Sexual devotion is something we have talked about and alluded to in the previous parts of this series. It’s essentially bringing the gift of sexuality into a devotional time with God and surrendering our sexuality to Him. It’s a complete different way of looking at what we use our sexuality for. It’s not to say that traditional expressions of sexuality within a Christian context are completely invalid, but it is to say that the theology behind traditional Christian views of sexuality has needed reconsideration, and when that reconsideration has taken place, godly sexuality looks different than it used to.
The traditional view of male and female sexuality in the Church has been guided by patriarchy. This has been well known in society and society has influenced the Church. The predominating theology in the church for centuries, amid much controversy relating to specific interpretations and counter-interpretations of particular Bible verses, is something we know today as “complementarianism”. This essentially says that there are specific gender-based roles for male and female Christians, and in particular, leadership roles all over the church and in the family home are predominantly reserved for males. Complementarianism also teaches a sexuality that essentially implies that the primary purpose of a female is to meet a male’s sexual needs. Males are considered to be out of control and unable to moderate their sex drives, and women are made wholly responsible for men’s sexual actions, so women are the ones who are the most pressured to remain sexually pure and are even told they are not supposed to have sexual desires or drives. This has driven the development of extreme sexual purity culture that is primarily targeted at women, with little attention given to applying the same standards to men.
Christian Egalitarianism begins, on the other hand, with core assumptions that men and women are more or less equal both in gender roles and in church leadership. From that comes a more equal view of what sexuality is about. Even if we stick with the assumption that males are still going to be primarily interested in meeting and establishing sexually intimate relationships with women, it does open up possibilities for women being able to sit in roles where they can have a sexuality that is not focused exclusively on marriage. Women are a lot better than us guys at living devoted single lives. One of the key assumptions that has come across from complementarianism is that every young person is going to marry. Those who don’t are made to feel like outcasts, and few churches have developed effective programs to support single adults.
Now just as it is possible for women to lead devoted lives of singleness, it is equally possible for Christian men to do so as well. So put the focus on singleness together and where does that leave sexuality? Well, like other aspects of a single person’s life, their sexuality can also be refocused into their relationship with God. That means we have to allow that there are means that single people can surrender and devote the gift of sexuality back to God, and to that end, there has to be an effective means of expressing genital sexuality for singles. The basic premise of this entire blog is that such a means exists, and that the purposes of the different body parts which respond to sexual arousal can be considered to be, first and foremost, for the development of healthy personal sexuality, which is of greater and higher importance than sexuality expressed in a sexually intimate relationship (i.e. marriage). This dovetails very neatly with our relational priorities in our faith. We put God at No.1 position in our lives, if we have a spouse they come in at No.2, and then other priorities such as work, ministry, friends etc come below that. This hierarchy in relation to our faith is very important to allow us to ensure we are effectively equipped to serve and minister to the people in the No.2 and lower positions, by calling on the God who is No.1 in our lives to give us what we need to make everything else work.
So in the same way as in other aspects of our faith life, we are equipped in our sexuality by submitting it to God who is the most important in our lives, the one we can go to in order to be able to serve people lower in the hierarchy. And we believe herein that God’s people can be fully equipped in all aspects of their sexuality by spending time in what we are referring to here as sexual devotion. This starts from the assumption just mentioned above, in relation to body parts that produce sexual arousal when stimulated. For example, in both male and female, bare skin is one of our biggest sexually erogenous zones, and apart from the genitals themselves, other areas of male and female bodies such as lips, breasts, nipples, buttocks and thighs are more sensitive to physical contact and generate increased levels of sexual excitement when stimulated. The concept of sexual devotion, the title of this post, essentially comes from the idea that spending time experiencing sexual pleasure and focusing it on building one’s personal relationship with God provides the basic for development of a healthy God-focused sexuality that then can, as in other aspects of relationship in the lives of believers, be used in a more healthy and selfless way to serve others.
We wrote previously that masturbation is often prescribed as a sex therapy solution and that it can have application at a personal level for Christians, not just because they may have experienced sexual trauma that requires to be healed, but because they are constantly under pressure in society (especially women) in relation to physical aspects of their sexuality such as appearance and performance, and therefore applying the principles of sexual therapy is an important priority for both male and female Christians in order to maintain personal sexual purity and integrity. The new ideas expressed in this post take that concept further, and postulate that Christians need to focus on personal sexual devotion as a proactive strategy. In other words, we aren’t using these techniques as a reaction to what is happening around us in society. Instead, we make personal sexual devotion in our relationship with God a part of the No.1 priority in our lives, and then refocus every other aspect of our physical sexuality accordingly. This is how we focus other aspects of our daily lives of faith as God’s people.
Sexual devotion is easy enough to understand and practice. It means that we should be setting aside regular time in our daily or weekly schedule to submit our physical sexuality directly to God and allow us to express our feelings about our sexuality to Him as an act of worship, allowing us time to listen for His response to us in these times, just as we do at other devotional times in our walk of faith. These times will prove to be invaluable for all believers in developing a healthy understanding of their physical sexuality from a faith based perspective and the relevance of it to other aspects of their day to day lives and ability to serve those around them. The primary act of service would usually be to the No.2 person in their lives (a husband or wife) both in terms of sexual intimacy and in being considerate and respectful of each other’s sexual needs. Below that, the main relevant area of service is generally in being considerate and respectful of others by expressing appropriate attitudes such as maintaining healthy physical boundaries when working with others. This may also extend into ministry where so involved. There will of course be those who are single who do not have a husband or wife in their lives, and therefore their sexual devotion times are the only opportunity they have for sexual expression in their lives. For these people, they may obviously choose to spend more time in sexual devotion than for married people who have to give adequate time and consideration to their spouse.
We summarise this post therefore by postulating that the most important role of our physical sexuality is to devote it in worship to God in times of sexual devotion to Him and that this aspect of physical sexuality is more important than being in sexual relationship in marriage. Good healthy marriage sexual relationship and respectful sexual attitudes to others are naturally rooted in healthy sexuality which in turn is established in sexual devotion by using our physical body parts first and foremost in the times of sexual devotion in worship and surrender to God.