February 1, 2018

Your Sex Questions Answered

Inside This Episode

Listeners’ response to Debra Hirsch’s episode - “Can Sex Bring You Closer to God?” - was so overwhelming, Maybe God brought her back for round two, this time answering questions like, "What's wrong with a little porn?", "Is premarital sex really a sin?", and "Should it be the Church's job to police people's sex lives?" Ultimately, Eric and Deb challenge us to ask better questions as we strive to understand sex as something more than mere physical intercourse.

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Eric Huffman: Hey guys, before we get started on this week's episode, I just want to stop and say thank you because you guys have been amazing. You've blown us away with all the feedback that you've given us online, in person, and with your Apple Podcast reviews. And that just means the world to us. So I just want to say thanks.

I hope you'll keep sharing Maybe God with your friends and your family, especially people that just have a lot of questions about God and faith, people that may describe themselves as non-religious or skeptical. There's nothing I love more than engaging these folks in meaningful conversations.

So if you love Maybe God, and if this podcast has spoken to your heart in some way, just go ahead and open your Apple Podcast app right now. If you haven't done so already, go ahead and leave us a review. Every single positive review that we get really helps get Maybe God out there, and it helps new listeners find us and hopefully that makes a difference in their lives. So thank you so much for helping us spread the word.

[00:00:58] <music>

Eric Huffman: We can find millions of reasons why we're all different, but there's one question that every human ponders at some point in their lives: how did we get here? No one knows. Maybe we're a cosmic accident, or maybe God did it. I'm Eric Huffman. This is Maybe God.

[00:01:15] <music>

Eric Huffman: Welcome to Episode 4, you guys. This is a sequel from last week's episode. We got so much response from the conversation we had with Deb Hirsch that we're going to continue to talk about sex and sexuality.

So if you missed Episode 3, I encourage you to go back and listen to it. But Deb Hirsch is a pastor and a speaker and author of a book called Redeeming Sex and she really makes it her life's mission to challenge primarily the way Christians think and talk about sex and sexuality issues in our culture today.

We've got a little bit more of Deb's wisdom and insight to share with you later. She addressed some listener questions when we were with her in Los Angeles. But before we get to Deb's responses to listener questions, we had so many other listener questions come in since Episode 3 aired, so we wanted to spend some time wrestling with those questions.

I haven't really sat with these questions. I don't really know what's coming. This is going to be a fun conversation. We're going to be blushing here behind the mics. But producer Julie Mirlicourtois has a few questions that she selected that came in via email and Facebook. So, Julie, what do you have for us?

Julie Mirlicourtois: Hi, everyone. So, okay, first, Eric, a lot of our listeners wanted to know your thoughts on what's happening today with our hookup culture. Many people see casual sex as a way to have fun, relieve some stress, make friends, fulfill some, you know, basic need for human connection, especially while they're waiting to find the one and get married, which seems to be happening later and later these days. So what are your thoughts on hookup culture today?

Eric Huffman: First of all, I think it's a little bit related to the Christian idea of purity culture. So the idea that many of us grew up with. If you grew up in religion or around Christianity, the idea that when you're single, you're more valuable in the dating scene as a virgin, especially true for young women, but to a lesser extent, young men as well.

I think the question really is about premarital sex. When I hear this, that's where my mind goes is, are we really still saying that it's wrong and it's a sin for people to have premarital sex? Because it just seems so out of touch. And people have really already settled this in their minds a lot of the time. I mean, the overwhelming majority of people that I counsel and couples that I see they've already engaged in sex with each other and with multiple people before they met each other. That's part of the question.

But that's not the whole question that you asked. You asked about hookup culture, which is a little different than having sex with someone you're in a relationship with, right? So hookup culture is having sex with whoever at a party, after party, just after class, whatever. And that's a different thing to me.

When I hear hookup culture, it seems like the norm there is to treat each other like a means to an end, to use each other, I think. We're just kind of using each other as vehicles for some kind of satisfaction. And then when you're done with someone, you're done with them. It's like people are disposable.

So I think that's the ugly side of hookup culture as it takes something that's so beautiful and sacred and intimate and wonderful, something like sex, and it makes it into something that at the end of the day just kind of feels disposable and a little gross. I hear a lot of people voicing regrets about hookup culture. So I've actually given a talk about this very thing before and I started the talk by quoting one of my favorite childhood artists, the great Sir Mix-a-Lot.

"Wise man once said I like big butts. I cannot lie." Sir Mix-a-Lot seem to not have a choice in the matter in terms of what makes a woman sexy. I think he kind of came prepackaged that way. Like he came with that preference, as do, according to the latest science, and yes, there's science around this, 85 or so percent of straight men like the same things Sir Mix-a-Lot likes.

Somehow at the University of Texas, I have no idea how they did this, but they found hundreds of willing male volunteers between the age of 18 and 35, and they showed them thousands of female figures. And they discovered that it didn't really matter how large that part was. The spinal curvature is what mattered. And they discovered over thousands of studies that the ideal female curvature and her spine is something like 45.5 degrees. And women are like which one am I? Don't even worry.

So the question in the scientist's face was, why? And here's what they think. They think that before all the medical advances that we've got today, before all the gynecological advances that we have today, that 45.5-degree spinal curvature was the ideal spinal curvature for a woman to carry multiple pregnancies to term and to give birth to multiple children who were healthier than others. And it allowed a woman to recover more quickly.

It wasn't because of how she looked in a dress, wasn't because of how it moved when she walked, it wasn't because of how hard she looks when she works. Our ancestors preferred this as a survival mechanism. So guys, when you reduce a woman's worth down to her body type, when you give or impute a woman's value based on how looking at her figure makes you feel, guys, when you take that obligatory second look, you're not just being a man, you're being a caveman.

And women, I'm not going to let you off the hook because you're not that much better either. So my question as we talk about sex today is, how much longer we're going to think and talk about sex as if we're Neanderthals? We know-

Julie Mirlicourtois: So, Eric, that all makes a lot of sense. And this is my own follow-up question really. Because when I was there listening to you and Deb speak and hearing your answer on hookup culture, I still wonder... I think, I know you enough to know that you still don't advocate for premarital sex. So what is wrong with premarital sex if it's not two people objectifying each other?

Eric Huffman: While I appreciate the question, I think it's just not the best question to ask. Because we're assuming, you know, sin and we're assuming purity culture kind of stuff. That's not where my head's at at all. I don't think it's where Deb's head was at, either.

I think instead of asking what's so wrong with premarital sex, I think the better question is what's so right about valuing our sexuality so much that we're very protective about what we do with that and how we express ourselves sexually? Because the Bible I read and the Bible Deb talks about in our interview really lifts up sex and the human sexual experience as something to be celebrated and not to be ashamed of.

And the God of the Bible doesn't just want people to have sex for procreation. The God of the Bible seems to want people to have the best, craziest, freakiest kind of sex together. So the question isn't, what's so wrong with premarital sex? The question is, what is it about waiting until we're sure, waiting until there's commitment, waiting until there's just you and only you? That covenant, right?

What is it about that that sets us up for the best sex that we can have together? I think that's the question the Bible really wants to tackle. And I know there's all kinds of verses you can point to and say, Well sexual immorality here and all these, you know, sins here and there. But the bigger story in the Bible about sex is How can two people experience the best form of human sexual expression? My opinion is that the best form of that is in the context of covenant, and in the context of love, and whether it's just you and no one else.

The other thing that that question does, I think is it focuses on the past rather than the present and the future. I think God is more interested in the present and the future than He is in the past. And I'm more interested in someone's present and future than I am in the past.

Now, there's always some healing and conversations we need to have about our pasts when we're getting serious in a relationship and things like that. But I think the bigger question isn't what have you done in the past? It's what are you doing now? What choices are you making now?

And in the case of this conversation, what choices are you making sexually now that really celebrate the God-given gift of your sexuality, rather than just kind of giving that gift away to whomever and whenever?

[00:10:40] <music>

Julie Mirlicourtois: So let's go to the next question from a listener in Houston. And I think what this man is really getting at is everything going on with the MeToo movement. So this listener says, "On our society today, and especially as of late, sexual harassment and sexual assault is as pervasive, or at least it seems, as ever, with more and more evidence of that produced daily. How have we as a society gotten this wrecked to where sexual misconduct is commonplace? And how can we as Christians encounter this on a daily basis?" So I think what he's asking here, Eric, is how did we get here and what should we as Christians do to respond to it?

Eric Huffman: That's a really great and loaded question. I'm not sure we have the... That might be its own episode right there. But I think it has to do with how accustomed we've become to objectifying ourselves and each other, and really boiling our sexuality and our sexual expressions down to purely physical, carnal acts and that's all it is for us, at least, culturally speaking.

It's about how good you look and how sexy you look and whether or not you have what it takes to blow his mind in bed. And all this, you know, like in the grocery store checkout lines, all the magazines, all the tips. It's just this mechanical act that we perform. It's performance.

And I think performance naturally just leads us to objectifying each other rather than really valuing each other as spiritual beings, fully human beings. That's what Deb kept talking about when we kept pressing her and saying, how do we educate young people about sex and how do we tell them what's right and what's wrong? And she just keeps telling us, You know, you need to pull back and teach them what it means to be a whole person.

And I think that's, in some ways, a harder conversation to have but it's such an important one to have. I think that we have come to a place in our culture where it's normal to kind of be what you would have been called in past times "like a perv". I think when I talk to women, especially who are dating online, the kinds of things they say are, you know, "It's not a question of whether a guy who [IM's?] you is a perv. It's how bad a perv is he."

I just think we're just awash in sexual language and sexual expectations that we just come at things from a very objectifying point of view. I think that has a lot of implications as far as this MeToo moment that we're in.

Men especially have grown accustomed to objectifying women and expecting certain responses from women, and they've gotten those responses from a few. So it's entitled them in their minds to getting those responses from all. The beauty of this moment is that women are standing up finally in mass and saying, "No, we are fully human beings, and you will not objectify us and handle us in this way."

And to their credit, I know a lot of men who are listening and changing the way they look at women. I think this MeToo movement is good for us.

Julie Mirlicourtois: Great. And then what about the part about Christians? How Should Christians respond to it?

Eric Huffman: I think it's been a little disturbing at times seeing the Christian response, hearing the Christian response to the feminist voice in our culture. It seems that those two are at odds when they shouldn't be. Because when I read the New Testament, especially I see a feminist voice arising and the movement of Jesus. Jesus is empowering women all the time.

Actually, the Apostle Paul is too and putting women in leadership positions to speak in churches and things like that. And so to me, the movement of Jesus is by its very nature MeToo feminist movement. And I know sometimes those voices in our culture get carried away. And actually, you start to hear some of the same little traces of hate and bigotry on that side of it. If you listen long enough, there's extreme voices on both sides. But the heart of it is good. I think it's a holy message that women are in every way equal to man and we should look that up.

[00:15:02] <music>

Julie Mirlicourtois: So, Eric, I had to laugh because, you know, we're so used to, at The Story, Houston, you telling us about your past.

Eric Huffman: Yes.

Julie Mirlicourtois: But new listeners are not, especially the agnostic and atheist listeners. Out of all the things you and Deb talked about, it seems like they were most shocked by you, a Christian pastor, coming clean about a past porn addiction. That's what a lot of people wrote in about. So this leads to the question on a lot of their minds, what's really wrong with porn?

Eric Huffman: I guess I've gotten a little too comfortable talking about my own story. I don't have a problem opening up about it. I think it's good when people talk about stuff like porn because there's no one who's been unaffected by this rampant, cultural phenomenon that has taken place over the last 20 years, this sudden, unlimited availability of pornographic material, and how porn itself has changed in that time.

And I know nobody is talking about this, especially not in churches because no one wants to admit that they've seen it. So when I talked about the difference between, you know, 1970s porn versus 2000s porn, I think that's where people get shocked because that is an admission of sorts that I have viewed porn from different decades and things like that, which is just the truth. I have. And I think, without outing anyone, I just think everyone has.

And the question is, whether or not it's an addiction, whether or not it's a problem. I can't speak for everyone, I can speak for myself. And I look back at my story, I was exposed to pornography at a very young age. So when I was seven years old, seven or eight, I saw my first real graphic pornography. My family had a satellite dish, one of those huge ones back in the backyard. So I was privy to that at an age where I just wasn't ready to be.

Then I think, looking back, I just didn't know what I was really getting into. But the habit of it formed before my body even formed, you know. So for me, that thing behaved and was acted out just like an addiction is. So it starts with a void of some kind. And I think the void often is just affection. Or I think what I was missing was real conversation about what was happening to me and my body as it developed and things like that.

No one was having those conversations really. My parents, I love them and they did try here and there, but it's just a very sheltered culture. But other people have different kinds of needs that they try to fulfill with something like porn. So I think it starts there, just like any addiction does. It start with the void. And then the problem with it is that, just like every addiction, there is a law of diminishing returns. So what satisfies you one day doesn't do it for you the next day, in terms of amount of times and content.

So if you're looking at 70s-era porn one day and there's a pizza delivery guy, and you know, consenting adults seeming to have a really good time together, and that satisfies you on Monday, by Wednesday, you're done with that. It doesn't do it for you anymore. It's just how the human mind works. You need something else.

So suddenly there's two pizza delivery guys, you know, and one girl or you know, more or whatever. Just how it works. And eventually you've become something, you've developed an appetite you never would have imagined having on day one. And I think that's how addiction just works.

I've counseled people who have been addicted for 5, 10 years, and the stuff they're into now, if you had told them that this is what they will be into on day one of their addiction, they would think you're crazy. Just unbelievable stuff. But the human mind, our bodies, and our minds, they just constantly need something more than you had the day before.

So for me, I definitely saw that. I got into different kinds of porn over time. And what's interesting about porn, I think one of the things that's dangerous about it, in addition to how it is highly addictive and how it rewires our brains, is that porn itself has changed to the extent that now instead of two consenting adults seeming to kind of enjoy themselves and in a role-playing kind of a way, that's what Porn was in the 70s and 80s, now it's usually most porn today is a man doing something to a woman.

Instead of two people together... I mean, I'm not going to tell my listeners to go into your own research. You're gonna have to trust me here if you're not into this. But that's what 90% of the porn is that's out there is what is a man doing to a woman and much, if not all, definitely most of the language around what men do to women in porn is stuff you would not want to be done to your daughter. It's violent. It's words like "destroy," "wreck," "ruin," you know, stuff like that, which is just by nature, objectifying of the woman.

It is very one-sided. And I think, even when I listened to an interview, the other day of with a porn star Ron Jeremy.  Ron Jeremy has kind of transcended the porn world. He's everywhere. Everybody kind of knows who he is. He was reaching his peak of fame in the 80s in the porn world.

And he says in an interview, "I don't even know what's going on with porn anymore. I look at porn, I don't recognize it." Like the extreme of it. And this is the mainstream porn. It's so extreme that to him it's unrecognizable. He says, "I'm nostalgic for the way porn used to be back when it was fun." Now there's something ugly and dark about it.

Julie Mirlicourtois: Going back to your personal story, you mentioned in Episode 3 how you were a virgin until you married your wife, Giovanna at 19?

Debra Hirsch: We had just turned 20.

Julie Mirlicourtois: You had just turned 20. Okay. So how did porn affect your relationship when you guys got married?

Eric Huffman: I think I thought that while I was deep in my addiction with porn before we got married, I thought that when we got married, I wouldn't need it anymore because we'd be having sex all the time, you know. That's what I thought marriage meant. And little did I know that's not necessarily what it means.

So I brought all these expectations into my marriage that she had no idea about. She had no idea that I expected her to do certain things or say certain things or respond in certain ways. But my brain had been rewired in so many crazy ways I wasn't even aware of. So I brought all that into the marriage.

She didn't obviously and so we were starting on an unequal plane. And then we had all these problems sexually that really prevented us from connecting in that way for a long time. So I went back to porn, and I relied more on porn. And in that way, in the early years of my marriage, I justified it as though I was letting her off the hook.

So sex was an unpleasant thought for her because we were having these issues. I thought, "Well, I'm gonna leave her alone. I'll do porn, and then we'll watch a movie after." You know, that kind of thing. It's just the way you justify it is also the way addiction works. But yeah, marriage didn't fix my problem. I had to do that work later.

Julie Mirlicourtois: So this all leads to another set of questions we got from listeners about masturbation, which you and Deb talked about in your interview. Let's hear what Deb had to say about that.

Eric Huffman: That kind of a similar question from young woman in my congregation, she says, "I became sexually active at a young age. My circle of friends and family, not to mention media and magazines, all supported the worldview, that sex was something to be experienced well before marriage, the old try before you buy adage. I became a Christian at 31. Throughout my walk with Jesus, I've been convicted to wait for sex until marriage. This has been both a huge blessing and a huge struggle.

I'm now dating a man who shares this belief and we keep each other accountable. However, I'd like to know your thoughts on orgasm and masturbation and singleness. The Bible doesn't refer explicitly to them as far as I know.

Debra Hirsch: I've come to, you know, a place now where I will say to people on the masturbation, the M question, I would never say it's absolutely wrong or it's absolutely right. I think it really is something that we need to work out according to our conscience. Let me give you an example.

I remember years ago when I was working as addictions counselor, I had a gay man who was acting out a lot, was having a lot of anonymous sex like regularly, sometimes several times a day, go off to beats where he would have anonymous encounters. And I found myself saying to him at one point, "Oh, for goodness sake, can't you just masturbate?"

And I remember, as the words were coming out of my mouth, I was thinking, "Am I really saying this? I'm really encouraging him?" And I realize it's much better for him to do that. You know, it's a step in the right direction than actually have somebody else involved. So that as part of, you know, walking towards helping him become-

Eric Huffman: It's not perfect, but it's better.

Debra Hirsch: Yes, that's right. And you know, this guy wasn't going to be able to go cold turkey. Some people can do that, you know, grit their teeth and get through it. Other people, it's a slow... it's like sometimes coming off drugs or other addictions. So that was on the one hand.

In the same time period, we had a heterosexual guy, who I remember having a conversation with him about masturbation, and he's like, "Oh, I just masturbate when I feel like it." And I said, "Hang on a minute." And I found myself saying to him, "No, no, no, you can't just anytime you feel like masturbating. I mean, is that real freedom? Is that what you're calling freedom?" There's got to be a level of discipline there." So I found myself saying to him, "No, you need to discipline yourself, mate. This is not good." And yet, here's this other man I was saying that.

So I've come to a place now we're all in different places with that. And people masturbate for different reasons. One young guy that I was counseling at one time said it was the only time he felt free. And that again, that points back to what we spoke about earlier, that sense of transcendence or ecstasy where you are almost lifted out of the worries of the world of today. You know, there's something powerful in that. But again, it's a taste of heaven that God's giving us, isn't it?

Eric Huffman: Right.

Debra Hirsch: So I think we have to be careful with it. Not absolutely no. Not absolutely yes. There's got to be a sense of moderation according to where you're at and also your relationship with God. And the complicating part for some people is that pornography that often goes hand in hand with that. Honestly, how can pornography either be healthy or helpful?

Julie Mirlicourtois: Wow, yeah. Eric, that reminds me a lot of your answer related to porn.

Eric Huffman: I hear what Deb's saying there. And I think my own experiences with porn have jaded me. I'm not sure I would ever say that porn could ever be healthy or helpful, at least for me because of how disruptive I've seen it be.

But I guess the question that we're really getting at here is, where should we draw our lines about what's healthy and what's not healthy? And should it be left up to each person individually to decide what's healthy and right for me and to each his own kind of a deal? Or should there be some governing body? In past times, past generations have looked to the church or to organize religion to govern that, to police our sexual moralism.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. So I actually asked Deb what she thinks about the church governing people's sexual expressions, and I found her answer fascinating.

Debra Hirsch: I think and I feel quite strongly about this, let me just say, I think if a church has a standard of celibacy for singles, then we need to have other conversations. Conversations, first of all, around celibacy. What is celibacy? Because right now, when I speak to single people, celibacy feels like they've been sentenced to solitary confinement for their whole lives.

Most single people feel half-born, incomplete, and lacking God's blessing because they don't have a partner. Again, that's the kind of culture we've developed in the church today where to be married is to be all and end all. That's kind of where we're heading.

Eric Huffman: Right.

Debra Hirsch: And broader culture looks at people that are walking the path of celibacy as, at the very best, suspicious.

Eric Huffman: Absolutely.

Debra Hirsch: At the worst, you know, well, there's something wrong with you. You got psychological hang-ups, and you know, repressed and suppressed and all that kind of stuff. So we've got to begin to change a conversation around celibacy and begin to, again, go back to some of the heroes of the faith that have walked a celibate path.

And again, this is where Jesus comes back in. Like, who's gonna say Jesus was repressed or suppressed or psychologically hung up? But all throughout history, we see these people that have given their lives to the Lord, they see themselves married to the Lord. Now that might sound a bit weird and all the rest of it.

But Paul talks a lot about union with Christ. And what does union with Christ mean? And he actually encourages people, if you can, remain celibate too because there is a gift to be found there. Now, many of our young people that are walking the celibate path do not see it as a gift.

Eric Huffman: It's a curse.

Debra Hirsch: They see it as a curse.

Eric Huffman: Paul called marriage the curse.

Debra Hirsch: That's exactly right. So again, we've got to change that conversation around so that people are not seeing it as a negative thing but as this positive, beautiful thing. That's the first thing for churches that hold an ethic of no sex before marriage.

The second thing is, the other conversation that is profoundly important is the conversation around family. Because at the moment, when we talk of family or we understand family, we are very caught up in the nuclear family concept, particularly in the West, where family is about me and my wife, or my husband, my 2.2 Kids, my car, and little house and all the rest.

Jesus speaks very strongly about family and He redefines it, not along biological lines, but along the family of God lines. I love that little story where His mom's trying to get ahold of Him. And of course, there's probably crowds all around Him. And the disciples come and say, "Hey, Jesus, your mom's out there. She needs you."

And I laugh, because, you know, I'm married to a Jewish man, and you do not reply like this to a Jewish mama. So Jesus is like, "Huh? Who's my mother, my father, my sister? you know. What is He saying in that? I mean, there's a lot there. And He goes on. He doesn't just say it once. He says that a number of times.

What He's doing is He's bringing a new family saying, we're not bound just by our biology and our biological lines or our bloodlines. We're bound by who we're in relationship with, by our God family. And if we are calling people to walk the path of celibacy, that can be a very lonely path if they're not in community.

So when we started our first church back in Melbourne, we had a lot of people that were messed up in our early years who needed healthy relationships to restore them, to bring wholeness to them. And so we set up a lot of community houses, and a lot of people lived with each other.

I mean, Alan and I have lived our whole married life in community. We had one month alone when we were first married. And we also chose not to have children so that we could both be available to be involved in ministry. So what we were doing in our very lives was really redefining what it is to be family.

My sister and her hubby who had a couple of kids, they had two single gay men that lived with them. And they were so much part of the family that those two guys became known as the third and fourth sons.

Eric Huffman: Oh, wow.

Debra Hirsch: That's what I mean by, you know, we've got to change our understanding of family to a much more extended family understanding.

Eric Huffman: I want to thank Deb for sharing her wisdom with us. If you want to hear more from her, I really encourage you to get her book Redeeming Sex. You can find it on Amazon or wherever you buy books.

So I have asked our producers Julie and Brandon and our sound guy, Patrick, to leave the room for this last part. So now it's just me, and my dog, [Limp Bizkit?], who's old and deaf in this microphone and all of you. I wanted to share the last part of the porn story that I shared earlier in this episode but I didn't feel super comfortable doing it with the rest of the team sitting right here in front of me. This part's a little uncomfortable. But it's a good story, I think.

When my wife found out about my issue with porn, it obviously was ugly. She was obviously destroyed by it and she had so many questions. And everything really kind of came crashing down. And it just seemed like to her like our whole life together had been a lie. And to me, obviously, I just had all these feelings of defensiveness and insecurity coming to the surface.

And I just remember the night that it happened, and we were there sobbing both of us in our living room, not really sure what our next steps were. And I had a choice to make. I could have said, "Hey, relax, it's not a big deal. All guys watch porn." Or I could have said, "Hey, if you had made a little bit more of an effort in the bedroom or if you had gone to greater lengths to be sexier to me, or whatever..." I could have put it on her right? Or, I could have said, "Hey, it's really not a problem. You know, somebody from work just sent me a link and it was one little slip up. It'll never happen again. I'm not that kind of guy."

Now all three of those things would have been lies, but I could have said them in theory. But instead, in that moment, something that's totally not in my nature moved inside of my heart and moved me and led me to just be broken and honest.

And I remember exactly what I said to my wife that night, I looked across the room at Gio, and I said, "I need you to treat me like I'm sick." And without knowing what I really meant, without understanding the depth of my addiction and how dark my world had gotten, without asking more questions like, "How long have you been lying to me? Why am I not enough for you? And what's wrong with me?" she came over to me and she wrapped her arms around me. And she said, "We can get through this. God can put us back together again."

That moment was like a turning point for us in our marriage, and ever since our life together has been so different. We talk more than ever, we touch more than ever, and not to gross out those of you who know us personally but we probably made love more in our 18th year together than any other year before. Our marriage, our sex life, it just keeps getting better.

The thing I'm trying to say with that story, and what I want to suggest with this whole episode is that the reason the Bible seems to so many to be so prohibitive about sex isn't because sex is so bad. I think it's because sex is so good. It really never been that God just wants to punish people for having the wrong kind of sex. I think He just doesn't want us to miss out on the best kind of sex, the best sex of our lives.

When I chose to turn all my attention and my energy away from porn and fantasy and directed it toward my wife and when she chose to forgive me, and meet me halfway, we discovered something so much more than just intercourse or orgasm or whatever, we pardon the cliché. We learned how to make love.

And when two human beings crossed that threshold together, when they know that what they share together is sacred and private and they can say and do anything in those moments without fear of judgment or shame, that is the best sex on earth.

Some people have gotten the idea that the God of the Bible is warning against sexual freedom and against sexual freakiness. But what if, consider this, what if the whole time God has been trying to show us the best way to be free and freaky? I'm not saying you're gonna go to hell if you're breaking the rules or if you're living outside these boundaries. I'm not saying that you're worthless on the dating scene or you'll never get married. If you've been promiscuous. That's not it at all.

I'm saying it just helps when we look at the rules to understand why the rules are there to begin with. Sexual boundaries are not about control. They're about freedom. An athlete cannot excel at his sport until he knows what's out of bounds. An artist can't create something beautiful until she understands the dimensions of her canvas. These limitations don't stand in the way of expression, they make the expression possible and beautiful.

Now I know not everyone agrees with the sexual boundaries that are found in the Bible. And that's fine. You may not agree with me, and that's cool. But we all share one thing in common we all have a sense in our minds of what's right and what's wrong when it comes to sex.

Christians obviously believe it's one man and one woman forever in marriage. And we base that belief on our understanding of God, our understanding of covenant and gender and all those things. But everyone else has boundaries too. Even the most secular, most liberal person reaches a point on the sexual spectrum where they say, "Hey, no, that's wrong, that sexual expression is wrong.

So I just like to wrap up this two-part conversation by asking you to consider two questions. And if you'd like to share your responses with me, I would love to hear them or you can send them to [email protected]. I'm actually really curious to hear what you have to say about this. It's been on my mind a lot lately.

Hear the questions first. Where do you draw the line between right and wrong when it comes to human sexual expressions? And second, on what basis do you draw the line there? On what basis do you say this all is right and what's wrong? Is it scripture? Or is it law? Or is it just a feeling? What basis is it that you get that idea from?

I'm just asking that you give those questions some thought, then you send me your ideas, and maybe we'll keep the conversation going in some future episodes later this season or next season.

Guys, thank you for opening your hearts to me. This has not been an easy conversation but I hope it's been helpful to some of you in some way. Thank you for listening to episode four of Maybe God.

[00:38:07] <music>

Brandon Duke: Maybe God is produced by Julie Mirlicourtois, Eric Huffman, and me, Brandon Duke. Our sound engineer is Pat Lowry, our editor is Brittany Holland, and our theme music is by Nathan Bonus. If you have questions or doubts that you would like us to address in upcoming episodes of Maybe God, email us at [email protected] or start a discussion on our Facebook page, Maybe God Podcast. And please don't forget to subscribe now and leave a review on Apple podcasts or your favorite podcast app.