“They tell you sex has become a mess because it was hushed up. But for the last twenty years it has not been hushed up. It has been chattered about all day long. Yet it is still in a mess. If hushing up had been the cause of the trouble, ventilation would have set it right. But it has not. I think it is the other way round. I think the human race originally hushed it up because it had become such a mess.”
Those words appeared in a book published over 65 years ago: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I wonder if even C.S. could have possibly imagined where we would find ourselves today; still chattering about sex all day (and night) long, with an even bigger mess of confusion, hurt, shame and fear.
So what’s the problem? Why is all this candid discussion failing to dispel the darkness? How in the world have we gone from “How far is too far?” to “How many is too many?” to “How many different kinds of sex can I have?”
Amidst all of our “chatter about sex,” I feel like the elephant in the g-string that we never talk about is why we even want sex in the first place? Or put this way: what drives our sex drive?
Apparently, the answer to that question is obvious. So simple we teach it to children in Junior High. (Or is it kindergarten now?)
Teacher: “Sex is a natural drive and an enjoyable activity. Now, who’d like to help me put a condom on this banana? Where’s the banana? OK, who took the banana? Billy! You get over here and – Billy you spit that banana out right now!”
Is that it? Is that what drives our sex drive: animal instinct and the pursuit of happiness? (Hungry? Have a banana. Horny? Have sex!)
I’m pretty sure animal instincts are supposed to protect or preserve a species, and yet more often than not, our sex instinct drives us to take advantage of and abuse others, hollowing out our own souls (and often diseasing our bodies) in the process. That sounds more like destruction than preservation. What else would you call it when millions of infants are infected at birth with HIV by their mothers who were infected by their husbands who were infected by their lovers? And wouldn’t the mere existence of a multi-billion-dollar world-wide sex trafficking industry suggest our sex instinct has become more abnormal than natural?
And what about that Constitutional guarantee: the pursuit of (sexual) happiness. Are the sexually active students at your school happier? That hasn’t been the observation of researches like Donna Freitas. What other pursuit of happiness winds up in more broken hearts, more broken marriages, more broken homes, and more broken children; children who grow up and go to college asking, “How far is too far?”
What would happen if we started asking questions like this:
- “Why do you want to go as far as you can anyway? What are you trying to get so ‘far’ from?”
- “If you really mean ‘how close is too close,’ then what are you trying to get ‘close’ to? And how do you see sexual activity getting you closer?’”
- “What do you want sexual experience to give you? Pregnancy or pleasure (which is all animal instinct or the pursuit of happiness would presuppose) or are you hoping sex will give you something more?”
- “Why do you think our society is so consumed with sexuality? Is it really because it’s so natural, so much fun or is it something else?”
- “Do you think this is the struggle God ordained for you to have, the struggle you’ve chosen, or the struggle foisted upon you unwillingly?”
- “Whether we’re talking about pornography, hooking up or even the marriage bed, is sex really worth living for? Why do you think so?”
- “What does it mean to be created in the image of a God who not only has no gonads, he doesn’t even have a body? How should that reality frame our questions about our sexual identity, or even our identity period?”
If you are already asking these questions, what answers are you getting? If you haven’t asked questions like this, how do they strike you? Let’s stop ignoring the elephant in the g-string and get to the “why” question; the question of motives: What drives your sex drive?
I was able to initially reign in sexual temptation through “eye-gouging” decisions. I didn’t literally gouge out my eyes, mind you, but I did put in place strong, inconvenient barriers between me and temptation. And that works. But not forever.
In the end, I had to get to my heart motives. And, indeed, as I began to uncover what I was really looking for in sexual fulfillment; when I began answering questions like the ones above; that’s when I came to understand what was driving my sex drive. And that’s when I found the freedom I enjoy now. It’s a freedom I’m betting many of your students would like to know; the freedom, I dare say many college ministers long for.
What drives your sex drive? It’s stronger than animal instinct; bigger than the pursuit of pleasure. First, discover it for yourself. Then guide your students in finding their answer and you will empower them to take their sex drive and, as Lewis puts it, “set it right.”
Maybe then we can chatter about something else, like our calling, or grace, or relationships or God. And we can tell that elephant to put some clothes on.
Michael Johnson – When Michael “MJ” Johnson isn’t drawing skimpy underwear on pictures of wild animals, he writes and speaks to college students on behalf of www.FutureMarriageUniversity.org. He also has a “real job” in the music industry which enables him to support his really pretty wife and 5 really neat kids.