Themed weeks are designed as a way to efficiently dive deeper into meaningful, culturally relevant focal points. There’s Global Vision Week, Brain Awareness Week, Academic Integrity Week, Justice Week and now it’s Healthy Living Week – but what other themes could be beneficial for students to participate in for an entire week? Could APU students benefit from a themed week concerning sexual awareness to explore what it means to be a sexual being and a Christian?
“When sex is treated as abnormal, we don’t even know what is true about sex because we are not talking about it,” said Dr. Debby Herbenick, author and sexuality expert, in a TED talk titled “Making Sex Normal.” “It is a normal part of life, but we have to go out and make it normal.”
Christians are taught that, before marriage, they should be careful with inclinations to be sexual in thought and conversation. Personally, my conversations with the church concerning sex always resulted with a message that sex is only for marriage and to not think about sex (ref. Matt. 5:28) or masturbatation because all of these are sexually immoral.
But even if both partners in a couple remain abstinent in both mind and body until marriage, problems may still arise – what happens if they run into a sexual incompatibility issue because they were always too embarrassed to talk about it?
Pennsylvania State researchers Paul Amato and Denise Previti conducted a study in which they interviewed 208 divorced couples and asked them a series of questions about their divorce. One factor was incompatibility, which was defined as “unresolved differences,” and not agreeing on sex appeared at the top of the list of unresolved differences. Overall, incompatibility was the second-highest reason for breakup, 19.2 percent of responses, just under infidelity.
I am not saying people should go on a sex-crazed rampage and start sleeping with multiple partners left and right. What I am saying, however, is that people need to start talking about sex before making life-altering commitments, such as marriage, in which sex is a central aspect, especially when they have never explored it within themselves by way of thinking of and talking about sex or masturbation.
At APU and throughout evangelical Christianity, abstinence is emphasized and any sexual act done outside marriage is considered “sexual immorality.”
At the same time, in the article “Sex, Intimacy, and the Single Person” in Banner Magazine, authors Chelsey Harmon and Harry Van BelleIf stated: “Sex is what we do, sexuality is what we are. ... It’s an essential part of your being.” If people ignore themselves as sexual beings, then they are ignoring themselves by default.
A Christian university’s sexual awareness week could be a platform to openly discuss the various topics pertaining to sex with an open mind. A sexual awareness week at APU could include an “abstinence-only” perspective, but could also discuss controversial topics within the Christian community about sexual diversity such as sex before or outside marriage, or even homosexuality.
Students could be educated beyond the typical “condom usage and morning after pill” speech they heard in high school, such as what pleasures a person anatomically or things to expect in sex.
It is important to give proper expectations when it comes to sex, for instance, that it is not always how the movies portray it to be because it can be embarrassing or messy, and these are both completely normal. It could be a space where people could discuss vulnerable matters about what they may or may not like with regard to sex, without being judged or humiliated because of their desires.
Not all Christian communities believe that sex before marriage is wrong, and these beliefs should be discussed.
Those who identify as a Liberated Christian said in the article “Liberated Christians on porneia”, that 1 Corinthians 6:9 is nothing more than a bad translation of the Greek word “porneia” to English’s “fornication.” They believe that “porneia” referred to “sell” and refers to slaves bought and sold for cultic prostitution.
In the Temples of Corinth, farmers were visiting the temple priestesses who represented the fertility gods. By having sex with these prostitutes, they believed their fields would be more fertile. It didn’t even have to do with going to prostitutes, but pagan cultic worship.
APU could also use this opportunity to reach out to LGBTQ students and create a haven for them, in a sense. Recognizing that sexual diversity exists in the student body is beneficial regardless of anybody’s point of view.
In his article “Celebrating Diversity,” Michael Kinnamon, ordained Disciples of Christ minister and general secretary of the National Council of Churches, wrote: “Every congregation can celebrate diversities of age or physical and mental ability or gender or (I believe) sexual orientation. And every congregation can bring diverse theological perspectives into genuine conversation. … The world is filled with like-minded clubs and same-colored neighborhoods. The church serves as a sign of God’s purposes when it lives as a community of those who arenotthe same.”
A sexual awareness week could also provide a platform where sexuality is celebrated because God created it. In the Charisma Magazine article, “Why God made sex… good!” author David Meuer wrote: “Because God created us as intensely sexual creatures, sex is by definition good. We can’t let anyone rob us of this reality.”
Celebrating sexuality teaches students not to be ashamed of their sexual natures, but rather embrace what has been instilled within them. It teaches students that sex is nothing to be ashamed of.
The point remains that if the topic of sex is ignored, issues such as sexual incompatibility, improper expectations or feelings of shame for having sexual desires will most likely surface. Sex is a normal part of life and should be esteemed as such.