PODCAST: What Does it Mean to Be a Sexual Being?

by | Feb 13, 2020 | Uncategorized | 21 comments

Podcast on what does it mean to be a sexual being
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Can you be a sexual being–even if you’re single? What does being sexual mean, anyway?

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and so I thought I’d explore what it means to be sexual in the podcast today, and how being sexual involves our bodies, yes, but also so much more!

But first, listen in:

 

Main Segment: What does it mean to be a sexual being?

A woman wrote in with this question:

I firstly want to say that I love your work and frequently get sucked into the rabbit Warren of your blog following one article to another and nodding along or having my mind blown. I have just started reading The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and am really looking forward to seeing what happens in my marriage as a result but only a few pages in, I have a question. You say, “You were created for sex… It’s deeply wired into you, into the very centre of who you are. You are a sexual being.”

I have been thinking about this line of thought a lot over the past year as I lead youth group. I feel like this line of thought is identical to that of society. “You are a sexual being and therefore need to be true to who you are in order to be fulfilled as a person.” It sounds so similar. I know we are approaching it from a God crested you and sec stand point but if something is at the “centre of who we are” how can we be happy without it and what kind of God would expect us to be? Why would God create people with sex at the very centre of who they are and then expect some people to never have sex?

I’m not saying sex isn’t created by God and a great gift, I just wonder if telling people they are created for sex and that it’s at the centre of who they are is helpful or even really true. I would say what we are created for is to be in relationship with God and to love and honour him and that is at the centre of who we are.

Great question. What does it mean to be sexual? A lot of it is a longing for connection, but also an embrace of our physical selves.  I launch into my explanation here, as paltry as it may be. These are hard things to fully explain!


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Reader Question: Why Do Men Like Oral Sex So Much?

This may seem like an odd question for today’s podcast, but my answer gets at the heart of what sexuality is supposed to look like. A woman asks:

Why do men particularly love receiving oral sex? What is it about that particular act that makes it something they desire more than other forms of sex? (I know I’m generalizing, by the way, for the sake of brevity.) It seems like in every single story I read these days about sex abuse scandals, it’s almost always ORAL sex that was demanded or coerced. It’s to the point that it’s hard for me NOT to associate it with situations of abuse, intimidation, or the demeaning of women, and so it’s really hard for me to imagine performing it on my husband (regardless of what an amazing, loving person he is!). Can you help me understand “what the deal is,” and offer some suggestions to help disassociate oral sex from such awful, negative connotations?

I’m glad to have the opportunity to unpack this, and honestly, this segment is IMPORTANT. Please listen in! I talk about the difference between “kingdom of God” principles and values that Jesus came to usher in, and the world’s values. (And non-Christians can operate from kingdom of God principles, and those who call themselves Christian may not. It’s not straightforward.).

Basically, we need to remember Jesus’ words:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:25-28

Kingdom of God principles means that sex should not be domineering. It should be mutually life giving and satisfying. But we’ve replaced that with an attempt to dominate and coerce, so that power is what is seen as sexy. We see that in the 50 Shades of Grey series, and in porn, and, yes, in sexual abuse (which is really about power, not just sex). We need to make sure that this is not the way it is in our marriages. 

Please listen, because this matters!

Reader Question: Can spanking as a child cause sexual dysfunction later?

A woman writes with another question about how our sexuality may be messed up. She says:

Can you look into PTSD from being spanked as a child and how that leads to sexual disfunction later on in marriage? 

For example, as a child my father would beat me with a belt while he held me down on my stomach on my bed. The church accepted and  promoted this abuse. This is so so very wrong and evil. How can experiencing physical (and emotional) abuse that creates blood flow and pain to the same parts of your body that are responsible for sexual arousal NOT affect your sex life as an adult? I have flashbacks from the abuse every time my husband wants to do certain sexual positions. And I have broken veins on my leg left from contusions/bruises from the abuse. I have met with three separate Christian counselors and have given up seeking help because all three counselors sided with the church’s view on spanking.

First, this is horrible. I am so sorry that she suffered this.

And this is not spanking. This is abuse. We need to start calling it out. 

And if you’re at a church that supports this, please find another church that is safe for you and your family. And if you go to counselors who don’t listen–believe me, there are other counselors out there who are safe. They just may not be affiliated with your church.

Rebecca joined me on the podcast to talk about spanking and its effects that she found when she wrote her book Why I Didn’t Rebel. And I’d suggest this post, too–10 ways to discipline without spanking.

What does it mean to be a sexual being?

So, please, listen in, because this was more of a foundational podcast where we talked about some big issues. But then let’s talk–how do we stop seeing sex as a power thing? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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21 Comments

  1. Jane Eyre

    Physical abuse can affect you sexually, even if that abuse was not sexual. (Ask me how I know.) The best I can intuit is that abuse and sex are very similar situations: you are completely alone with another person, that person is losing control, and that person needs to use your body as an intrinsic part of that loss of control. If you are a woman, both are painful and inherently unsatisfying (despite being very satisfying for the other person). If the abuse came from a family member, both are done by people who claim to love you.
    Re: oral sex. One of my man friends basically said that men like it because they don’t have to do any work. IMHO, some of it is also because sex is so common (before marriage) that it is no longer entirely exciting or fulfilling for men, so they need “more.”

    Reply
    • Lindsey

      I know that many women struggle with pain during intercourse, but I disagree with your statement that both sex and abuse are *inherently* painful and unsatisfying. While I have occasionally experienced discomfort during sex (after giving birth, bad position, etc), I generally find it very enjoyable and satisfying – once I get out of my own head, that is.
      As far as oral sex for guys – I think (based on my limited experience with one man who truly loves me and really cares about my sexual fulfillment as much as his own, but who still loves oral) there are a number of reasons why men like oral .
      They enjoy being able to just lay there and receive pleasure.
      They feel that oral sex really expresses a desire from their wives for their bodies. It makes them feel very attractive/wanted.
      Lastly, it’s a different sensation – and it’s an enjoyable one.
      What part of the equation promiscuity, pornography, and power play varies based upon the man – but there are reasons why men really love to receive oral that are, in my opinion, totally relatable and honorable.

      Reply
      • Jane Eyre

        The writer asked why some men like oral sex more than intercourse. I suspect that is not your husband’s deal.

        Reply
        • Lindsey

          Lol! Someday he prefers it, which I can understand. But, I do understand that there are some men who always prefer it and don’t care to meet their partner’s needs. These men need to grow up.

          Reply
  2. Lea

    Physical touch/sex/comfort are real needs. If you are single, it’s much easier sometimes to find that sort of connection than a long term partner/marriage. And the stakes are lower than getting married to the wrong man.

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth

    I used to have a very negative view of oral sex because that view was tainted by a negative relationship, a marriage with a very selfish person where anything related to sex was very one-sided and all about his desires, his pleasure.
    I am now in a very loving relationship with an unselfish man in which we both enjoy doing things for each other both out of and in the bedroom, including oral sex. I believe receiving oral sex is desired for a couple reasons. One, the recipient gets to focus on and simply enjoy the pleasurable feelings. Two, in a healthy marriage , the recipient appreciates the loving act of service and undivided attention from their spouse.
    For some people, oral sex is a selfish act or a power play, but a healthy, loving marriage puts it in a much different perspective.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I think that’s such an important point, Elizabeth. The focus on selfishness versus selflessness. What a great way to show the differences between healthy and unhealthy marriages, because a lot of it truly does boil down to that!

      Reply
  4. Anon

    Thank you for speaking hope to those who have experienced abuse. For speaking hope of good help available when so many Christians have failed to do so.
    I realize your post wasn’t focused on spanking but I do appreciate you and Rebecca explaining your views and research etc. on that topic.
    As foster parents, spanking is 100% out of the question for us. We never had to debate whether or not we would use that as a form as discipline for children as it was decided for us. And we are quite ok with that. I have though, had responses from friends say things like… they’re not sure if they could foster because they use that form of discipline for their own children…they aren’t sure they could parent without the option of spanking…what would they ever find to replace that discipline at times it’s really necessary…And often the basis of their opinions do use those verses in the Bible. So to them spanking does fall under Biblical parenting.
    I’ve wrestled with those opinions because obviously there has to be other ways. Spanking cannot be the final/only answer or key to discipline. And I hate that those types of statements actually imply that our children will be more unruly or undisciplined because spanking isn’t an option. I refuse to believe the children in our home are doomed to be misbehaved and verging on being little monsters because we cannot spank. That doesn’t sit well with me at all because it’s not the truth. But I haven’t found the answers to explain my feelings to others. What I’ve just heard in your podcast makes alot of sense to me and I’m going to re listen in the future so I can engage in conversation if people question our ability to parent without spanking.
    Thanks again for addressing all sorts of topics, for explaining how you’ve arrived at the conclusions you’ve made, for pointing people to Jesus. I could go on but I’ll leave it at that for now!

    Reply
    • Maria

      Here’s how I might try to communicate the misguidedness of spanking. If an authority figure told you that X was bad, and you genuinely don’t believe them, and that person repeats what he or she said, but hits you this time, will it convince you? It might get the desired behavior, but for how long? Once free (and keep in mind that children become adults and move out of the house) coercion by threat of physical pain is no longer an option.
      What can you do instead is a different question. If I can only see two options in front of me, make the problem worse or do nothing, better to do nothing. And breaking a child’s trust with physical violence is worse than not offering immediate guidance. If you keep trust then there may be an opportunity to teach later, when you are ready to teach and the child is ready to learn. (Ready to teach could mean “I need to calm down first.” Or “I need to figure out how to articulate why that behavior was wrong.” Or something else.)
      *and for the record, “you” was meant as a general term.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Anon,
      In addition to Maria’s points, you can ask those people what they would think of a teacher spanking students. I’m not a parent, but I am a teacher, and I can effectively dish out consequences that don’t destroy my students’ trust in me AND that don’t involve touching them in any way.

      Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Anon, and thank you for being foster parents. Yes, the research really does speak for itself–and I have known far too many friends who ended up being physically abused by parents because spanking wasn’t working anymore and they didn’t have any other real parenting tools and so they escalated the spanking in a fit of desperation. And that is simply not addressed in the spanking conversation in the church, and it desperately needs to be.

      Reply
      • Lydia purple

        Rebecca, I think this is a a really important point. Some books like „Shepherding a Childs Heart“ start our well, but when it comes to spanking he says it‘s the only biblical way of disciplining your children. This is wrong and problematic. Even the word discipline is problematic. Corrective discipline should be a minor part, most of discipline should be made up of positive instruction (showing and telling what to do) instead of dishing out punishments for wrong doing.
        Much of this spank theology is made up of fear from sin. When in reality God already took care of that through his son Jesus on the cross and the only way to correct sin is to repent, spanking will not change a child’s sinful heart, only the cross of Jesus will do that.
        Some promote spanking for every offense, since the Bible says children must obey parents, every case of (perceived) disobedience is punished. This is basically raising your kids to behave Christian without giving them access to the cross.
        Punitive parenting really is about the parent controlling the child‘s behaviour and this is convenient for the parents. But in this case the children carry a heavy burden of acting right out of fear.
        If you see the parent child relationship as one where the parent is mature and the child is on a slow path moving from immaturity to maturity you can come alongside your child. The parent as the mature one should carry the burden of modeling right behavior and patiently and gently instructing their kids also help them overcome their struggles, help them figure out how to make things right if they wronged somebody, help them see through their own example how to love God in everything (this by the way is the real command in God‘s law how to parent, see Deut. 6, 4-7)
        Also Anon: a good thing is to ask pro spankers what kind of relationship they want to build. When the kid messes up will they say „oh oh I messed up I hope my parents don’t find out“ or „oh oh I messed up, I need to call Daddy!“

        Reply
      • Daniela

        Unfortunately I can’t figure out how to write a comment without replying so please forgive this for not being directly related.
        In the podcast Sheila made reference to writing she has done about ‘biblical counseling’ and I was hoping there would be links to those blogs but I can’t see them. Can you point me in the right direction, please?

        Reply
  5. Active Mom

    I would just like to chime in a different perspective. We didn’t use spanking with our first two, time outs etc worked just fine. Then our third came along and she was incredibly stubborn and curious. We had a very difficult time stopping her from touching everything when she was too little to understand hazards. She came close to hurting herself several times. Our pediatrician (who admittedly was old school) told us to spank her hand when she reached for something dangerous. I only had to do it twice. Once involving a stove and once involving fire. We did it said “ouch” right away and then “no touch.” It worked and we didn’t have to do it again. Eventually she got older and we could explain why something was dangerous. I had a friend who’s child liked to dart out to “touch” cars. She had to spank a few times for that and then he stopped. It never lead to abuse or happened when they were older as is the case with some families but for us the strategy worked when used correctly.

    Reply
    • Maria

      Instead of spanking to teach the child to keep himself/herself away from danger, parents could focus on how they can keep him/her away from it. Baby gates. Play pen. Or only cook when the other parent is home to watch the little one like a hawk. If it’s not worth all that hassle, maybe it’s because the stove doesn’t get hot enough to be a real danger? Then again, maybe it is worth the hassle.
      And the cars? If a child runs for the road and a parent is close enough to catch the child and then spank before disaster occurs, then that parent was also close enough to reach the child in time and then NOT spank. And could continue to watch over the child until he/she is old enough to understand the hazards of the road.
      I’m not judging culpability. It’s possible for a person to do something bad without realizing that it was bad. Or to know that he/she shouldn’t spank but not be fully culpable because of panic or desperation.
      And I also want to tell a story to highlight my next point. There was a library that had a very dangerous set up for getting from library to parking lot and vice versa. To get around a fence, patrons had to walk right up to a busy road. No guardrail at the road. If a little kid got on a bike and tried to ride said bike from the library entrance to the parking lot, it would be almost guaranteed that the kid would overshoot into traffic. That is what happened, and a little boy died right in front of his mother.
      In many cases, parents would have to be superhuman to watch their children closely enough to mitigate the hazards of that set up. Some city sidewalks are like that, too, albeit to a lesser degree. Unreasonably hazardous for children even when they are under supervision. So I’m not saying that it’s entirely up to the parent to just be superhuman enough to manage any danger that society throws at them and their children. Those of us who have a say in how our society is shaped have responsibility, too. Do we consider the needs of children and their caregivers to be just as important as anyone else’s?

      Reply
    • Lois

      I agree with Active Mom. I think when used correctly, never in anger, appropriately at an appropriate age, and never as the only tool for disobedience, I think spanking can be a useful tool. I know I’ve seen it work wonders!
      I don’t ever remember my parents spanking in anger, leaving marks, or having to physically hold any of us down. Those are indicate deeper issues and would no doubt cause harm.
      If my child doesn’t listen, I would rather she learn to obey with a bit of pain from a spank on the hand if necessary than deal with SO MUCH MORE pain like a car or a stove. Moms cannot be everywhere. Moms with multiple kids don’t have eyes and arms everywhere at every second of the day. Kids need to learn to obey and sometimes, used appropriately, I think spanking is one of the useful tools in the box.

      Reply
  6. Active Mom

    Maria,
    While I appreciate your point of view. You should probably be aware that there are all different types of personalities and behaviors. My children were watched like hawks. ALL THE TIME! The reality is I was blessed with a child who wants to feel, taste, touch to believe. Even now, if someone says something tastes gross she needs to taste it for herself before she believes it. She would also have wanted to see the nail scars in Jesus’s hands before she believed. She even at a young age was determined. When you have a child like that (I am told climbers are the same) it doesn’t matter how closely watched they are they will find a way. I believe that spanking like a lot of other things are up to the parent to decide. To me it falls into the same category as nursing. One should gather all the information and then make the choice best for their family. I also understand people are passionate about it on both sides. I would just be careful it doesn’t come across as judge mental the church has a bad enough reputation in that area. It may not have been right for your family but that doesn’t make it wrong.
    I do have to chuckle a little bit because we never used spanking as a main punishment tool but when I hear the argument about how it shouldn’t be used I do want to ask people to compare kids now to 30 years ago. Which generation was more respectful to adults and others property?

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I wouldn’t put spanking in the same category as nursing because nursing has been shown through research to have benefits to the child whereas spanking has not, just have to say. And the research has shown that spanking actually makes kids more aggressive, have more behavioural issues, etc., not less. So there is likely a different factor at play when you compare kids and the way they approach authority now versus in the past, since research has ruled out a lack of spanking as the culprit.

      Reply
  7. unmowngrass

    Re: oral sex and abuse — I think you’re maybe missing something obvious here… 1) It’s faster. No one has to get undressed. In a situation where you don’t want to get caught, this is a factor. 2) Because no one is getting undressed, it is (a bit) subtler. Like if someone is giving oral under the desk, there’s a possibility that anyone else walking into the room, even speaking to the guy in the chair (according to tv), could just walk out again… probably won’t happen but its a possibility.
    And something less obvious — the woman being pressured is much much more emotionally distant in this situation than she would be with him pawing at her own body. So she may be able to be coerced into doing oral when she is putting up much more resistance to PIV or something else. Or she may pro-actively offer it as an appeasement in an attempt to distract him away from PIV-raping her.

    Reply

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