Christian Women Are Beginning to Talk about Sex and Intimacy
- Amanda Idleman Contributing Writer
- 2023 19 Jan
Sex has often been something that the American Evangelical church has talked about. As a young teen, I remember hearing about purity rings, talking about how true love waits, and knowing that sex was something I should avoid at all costs until married. With prolific internet access, we’ve had to talk about pornography and how it can consume us if we aren’t careful. As homosexuality has become more mainstream, the church has been forced to discuss what Biblical sexuality looks like. We all know sex matters, but we don’t always know the best way to talk about it as Christians.
A new wave of conversation in the Evangelical church is emerging, and it's offering a new perspective on sex. Christian women are beginning to talk more about sex! How refreshing to hear from those that have had little input on this subject for most of human history. Their voices are calling for healing, openness, and a shift in how the church talks about women and their sexuality.
Juli Slattery, a Christian psychologist, has spent many years working with couples, helping them “reclaim God’s design for sexuality.” She has stepped out in faith and began the Authentic Intimacy organization. She reported that she felt led to offer this resource after encountering so many evangelical women who are struggling with sexual brokenness and skewed expectations around marital sex. She believes that the church has not allowed women’s voices around sex to be heard by both sexes. There is a wave of women authors and speakers that are addressing this issue and are speaking to both men and women.
The statistics around sexual brokenness among women in the church confirm that there are some big issues that need to be brought to light. In a survey of 20,000 evangelical women, it was reported that 20 percent of them had experienced marital rape. It was also discovered that Christian women experience twice the rate of vaginismus, a condition where fear and anxiety cause sex to be painful.
Shaunti Felldahn, a Christian sex researcher, found that 70% of couples had “mismatched” expectations about how often they should have sex. This can make sexual fulfillment tough when a couple is not on the same page.
The good news is just as we are pulling back the covers to reveal what is going on in the lives of Christian women and couples in the bedroom, there is a broadened set of resources becoming available to help people find healing. We are hearing women speak up about the negative ramifications of the purity culture. Openness is growing in church communities, leading more women and couples toward freedom.
We see resources such as Gregoire’s guidelines for assessing marital resources that include flagging words that blame wives in part for their porn usage. These platforms are helping to reform the church's approach to marital sex and pornography.
Rachel Walker & Caitlin Nochajski host The Not Tonight Podcast, which is all about cultivating a safe space for women to boldly share their stories of sexual transformation in marriage. It’s so important to hear the lived experiences of other women and how God has changed an area of their marriage that is so vital but can be so tough to navigate.
Another young author, Manda Carpenter, shares in her new book Soul Care to Save Your Life how she and her husband found healing after she had an affair. These are difficult conversations for these brave women to have in this world where men have been the primary leaders of these kinds of talks. Sharing openly about how restoration is possible even when infidelity occurs is so life-giving and a message that many need to hear.
Francie Winslow is another woman leading the conversation about sex, marriage, and faith. Her podcast is a place where she unpacks God’s heart on sex, marriage, and His mission on earth. She shares that intimacy was God’s idea in the beginning. She encourages us to all learn more about what God desires for our marriages.
Sheila Gregoire is the author of The Great Sex Rescue and uses her platform to bring insight into the ways we, as Christians, need to reform how we talk about gender roles and sexuality. Her Instagram really shines a light on the many negative ways Christian leaders talk about women when it comes to intimacy. It’s so helpful to see how she shines a light on negative words that many Christian women have just become desensitized to.
Finding Freedom and Health in Our Marriages
Sex does not stop becoming an issue the second we say, “I do.” Some of us bring hurt and pain from the past into our marriages that need space to be unpacked before we can feel free in our marriages. Others of us came into marriage having “saved” ourselves for our husbands but then, once we started having sex, found that it was not the magical experience we were promised. Many of us have heard Christian leaders preach that we are the property of our husbands, always available to them even if we do not feel cared for and loved.
Others of us are afraid to express our sexual needs or desires. Women are struggling with how to respond when they discover their husband is struggling with pornography and need a safe space to process. Some have faced temptation or have been unfaithful and need a path back to unity and a way toward forgiveness. Abuse, rape, or other injustices have left many women gutted when it comes to their sexuality. Fatigue, loneliness, depression, and more are getting in the way of some of us being able to enjoy a fulfilling marriage relationship.
There is much work to be done in our homes and churches. We need to pause and hear each other and begin to adjust the way we talk about these important issues. God desires us to find freedom and health in our marriages and more!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/PeopleImages
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.