeper of false desire. Our intuition is clouded by our appetite."
Wow. Just so insightful and thought provoking.