(Photo: Reuters/Desmond Boylan)
While sexuality appears to be excessively discussed in every vein of society, there is one demographic that, as a whole, publicly refrains from talking about sex – the married Christian woman.
Sex, in the modern secularized media, often carries the tarnished image of lust-filled carnal acts. But why is sex considered a taboo subject among married Christian women? As God indicates in numerous Bible passages, sex is a wholesome and integral part to every healthy marriage.
In the first chapter of the Book of Song of Solomon verses 16-18, for example, a married couple exchanges affectionate compliments, showing their appreciation for their lover's body and soul.
"How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant."
Oftentimes, when Christian women do discuss sex, they are reprimanded for sharing "too much information." Megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife, Grace Driscoll, recently released a book entitled Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together.
Many criticized the pastor, whose Mars Hill Church in Seattle attracts roughly 13,000 congregants per weekend. Rachel Held Evans, a writer and blogger of Dayton, Tenn., feels as though the Driscolls are not qualified therapists and therefore should not be telling others what to do in the bedroom.
"I think we've put too much pressure on pastors to be experts about everything – money, marriage, and all kinds of things," Evans told The Tennessean.
"I don't need my pastor to tell me whether or not I should use sex toys. I don't really feel like I needed all of those details," she added.
Still, many Christians seek guidance on how to have appropriate sex lives that coincide with God's will. To many, the Driscoll's book offered a reliable, safe haven of information on a subject not commonly discussed in the Church.
Cindy G. Irwin, a licensed marriage and family therapist and member of the American Board of Christian Sex Therapists, believes the issue is not that Christian women think discussing sex is wrong, but rather they do not know how to discuss the topic because they have not been provided a proper "sexual theology."
"We don't really have, in Christianity, a language to speak about sexuality that doesn't draw out of the world, draw out of pornography," Irwin told The Christian Post.
Irwin is working to develop a Christian sexual theology which would address the entire sexual being, including their gender indicators and forms of self expression which ultimately define their personhood, demonstrating "this is who I am as a person."
"I don't hear people talking about what [sexuality] means. What it provides, the symbolism of it, and the physicality of it. I don't hear people having a lot of knowledge about that," Irwin said.
"From this lack of knowledge springs an inability to approach certain sexual issues, such as struggles with pornography or children masturbating," she added.
Especially for women, Irwin said, having a full understanding of one's sexuality is directly connected to one's relationship with Jesus Christ, which is why Christian women must remember that God considers them sacred and pure.
"The majority of women that I work with do not have a good clear concept that they live in their own skin, that they really feel their value. That they're as passionate about themselves as Jesus is about them," Irwin told CP.
"That's what I see in women that leads them to being silent about their sexuality," the therapist noted. She pointed out that many women think, "I already don't think I'm very valuable then how can I consider myself a sexual treasure, and if I don't consider myself a sexual treasure then why would I even talk about that."
Shay Taylor, co-pastor with husband the Rev. Doug Taylor at the Rebirth Christian Fellowship in Birmingham, Ala., believes that Christian women must transition from their single life – during which they were taught not to have sex – to their married life, where sex is deemed acceptable.
"God created us to be a blessing to each other and to please each other, and pleasing each other just doesn't mean in conversation, it does mean in sex," Taylor told The Christian Post.
As Taylor affirmed, sex is "designed to be a wonderful exchange between husband and wife," but many times temptation gets in the way.
"Everything that God created is good. The enemy takes what God created, which is sex in the confines of marriage which should be beautiful, and he perverts it […] it becomes fornication," Taylor said.
The Birmingham pastor asserted that in light of all the pains that accompany an immoral sexual life, one can always return to God for guidance.
"We can come back from all of the scares, all of the pain, all of the frustrations because of a loving Father, and that's Our God," Taylor said.
One guiding light for women seeking to navigate the rough waters of Christian sexuality is Scripture.
As Irwin pointed out, the Bible passage found in Ephesians 5:30 points to the importance of "oneness" between couples, as ultimately it relates to the oneness of God, "for we are members of his body."
Ultimately, it is one's relationship with the Lord that determines their sexual life.
According to Irwin, the "wholeness" a Christian woman feels through her relationship with the Lord will ultimately reflect in all aspects of her life, whether they be emotional, physical, marital, or sexual.
"Out of the fullness, out of all of those pieces working together, we have an overflow. And our sexual expression is a symbol of the overflow," Irwin stated.