This entire month we’ve been talking about the reality that we live in a very sexualized culture. This is a fact of life whether we are dealing with the workplace, the media, the gym, the mall, and even the church.
And as I’ve said before, this is not something that should come as a complete surprise to anyone. Again, we are sexual beings so as we interact with each other and the world around us, our sexuality is going to be something that’s a part of everyday life.
But, the problem for most of us is not the presence of sex or sexuality, but the over saturation and exploitation of it.
So then what’s a person to do? How do we deal with this reality in a way that’s healthy and helpful?
As we’ve been pointing out, many of our “strategies” (especially in the church world) for handling this stuff fall on the side of fight, flight and ignore rather than engage. But, these tactics usually prove to be less than helpful, and more often than not lead to shame inducing results.
Here’s the thing…
As a parent and former porn addict myself, I understand the tension we all face trying to live in a sex saturated society. But aversion and suppression are not the answers even though they seem like the safest options.
Here are some simple strategies and/or considerations I would recommend you try employing as you navigate your way through life and all the sexual messaging you will undoubtedly encounter.
- Acknowledge and accept without resigning
By now it should be clear, the sexualization of our culture is not going away. We can piss, moan, and stomp our feet about it, but none of that changes the reality of our situation. The truth is all our complaining and combativeness just sends the signal that we are hopelessly out of touch and further emboldens those who want to write off our commentary as the rantings of a crazy person.
However, accepting reality and resigning to it are two different things.
When we accept reality but then do what we can to remediate the challenges we encounter through drawing wise boundaries, promoting thoughtful engagement, and advancing meaningful conversation, we grow as individuals and lessen the negative impact of our sexualized culture.
But when we resign ourselves to it and just throw up our hands in disgust as we wave the white flag we pave the way for more of the same. At the end of the day, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” is a sucker’s mindset.
- Don’t condemn or condone.
Again, when it comes to the topic of sex and sexuality many people (especially in the church) think and dialogue in very extreme terms.
Often it’s either…
I don’t agree with you, so I’m going to condemn you into seeing things my way.
Hey, it’s all good. No need to talk this through. You do you, and I’ll applaud you for it.
When talking to my kids I am always very clear on the fact that they shouldn’t condemn or criticize their friend’s choices, even though they may be extremely poor. But, I also tell them that they don’t need to affirm those choices either. Rather, look for opportunities to ask questions and engage in conversations that will get their friends thinking.
The message you want to send is…
- I love you.
- I support you.
- That doesn’t mean I agree with you.
- And I’m letting you know this because I love you 🙂
When it comes to topics like sexuality you’ll get a lot farther building bridges instead of burning them. But that doesn’t mean you have to move across the bridge and set up camp.
- Talk, talk, and talk some more.
Yea, I’m not going to stop beating in this drum any time soon. The best thing we can do when it comes to sex, porn, masturbation, and sexual exploitation is welcome thoughtful conversations concerning these matters.
This applies to your church, your small groups, your workplace, your accountability relationships, and your kids.
Ignoring questions revolving around sex and sexuality never helps anyone.
When a parent asks me what’s the best thing they can do to “protect” their kids from porn I tell them all the same thing… Talk to ‘em.
Don’t shy away from tough topics because when you do, you send the message that you’re not a safe person to have these conversations with. And so your kids (or whoever) will talk about this stuff elsewhere, usually online.
The truth is almost every guy I’ve ever helped with porn and sex addiction all have one thing in common; there parents never talked to them about sex.
Coincidence? I think not.
Let’s stop making the same mistake folks.
- Recognize that sex is awesome but needs to be handled responsibly.
Over the years so much damage has been done to people because of sexual suppression.
Somehow many people (again, especially those from a faith background) have grown up believing that sex is kind of a taboo topic and even though it’s ok for marriage, it’s almost shameful to pursue sexual pleasure.
Hear me on this.
Sex is pleasurable, and it’s pleasurable for a reason – that’s no accident.
But sex was created to enhance and increase marital intimacy, it’s not just something that lives in a vacuum and simply happens to work “better” in a married relationship.
We need to stop treating sex and sexuality like they are dirty words. They aren’t. But when these topics are explored and pursued in an unhealthy way they can create massive problems and even trauma.
It is possible to acknowledge the pleasure and beauty of sex without exploiting or suppressing it.
Case in point…
When I first talked to my son about masturbation I flat out told him that an orgasm feels amazing. I didn’t try to minimize that fact even a little bit. But I also explained how our brains bond with stuff that gives us pleasure and so when we masturbate at a young age for pleasure we create unhealthy patterns and neural pathways that can lead to life destroying addictions down the road.
Someday he might masturbate.
Maybe he won’t?
Chances are he will though.
And when he does, at least I know he has all the information to make an informed choice, and he knows his Dad is a safe place to go when he may end up making the “wrong” one.
Again, the world we live in is the world we live in.
And so we can keep pretending and hoping that things will somehow magically get “better,” or we can engage these realities thoughtfully, critically, and lovingly accepting the challenges that come along with that, making the way for increased personal growth.
The choice is yours.
AND as always – If you have questions about any of the things I covered here, be sure to check out Office Hours and submit your question so we can answer it in an upcoming session.