How can a Christian navigate our hypersexualised culture?
Carol Loi // September 14, 2020, 12:22 pm
We don’t ask a fish how wet they are because they don’t even know that they are wet.
This is what John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, often reminds us about culture.
Those inside a culture often find it difficult to separate themselves enough to accurately describe it or examine it objectively.
In the past few weeks, there has been media coverage – both local and overseas – on several events that concern sex and sexuality.
These include the petitions surrounding a student-initiated talk on rope bondage, the memes on violent sex that were inspired by a show on Netflix, and a sexually explicit chart-topping song that has spawned suggestive dances on TikTok.
It’s clear that our culture focuses highly on self-determination: I control my own life so I can do whatever I want.
Ironically, that’s what the student group was pursuing (freedom from any restraint when it comes to forms of sex), and this belief has also shaped films and music that are being released today.
In a way, we have become our own gods.
This view of the world rejects the idea that the universe is created and ordered for predetermined purposes. Therefore there is no objective right and wrong, or objective truth.
But what if there’s an original design for sex?
Think about what it’s like when we get a new phone. To maximise its use, we want to understand what it’s designed to be, rather than use our own imagination and perception to use it.
The Christian worldview on this issue is this: True freedom comes when we are free to be what God created us to be.
Sex, as designed by God, is meant to honour and connect deeply with another person rather than be demeaning or cause pain. So the issue of bondage during sex is an oxymoron.
But before I get to that specific topic, let me first start by reiterating what is God’s design for sex.
In the first book of the Bible, we are reminded that God created man in His own image, and He created them – male and female (Genesis 1:27).
Together, man and woman are the image of God, and the union of the two as one flesh (Genesis 2:24) mirrors the joy and complete satisfaction that can be found in the Trinity.
The ability to reach another person’s soul in the marriage bed is something that is unique, mysterious and powerful. It is part of God’s design and it brings Him glory.
However, the enemy is distorting sex such that the beautiful image of deep union and joy in the context of marriage is now unrecognisable.
MEDIA IS SHAPING OUR VIEWS ON SEX
One of the key modes that the devil uses to distort God’s design for sex is through pornography, where many seeds are sown into the hearts and minds of those who consume it – seeds that do not bear good fruits.
The most popular porn content today involves sexual aggression. Furthermore, a study has shown that men pick up certain sexual scripts from porn, which spills over into their desire to exhibit similar male-marking behaviour in real life.
“Hypersexualised media and porn work to groom young people into internalising the belief that ‘rough sex’, is normalised, legitimate and an accepted form of sexual play,” says Gail Dines, a professor of sociology and founder of Culture Reframed, an organisation working to educate young people on the impact of pornography.
If you hear of the argument that porn is harmless, please know that porn messes with your mind as well as your relationships. Its impact on the brain is similar to what drugs and alcohol do.
Research into porn usage among teenage boys shows a link between pornography that depicts violence with increased degrees of sexually aggressive behaviour, while other evidence suggests that pornography has led to pressure on women and young girls to behave a certain way during sex.
The normalisation of such behaviours through the media reduces the seriousness of such sexual acts, which could have potentially fatal implications like choking and strangulation. In fact, young women are now showing off their injuries (whether real or realistic) in exchange for likes on TikTok.
Just because it is branded as “safe” by culture doesn’t necessarily mean it is so.
For example, courts in the UK have seen an increased use of the “rough sex defence” in cases of sexual violence to justify why it occurred. Killings as a result of “sex games gone wrong” have also jumped by 90 per cent over the last 10 years, with strangulation contributing to two-thirds of these cases.
Freedom that does not consider accountability or consequences will always enslave us to our own passions. We can drift further away from God’s design for sex the more we are exposed to harmful forms of sex.
Rope bondage falls under the category of BDSM (bondage and discipline; dominance and submission; sadism and masochism), and these type of sex practices often involve inflicting pain on another person, whether physical or verbal.
Is that what God really wants sex to be?
Pause for a moment and think: If we believe that marriage depicts the relationship between Christ and the church (2 Corinthians 11:2), is Christ a sadist?
Does He enjoy inflicting pain on His children? Is that how He shows love to us? On the contrary, Christ loves through sacrificing Himself.
BREAKING FREE FROM SEXUAL SIN
While all sin breaks God’s law, the Bible says that sexual sin is particularly destructive.
“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
As we navigate through this hypersexualised culture, let’s remember Romans 12:2.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We can take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) and be reminded that God is faithful and will not let us be tempted beyond our ability. With the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape, that we may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
With regard to porn, fighting it is possible by having wise personal boundaries, relying on the Holy Spirit and being in community with people who can keep us accountable.
Be discerning as we engage culture, especially in the kind of media we consume. See through what is good and glorifies God – and what nudges us away from Him.
Stay anchored to God’s Word to fully understand His design for our lives, and more importantly, be obedient to apply the Christian worldview in all aspects of our lives, including our sex life.
Overcoming sexual sin is hard. Nonetheless God loves us and never gives up on us, and He will work with us to help us overcome our struggles.
Carol Loi is digital literary educator and a leadership and family coach.
For deeper conversations on pornography, join the next Salt&Light Family Night on 15 September (Tuesday) at 8.30pm that Carol is facilitating with Quek Shiwei of Kallos Magazine as well as Randy Khoo, a counsellor.
THINK + TALK
- Is there a sexual sin that you need to confess and repent about? Consider journeying with a trusted mentor, or a mature brother or sister in Christ on this.
- Do you struggle with the way our culture talks about sex?
- How can you live out your Christian identity in the world and make a difference in our culture?