In August of 1991 a female hip hop duo Salt-N-Pepa released a song entitled “Let’s talk about sex”. It depicted a story of a woman who was able to get any man that she wanted but was left feeling empty because it was “just sex”. No love, communication and lacked safety. The song addressed to the fact that women were no longer subordinate in the sexual act. A woman, much like, men could freely engage in the act of sex and could seek out any suitor that they desired. It spoke to a generation that was awaken to the fact that sex was not about procreation but recreation. It was not necessary to be tied down through a union or covenant to enjoy the pleasure of it. It also recognized that sex without intimacy lacked fulfillment beyond the moment of pleasure.
A year into a new decade this group had hopes to encourage women and men to talk about sex and not have it be a taboo topic emphasizing the importance of safety through the promotion of contraception. Aids had gained awareness and the epidemic of the disease due to lack of sex talk was problematic. Despite what some felt was an inappropriate subject matter to be discussed in this manner, especially by women, the song became a late summer anthem and quickly climbed the charts.
Fast forward 20 years later and the topic of sex continues to be an important subject matter. In this week’s book God, Sex and Gender by Adrian Thatcher he methodically discusses the tensions with the theological complexities that exist in the discussion of theology and sexuality in our society. Historically, sex was reinforced solely through the framework of marriage. Thatcher highlights some of the problematic ways in which we justify marriage as a framework for sex. In doing so, he is not negating it as an option or the ideal but he provides different reasons as to why it can be so. He gives an example from the “Forms of Solemnization of Matrimony in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. In it the priest is instructed to provide these reasons for the purpose of marriage: 
- First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
- Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
- Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined.
I have had my own challenges with the way in which Christianity defines marriage. Not that I do not agree with the covenant of marriage as it relates to Christ, love, mutual submission, equality and a unified purpose. But I do believe that the way in which we communicate our belief can be problematic in nature.
Challenge with #1- Not every marriage produces children. Some people choose not to have children and others are unable to conceive. Some may say it is a repercussion of sin in this world but I struggle with ever accepting that as a reason a woman or man is not able to conceive as such. Furthermore, the marriages that do not have children what then is their purpose for marriage or even sex besides avoiding sin and fornication?
Challenge with #2 -I remember as a youth being in the crux of what the Church reinforced about sex and marriage and what was being reinforced in society through shifts in the culture. I recall struggling with the way in which sex was only mentioned in the context of marriage. It was not discussed in a way that discussed intimacy, desire, connectivity and love but more of an obligation a husband and wife had to one another. Despite the lack of depth in the manner by which it was communicated it still resonated with young people in as much as once I am of age to get married I will do so , so that I can have sex. This became evident when I had turned 19 and many of my peers were getting married to either their “high school sweetheart” or a person they met a year before in youth group that they felt “called” to marry. It was unfortunate because so many people were rushing into such a serious commitment to avoid fornicating. What I found even more disheartening is that once they were married they didn’t know how to build intimacy, share their desires and find meaning connection with their spouse. Many just had sex and began having children. Some would say that marriage provided them the opportunity to have sex without conviction but I would disagree. To just engage in the act without love, intimacy, etc. should be just as convicting as being worried about engaging in the act outside of marriage.
As the book progresses, Thatcher begins to break down how identity, mutuality, and equality play a role in our theological understanding of sex and marriage. He illustrates how Jesus in the New Testament provided a renewed framework for marriage and how that transforms how we define what it means to be married and the purpose of marriage. I would highly recommend this book. It is one I will read in more depth and wrestle with as I grow in my discernment and theological understanding as it relates to God, Sex and Gender.
 Adrian Thatcher, God, Sex, and Gender: An Introduction (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).