Tyler Blanski’s Article on CNN: “My Take: How Christians Should Rethink Sex”
Yesterday, I received a message from Tyler Blanski (author of Mud & Poetry which I reviewed in a previous post). He had written a post for CNN and had it published, making the #2 article viewed on CNN.com, with it featured on the home page! I am very excited for him and am looking forward to future articles and interviews which are to come.
As for his article, titled “My Take: How Christians Should Rethink Sex,” it doesn’t surprise me at all that Blanski’s article made it the #2. Sex is probably the most addicting topic for most people, including Christians. Blanski deals with this controversial topic in a very different way. He’s not on par with the popular view that sex is a free choice that we can give to anyone, at anytime, in whatever format we want. He’s not “hands off.” He states clearly that he believes sex is to be within marriage, at least for a Christian: “The sex life of a Christian single person is not having sex – yet. It’s prayer. It’s dating and learning how to love and listen better through relationship. It’s the foreplay, so to speak, to the sex life God intends for us in marriage.”
But he also isn’t part of the general “contemporary Christian” culture either. His whole article is about this group, calling us to take a new look at sexuality: “When it comes to sex, many Christians confuse the fences for the playground….We’ve created what I call the chastity cult. Married and single Christians alike put sex on a pedestal. We’re more serious and obsessed with the rules than we ought to be.”
It’s not that rules are a bad thing, but like Blanski, I have to agree that the contemporary Christian culture has emphasized the “No Sex” message so much that it’s caused many people to feel shame rather than excitement towards the topic.
I can’t tell you how many retreats, Sunday school classes, youth group nights, books, songs that I heard talking about abstinence and purity. I agreed with the philosophies behind these messages. I still do. But Christians have to be honest. We haven’t done a good job of communicating healthy sexuality. We are constantly saying “no” rather than helping people understand what healthy sexuality looks like, how it’s playful, how it should be cherished—but not worshiped. The constant negativity or seriousness toward sex has had drives youth and adults away from Christian messages about sex and towards secular sources. I think we can agree that places like pornography, movies and media are hardly the place to learn about what sex really is like, how it is spiritual and how it impacts our relationship with God and others. How it’s not always perfect.
Even before I started dating, I read tons of books. I tried to understand all the “Best practices” for dating, courting and the like. I wanted to make sure I did the right things, the right way, to have the perfect marriage and perfect sex life afterwards. The thing I struggled with most was that I was constantly scared of screwing up. I put a lot of strain, shame, and stress on myself. I honestly believed that if I messed up, I would be disowned by my family, my friends and my pastors. It was the worst possible sin next to murdering someone. If you’ve grown up in the Christian subculture, you know what I mean (unless you were spared of the whole attitude somehow…in which case, you are greatly blessed!).
But I believe that Blanski has captured the reality that the Christian subculture has failed to communicate:
Ever since I was 12, the conversation of choice for Christian guys has been to confess addiction to pornography, habitual masturbation, and unbearable guilt. All the while, pastors warned us against holding hands, kissing or – even worse – cuddling.
By the time I had my first girlfriend at age 20, I was so guilty, so prudish, and so certain of what I thought was Christian sexuality that I lived in fantasyland. When I finally learned how to love and kiss and date a real, live woman, I realized that most Christian books about sex are as unreal and abstract as pornography.
Through dating a real woman, and not just reading Christian books on chastity, I learned that chastity isn’t firstly about rules and guilt, but about intimacy and joy – at the right time and in the right way. It’s an expression of being created in the image of a relational God.
I believe it’s important to communicate the truth about sexuality, the truth to Christians—you are to stay chaste while single. Married couples—you are to love your spouse, sex is an expression of that love but it is not the love itself—it never has been meant to be that way, which is why it can be playful. But I think Blanski is making a very important point: we need to remember that relationships are not cut and dry. There’s not a script. God is big. He is relational. He has promised to be there to assist us. We do not need to add extra rules to His rules. If He wanted that, I think He would have said something. But He often shows us more grace than we often show ourselves or each other. I think He would agree that we need to lighten up just a little bit and see sex as He designed it to be: intimate, exclusive and playful.
I could write a whole blog about the whole topic, but I think it would be better for all of you to read Blanski’s article, his book (Mud & Poetry) and stay tuned, because maybe I’ll eventually take some time to write my take on the topic.
I am excited to see that this article do so well and be read by so many people. I hope that it stirs Christians and non-Christians alike to rethink the topic of sex, for pastors to explore better ways to communicate the beauty and fun of sex, to learn not to shame, but rather to encourage.
I will let Blanski have the last word:
God made us as sexual creatures. It’s a good thing. You can be prudent without being a prude. You can be holy without being holier-than-thou. And in this case, we would be trying to outdo Christ Himself. Christ never ignored or denied his humanity. We shouldn’t either.
The Chastity Cult’s obsession with boundaries clouds the meaning and mirth of Christian sexuality. The sooner Christians leave it – whether we’re dating or married, the sooner we will discover the kind of sex life God intends for us. It’s earthy. It’s erotic and playful. It’s deeply intimate. It’s 100% orthodox.
I’d wager it’s the best sex out there.