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What I Learned from Christian Sex Guides (Hint: Bigotry)

Two religious sex advice books being hyped as edgy and sexy are actually outdated and bigoted – surprise!

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On top of the weird metaphors, there’s weird science. The Driscolls, perhaps unintentionally, invoke an image of God in a white lab coat, the biochemist behind your orgasm. “The natural chemical ‘high,’ what some call a ‘biochemical love potion,’ resulting from sex and orgasm was designed by God to bind a husband and wife together.” And, once again, the Youngs bring up the dog-bed allegory:

If we get out of the big bed, and get into the little bed of sexual sin, the repercussions are so far-reaching that it’s difficult to understand them at all. It doesn’t take a neuroscientist to see that our world is facing all kinds of diseases, brokenness, and confusion. And a huge chunk of that is due to sexual sin – using sex outside of God’s design for it.

Worst of all in the science department is the Driscolls’ handling of birth control. Behold this medically inaccurate passage: “Generally speaking, hormonal birth control methods run the risk of causing an abortion.” (Accurately speaking, hormonal birth control prevents ovulation and fertilization, not implantation. But, contrary to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ accepted definition,  some folks think a pregnancy begins at fertilization.) They go on to explain, “As Christian leaders who are admittedly not medically trained, we do not encourage members of our church to use the pill.” Sure doesn’t hurt the congregation count.

Enemy No. 1 of both of these books is pornography. “Sexperiment” spills pages of ink on the subject, but the message throughout is consistent and unwavering: “A husband and wife who see sex and marriage as God sees it also see the math of marriage as 1+1=1. There is no room there for a third party. Pornography is a third party.” “Real Marriage” is similarly one-note: “The purpose of pornography is clearly lust. And throughout both the Old and New Testaments, God repeatedly condemns – as a grievous evil – lust for anyone but your spouse.” But the Driscolls go so far as to compare hardcore pornography to the “Twilight” series:

In the lust category, along with sexual nudity and pornography, we also include women’s romance novels. They commonly entice sinful lust and cause women to fantasize about sexual sin with all the alluring power of visual pornography for men. This kind of sinful lustful fantasizing extends to such things as the Twilight phenomenon, where older women, many of them mothers, openly fantasize about sexual desires they had for the young actors in the film.

They also lump in women’s magazines like Cosmo, which “fills its covers with pornographic article headlines shouting to the world that lust is a good thing.” They suggest that “lusting eyes” start with a sexy magazine and move on “to orgies, voyeurism, exhibitionism, pedophilia, and wherever else a crooked human heart can venture.” (You heard it here first: Cosmo causes pedophilia?) They also deliver this gem: “Sure, the naked people you like looking at are hot … but so is hell.” However, my hands-down favorite line from the Driscolls on the subject of porn is: “Clearly, while not everyone who looks at porn will end up doing such evil things as Ted Bundy, they will do evil things even if less intently or frequently.” Way to be generous, guys!

Ultimately, the Driscolls’ shortlist of sinful sex acts reads like so: “homosexuality, erotica, bestiality, bisexuality, fornication, friends with benefits, adultery, swinging, prostitution, incest, rape, polygamy, polyandry, sinful lust, pornography, and pedophilia.”

I don’t mean to suggest that there aren’t edgy – relatively speaking – passages in these books. Most notably, “Real Marriage” performs an exegesis of Song of Songs, the sexiest book in the Bible, suggesting that the text celebrates striptease and oral sex. But this is no secret – scholars have long interpreted Song of Songs this way. To the Driscolls’ credit, they encourage couples:

 
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