• Ava Hoffman

why talk about sex?

CW // church abuse

TW // sexual assault

Friends, this is such a loaded question. It’s been asked of me repeatedly these past eleven months – it comes with curiosity, insinuations, and not-so-subtle critiques. It’s a question that has led me to hide this passion of mine, actually. I didn’t know how to address the scrutiny, the judgement, the rudeness.

Those very things, though, led me to wrestle with the question. Why do I talk about sex? I quickly realized the simplest answer was the answer.

I care about sex because God cares about sex. I talk about sex because God talks about sex.

While that truly is the beginning and the end, God graciously revealed more details behind why HE cares. Why He talks about sex so much. Why He deemed it important enough to address over and over and over again, in situation after situation after situation.

In the Bible, seven is a holy number. From beginning to end, this number is woven throughout the Scriptures, loaded with significance and fulfilling promises. It models rest, and it holds God accountable. It is only fitting that there are seven reasons (minimum) God and I talk about this holy topic.

one. God said I have to.

My Biblical sex ethics journey started for this reason alone. God said I have to talk about it. Simple as that might sound, it truly was anything but. I did not want to talk about sex ethics. I had no desire to share my knowledge with anyone. At some points, I had no desire to learn anymore!

I couldn’t escape it, though. I’d finish a book and another one would be recommended. I’d say no to an opportunity to be a lay counselor in my church’s counseling ministry, and then be personally asked to walk with a young woman through premarital sexual struggles. I’d hunt for a job and end up speaking with the executive director of a non-profit specializing in Biblical sex ethics. I’d decide I was not equipped or qualified and then be approached by women in all life stages asking about sex ethics.

No matter where I went and what I chose to do, a book or a person or a class would fall in my lap, instructing me in this realm and preparing me despite my staunch refusal to wholeheartedly engage.

Like Moses, I tried to tell my Creator more times than I can count why I should not do this. He ignored me. I tried to tell Him what the actual plan for my life was. He ignored me. I gave Him a list of reasons I am not qualified or prepared for this. He ignored that, too!

Round after round, we went. I ducked, dodged, and sidestepped His calling and commands. He kept coming. The circles we spun in were dizzying. My stubborn and immature self wouldn’t choose a side – I wouldn’t give up, and I wouldn’t do it His way. Eventually, though, I had to choose.

I was confronted with these facts. One, He was pursuing me. He was not leaving me alone. Two, He has been so incredibly patient. He has not given up on me. I finally obeyed.

Important note – I did not obey God because I follow the “rules.” And I did not agree with His plan fearing the consequences if I continued to hold out. I obeyed because I love Him from the depths of my soul.

That wiliness to conform to His plan is a beautiful part of being in love with Jesus Christ. Conform means “become similar in form, nature, or character; to bring into agreement or harmony.” Obedience to my Savior brings me into harmony with Him, agreeing with His nature and being. Why would I not want to look more like the God of the Universe?!

two. Sex is foundational.

Genesis is the first book of the Bible, and it lays the groundwork for the rest of the Scriptures. The first chapters in a novel are formative – they give the important details, and they point out themes for the reader to pay attention to as the story unfolds. I believe Genesis functions in the same way! It sets the stage for who we believe God to be and the trustworthiness of the remainder of the Bible.

Genesis also sets the stage for who we are as human beings, and that includes our sexuality.

At the end of Genesis 1, God creates humans. We are the last thing He forms, the pinnacle of His creation. Maybe the saying “saved the best for last” comes from this! God uses His own divine breath to breathe life into us, and He calls His humans “very good.” Friend, we are the only ones that are very good.

Genesis 2 details the formation of humankind in more depth. Verse 24 is perhaps the first-place sex is mentioned. It says, “This is why man…bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.” It is intentional. It is designed. It is a flesh composed of both man and woman. It occurs inside a conventual union. And it was very good.

Sex is foundational. To how we are designed and created. To how we reflect the image of God. To how the coming together of man and woman reflects God in an even greater sense.

Verse 25 describes Adam and Eve as “both man and his wife were naked, yet they felt no shame.” Body image issues were nonexistent. Comparison, lack of self-esteem, and insecurities were not a thing. Both were secure in their physical bodies, unashamed and perfectly audacious.

Sex is foundational. To how we look in the mirror. To how we view others. To how we inhabit the bodies we live in.

Final note here – all of this happens before the serpent convinces Eve to eat from the tree. We were sexual beings before we were sinful ones. Our sexuality, our bodies, our sexual desires are not sinful, not wrong, and not bad.

Now, because of sin, we use our sexuality harmfully, dishonor our bodies, and warp our desires. These are wrong. Not the original thing…but how it is expressed, viewed, and played out. Important distinction and more on that later.

three. Sex is part of God’s design for holy and sanctified living.

The way our culture conveys sex and sexuality is corrupt and unreliable. The way the Christian Church displays it is depraved and sacrilegious. It is hard to imagine anything about sex ethics contributing to a blessed and splendid life – I get it.

The verse 1 Corinthians 6:18 says, “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” In another version (MSG), it reads that “sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact.” Sex, no matter the context, affects our bodies and our souls.

It points us right back to those places in Genesis…sex was part and parcel of a perfect and undamaged existence. A right view of sex can reorder ourselves and our relationships in a way that returns us to this good and whole kind of living.

God’s design for sexuality is mentioned in pretty much every book of the Bible in some capacity. If that doesn’t say something, I don’t know what does! The most explicit conversations occur in various places in the New Testament.

In both 1 Thessalonians and Ephesians, the apostle Paul writes about the incompatibility of holy living with wrongful views of sex. He repeats this message over and over in other letters, too. That’s how important it is.

Living well means embodying a Biblical sex ethic.

Why? Because that sex ethic reflects God’s heart. He created it, and He created us who embody it. He cares how we represent it because He cares how His character is displayed. Compassionate. Gracious. Full of love. Joyful, justice-minded, patient, and full of humor.

A heartfelt presence means integrating a God-modeling sex ethic.

four. Our bodies matter.

God made them! Of course our bodies matter! And remember, God calls us “very good.”

I think our bodily importance can be summed up in this – Jesus came in a body through a body.

A woman’s body grew and carried the Savior of the world. Mary was not perfect, and neither was her body. Her pregnancy likely caused anxiety as many ancient women died in pregnancy or childbirth – the toll it took on women was extreme. It may have been characterized by nausea and cravings and swelling. Maybe she was exhausted more easily and suddenly developed allergies and stretch marks. Her body grew and delivered a human child!

Jesus was born as a human body. He peed; he pooped; he burped. He required food to sustain his metabolism, and He needed liquids to stay hydrated. Our Jesus slept! He cried. His feet got worn out and dirty. He cared for His own Body to love other bodies.

Jesus died as a human body. He bled. He struggled to breathe. His pain was very real. His anguish is what we would feel should we endure such torture. His heart felt the betrayal of friends and family, the hole where His Father’s presence was missing. His mind struggled to control His breathing, and His extremities gave out under the pressure.

Jesus was resurrected as a body. He could have been raised from the dead in a divine Godly form, yet He wasn’t. He was raised human. His disciples touched His flesh. They felt His scars. He ate with them, and He drank with them. He was taken back to His Heavenly home as a human body.

Friend, this incarnate God decided to inhabit the human form and that says something about the importance of our bodies! Apostle Paul wrote verbatim “…and the Lord cares about our bodies.” It cannot get much clearer than this.

Our beings are sacred, purposefully designed, and extraordinary.

five. It restores dignity and honor.

Friends, fair warning – I love this reason. I promise to curtail this as I see fit but know I could spend literal hours spouting validations and testaments to this specific principle.

A whole sexual ethic honors all people and sees them as valuable.

There’s a story in John 8 where a woman is dragged into the Temple after being caught in sexual sin. She is accused of moicheia, a Greek word meaning “clandestine sexual intercourse.” The religious leaders are prepared to stone her. This was the ancient form of capital punishment – they took the offender outside the city and pelted him/her with stones until death.

Jesus was present for this mockery of a trial. He bent to the ground and drew a line in the sand. Looking at these religious zealots and the spiritual authority of the times, He said, “If you have never sinned or made a mistake, throw the stone.”

Every single one of them left. I imagine this woman is sobbing. Moments before, there was a mob, stones in hand, ready to end her life. I can see her bewilderment, trying to figure out what the hell is happening. And then I see her lock eyes with Jesus.

“Who blames you? Who has denounced you?” He gestures to the empty space around them.

Tearfully, she replies, “No one.”

Jesus smiles softly and extends His hands to her. “Neither do I. Go, child, and be free.”

By defying cultural norms and supposed religious law, Jesus has restored the honor and dignity to this broken woman. He sees her story and her mistakes and places no blame, ascribes no punishment, demotes no worth or value.

In college, a sexual assault flipped my world upside down. I went to my church, my college ministry, desperately needing help escaping the abusive relationship and combating the mental despondency I was entrenched in. They failed me miserably. I ran out of those conversations, fleeing the stones flung at me. It was Jesus who found me and picked me up.

It was Jesus that enabled me to walk through unplanned pregnancies with college coeds and walk survivors into court to face their rapists. It was His words that allowed me to rise at 5AM and pick up a girlie from a one-night stand that wrecked her world.

Talking about sex, being open about sex ethics, tuning my heart to One that is unassuming and welcoming, allowed me to douse those hurting hearts in His love. It opened doors for both men and women to ask me questions about their own sexuality. It allowed me to be a vessel that spoke Truth, bestowed honor, and treated them with dignity.

Integrating our bodies and our souls can allow us to respond as Jesus did. As Jesus does.

Since the foundations of the world were created, you have been designed with grandeur and distinction. You have been celebrated and known, seen and loved. Nothing gets to change that, friend.

We talk about sex for those reasons. So the one who feels shame can experience freedom. So the guilty one can embrace innocence. So the one taken advantage of is restored. We talk about sex, friend, so each of us is aware of our standing – pure, chosen, redeemed, a sheer delight.

six. Sex points to God.

There is something inexplicable that happens when you meet Jesus. I won’t even try to describe it, but friend, I deeply hope you have the privilege to experience this one day❤

Sex is often viewed as one of the most passionate experiences we can have. It is wild, unrestrained, and unreserved. There is no control, no inhibition, no stopping. The ultimate sexual experience is one in which we feel perfectly safe – there is no embarrassment, no shame, no insecurity. We can be fully in love, fully ourselves, and fully engaged to the core.

There is a book in the Old Testament called Hosea. It is the story of a man and his wife, and it is an allegory for how God loves His people. The quickest summary is this: God is the ultimate Lover of my body, my heart, my soul.

God promises “unfailing love and compassion.” He declares, “I will show love to those called ‘unloved.’” He bares His heart for His people, unable to let them go in His great love. He promises healing, faithfulness, a love with no limits. He shares His desire to refresh, to adorn, to see flourishing in their lives. He says, “I am the One who hears you and cares for you.” His passion for me is one of the most whole and perfect Lover.

When it comes to His own, God is unreserved, unrestrained. He goes wild with desire for our hearts. He pursues; He initiates; He unashamedly seeks me out. He gives Himself wholly and completely. He refuses to hide from me. His love knows no bounds, no limits, no conditions. He longs for the world to see the depth of His love for His children. His love is pure – no innuendo, no hidden agenda. There is no fracturing, no passivity, no disengagement. God hangs on our every word, attuned to every thought. His vows are never broken, and He is not capable of infidelity.

When we have sex inside His design, when we adopt His sex ethic, the actual act of sex shows this. It models a coming together that is not broken or insecure or selfish. It reveals a selfless act of worship, an extending of ourselves that is full and pure. It mirrors His love for us.

Holy sex reveals the heart of God, friend. There is immense weight in the act – weight we can only understand through raw conversations about it.

seven. For my own quietude.

The number seven in the Bible is often a signifier of rest. It is fitting that my seventh reason also delves into rest.

Quietude means “in a state of being quiet; tranquility; calmness; stillness; rest.” This did not exist in my life until I began to write these pieces. Until I began to voice what God has so clearly placed on my heart and called me to.

For so long, I have prided myself on having a voice and knowing how to use it. It was mine. Recently, though, I realized it is actually His. God reminded me of all the times my voice has been taken from me – laryngitis, NG tubes, comas, near-death, abuse by spiritual authority, exploitation by men – and how He has restored my voice to me each and every time.

I have a voice because He said so.

And because it is first His voice, I am called to use it as He sees fit. Sometimes, I forget this. A wise woman in my life recently received harsh words from me. When we met up, she affirmed the goodness of my voice and encouraged me to ask, “Am I the one?” Am I the one who needs to address this? Am I the one to bring this up? Am I the one to call this out?

Each time I ask God this in relation to sex ethics, I receive a resounding “YES.”

One such time, I came across Ephesians 5:11. It says, “Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.” My voice is meant to call attention to Biblical sex ethics. My story has been designed to shout God’s name, reflect His glory, and it has also been designed for this.

I speak so I can be still, friends. So my soul can rest. There is much restoration to be found when we stop fighting God.

I am weary of unlearning in order that I might learn rightly. I am exhausted from trying to convince the Lord of my life that He is wrong and mistaken. I am drained from turning aside from those desperately searching for answers.

I will forever be learning, and so I will not be perfect. There will always be gaps in what I share and express. I am convinced, however, that our world is in dire need of some good whole sex ethic information. Declarations of His goodness, exclamations of His design. We need exhortations to live in our created selves, not occupy space deemed appropriate by the powers that be.

As I do this faithfully, I rest. As I share, my stillness increases. As I write, God drenches me in quietude. I talk about sex ethics, so the Holy Spirit living inside me calms.

These are the “whys” that have shaped what Taboo Talks is and what it is becoming. Honestly, these are the “whys” that have shaped my soul. They are the “whys” that will shape our conversations moving forward!

I write these pieces because God redeems and refines me through every word. Even as I share with you what He has done and who He is, I take those truths deeper into myself, becoming more like Him. You, friend, by simply being here are contributing to my sanctification and healing.

It’s okay if you don’t know what that means – just know I am incredibly grateful for your presence in this space❤

312 views0 comments