What I Learned from Christian Sex Guides (Hint: Bigotry)
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Pastor Ed Young and his wife, Lisa, climbed to the rooftop of their Texas church last week and staged a 24-hour bed-in. Their aim was to encourage other married couples to undertake seven straight days of sex, all in the name of the Lord — and to promote their new book.
There was no nudity, and certainly no nookie, during the webcast stunt, but it nonetheless got the pair on CNN and earned invaluable advertising for “Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy With Your Spouse.” It’s the second Christian “sex advice” book to be lavished with attention this month for allegedly being edgy and oh so sexy. “Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together,” written by pastor Mark Driscoll of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church and wife Grace Driscoll, similarly sings the praises of sex as a form of communion with God.
But having actually read these books, I can tell you they are not the wild sex manuals the media frenzy suggests — in fact, they are treatises against homosexuality, pornography and premarital sex. None of this is exactly surprising, but amid the sexy buzz surrounding these books, it’s important to underscore just how sexually stunted they are.
Now, I may not be the most impartial judge — I’m an arrogant, unrepentant atheist and fornicator, after all — but throw my sex reporting credentials in the mix and I am specially poised to sniff out the most anachronistic and bigoted sexual beliefs espoused in these books.
Where to start, where to even start? How about here: “Good sex, the best sex, is biblical sex — one man and one woman within the context of marriage,” write the Youngs in “Sexperiment.” Later, they explain that “the act of sexual intercourse — in God’s economy — is reserved exclusively for husbands and wives.” Any other kind of sex is sin. Similarly, “Real Marriage” preaches against the worship of creation, or sex, as a god, which it claims leads to worship of “the human body and its pleasures through sinful sex, including homosexuality and lesbianism.”
Premarital sex is another big target, of course. In a bizarre mixed metaphor, the Youngs explain:
We’re not to make big sex (in the context of marriage) into little sex (premarital or extramarital affairs). There are two options when it comes to having sex. … Think of it as the big bed or the little bed. In our house, the little beds are reserved for the dogs. People don’t sleep there. But that’s what sex outside of marriage is doing is taking sex out of the big bed of marriage and putting it into the little dog bed and saying, “I can’t help it. I know what God wants for me to do with sex. I know he’s reserved it for marriage. But I’m just an animal. I can’t help but do it whenever, wherever, and with whomever. I’m a deer in rut, a hound in heat.”
They don’t leave it at that, though: “God doesn’t want us to experience little sex in the dog bed; he wants us to experience the power and purpose of big sex in the right bed.” Got that? All I’m left with is an image of two adults getting it on in a dog bed with a dejected little pup looking on.
Weird metaphors abound in “Sexperiment,” mostly because the Youngs — unlike the Driscolls — are only comfortable talking about sex in the abstract. For example: “Sex is like a Ferrari. If someone gives you a Ferrari, you don’t trash it. … You wash it and wax it. … You drive it on the freeway.” Just as with the Bible itself, the vague allegorical language leaves plenty of room for personal interpretation and co-optation. Let’s just assume that “wash it and wax it” is a tacit endorsement of porn star pubic stylings and “you drive it on the freeway” means that sex in cars is awesome.