I went to an adult shop for the first time last week.
I know, right. I go to church and everything…
Before you de-friend me on Facebook or reconsider letting me babysit your kids, here’s what happened:
I was on a lunch break with a friend (we were on our way to get sushi) when we stumbled across a slightly less-seedy-than-usual sex shop on Melbourne Street.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it has been my bread and butter for many a year, so we decided to go in.
Before I go any further, let me be clear. I have absolutely no problem with toys/gadgets/gizmos. I do, however, have a huge problem with pornography.
The fact that this store stocked plenty of both was both fascinating and kind of gross.
It was also hilarious. Especially when a well heeled 50-something gentleman realized we were in the store and immediately blushed and turned his back without realizing that he had turned away from the boobie magazines to unwittingly find himself looking at anal beads*.
I couldn’t help but wonder why he was so ashamed to be in the store. If he wanted to buy “Juggs” magazine he should just do it and stand by the decision. Is he worried that I’ll think less of him for buying porn?
After this incident, my friend mentioned how awful it would be if someone we actually knew came into the store while we were there.
So deliciously awkward.
Adult shops are pretty shady at the best of times even if you’re not interested in porn but simply want to see what’s available to help spice things up in the bedroom.
You also can’t help thinking that by even admitting that you’re interested in ‘spice’ that people will judge you, like all of a sudden you’re the only person in the world who wants to have great sex.
But at the same time I wondered why?
I remember growing up how clueless and embarrassed I was about sex. It just wasn’t really talked about and I was kind of left to my own devices as I matured and natural desires grew in me.
While I chose not to express these desires (often against my will) due to my conviction about marriage being the best place for sex, there was still no real conversation about that. Nor was there anyone cheering me on for my superhuman effort – unless you count my uni friends calling me an idiot. And I don’t.
I don’t want to get all ‘Quinn Fabray’ a la Chastity Club on you, but the fact that I learned more about sex from Samantha Jones in Sex And The City than I did from my church is something that I will not let happen to younger generations.
Sucks to be my future kids, huh.
It’s simply not enough to say ‘don’t do it’ but not explain why it’s important or how to manage sexual desires without being patronising.
If Christians aren’t having these conversations in any meaningful way, then people start tuning in to whoever is.
Between the Governator, Gossip Girl, SATC, Entourage, AFL/NFL/NBA/other political indiscretions, Queer as Folk and an entire generation of teenagers who think jeggings and midriff tops are appropriate every day attire, you start to wonder if there are any messages being communicated about sex that don’t involve the illicit, selfish or manipulative.
Which I’m pretty sure is the opposite of the way God intended it to be.
I was talking to a 19-year-old guy the other day and he was trying to figure out faith and where he stood with it all. The main roadblock seemed to be his perception that following Jesus would be a mega buzz kill.
He seemed to think that if he said ‘yes’ to God he would have to kiss goodbye any chance for an interesting, fun-filled life. And being a 19-year-old male, his main concern (not surprisingly) was sex and associated doubts about the merits of waiting for a smokin’ hot wifey to enjoy it with.
I told him to get to know Jesus first and worry about the rest later.
But in thinking about it since, I wish I’d had the presence of mind to tell him that God wants him to have copious amounts of the greatest, most mind-blowing, fulfilling and passionate sex he’s ever dreamed of. And not only that, but that God has designed a way for him to enjoy it to its fullest and in complete freedom.
But what does this have to do with me darkening the door of a North Adelaide sex shop?
Mostly that I want this kid, along with the 50-something well dressed dude in the store – who probably goes to a church near you – to have higher aspirations for sex than promiscuity and porn.
Here’s what I think:
We need to develop a culture within our families and communities in which talking about sex finds an appropriate place.
We need to learn how to dignify the desires and delights of sexuality in all seasons of life – puberty, singleness, marriage etc – without being crippled by shame or fear. We need to be unshockable; completely empathetic and utterly gracious.
In doing this, I hope we can permission people to embrace their sexuality in a beautiful way and find a safe place to work things out so sex doesn’t become a defining, damaging or limiting factor in their life.
I would love your thoughts on this.
Yours for awkward conversations,
* Don’t Google this. Ever.