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Should Christians have sexual fantasies?

Adolescent boys aren’t the only ones who have sexual fantasies. Adults have them too, even Christian adults. For a lot of us, they are embarrassing. So it might be good news that Christianity is okay with our quirks. For Christians, sexual imagination is one of the most powerful tools in spiritual transformation, the process of becoming Christlike.

Picture the popular story of Adam and Eve. It certainly isn’t what you would wish for your daughter’s first date. God thought it was a good idea—he even says, “This is good!”—to put a naked man and a naked woman in a beautiful garden and then encourage them to “be fruitful and multiply.” It must have baffled the Puritans that this is the first thing God asks of us. “Make love,” he says, “start a family.” Jesus does not deny our humanness—even our sexuality. By becoming human, he celebrates it. He summons us to become what we were made to be: embodied, imaginative people capable of great love and great intimacy.

Viewed in this light, your sex life doesn’t begin with having sex. It begins with those thousand scattered daydreams, those longings for intimacy and release, those pictures of beauty that pound between your temples, especially when you are young. They shape what you look for when you make love.

Christian poets like Dante and Donne have sung of how the power of sex or the beauty of the beloved is a compass or a road sign pointing toward God. They tell us that our sexual fantasies can become purged of the pesticides of eccentric lusts and the pollutants of promiscuity. They can be a view of God, of doing what Paul encourages every husband to do: imitate Christ’s love through loving your spouse. You know how Christians talk about how the beauty of a sunset or how holding a newborn baby compels them to worship God? Open your hymnal to almost any page: beholding the wonder of the world (including your wife) is one of the best ways we can behold the wonder of God.

It’s true: Paul wishes that more of us, like him, could be celibate. But he also says marriage is a sneak peak into who God is. Marriage and celibacy go hand in hand. Married couples can learn from monks and nuns, just as singles can learn from their married neighbors. In the end, however, celibacy is the exception, not the rule. God made us as sexual, relational creatures.

Christians have built up a reputation for being collar-chokingly serious about sex. But when we are serious, and serious about the right things in the right way, we are free to laugh and play. And joy is what Christian sexuality is all about.

When God made humans, he made artists and dreamers. We are supposed to use our imagination, even our sexual imagination. Well-used, our sexual fantasies can be one of the best ways to let God redeem something so central to who you are: your sex life.

Christians have a powerful vision for their marriages and their sex lives. Just like any other part of daily life, they believe sex can be a part of God’s redemptive story. The faculty of imagining things, especially things that glorify God, is central to spiritual transformation. The Bible calls it “the renewing of your mind.” So dwell on that mental image, and savor it at length. May it reflect your desire to glorify God.

Sherri Rosen, Sherri Rosen Publicity, NYC

Tyler Blanski, author of Mud & Poetry: Love, Sex, and the Sacred, published by Upper Room Publishing

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 at 8:16 am and is filed under Clients, Friends and Colleagues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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