J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Liar Liar Pants on Fire – Lies About Sex Promoted by the Church

While at the CCEF Conference this past week, I had the privilege of hearing Lauren Winner speak twice about sex and what the church actually says about it.  In one talk, she highlighted 3 tropes/lies/half-truths that the church often promotes instead of truth.  Her talks were fascinating and frank, so I offer them to you for discussion and thought.

First Trope:  To promote chastity, the church/parents often tell youth that if they have pre-marital sex, you will wake up the next morning feeling terrible or guilty or whatever other awful thing.  Though this may be true, it is not true for every person.  This type of thinking can often be the equivalent of emotional blackmail.  She highlighted two problems with this type of persuasion towards chastity.

When in the name of the faith and of Jesus, we tell a teenager something that is false then we are undercutting whatever we have said or will say to them in future.  This type of speech about sex also misrepresents Christian Theology.  Our doctrines related to sin and the fall – the reason we don’t always feel bad is because sin is great and the fall is so powerful that our feelings are distorted by sin.  Our feelings need to be refined by scripture and if our feelings were always right, we wouldn’t need scripture or the church community.

Feeling bad about sexual sin is actually a mature state.  If we always felt terrible, the world would be a phenomenally better place, but our hearts often suppress conviction.  What people probably mean to say is “Sex outside of marriage is in fact bad and really destructive and erodes your relationship with God.”  It’s sin even if you don’t feel that it is bad.

Second Trope:  Men are obsessed with sex and women are not. This is the Idea that men don’t have emotions and that women don’t have sex drives, and this idea is pervasive within church teaching as well when parents present these ideas to their children.  Often, parents and the church never tell their daughters that they have desires.

This leads to weird and awkward situations when Christian women get married, and they have to go overnight from being told not to have a sex drive to a swinging from the chandelier sex drive.  Guilt is then added by telling women that if they don’t have this type of sex drive, your husband will look at pornography.  This type of teaching is the opposite of what church history used to say.  Up until the late 1700’s, the common that men were naturally faithful and women were like Eve seeking to overtake their men.

The healthiest alternative is to teach that both men and women have healthy sex drives.  They are different but not opposites.

Third Trope:  Sexual sin is the unforgivable sin. Scars and ghosts are the most commonly used metaphors by the church when discussing pre-marital sex.  Typically, this type of language is getting at the notion that there is no way to go through life neutrally – we either draw near to Christ or away.  Our behaviors do have long lasting formational effects and that is true about our bodies and sex.  You can’t engage in sexual sin and effects go away.

For example, consider pornography and masturbation.  They teach that you can have sex whenever, it always culminates in orgasm and that it doesn’t happen with another person (it happens with pictures and images).  The essence of these things is opposed to the essence of what God says about sin and sex.  One of the long lasting effects is that it will take a long time to unlearn these things, but saying or implying that it is unforgivable that goes to far and is not biblical.

Though Lauren’s talk was more descriptive than prescriptive, I found it incredibly helpful and informative.  Fixing and preventing these areas are the next challenges.

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner.  Click and help me earn a penny.


November 17, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,


  1. Nice!! I posted it to my FB page…thanks!

    Comment by Amy | November 17, 2009 | Reply

  2. Sorry to have missed such an excellent conference….Frued was the one who initiated “false guilt”, need I say more? Our churches today need to teach their people how to think Biblically (2 Pet.1:3). Let your faith inform your feelings and not your feelings inform your faith. Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Cheryl Kupetz | November 17, 2009 | Reply

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