Deciding About Sex

Matt Naylor

A Professional Commentary

   We’re sexual from the time we are born to the time we die. That doesn’t mean we have sex all of that time – of even some of that time. All people – those that are sexually active and those who are not – are all sexual people. Sexuality is a core of who we are, and is a filter
through which we experience life.

IMatt Naylor believe that God intended sexuality to be a source of wholeness and healing in our lives, as it can serve to bring us into community and into relationship with others. Sexuality also serves to draw us into intimate relationships, where we can learn to be vulnerable, trusting, experience healing, and renewal. Paradoxically, in our sexuality we can also experience the very opposite. We can use and be used. Most of us have experienced both.

I believe that we need to be stewards of our sexuality – responsible discipleship requires that we celebrate and enjoy our sexuality in a responsible way. That’s both – that we celebrate and enjoy our sexuality, and we do it in a way that is responsible.

So how can we make decisions about responsible intimacy and sexual pleasure? For many, a hard and fast set of rules of useful. For others, they find a set of principles of some use. In working with young adults, I have found the following as a useful starting place.

• Sexual intimacy should be expressed between people who have equal power.

• Expressions of sexuality ought to be appropriate for the degree of love and covenant present in a relationship.

• Expressions of sexuality should preserve and honor human dignity in both motive and act.

• Sexual activity should demonstrate responsible concern for the integrity and wholeness of the partner.

• Sexual expression should be evaluated in regard to motivations, intentions, the nature of the act itself, and the consequences of the act, each of these informed and shaped by love.

Intimate sexual expression should aim at human fulfillment and wholeness; God’s loving intention for all persons. The intent should be the engagement of the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. Sexual expressions that by their very nature are loveless, coercive, debasing to the other’s sensitivities, utterly impersonal, obsessed solely on physical gratification, or violent are unethical.

I think that Christians need to think hard about how they act out their sexual intimacy. I’ve learned that principles can guide responsible sexual behavior – whether one is married, in a committed or relationship, or is trying to figure how to be a good sexual steward.

Matt Naylor has a PhD in sexuality, and has led workshops and classes in sexuality and relationships in many places. He works with Outreach International, helping the marginalized poor work their way out of poverty and oppression.
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8 thoughts on “Deciding About Sex

  1. JK says:

    If this is the new idea of what sex is and means to us then scripture must have no authority over our lives. The Holy Scriptures still have authority over my life but I am finding it harder and harder to see my church do the same.

  2. Luke Zahniser says:

    Thank you Matthew. As a new priesthood member and a single guy at 25, I needed to know some of this. I appreciate your comments and your continuing role in our church.

  3. Mal says:

    Reading this made me sick to my stomach. To think something like this is going out from our church. I whole-heartedly agree with Bradley’s post. Sex itself, and other sexual sins, are intended only for marriage — a man and a woman. God intended the joy of sex for marriage. Sadly, I feel like the minority in this biblical belief. The article asks how we can make decisions about responsible intimacy and sexual pleasure? The answer is clear: By following God’s word and God’s standards of keeping yourself pure until marriage. You never regret purity. Thankfully, I found a man who upheld this same belief as I do. It’s as it should be.

  4. Heather Weeks says:

    Matt, thank you for your wise and gentle words around this sensitive issue. Sexuality can be (and so often is) SUCH a destructive, life-draining experience in our world and in our culture. And yet, it is also SUCH an incredibly beautiful, life-giving experience in the right context. Thank you for taking the risk to share your perspective on this topic of such great importance to young adults today.

  5. Trudy says:

    I would like to show support for the first two responses to this article. Christians should follow the guidelines clearly stated in the scriptures rather than creating their own guiding principles. Sexuality goes beyond responsibility and stewardship but does not define a person. A spiritual relationship with God should always be first and formost.

  6. Bradley Barnhart says:

    There are sexual sins clearly expressed in the scriptures. Let’s not play with words. Sexual relations outside of the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman is sin. Sexual relations with someone other than your married spouse is sin.
    It’s unfortunate the church doesn’t seem to teach this very well in recent years.

  7. Wil says:

    Matt, The writing is very eloquent, but I think you are missing the real issue. As a Christian I thought we believed that God was at our core not sexuality. There are natural laws that if broken lead to other incorrect assumptions. Christianity is what we have decided to follow, so it follows that the initial assumption is not cut and dried as written.

  8. Wow! You have quite brilliantly and eloquently expressed my own deeply-held beliefs regarding Christian sexuality! Thank you so much for finding just the right words to define some of the most valuable guiding principles of sexual responsibility and stewardship!

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