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Beyond Harlots and Virgins

Moving past stereotypes about sexual desire to find wholeness in Christ
Beyond Harlots and Virgins

A somewhat sweaty, tight-skirted, dancing woman with a sexy pout and come-hither eyes.

A young couple on a date, sexual tension electric in the air, barely able to keep their hands off of each other.

A single woman, chastely dressed (complete with cross necklace), kneeling in prayer (and clearly uninterested in sex).

A married couple, dressed in loosefitting sweats and cuddling on the couch, spending a tepid night watching a movie (without a bit of that aforementioned crackling sexual tension).

These kinds of images surround us, informing our cultural perspective on women and sex. But do these two-dimensional stereotypes stand up to real-life scrutiny? Is that racy, seductive woman dancing really the epitome of female sexuality? Does that young, unmarried, and highly-hormonal couple really have the corner on sex drive while the boring, married, been-there-done-that couple’s sex life obviously pales in comparison? Is the Christian single woman—who has committed to stay sexually abstinent—really devoid of desire and sexual longing?

Honesty and life experience both lead us to answer with a resounding no. These flimsy stereotypes serve us poorly, doing little to help us understand and value the complexities of our God-given sexuality. The sexy harlot versus the chaste virgin motif is simply a false dichotomy, for we all are sexual beings—and the drives and desires within us are much more nuanced than the stereotypes suggest. And while the sex-driven single and the sexually-dull housewife may hint toward real temptations women face in different stages of life, they are little more than clichés when viewed in light of the whole and healthy sexuality God has created for both women and men.

These flimsy stereotypes serve us poorly, doing little to help us understand and value the complexities of our God-given sexuality.

While the church certainly has a spotty history of honoring it, Scripture itself makes clear that this drive toward intimacy is a good, God-given gift. While sexual temptation may lure us toward sin, sexual desire itself is not equivalent with lust. And while sexual expression is intended for marriage, our sexuality is inherently a good part of our God-made identity and worth, whether we are married or not.

In this issue of Today’s Christian Woman, we’re opening up a dialogue about sex drive. This isn’t an easy topic—and those who speak of it in simplistic terms are often missing the mark—and so our goal isn’t to provide unsatisfying pat answers or empty, easy solutions. Instead, we invite you to join us in looking deeper at this God-made instinct that’s profoundly tied to our sense of identity, our understanding of our worth, and to our closest relationships.

Dr. Kim Gaines Eckert launches our exploration in “Embracing Sexual Desire,” looking more closely at what a whole and healthy understanding of sex drive can be for a Christian woman. Drawing upon her counseling experience, Dr. Eckert explores how sex drive (or a lack of sexual desire) can be tied to deep hurt in our lives—and how we can find healing and freedom in and through Christ.

While sexual temptation may lure us toward sin, sexual desire itself is not equivalent with lust.

Many of our readers responded to our article “How to Connect Sexually with Your Husband,” expressing that unlike the common scenario in which a husband is more interested in sex than his wife, in their own marriages they had higher sex drives. How can a Christian wife respond when she feels her own sexual desires aren’t being met? In “When He Has the Headache,” Dorothy Greco candidly explores both the challenges and opportunities for intimacy that come with navigating this challenge as a couple.

Sexual desire doesn’t suddenly arrive in life on one’s wedding day; it’s as much of a deeply-ingrained reality for single women as it is for married women. In “Single in a Sex-Saturated World” Carolyn McCulley examines what it looks like to live in obedience to God in the context of Christian singleness. She highlights the concept of fidelity rather than “purity,” a term that for some carries connotations of shame. Carolyn is gutsy and honest regarding what’s hard—and also what’s rewarding—about determinedly walking in God’s way when it comes to sexual desire and expression.

While we seek to honor and celebrate our God-given sexuality, it’s also critical not to turn a blind eye to the ever-present reality of temptation and the powerful draw of sexual sin. In “Overcoming My Addiction to Cybersex,” Faith Richards details her own struggle with this modern-day incarnation of sexual temptation. Courageously real about the draw of sexual sin via the Internet, Faith shares both the pain of her failures and the choices that have led to victory in her struggle with this increasingly common addiction.

Cybersex and pornography are two expressions of a common struggle with sexual temptation that can take many different forms, from the lure of lustful thoughts to the draw of infidelity. Dr. Juli Slattery believes that, for married couples, battling sexual temptation ought to be a team endeavor. In “Sexual Temptation is a Team Sport,” Dr. Slattery highlights the power of honesty and connection for couples seeking to combat sexual temptation together.

In the real-life world of questions, longings, hopes, and hurts, stereotypes of sexuality do little more than add to the confusion. Yet God’s Word invites into a place of fullness and authenticity. Whether you’re frustrated by unmet sexual desires or hurting because the desire you want to experience just isn’t there, God can help you move closer toward wholeness—and toward him.

Grace for your journey—and your desires,

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Kelli B. Trujillo

Kelli B. Trujillo is editor of Today’s Christian Woman. Follow her on Twitter at @kbtrujillo or @TCWomancom.

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Marriage; Marriage Struggles; Sex; Sexuality; Singleness; Stereotypes
Today's Christian Woman, October Week 5, 2014
Posted October 29, 2014

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