Anyone who has existed in Christian culture for any length of time will be aware of the disparity between how male and female sexuality is articulated, portrayed and – before marriage – avoided.
The prevalence of neuro-sexism within both Christian culture and wider society leaves people convinced that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. It’s fascinating that many Christians who are vehemently anti-evolutionary theory will use research based on evolutionary theory to justify their continued stereotyping of men and women.
Women feel, men do. Women eat muesli, men eat bacon sandwiches. Women need to talk, men need to ejaculate. Women nurture, men protect. On and on and on it goes. Nothing more clearly demonstrates this than the Christian approaches to male and female sexuality.
The man sex talk is about controlling urges and assumes all men have a higher sex drive than their female partner. Issues about porn and masturbation are addressed – albeit in ways that often aren’t great. Single men are assumed to be struggling without sex, encouraged to wrestle with their sexual desire and tame it.
If there is a woman sex talk – and often there won’t be – it focuses on feelings. Masturbation and pornography are never mentioned, apart from ‘things men struggle with’. The clitoris won’t even get a mention. Assumptions will be made that married women struggle to match their husband’s sex drive and that single women’s main struggle with sex is that men they meet might want it.
Within the Church, the stories of people who define themselves as “same-sex attracted” – regardless of whether you agree with this terminology or not – are not stories of people, but rather the stories of men. Women’s stories are not mentioned. My understanding is that some women who define themselves as same-sex attracted didn’t feel able to share their stories publicly.
Yet God made women to enjoy sex. Unlike men, God designed women with an organ that functions purely for sexual pleasure. The clitoris has double the nerve endings of a man’s entire penis, and yet sex education rarely mentions it, and I’ve yet to hear of a Christian sex seminar talk about it. God made woman and she was very good. God made sex and it can be amazing.
As Christians we are holders of the gospel, which translates as good news. We have a God who made women and men with the capacity to experience beautiful, creative, mind-blowing sex. But that gospel isn’t preached. The church has been infected by the principality and power that is patriarchy and it seeps unnoticed into the hearts, minds and relationships of Christians, congregations and church teaching. We have exchanged the truth of God’s good creation for the dogma of morality; the beauty and mutuality of God’s gift of sex for an equation that reduces sex to ‘good sex to post marriage’ and ‘bad sex to pre-marriage’.
Orgasms can be amazing. It’s fascinating that the highest number of orgasms achieved in an hour for a woman was 134, whereas for a man it was 16. Women! We have the capacity to have 134 orgasms in ONE HOUR and yet we are being lied to by both society and the Church. Our sexuality is being diminished by a system that seeks to prevent us achieving our full potential in all aspects of our life.
Women’s magazines have naked women in them and men’s magazines have naked women in them. Men’s sex advice is about how they can have better orgasms and women’s sex advice is about how to give men better orgasms. As Christians we have a response that goes beyond being unfair and reaches further than fighting for equality. It is a response that knows we have been created in God’s image; unique, gifted and loved. That places sex as a God-created gift to humanity and that invites both men and women to enjoy it.
This article is part of a special series commissioned by guest editor Claire Rush to celebrate and remember International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March.