I sit in church scared. I can’t focus on the message; I’m just so worried. Worried that I am causing guys around me to sin. Worried that I’m somehow leading them astray – even though I kinda look like a nun, I’m so covered up. I know that sex before marriage is bad, it’s practically all we talk about in youth group. And I don’t want to sin, or cause others to sin, so I’m doing everything I can to suppress my sexuality and any part of my femininity that could attract a guy and lead him astray…
But I feel like I’ve lost myself. I have no idea who God wants me to be as a female, and I am not sure how I’m supposed to figure it out when all I do is hide my femininity – either by being no different than the boys or by staying far, far away from them.
I really want to be a woman of God, I just don’t know how. How can I be a woman of God and yet make sure I stay un-sexual to boys?
– Worried and confused*
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Dear “Worried and Confused,”
I would be worried and confused too in your situation! Being a woman of God means just that being a woman, embracing her God-given design as female, honoring God with her femininity, by carefully expressing her sexuality within the parameters of God’s pure and righteous plan.
Sounds a bit confusing, right? Well, lets break it down piece by piece.
What is sex?
Uhhh…. Queue the most awkward conversation ever between Christians – something I totally do not understand, but that is a blog for another day. Lets push past the overwhelming awkwardness and ask the tough questions: What is sex? When was it created? Who for? Why?
“And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. ”Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:22-25
Sex is God’s creation, his gift to man and wife, designed to unite them physically, emotionally and spiritually. It was the most intimate act ever created, allowing husband and wife to fully enjoy each other without shame or guilt.
God created masculinity, femininity, sexuality, and sexual intimacy as temporary symbols that point to eternal spiritual realities, which we – as small-minded humans – would never be able to comprehend without having access to the earthly symbol. Bottom line – the purpose of sex is to glorify God.
What is sexuality?
If sex is the act of the union, what is sexuality? Is it simply possessing the physical bits and pieces required for that union? What is sexuality?
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27
Clearly, sexuality is wrapped up in God’s design of us as masculine and feminine beings – a design that is stamped with the image of God. Sexuality is physical, emotional and spiritual capability to be a compliment to a person of the opposite sex. It isn’t sex, but it is the motivating factor for men and women to desire sexual intimacy with each other. Sexuality draws men and women together in complementarity, to create marriage and family. And it is in that complement of masculinity and femininity that the Gospel is reflected to the world. Bottom line – the purpose of our sexuality is to glorify God.
What is femininity?
Based on the above scripture, femininity is the creation of God, stamped with His image, designed as the perfect complement to God’s design of masculinity. The creation of humanity as male and female was a purposeful and magnificent part of God’s wise plan; men and women are designed to reflect the image of God in complementary and distinct ways (True Woman Manifesto). Those ‘ways’ are what makes up femininity, and yes, that includes sexuality. Femininity and sexuality cannot be separated. But that does not mean that a woman must engage in sexual activity to be a woman – by no means!
God’s plan for femininity is wider than marriage, which is the only place designed for sexual intimacy. Single and widowed women are still feminine, sexual beings – they are just called by God to steward their sexuality in different ways than married women. God calls all women, whether married or single, to model femininity in all relationships, by exhibiting a distinctive modesty, responsiveness, nurturing, and gentleness of spirit. (1 Cor. 11:2–16; 1 Tim. 2:9–13)
Why is the sexuality/femininity thing so difficult?
The difficult thing is that after God created masculinity, femininity, sexuality, sex, procreation, and marriage… Adam and Eve sinned and were expelled from God’s presence in the Garden of Eden. The fall tainted everything (read the curse in Gen. 3). Sin contaminated all that God created, so that now our very nature is sinful. So natural desires sex, motivations for marriage, understanding of masculinity/femininity, and actions prompted by our sexuality are born out of a sinful heart (Jer. 29.11). That doesn’t mean sex and sexuality are bad. It means that our hearts must be redeemed by the blood of Jesus to be able to wade through the muck of sin to understand God’s pure and perfect plan for sexuality.
When churches, mentors, Christians, or parents, teach younger generations that “sex is bad” (link) and “sexuality is evil”… (you know, until you are married)…. It has direct implications on how the young people view their own masculinity and femininity. Sweet young girls are petrified to be feminine in fear that they will somehow taint men with their sexuality – because “sex is bad.”*
God designed us sexual beings, masculine and feminine, with a natural desire for physical, emotional and spiritual intimacy. That’s God’s design! And it is beautiful! Yet, we cannot forget that we live in a fallen world that perverts every beautiful thing God has created – so we must guard our bodies, minds and hearts to ensure that the sexuality we embrace is God’s design, not the world’s tainted knock-off.
What does God-honoring feminine sexuality look like?
So, what does that look like? How does one live as a daughter of God, honoring God with feminine sexuality, while remaining pure?
Speech – Interacting with all (men and women) out of the confidence of Christ in us, not the worldly boldness of sexual appeal and flirtation. Prov. 7:13
Modesty – A physical appearance that says, “I am proud God created me feminine and I recognize He made femininity as a beautiful gift, but I am guarding intimate knowledge of my body for marriage alone.” Prov. 7:10
Security – Finding worth, purpose and affirmation in Christ and what He has given you, rather than restlessly roaming about seeking approval from men or other worldly means. Prov. 7:11
Transparency – Living in honesty and accountability in all areas of life, rather than hiding behaviors and keeping secrets to maintain a certain “appearance of Christianity” (which doesn’t honor Christ at all). Prov. 7:18-19
Purity – Choosing to grapple with God’s plan for sexuality and sexual purity in relationships, rather than asking, “How far can I go with a boy before it’s sin?” Gen. 1:26-27
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Also, “Worried and Confused,” it’s important to realize that you are responsible to God for your purity, not that of every guy you meet (Matt. 5:28). In focusing on God’s call on your life for godly femininity, it will result in sexual purity. And the great thing about God’s plan for purity is that it encourages and challenges that same purity in other believers!
Grappling with sexuality and purity and glorifying God in all aspects of femininity is not easy, but it is worth it! We have the honor of reflecting the of Christ and His gospel to our world in every aspect of our femininity.
*stories and examples used with permission