Sex & Grace // The Dirty Truth About Sex

I’m pulling back the curtain today on some topics often considered taboo in the Christin world. However, they are struggles plaguing our culture today, even in the church. Porn, masturbation, and sex outside of marriage play filthy roles in bedrooms around the world.

I would know—I was addicted to sex for many years. And not only did I cross the line in one area, but all three. I don’t say it with any sort of pride, either, because my heart mourns how lost and confused that younger Brittany was. But I say it to carry some weight with you—I know the struggle.

Sexual desire is God-given but when directed towards lust, isolation, separation, and ultimately, sin, it leaves its victims broken and empty. These manifestations are only a few of many but they are perhaps the most common, and something must be done. For the sake of our culture, marriages, children, and mostly, our relationships with God.

Let’s take a look at these three misdirected manifestations of sexual desire.

1. Sex outside of marriage.

In the original creation, God made male and female to be together. Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman—no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.
— Mark 10:9-10

I had sex outside of marriage with my boyfriend while in ministry and the cost was incredibly high. And why? Because sexual immorality eats away at a flourishing life and destroys. It also drives wedges in relationships and shatters marriages, leaving a tornado of wreckage in its path.

Marriage was created to be enjoyed by a husband and wife—that’s it. When you choose to forgo this plan and have sex with anyone but your spouse, it’s outside the design. It’s outside of the covering. In this place, a piece of your heart is chipped. Your relationship takes a hit. And likely, more than one person is hurt.

God never meant for you to have sex with more than one person. He wanted you to spend a lifetime enjoying it with one other human—your spouse. A beautiful and intimate act that would only get better with time as you grow in your love, appreciation, and understanding of each other. Don’t give away the chance to experience this kind of beauty.

2. Pornography

But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
— Matthew 5:29

Porn is one of the most destructive acts of perversion. It exploits, feeds addiction, creates unrealistic expectations, and damages relationships. Some think that porn only effects them, but it touches so many more. A spouse, children, and strangers that God still sees as His creation. It never just touches you.

If your’e married, your spouses heart will likely grieve and hurt as a result of your lust. You might distance yourself from them because you’re being fed by an image. Your expectations of how your spouse should look or act is too high based on the image of another. Love has a hard time flourishing when an outside force has only one goal—to drive a wedge in your marriage.

If you’re a parent, there’s a good chance your child may adopt this same habit. Most people I know who’ve struggled with porn had their first experience when they found some sort of form of it in their home, as a result of the parents addiction. I did. Bringing porn into your home opens a door for your child’s innocent eyes to encounter a temptation they are ill-equipped to fight. Please, as a child whose has been there, don’t give the enemy a foothold in your home and with your children.

Finally, remember that every man or woman you see in a pornographic image is still a child of God. God sees them and He loves them.

Porn destroys, no doubt. It will destroy your heart, mind, marriage, and sexual intimacy. But it destroys people and culture, as well. Here are just a few stats that are mnid blowing (because there are a TON).

  • Porn sites receive more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon, & Twitter combined each month. (HuffPost)

  • Recorded child sexual exploitation (known as “child porn”) is one of the fastest-growing online businesses. (IWF)

  • 64% of young people, ages 13–24, actively seek out pornography weekly or more often. (NCOSE)

  • A study of 14- to 19-year-olds found that females who consumed pornographic videos were at a significantly greater likelihood of being victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault. (NCOSE)

  • A Swedish study of 18-year-old males found that frequent users of pornography were significantly more likely to have sold and bought sex than other boys of the same age. (NCOSE)

Individuals who never view sexually explicit material report higher relationship quality and lower rates of infidelity than those who do. Now doesn’t that sound more exciting than an image that will only leave you empty?

3. Masturbation

There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.
— 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This one is a little less clear cut in that there is no specific Bible verse about whether it is right or wrong. So, how do we know if it’s a sin or not? Here are a few guidelines to help.

  • Is it honorable use of your body? Remember, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The passage above says it all.

  • Lust is a sin and it’s hard to build a case the masturbation doesn’t involve some sort of lust. Most people find that images accompany the act and even one image is considered outside God’s design. So, if pleasuring yourself involves an image, then yes, it’s a sin.

  • If masturbating is something you cannot stop, you’re likely addicted. You’ve become enslaved to it. If this is the case, then it’s a sin. Anything that is an addiction, whether it’s food, shopping, or social media, becomes harmful.

  • Another question to ask is, what is your motive? If it’s to escape, then your channeling your need for peace in the wrong direction. Instead of going to the Father, you’re turning to yourself. If it’s to find pleasure because your marriage is struggling, then it’s fueling the intimacy gap in your relationship. I’m honestly not sure I can find a reason for it that is beneficial…can you?

I’m hard pressed to find a situation where masturbation is good or even free from sexual immorality. Besides, and I know this will sound ultra-christiany, but why do something that causes even the slightest doubt in your mind?

If you struggle with any of these forms of bondage, find help. I struggled alone and in silence for many years because I was ashamed. Please don’t live in isolation; reach out to a friend, pastor or Christian counselor. And please know, there is grace on the other side of your failure. Come back next week to read about grace in the aftermath of sin. It will be brimming with hope!

** Here are some additional verses on the subject **

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
— Ephesians 5:3
You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is beneficial.
— 1 Corinthians 10:23
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God.
— 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5