In 1969 the world was shocked at the first appearance of stark, sexual imagery used on network T.V. This footage featured a man and a woman in bed together for the first time on screen.
That deliciously seductive show? The Brady Bunch.
The Brady Bunch was the first show on television depicting a husband and wife sharing the same bed, and even showing them in bed together – albeit clothed in modest pajamas. Prior to this, shows had either neglected to depict the bedroom altogether or chosen to show husbands and wives sleeping in separate beds a la Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
We’ve come a long way, and – wow – things have certainly loosened up.
Over the course of this last week (October 2008), watching “normal” TV, I have seen images of startling sexuality (meaning, much more graphic than the Brady Bunch) on the following shows:
• the X-files (syndication)
• Pushing Daisies
• Battlestar Gallactica (directed by Ron Moore, 2004 - )
• CSI Miami
• the Office
• Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles
Now, you might read that list and think that it’s really just a matter of choice. After all, of course you’re going to see sex on a show called “Dirty Sexy Money” or “Sex and the City” or “the ‘L’ Word.”
But that’s precisely my point.
We live in a day and age where such shows are not only permitted on network TV, but they consistently top the ratings.
These are the most popular shows on TV (barring reality television…which brands its own kind of sexual cavalcade).
Sex is everywhere; and, because of that, the Church needs to do a better job of framing sexuality in the right way.
After all, sex isn’t dirty, or clandestine, or taboo.
Sex is good…great even! And it was created by God for us to enjoy within a marriage between a man and a woman.
So this Teaching Atlas is a foray into the wonderful, exciting, stimulating and energetic world of kinetic sexuality and spiritual submission to God.
Those two things do go together, by the way…more on that later.
A couple caveats, first though:
1. This isn’t a how-to manual.
There will be no diagrams, illustrations, or “steps” you can follow. This is not the Christian kama sutra, nor is it a guide to bedroom trapeze. This is an investigation into the sacramental nature of sex.
2. This isn’t always going to be comfortable.
Talking about sex is awkward. In my case, Carmel and I are very private about our own sex life; so, at times, I may be sweating more than you will be while reading this. That’s fine. This is still something we need to address, even if it feels weird. But be careful how much you expose your children to; then again, if they’re in elementary school, chances are they know more than they should anyway, so exposing them to straight talk from a biblical perspective on human sexuality may actually be a good thing…but still, exercise discernment with your kids.
3. This isn’t all about intercourse.
In fact, most of what this Teaching Atlas will cover is about what sex IS when properly understood, not how to HAVE better sex. We believe that sex has been so distorted by our media and our culture, that it remains the task of the Church to straighten those distortions out…which is largely an issue of understanding, not a technical issue.
Now, with all that behind us, here is a brief preview of what we’ll cover in the following chapters.
Chapter one will cover the idea of gender-as-separation and sex-as-wholeness. We’ll explore what it means to be erotic, meaning full of eros (passion), and talk about a holistic chastity. Chastity, here, refers to enjoying everything fully in its appropriate context.
Chapter two will look at all the different ways in which we love. We’ll explore those loves as healthy loves, and also caution ourselves against distorted versions of those loves.
Chapter three will be a collection of all the issues I have no desire to address because of their controversial or graphic nature, chief among these being homosexuality. I encourage everyone to this chapter closely, and not to assume they know what I will say or what I will emphasize – though it is fair to note that I am a conservative pastor, and that obviously frames my outlook on these issues.
Chapter four will talk, finally, about sacred sex and the holiness of sexual covenant. We’ll explore the biblical promise of marriage and the formation of a household. Additionally, we’ll be talking through “things we wish we’d known” before getting into our married lives.
Some final notes:
• First, let’s all begin by acknowledging that we are – each of us – deeply flawed and wounded by our distortions about sexuality. Beginning here, it is easy to understand that scripture may have something to teach us about being whole.
• Second, perhaps more than anything else, this Teaching Atlas is about how to live differently from here on out. Many of us have painful memories and mistakes in our sexual past, and the good news is that we can move past these things and into a new future. Jesus promises us new life, and that new life can help us forget, move past, and make right our previous errors.
• Finally, let us all be aware that – even if we feel fine about sex and even perceive it as something worth joking about – many of those who will journey with us in this life are decidedly NOT fine. As such, we must understand that it is not okay for us to joke about them, their sexual errors, their sexual struggles, or make light of their pain.
At the end of each chapter you will find a series of questions designed to help your personalize the meaning of each chapter. Those questions are best answered in a group, so you may find one of our Westwinds satellites helpful. For more information on satellites, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the church office at 517.750.1111.