Like a prayer. Jesus as sex therapist.

Sex is – when done well, with a caring, respectful partner – awesome. Releases endorphins. An orgasm is (in my humble opinion as I can’t speak for a man’s orgasm, not being a bloke) a total mind, body, emotional reset.

Also, a couple’s orgasm is far more satisfying than a DIY solo orgasm. There’s just something about the whole skin-on-skin, intimacy, ‘hey, we’ve both just blown the tops of our skulls off (ahem) together.’ When you’re intimate and comfortable with your partner, you laugh, roll around on the sheets – or across the kitchen counter, whatever takes your fancy – and put some effort into ensuring sex is bloody great fun.

Yes, I’m still a Christian. I’m not subbing for Harlequin/ Mills and Boon romance writing/light erotica. Because guess what, Christians have sex. And hopefully lots of it. Within their covenant of marriage. 12342347_10153357289097689_5032277087355300038_n

Bolting on our newish arrival at Christianity to a ten year marriage – and 20 year relationship – has taken some effort for Big T and I. What God desires for us both within our marriage is fairly different to what we had arrived at under our own steam. Thankfully, God has no desire for me to batten down my own desires, wear chastity belts, ankle-skimming skirts and keep my head bowed modestly.

Yes He loves me, this I know, because He gave me the Song of Solomon sealed section of the Bible as the place to go.

Shall I tell you the secret to a cracker of a Christian sex life? 

Prayer (and stop your jokes about Madonna songs).

I’m 100% serious. His ‘n’ Her Prayer. When I shared this little gem with the SAP he spluttered somewhat. “Phil, in all my years of pastoring, I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone tell me they use prayer as foreplay.”

But think about it. What’s the biggest frustration women have with their men? Here’s a typical sample:

  • “I don’t know what he’s thinking.”
  • “We don’t talk enough.”
  • “He doesn’t understand me.”
  • “I tell him what I want, but I think it goes in one ear and out the other.”

In defence of all the husbands, women too often say one thing and mean something else. Which is a minefield for a man who simply says what he means. But this communication breakdown has an awful impact on a healthy sex life, purely because women’s desires are linked with their brain whilst men’s are linked a lot lower.

Big T could have had the most hideous day on earth, come in the house, trip over a pile of laundry and smell burnt dinner, but if I sashayed out the bedroom in my dodgiest ugg boots and tattiest dressing gown, crooked my finger and said something about no clothes underneath, he’d be, well, up for it.

But us women? Wired differently. Foreplay starts the moment we open our eyes in the morning. It’s all in how our brains and minds are engaged. In the scenario above, unfair as it reads, if I come home after a terrible day to a great dinner, laundry packed away, with Big T freshly-shaved and smelling yummy? His odds of come hither, finger-crooking success are greatly increased. Terribly unfair. Blame that serpent. Prior to that I bet Adam and Eve were at it like…well…

So this is where His ‘n’ Her prayer is fabulous because it connects you. Each night I am able to have an intimate, articulate peak inside my husband’s mind. When we pray together, as Big T is being open with God, he is being open with me. I know what he is thinking. The reverse is true.

Regardless of good day, bad day, folded laundry or burnt dinner, it all gets poured out and handed over to God. The clear, undistracted mind I need to really focus on my husband and my sexual response? Delivered. As we pray together with God, we open up more intimacy with each other. The fact that we’ve not had a chance to communicate between home, activities, dinner, kids’ bedtime, homework, late-work, who took the bins out – becomes less of a thing. Prayer as the deliverer of intimacy. Foreplay.

Plus (and I hope I’m not too off piste here), I really get off on the idea as sex as worship. If God designed man and women to be together, and He sees a Christian couple growing closer towards each other and Him as part of their married, healthy sex life, I’d say He’d be jolly pleased.

By the way, this doesn’t occur every time Big T and I pray together. But His ‘n’ Her prayer does appear to increase the likelihood of it happening.

So if you ever ask what I did last night and I tell you I spent an enjoyable time in prayer and worship with my husband? I’ll be telling the truth.

Note: Someone told me today there are historical peaks in babies being born nine months after revivals. So I think I’m onto something…

Fairness in Religion in Schools + Sex and Sin = Bold and The Beautiful.

This post has been sparked by my distantly observing the SRE in schools ‘debate’, and the knee-jerk media response to a PR spun piece of research from the parent-run Victorian lobby group called Fairness in Religion in Schools (FIRIS). I have to show my vested interest from a few perspectives.

1) I’ve worked in the media so know how using news agenda elements can grab the attention of a time-poor journalist struggling to meet the internet’s voracious demands for fresh news, being paid crap cents per word, with the media corporation’s advertising budgets shrinking so he or she is having to write much, much more for much, much less.

2) I’ve run a Public Relations agency for over 15 years and also know how you can dress up a fast survey to make it look like ‘serious’ research to grab the attention of a time-poor journalist struggling to meet the internet’s voracious demands for fresh news, being paid crap cents etc. (See point one)

3) I’m a newish Christian too, so, combined with my long experience of the two points above, I have a fascination with the messaging and stereotypes that are thrust around and can cause instant misunderstanding. Those stereotypes, after all, were the ones that kept me away from church and Jesus for many years.

First, let’s tackle the name of the Lobby group. Fairness In Religion In Schools. Excellent media hook name. Short and snappy. Implies their vision is to treat religion fairly in schools. Until you have a look at their Facebook and website pages and realise their aim is to “formally cease the practice of volunteer-run special religious instruction (SRI) during school hours”. Fairness In Religion? For whom?

Clever though, because by the time any journalist has cottoned on that the name doesn’t necessarily reflect its aim, he or she has been thorughly seduced by the excellent use of tabloid, Today Tonight style language. Fast paced. Uses all the elements found on a news agenda: timeliness, consequence, conflict etc…oh yes, gimme more of that says the news editor. Conflict!

As Natasha Moore explores in her excellent piece on ABC’s The Drum, ‘a sincere presentation of different worldviews and ethical systems within school is a means of enrichment rather than a threat to the status quo’. But how tame does that sound in comparison to book banning, fear of child evangelising, and media savvy sound bites such as Greens MP John Kaye commenting, ‘If parents knew that Scripture was much more than quaint stories about men gadding about in togas and Roman sandals, enrollments would plummet’?

The ‘debate’ was like Christianity meets Day of Our Lives and Bold and The Beautiful. I half expected Ron Moss to make an appearance. Especially when hot sex was thrown into the mix. The headlines sizzled: Calls for end to ‘dangerous’ messages in scripture classes yelled The Sydney Morning Herald. TheBoldAndTheBeautiful_marquee_02_900x506

FIRIS and John Kaye had an issue with a book by Dr Patricia Weerakoon, a sexual health expert and honorary senior lecturer at Sydney University’s Westmead Clinical School. Specifically with how Dr. Weerakoon portrays sex to young people in her ‘Teen Sex By The Book‘.

Dr. Weerakoon is Christian. The book specifically looks at the calling of Christian faith, and how that faith fits with today’s sexually permissive society. It is designed to help teenagers who are Christians, or who are thinking of becoming Christians, navigate a choice that is today viewed as highly counter-cultural. Imagine choosing a religion that proposes saving sex for marriage. A religion that suggests seeking healthy, pleasurable sex within an intimate, satisfying relationship that lasts a lifetime. Imagine being a teenager seeking to follow that Christian path in today’s society. I’d be looking for a guidebook too.

Oddly, Weerakoon’s book is not part of the authorised SRE curriculum. So why did FIRIS and Kaye start banging on about it? From the PR perspective, let me remind you of what makes news. The elements that make up the news agenda are timeliness, consequence, conflict……ooh, did someone just say conflict?

It’s a shame the SMH journalist who wrote the original story didn’t do some fact checking. Blame tight deadlines, crap cents per word etc. If the news shoe fits the agenda, press publish. I’m not saying the FIRIS PR and Publicity manager specifically skewed the story angle to ramp up the news element of conflict in the hope of getting media coverage…..I’m just saying that conflict is an element of the news agenda that almost always gets media coverage.

Hot, steamy, submissive sex

Weerakoon was in the news back in February when she called for Christians to boycott the 50 Shades film, as it normalises “unconventional sexual behaviour”. 50 Shades includes bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism. I find it ironic that FIRIS wanted to ban her book because they see it as pushing unconventional, sexual behaviour too.

A FIRIS concern was how Teen Sex By The Book refers to the Christian concept of headship: that man is the head of woman, and women are to voluntarily submit no matter what. Am I the only one hearing echoes of Anastasia Steel and Christian Gray? To connect the dots, in case anyone misses the point, why on earth would Weerakoon tell people to boycott the film 50 Shades due to its ‘normalising’ submission if she was advocating women voluntarily submit to a notion of Christian headship that FIRIS perceives as having dark undertones?

I’ve written about domestic violence and headship before. Headship does NOT mean submitting to being verbally, mentally and physically abused by your husband. Back to the Bible. Love your wife as Jesus loved the church. Jesus did not wander around in a sleeveless shirt, downing Stella Artois, battering his church. Apologies if you are a gentle, passive soul who enjoys sleeveless shirts and Stella. I’m just messing with a few stereotypes here.

I dislike bleating that Christianity is misunderstood, but JC on roller-skates, it is! Like sin. The secular, simplistic view is that Christianity teaches sin to makes us all feel bad about ourselves. I appreciate where it comes from, given I had to really dig into what sin meant before I could get over my own Christian hangover, but it is so off-track it may as well be on Mars.

However, looking at sin narrowly is handy if you want to fire up the simplistic news agenda around conflict. Why let truth get in the way of a good news story?

61% of Christian singles willing to have casual sex without being in love

No, I did not make that headline up. Since Christian girls being easy got a rise out of many readers (over 3000 views in a couple of days) I decided to do some purity research. There may have been some talk about stable doors and horses bolting when I announced my new research topic. Undaunted, I girded my loins and prepared to get upright and snow white (rather than down and dirty) with purity. 599936-snow_white1_large

Purity means no sex, right?

Whilst I wasn’t raised in a Christian household, I definitely remember getting the message that ‘good girls don’t put out’. I suspect this was more due to fear of teen pregnancy and ‘ruining your life/reputation’ than any sort of desire to instil Godly purity. My message growing up: Sex was ‘better’ done within marriage but, if not, then at least do it safely, don’t catch anything, don’t breed, and for heaven’s sake, be selective.

I even attended a school that had a ‘six inches’ (15cm) rule. So members of the opposite sex could not be closer than 15 cm. Made the slow dances at the school disco interesting. Particularly when the teachers stepped up and started waving rulers around as Phyllis Nelson crooned ‘Move Closer‘ in the background.

So, at 14, I had Phyllis encouraging me to dance as if I was ‘really making love’, teachers fighting the good fight with plastic rulers and a parent who was superb on presenting the facts of life, yet possibly a tad over-zealous about the results of ill-conceived sex. I needed to do some research.

True Love Waits

Type in purity into Google and you can’t miss ‘True Love Waits’.

With a mission to educate young people on the issues pertaining to sex and purity through the lens of Scripture, since “True Love Waits” began in the U.S in 1993 more than 2.4 million youth have pledged their commitment to save sex for marriage.

This includes signing a statement which reads, “Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, those I date, and my future mate to be sexually pure until the day I enter marriage.”

True Love Waits Pledge jewellery and apparel start from as little as $4.95. Really? Shouldn’t purity be priced a little more highly? Ah but wait (pun intended): 2.4 million youth signing a pledge x $4.95 minimum spend on a ring or t-shirt = over $8 million.

But does true love really wait? With all of society’s pressures, a signed pledge because all your mates are signing too, and then buying a $4.95 ring as a reminder doesn’t yell important to me. If God and Jesus aren’t front of mind when the hormones are pumping, how’s a $4.95 ring going to serve as a reminder?

But you’d have sex if you truly loved me.

Ah, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that. True love isn’t waiting. It’s hopping round the bedroom with one shoe off and one shoe on, stuck pulling down its trouser leg. Research shows that many young Christians don’t even want the love: Sixty-one percent of self-identified Christian singles who answered a ChristianMingle survey in 2012 said they were willing to have casual sex without being in love, while only 11 percent said they are waiting to have sex until they are married!

Seems Jesus has been lost in translation…again

If you make purity all about not having sex, which is what True Love Waits has done, then, no surprise, it starts becoming all about sex. The True Love Waits pledge gets stuck on ‘sexually pure’.

Purity is bigger than that. The biblical definition of purity is a commitment to Godliness in everything. It’s putting God and Jesus first. It’s not just about getting your purity p-plates on from a ‘no sex’ perspective, but in everything.

Yet I can sort of forgive ‘True Love Waits’ for wanting to dumb it down for teenagers when faced with that definition. It reminded me of Robin Williams’ line about God being stoned when He created the platypus. I’d love to have seen what He was smoking when deciding to go with purity, teenage hormones and no sex before marriage.

My research continues…

XVxpbpv

Can I Take This Elephant To The Mardi-Gras?

Rainbow-elephant-2I feel a bit like a stranger has stomped through my soul wearing a hefty pair of Dr. Marten boots. I’m not quite sure how it happened, or even if I can point a finger at one particular interloper, but, to describe it in very female terms, I feel like my faith is suffering from PMS.

Mood swings. Irritability. Tiredness. A desire to inflict blunt instrument trauma. Itchy in this Christian skin. Why now? I’d floated on post-liptoning life into Christmas, gently enjoyed the eddies and flows of a reflective January, and arrive truly excited for growth both spiritually and professionally this year.

Yet I feel like my soul has broken out in hives. That from last year’s happy dance over reaching some Christian summit I’ve just looked up and seen a mother of a mountain. My faith is acting like a petulant teen. It wants to stomp its feet, head back down the mountain and get completely blind on apres-climb liquor.

“I don’t want to read a useful Bible verse and pray to feel better,” it whines at me. “Pass the vodka.”

Is it really my faith whining petulantly or an echo from my 42 years ‘before Christ’ (BC)? From re-arranging my molecules whilst holidaying with an old friend who knew me BC yet hadn’t seen me ‘after Christ’ (AC), to something as simple as sex, I am suddenly cranky, restless and resistant. My New Christian Dr Jekyll is being challenged by my older, less Christian Hyde.

BC/AC

Sadly, the old friend with whom I holidayed is not on social media. This blog and my whole hound of heaven year had gone unnoticed. A passing comment that I’d been attending church led to long aethist viewpoints. My Liptoning in the river left her speechless. The adjective ‘God Botherer’ was used. As I smiled and held onto patience, my Hyde began to itch.

Simple as Sex

If only sex was simple. Trouble is, it’s tied up in values, beliefs and religiosity. My many years BC have given me some fairly open-minded views about sex, that don’t necessarily sit well AC. Take 50 Shades Of Grey, currently on billboards as the movie approaches. Where does Christianity sit with the 50 Shades genre? After all, Christians have sex. Some of them, after prayer meetings, even commit to having sex with their husbands every day for a year. Yet sex with pain and humiliation? Books that ‘normalise’ using sex as power? Suddenly there’s no grey. Kim Gaines argues that the lens of Fifty Shades delivers an unrealistic view of sex and power while Christian sex therapist and doctor, Patricia Weerakoon warns Christians to stay away from the movie and the books, given it normalises “unconventional sexual behaviour”, including bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism.

My BC Mrs Hyde rolls her eyes and wonders what the fuss is about. It is fiction. If you’re a consenting adult and you’re daft enough to sign a contract with a billionaire who has S&M proclivities, then you know what you’re in for. I repeat, it is fiction. If you read it and take from it an unrealistic view of sex and power then, I would venture to say, as it is fiction, you had an unrealistic view to start with.

Yet, I can’t simply ignore Christians’ concerns because – and this is where my faith starts to whine petulantly – I did opt in with the whole baptism bit. It holds me accountable despite any nagging wishes to hide behind Christian-ish.

I realise some of my itching and wriggle-room seeking is because, if I challenge it on Fifty Shades, there’s nowhere else to look but at the elephant in the room that is the Christian view of sex. Within a loving, heterosexual married relationship.

The elephant in the room – everything else outside of this view, including same sex marriage and same sex sex – derails me often. The fuss about Fifty Shades has me standing in front of the elephant again. Wondering if I want to run away with it and join the circus. Or Mardi Gras. Oh, boy. Or girl.

(The irony that I have no wish to be tied down to exploring sexual mores when discussing Fifty Shades, by the way, is not lost).

The SAP once pondered why God hunted me down. I replied perhaps He wanted me to lead the change-communications campaign for the church and same-sex marriage. Crickets chirped.

There are churches that would wrap my elephant in rainbow colours and lead it in a mardi gras. It would make me far less itchy in this AC skin. Trouble is, my elephant and I keep coming up against pesky scripture and Jesus’ line: “I do not condemn you…Go and sin no more.” John 8 1-11.

So whilst the Bible does give a clear answer about my elephant, the answer is not to Mrs BC Hyde’s taste. She’s pulling the ‘salt, tequila, lemon’ grimace. Dr AC Jekyll? Well, she fancies lining up a few shot glasses herself in commiseration.

I have climbed high enough on this Christian mountain to understand I do my faith a disservice by seeking a hall pass on this. As well as feeling I insult ‘qualified’ pastor types, regardless if they wear smart alec stripes or not, who are honest enough to stick to biblical truths no matter how challenging and unpalatable they are in the modern world. Doing so turns me into my BC/AC friend, who tried to impose her views over my new faith to make it more palatable to her.

The elephant will always itch at my skin. So whilst I can’t climb over it or squeeze around it, I will instead keep pressing my forehead lightly to its trunk in prayer.