In a philosophy class I took, we watched a video of a Christian apologist interviewing Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy. At one point, the interviewer elaborates on all the negative results of the porn and sex industry: STDs, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, pornography and sexual addiction, etc. He uses this preface to ask Hefner what he thinks of what his industry is doing to society. Many of my classmates were probably thinking, Oo, nice one! That’ll get him! Hefner’s sarcastic response broke my heart: “You’re right; I admit it. Sex is the enemy.” The interviewer, with a confused and plastic smile, tried to assure Hefner that wasn’t what he was insinuating — he knows God-designed sex is not the enemy — but if I hadn’t known better, I would have assumed the same based on his set-up.
What have we done? We in the Christian culture so often focus on the perils resulting from a distorted picture of sexuality that we’ve lost sight of its beautiful original intent. Even in the Christian subculture, we’ve projected the perception to the rest of the world that Christianity says sex is dirty, sinful and frankly, “the enemy.” This is not the truth. Our sexuality, in its intended and proper context, is intended to be a beautiful picture of God’s relationship with us (Ephesians 5:31-32). Christians should become better educated in the healthy, positive and biblical truths of what our human sexuality is supposed to be rather than all the negatives coming from its perversion.
Our culture as a whole over-emphasizes sexuality. Christian culture was once at the extreme of never discussing the topic, but is now swinging to the opposite side of the pendulum by discussing it excessively. Amidst all this talk, it is still rare to hear anything positive about sex. Rather, youth groups promote abstinence contracts without presenting the beauty of marriage, and “sex talks” largely consist of scare tactics and guilt trips. Why can we not be motivated by striving for something greater rather than avoiding something worse?
I once heard Ted Cunningham, author of Young and in Love, say something that will always stick with me: “The hope of purity is marriage.” Yes, purity is a beautiful thing and something to strive for and desire, but it is so closely tied to marriage that its whole message is lost if we do not discuss the importance of marriage with it. Cunningham brought up Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure,” meaning everyone, whether to be married or single, should honor marriage and keep sex sacred for marriage alone. Why have we stopped rejoicing in the beauty of marriage — two people committing to be an example to the world of how God desires a relationship with us?
After the video, our professor asked how we would talk to Hefner given the chance. While classmates proposed to discuss his “daddy issues” or theological arguments, my mind was elsewhere. This man’s entire life’s value system is based on a certain perception of sexuality. I’d meet him where he is and approach him where his values lie — not attack him or hit him with a philosophical angle he’s probably heard before. I would begin: “Mr. Hefner, I’m sorry many Christians have given a bad impression of what our faith says about sex. Can I tell you what our God really thinks about it?”
What would happen if we emphasized the positives and the beauty of sex in its proper context more than the negatives of its cheap caricature?