LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX, ACTUALLY
I thought it so interesting I asked if I could repost it here. She agreed, and here it is. Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment in the comment box.
God bless, Malcolm
Christian sex therapist Jade Nanton shares her insights on sex and her feelings on how the topic is handled in UK churches. She has been married ‘34 years years and counting’, has two children, and with her husband Terry has started a company called Litmus Coaching. They are based in Bow, East London.
You describe yourself as a ‘sexpert’, what is that?
Jade says that there’s a Christian and worldly perspective on the term. According to God’s economy, erotic sexuality is but a small part of sexual relations, but the secular world apparently magnifies that part.
“The enemy made this the biggest part of intimate relationships. He is trying to rob us and stop us seeing the gifts God has for us. Most Christians don’t have a clue about God’s economy.”A sexpert in the church therefore knows a lot about relationships, not just ‘sex’.
She also believes that gender and sexuality are one and the same.
“The enemy separated gender and sexuality.”
I probe further.
“There is so much confusion around sexuality. There are two genders and your sexuality is tied to your gender, not how you express yourself erotically. If you’re a woman, that never changes regardless of whether you are attracted to other women, and not men. And now that there is a question mark over gender – whether there is ‘male’ and ‘female’, there is even more confusion in the area of sexuality.”
One to discuss further for sure. But for now, I want to know:
Why do we need more ‘sexperts’ in church?
“The world is constantly bombarding us with sexual content.” True story. “The church is either silent on the matter or legalistic — simplistic even — and that doesn’t cut the mustard!”
Jade feels that so many Christians have missed the basics regarding God’s economy.
“For anyone not brought up in church, sex and relationships are a major part of what they need discipling on. And we need to play catch-up with those in church. We’re losing our youth to the lure of sex. It’s a big pull.”
Jade finds it unreasonable to expect new converts to adopt saintly behaviour without guidance, especially those who perhaps lived by moral codes (albeit not Biblical), who for example, were cautious about sex rather than promiscuous.
“Give reasons for doing it God’s way. Understand that God’s economy is God’s love – it’s a blessing and not a curse. The gift [of sex] is damaging when not administered God’s way.” She shares an analogy about fire.
“If it’s put in the middle of a room it becomes dangerous and destructive. Every gift God gives has boundaries. There’s no freedom without boundaries.”
So it seems that the key, certainly where unmarried converts are concerned, is to guide, coach and disciple them in the area of sexual relations rather than just tell them not to have sex again: help them with their desires and temptations.
And for those who are married or desiring marriage I’m curious…
What misconceptions are there around marriage?
“People are very unique. Two couples could have very different misconceptions. Most people think marriage is something where you ‘get’ — but marriage is about ‘giving’. People get desperate to be married but would be slower to seek it out if they knew it’s actually about laying down your life for another person.
According to Jade, the correct answer to: Why do you think God gave you a spouse/why do you want a spouse? is: I want someone to love specifically and sacrificially. Sobering stuff!
“People think marriage will take away the deep ache of loneliness in their lives. The ache is supposed to be there — God is driving us into a relationship with Him.” And even then, Jade cautions, when we run to God, the ache never gets completely fulfilled here in our broken world – only when we pass from this life to the next. And if I don’t believe her, I can check by talking to married couples!
Jade describes the loneliness experienced in a struggling marriage as “all encompassing” and “devastating” and that for a single person, there’s always the hope of meeting someone who’ll become a significant other. But if one is lonely in marriage, they don’t easily have the hope of anything changing.
“We don’t understand sexuality and deep connection. Friendship is meant to be where you get most of your needs met. Good marriages are based on friendship. The only thing you can’t do with anyone other than a spouse is have sex. You can hug, exchange a godly kiss and socialise.”
Jade sums it up like this: singles can feel like they’re missing out, spouses can find marriage disappointing and everyone feels cheated.
But are there benefits to being married (that may surprise someone who is anti-marriage)?
“Why is the person anti-marriage?” Jade wants to start there.
“People think they can pick and mix with God. They can’t. Sex is for marriage so if they want sex but are anti-marriage then they want the goodies but miss the fact that commitment qualifies the sex and keeps you safe.”
Jade goes further with the concept of Christian marriage. “It’s a picture of our relationship with God, so sex is reserved for someone committed to lay down their life for you, like God does. He is qualified to be our God.”
She lists other benefits of marriage, including seeing the truth of our brokenness through the two-way commitment with another.
“You start to be real and bare your deep recesses in marriage. That’s why it’s so hard. Marriage is a safe place: for richer for poorer — this person is in it for the long haul. If someone won’t pay the price, they have no business handling this [covenant].”
Jade has a word specifically for Christians who are anti-marriage too.
“Marriage is a fast-track to holiness – everything is exposed. And a marriage is bad when spouses hide from one another.” It’s hard to have a fulfilling, edifying marriage if even one spouse remains hidden she explains. The other person experiences immense pain because they are effectively in the marriage on their own. Ouch!
“Marriage is a calling on its own — not everyone is supposed to be married. Not everyone is supposed to be single. Nobody is spared. Is it impossible or difficult? Trust Him.”
Jade now refers to herself: she was certain she was better suited to a life of singleness before she met Terry. “The thought of life without him was actually unthinkable. And it wasn’t wrapped up in romantic feelings, it was a very conscious, clear decision that this was the person I was supposed to take the journey of life with. And although I was attracted to Terry physically, I wouldn’t say that I had those mushy romantic feelings about him – they grew later, and I’m more in love with Terry now than I’ve ever been. To be in love fully is a very mature thing, a thing that’s based on safety and confidence in the other person to be committed to you no matter what. That frees you to really embrace those deep and very risky feelings of being in love, of daring to feel that way about someone.”
So what is your vision and/or desire for UK churches regarding sex, singleness and marriage?
“What I’d like is for every Christian to do the course I teach. It gives people an understanding of God’s economy and gender/sexuality. Our church fathers lived in debauched times, so there was a swing, and sex became maligned. We’re playing catch-up. I would like correct teaching on God’s economy for sexuality and for all churches to make it a part of discipleship.”
Jade currently runs three courses: ‘Single Sexuality’, ‘Sex in Marriage’ and ‘Male Sexuality’. Once the course on ‘Female Sexuality’ is finished, she will offer that also. “They’re working on it right now – it’s more complicated,” she explains.
These courses come from The Institute for Sexual Wholeness in Dallas, Texas and Jade is so far the only person qualified to deliver them in the UK.
“Sermons may contain great theology, but little application is offered,” Jade explains. “What does love look like?” The practicalities of being loving involve effort she explains. And that intentionality is also required when managing sexual desires.
“If you didn’t have sexual urges, your body wouldn’t be working. A mature Christian is someone who can bring their desires under God’s Lordship. But some crush their desires, then get married, which leads to all sorts of problems.”
Ultimately, Jade wants Christians to come into the fullness of life. Sexuality is so powerful, she cautions, that if we don’t surrender it to God, we won’t experience the fullness of life.
“Sexuality is complicated – we’re scared of it, God isn’t. Homophobic behaviour is fear based.”
And if we don’t surrender our desires and fears?
“God is very respectful, until we offer him our sexuality, He won’t muscle in on us, but we won’t grow.”
Jade expresses some observations, “Some people get married because they slept with someone they shouldn’t have. Marrying doesn’t rub the sin out — only the blood of Christ will. What does courtship look like in church?” In that question lies a subtle inquiry into the process that leads to a Christian couple becoming acquainted and asks whether it is healthy.
Finally, Jade talks about the bonding properties of sex that she says acts like cement, whether one is married or not.
“The Bible covers this – it says ‘don’t sleep with a prostitute, otherwise you’ll be tied to her’ [1 Corinthians 6:16]. God’s laws don’t change with the situation – sex blurs our ability to think straight, in or outside marriage.
On that note, I ask Jade whether there are there any helpful scriptures she could share? She is happy to oblige.
“Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 6:19].
Don’t use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature [Galatians 5:13].
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:6–7].
When you’re stressing about having a partner, are you missing the boat? Apply scripture like medicine. Present requests to God instead of anxiety.
[Psalm 37:4] If you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you good desires — not the twisted ones. He will work out which is which. We don’t know what’s right for us — He does.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all ways acknowledge Him [Proverbs 3:5–6]. What does God want me to do?”
Jade Nanton runs Sexuality courses by request with groups of 4–8 people. She can be contacted at: http://litmuscoaching.com