The Naked Truth: Some Thoughts on Hot Sex

Reed JolleyCommunity News

Hot Monogamous Sex.  That was the title of an editorial written by my friend Justin Buzzard and published online byThe Huffington Post (7/24/12).  Justin is a church-planter in San Jose, a great preacher, a former member of SBCC, a married father of three, and an all-around good guy.  His essay on hot sex within the context of marriage, however, gave me pause.

Justin begins, appropriately enough, describing for Huffington Post readers what most people are looking for in sex.  To be specific, this fledgling pastor claims that most of us want sex that is passionate, interesting, refreshing, and frequent—and many folks in their twenties and thirties see marriage as an impediment to all of the above.  He writes this:

Many people (especially men) think marriage is a cage, a cage that prevents you from enjoying this kind of extraordinary sex. This way of thinking makes sense. Marriage (as most would define it) means a lifetime of sex with the same person, so it’s easy to conclude that novelty, variety, adventure, passion, and heat would fade when you’re simply having sex with the same old person for multiple decades. How interesting could such sex really be? “It’s a cage,” the masses seem to cry.

Pastor Buzzard tells of a recent conversation he had with a nonbeliever in his twenties who feared marriage because it would destroy the heat, passion, and frequency of sex.  Well, tell me honestly, Justin asked, how many times in the past year have you had sex?  The young man stewed, stammered a bit, and admitted to three sexual encounters over the previous twelve months of his life.  Now this is where the essay gets interesting.  Buzzard writes:

In a loud and jovial voice I immediately replied, “I have like 100 times more sex than you do in a year! And it’s all with one woman, a woman who loves me and gets better at sex every time we have it. It’s hot sex!”

Let me state, clearly, that Justin Buzzard’s essay was brilliant, especially when we consider where it was published.  He smuggles a little bit of the gospel into an arena that wouldn’t normally be open to a Christian worldview.  After the above quote Buzzard goes on to extol the virtues of marital sex.  He explains that in his nine years of marriage, sex has been both fulfilling and, ahem, hot:

Yes, I’ve been having sex with one woman, the same woman, for nine years. But, on the other hand, I’ve been having sex with a different woman each time.…  The woman I enjoyed sex with on my wedding night still goes by the same name today, but she’s quite different. A lot has changed in nine years. I feel this every week—that I’m a man constantly becoming a new man who shares a bed and everything else with a woman who is a little bit new every morning.

That sounds like love to me.  But what about “hot” sex?  And what about 300 times a year?  Is that what we are after?  When I read Justin’s essay, I fired off a friendly email.  May I quote myself?

One question (rhetorical, just for pondering).  How do we believers talk about and celebrate the gift of sex without capitulating to a worldly (i.e., idolatrous) understanding of sex?  Truth be told, you are not having sex 300 times a year unless you and your wife are very different from the rest of us.  And, truth be told, sex is not always hot. Sometimes, even, it is perfunctory.  Hence the old phrase fulfilling one’s conjugal duty.

My friend wrote back promptly admitting that, in fact, 300 was a bit of a stretch.  It turns out, Justin and his wife are actually like the rest of us….

The point of my question to Justin comes from a concern that when we present a Christian view of sex, we don’t win the battle and lose the war.  It would be quite possible to oversell our position.  By adopting the language of the sexually adventurous (“hot sex”) and making somewhat inflationary claims about our prowess (“300 times a year”), we could be doing a disservice to our Christian view of sex.  After all, it is quite possible to enthrone sex and make it another idol even we believers worship.  And by so doing we would, essentially, be saying, Our worship is better than yours. You worship sex in the temple of promiscuity; we worship the same god in the temple of marriage.

Yes, sexual intercourse is a great gift from God to married people.  The joy of sex is an example of what theologians call common grace.  Sex is a gift for Muslims, Jews, agnostics, and Mormons.  Yet, sex is not God, and we need to be careful to point that out.  Perhaps the most revolutionary thing the New Testament says about sex is that it is something we can live without and still have a meaningful life (see 1 Corinthians 7, for example).

Justin, who encouraged me to write this rejoinder to his blog, ends his piece with the question, I think our world could use a lot more hot monogamous sex. Don’t you?

My answer?  I dunno.  It depends on where the emphasis is in that sentence. After all, the world may pass away for the absence of monogamy.  Yes, that’s what I said: the world may pass away for the absence of monogamy. Fatherlessness, AIDS, abortion, poverty, crime, divorce, and a host of other ills have at least some of their roots in the giving up of monogamy and the pursuit of sex-at-all-costs. What if, however, we demythologized the notion of hot sex?  Would not global warming come to an end?  Wouldn’t many marriages be saved if we dethroned sex and enjoyed it simply for the gift that it is?  Wouldn’t those who are unmarried in the church have an easier time of it if we weren’t touting the frequency of our encounters and the temperature of our lovemaking?

The naked truth is this: sex is both a gift and a mystery.  Make too much of this gift and the delight will be spoiled.  The pursuit of sex has brought untold pleasure—and led to much pain.  Our love for God puts sex in its place: a gift, but not God.