I am an atheist. I go to church every week to stay on my parents’ good side. The above question is one I find myself asking quite often and this week’s sermon on 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 raised the same topic.
Confession: I am a fornicator. I am an 18 year old girl and I’ve been getting it on with my boyfriend since I was 16, despite my Christian upbringing and Christian education.
As a fornicator, I was angered by what the speaker had to say. He (no female speakers at my church) described those who are involved in sexual immorality as slaves to sin, as addicts. If you’re not doing it in the godly covenant of marriage, you’re a slave to the devil. This seemed to be consistent with the Bible. He mentioned Romans 6:20, where it talks about how non-Christians are slaves to sin.
The sermon made me think of Mark Driscoll’s neat little alliteration about sex: it is either god, gross or gift. You can watch his sermon here. I certainly don’t think sex is gross, and I don’t believe it’s a gift from God. Fornicators like me end up in the category of “god.” According to Driscoll, this means I am a slave to my sexual desires – it’s everything, an obsession. It’s my identity. Again, I am offended and angered by the nerve of Christians.
Now, I am not saying that people who are involved in ‘sexual sin’ are never in the wrong. Sometimes these things do become negative, controlling and an obstacle to building relationships. Cheating, hiring prostitutes, obsession with porn, sex addiction, may be examples of this.
But my boyfriend and I have a beautiful sex life. It is not okay for these Christians to tell me I am a “slave” to sexual sin. I’m not addicted. It is not the most important thing in our relationship. If we had to stop for whatever reason, we could. I argue that it is possible to have a healthy, fulfilling sex life through the sin of fornication. To most people this would seem obvious, but in my community, it’s pretty fucking radical.
A few years ago, I used to believe the things my church/school/parents taught me to believe. I thought fornication was disgusting sin. Now when I see couples that have been together for decades, but were never interested in getting a marriage certificate, I no longer think of them as dirty, sick, pagan god-worshippers (of course I only hated the sin, not the sinner). I now know that truly, they are normal, healthy people. Now I see that the people that are really hateful and sick are the ones who made me feel nauseous with guilt for wanting to express the normal, human, sexual desires that every teenager experiences.
Sex should be an expression of love. It shouldn’t be given to just anyone, but a piece of paper and a pretty ring on your finger is nothing in comparison to the importance of love and commitment. Surely a couple who have been together for twenty years and love each other deeply, is a better context for sex than say Britney Spears’ 55 hour long marriage. Marriage is overrated in the Christian message and love and commitment are not given their rightful place as the most important criteria for sex.