Note : (As you read along I realize I am making general statements about “Christian culture”. Christianity is a broad term and I am thinking about conservative Christian culture in particular. I think the label is relatively useful at least in emphasizing the point of the post. Do I identify as a Christian? Yes. Do I identify with “Christian culture”? Well, that depends who and what we’re talking about! You’ll probably feel that tension as you read this post and pretty much any other post I write.)
First, I’m not saying that there aren’t issues with sex and sexuality in some areas of society. Sure, it’s out there. But this isn’t about that. This is about Christian culture in particular (and religious culture in general but I can only speak from the Christian perspective because it’s the one I’m a part of). Christian culture likes to talk about how the world around us is obsessed with sex but what it doesn’t talk about much is how all the talk about purity and modesty has backfired and become an obsession of its own. Perhaps even worst than the one it is trying to prevent.
I find this article
quite concerning to be honest. I think it is a great example of how not to do it. The idea is to raise kids that have a healthy view of sex and sexuality but the result can be quite the opposite. Shame about something completely natural. Shame built in from a very young age.
Google statistics reveal that highly religious/conservative areas rank highest in porn related searches. That speaks volumes. There is a high, and often very intense, outward emphasis on something called modesty and purity while in secret there is an obsession with sex and a very harmful and immature view of sexuality that is fuelled by guilt, shame and much confusion.
As I raise two boys and a daughter, the issue is very important to me. I don’t want my kids to be ashamed of their sexuality and I don’t want them to feel awkward about the body. Whether it’s their own body or someone else’s. I want them to grow up having a mature and proper understanding of their body, sex and sexuality. I’m not convinced we do that very well within Christian culture. The worst part is we think we’re awesome at it. I have my doubts. At the very least, we need to look at ourselves more honestly.
Let’s take the B word for example. Breasts. If my boys grow up feeling uncomfortable and not knowing what to do when they see cleavage, then I think I’ve done a bad job as a parent. If my daughter grows up thinking her breasts are somehow a bad thing and that she is responsible for the way men deal with her having breasts, then I have certainly screwed up. I mention breasts as an example because much of the purity stuff that comes out of, mostly conservative, Christian circles makes a big deal about it. In doing so, I think they end up creating a problem worse than the one they are trying to solve.
This is an important issue and I certainly don’t have all the answers. I do think Christian culture gets much of it wrong while claiming to be doing it right. But, hey, I’m thinking out loud here and having a conversation.
So, what do you think? Does Christian culture need to review its approach? Would you do things differently than the mom who shared her story in the article?