Sex. It’s everywhere. We can’t avoid it. And, let’s face it, we are doing it. And I’m talking about church folk. Everyone is talking about it, except at church, and for that I’ve been called out. I knew I couldn’t avoid it when the ladies started pulling me to the side saying, “We need to have a conversation; not a rehash of the same lecture we always hear. We mean a real conversation that deals with real issues.” So next month at the Gracious Women’s Annual Advance, we are going to have a no holds barred conversation about sex. We’re bringing together women who have been married forty years, women who are on their second marriages, women who have been married a few years, and single women who have been divorced, never married, never married with kids, and divorced with kids. We’re going to talk to women in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. We’re taking off the masks, we’re shelving the religious talk, and we are going to listen to one another without judgment.
As African-American women, we have the additional burden of finding our way through a labyrinth of images. Some portray us as hyper-sexed Jezebels perpetuated by current statistics of black, out-of-wedlock births and by music videos. Some portray us as the so-called “Sapphire Caricature,” perpetuated in movies and on television as the ugly religious loon whose catchphrase is “Lawd Have Mercy” – in recent years portrayed as Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page) on Sanford and Son, and Florence Johnston (Marla Gibbs) on The Jeffersons. Some portray us as Mammy, the asexual, overweight, churchgoing, maternal figure played by Nell Carter on Gimme A Break. The African-American Christian Woman has the challenge of navigating these negative stereotypes with little more than the church’s injunction to “render to your husband due benevolence” for married women and “flee fornication” for single women. Male church leaders have told us how to dress, how long to wear our hair, and how much makeup to put on, and they have been assisted by a church full of women ready to serve as their enforcers. Is it possible to celebrate our beauty and sexuality in the way we dress and still honor God?
What does it meant to celebrate all that we were created to be as women with sexual, emotional, and spiritual needs whether we are married or single? Have we even admitted that we as Christian women even have sexual needs? If not, why not? How should we address the growing epidemic of heterosexual women contracting STDs and HIV? And, by the way, before we prattle “just don’t” – this isn’t just a single woman’s issue; good women who faithfully perform their wifely duties are contracting STDs from their husbands too.
What can the church do to foster a healthy view of sex for women? What are we doing or not doing to keep women safe? What are the most important issues around sex that you think we as women need to address? Women, be honest. Men, what do you think?
For the “Sex Series,” I will suspend my “no anonymous posting” rule so that you can freely weigh in (there is no secret way for me to determine who you are from my end, so don’t worry). The next post will specifically address sex and the Christian single. Stay with me because we are going there.