Sexual Freedom?

08 Mar

The following is an excellent piece written by David Hamstra, a colleague of mine who pastors in the Alberta Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Check out his blog: apokalupto. It’s a good read.


Anyone who has seen two children fighting over a single object in a room full of other equally fun toys can appreciate what philosopher René Girard was getting at when he described the human predicament as “mimetic desire”—we do not want what we want, we want what others want. While we would like to think that our deepest desires are unique to us and in some way define who we are, in reality, we are usually mimicking the desires of those around us. We all want someone else’s toy.

With the advent of easy-access pornography delivered anonymously through the internet, the desires of others are increasingly controlling our sexual desires. Most of us assume that what we like or don’t like sexually, our sexual preferences, come from within us, from latent desires we discovered as we gained sexual experiences. The reality is the opposite. Our sexual experiences accumulate as desires, training us to prefer what we’ve previously experienced. So as we vicariously experience sex-acts through pornography, we are training ourselves with powerful rewards of pleasure to mimic porn-like preferences.

The results are not pretty. Pornography is training more and more men desire sex-acts with women that are embarrassing, uncomfortable, or even painful for women to perform. Some people are discovering that they cannot orgasm while having partner sex but only through masturbation. They have trained themselves to enjoy masturbation more than anything else by having the majority of their sexual experiences that way and enhancing the experience through pornography.

When human beings open themselves to a broad range of sexual experiences, real or vicarious, the end result seems to be people who desire sexual experiences that are not mutually satisfying. This individualistic pursuit of pleasure through sex is commonly thought to be the way to enjoy sex to the fullest. But contrary to what most assume, research shows that it is married, not single, people who have the most sex on average, and married women are more likely to experience sexual satisfaction than single women.

What if, instead of becoming slaves to the influence of others desires, we reserved our all sexual experiences for one person with whom we shared a mutual, lifetime commitment; trained ourselves to prefer sex-acts that brought that person pleasure; and devoted a lifetime to getting better and better at pleasing each other sexually? Wouldn’t that be (in the sense of developing unique sexual desires and fulfillment) true sexual freedom?

Of course, this is what Christianity, teaching sex only within the marriage relationship, has promoted for millennia. And not just that sex should be reserved for marriage, but that it ought to be regularly enjoyed in marriage. Perhaps it’s an idea whose time has come.

This article originally appeared in the Clergy Comments column of the Fort McMurray Today (February, 25, 2012).


Link to original blog:


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9 responses to “Sexual Freedom?

  1. OnlyArt

    March 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Reblogged this on OnlyArt and commented:
    This is a very interesting blog on relationships. I am a Christian, so I agree with his perspective. I would highly recommend reading it.

  2. butimbeautiful

    March 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I agree with your general premise, though I’m not Christian. I do realise though that some people just aren’t happy having sex with just one person, and I think that’s ok. But for me, the best thing is to for intimacy to grow with just the one, as you say. And I do agree that we’re being ‘trained’ to be more and more vicious, in a way.

    • Matthew Shallenberger

      March 9, 2012 at 11:22 pm

      Thanks for your response! I think you’re right; intimacy grows best when it’s shared just between two people. Sure, there are other points of view, but I think an honest question is: do we want “good” or do we want “best?”

  3. Paul Hoffman

    March 9, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    As Christians, we should view sex as serving multiple purposes. Procreation; hence the biblical command to “be fruitful and multiply.” Closeness; “and the two shall become one flesh.” Comfort; after their infant child died, David and Bathsheba had sexual relations to comfort one another. Pleasure; if you don’t believe me on this one, read Song of Solomon. All of these purposes are important and healthy in a life-long monogamous relationship. I think too often, Christians emphasize “don’t have sex unless you’re married,” and leave the conversation there instead of teaching on the purpose for which God created us as beings with sexual desires. In that regard, this blog is a much needed step in the right direction.

    I have heard other sources cite the statistic that virgins who marry have more sex in their lifetime than their peers who have sex outside of marriage, which runs counter to to the messages that our society depict. I see this as proof positive that Satan is still a liar.

    • Matthew Shallenberger

      March 9, 2012 at 11:15 pm

      Well, well, well said, Paul. I especially like what you said about Christians emphasizing no sex before marriage but not following through and teaching about the proper use of sex within marriage. That’s something I should blog on more in the future.

  4. Andrew

    March 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I generally concur.

    I also agree that the proper use of sex within marriage is something that needs to be talked about; but that is another area fraught with danger for the church if we are not careful.

    • Matthew Shallenberger

      March 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      It’s definitely a minefield. In some ways it’s a minefield of our own making because we’ve allowed the world to make sex something dirty and bad. I think the church needs to reclaim a biblical view of sex, where it is something beautiful, good, and holy. Though we always need to use discretion when we’re talking about sex (particularly in the presence of children), we shouldn’t feel ashamed about it.

      • Andrew

        March 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm

        Well it’s more than just propriety.
        I can just imagine the kinds of books written and arguments stoked over the propriety of this act over that act, timing, method and on and on. Human beings can be very unhealthy when it comes to regulating others’ lives.

        “What is normal to me” seems to be the driving criterion many times (for people’s perception of right and wrong)–and I’m talking about the religious here!
        Far more for when we talk about a topic fraught with feelings, sensations and emotions.

        One example: Orthodox Jews consider Friday night a very opportune (or for want of a better word “auspicious”) time for spousal relations. That may be a good example of a beautiful development of marriage theology but could you imagine what it would look like if things go wrong?

      • Matthew Shallenberger

        March 19, 2012 at 6:55 am

        It’s like the old saying: there’s a ditch on either side of the road. We have to remember to keep a balanced view.


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