God and Sex

Did that get your attention?? I have a lot to say on both subjects and this post may end up rambling, so bear with me.

Our church – Christ’s Church of the Valley or CCV – is very different. It is a non-denominational Bible church that looks a bit like a movie theater on the outside; has a minister who has been known to wear Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt while he preaches; and has a rock band, cement floors, and three big screens on the inside. There’s not much in the way of ritual or tradition and we hardly sing hymns, mostly singing contemporary Christian worship and praise songs.

I may not be a Bible scholar, but I know a thing or two about what Jesus had in mind for His church and in the 16 months we’ve been attending here I’ve yet to see something that contradicts His ideas. If I have any complaint about the church at all it’s that we don’t sing traditional hymns more regularly. I’d like a nice balance between contemporary and traditional music. That, however, is my personal preference and doesn’t make a flip of difference in my worship.

This church is obviously not for everyone. Some people are wired for the traditions and the rituals. It’s not a question of which church is right and which church is wrong. It’s a matter of which church am I going to get the most from. For my family it’s this progressive, edgy church.

I have been told – in very subtle, indirect ways – that because this is a “new” church (meaning not a traditional denomination) it can’t be pleasing to God. I don’t beg to differ, I just do. I don’t believe there’s a denomination or church or person on the planet that has figured everything out. It’s not God’s word (the Bible) that’s infallible. It’s man’s interpretations and that’s why there are so many denominations. And because of that I believe that every church has a flaw in it somewhere.

So while CCV has its own flaws, here’s what it does well. It (the people of CCV – which are truly the church) loves the less than lovable in big and real ways. There’s a song by Todd Agnew called “My Jesus” and every time I hear it I think to myself that’s one thing we got right.

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
But He reached for the hurting and despises the proud
I think He’d prefer Beal St. to the stained glass crowd
But I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I grew up going to church; lived a happy, normal, middle class life; never got into any trouble; had great, loving parents, etc. And a lot of our congregation has a similar background. We also have a lot of people who have backgrounds that would make your hair stand on end. So many of them had tried other churches at one time or another and they were made to feel less than worthy to be there. HELLO! It’s church!! And who did Jesus hang out with? The dredges of society.

I’m not saying CCV has a monopoly in this market because I know we don’t. I know a lot of traditional churches that look beyond the surface or the less than pleasant aspects of people and welcomes them with opened arms. But there are still a lot of churches out there (or people in those churches) who disdain anyone who doesn’t meet their ideas of “good church-going folk”.

What does all this have to do with sex, you may be asking. I’m getting to that. CCV is starting a three week series next week called “Our Rotten Sex Life” and the first message is entitled “The Greatest Sex You’ll Ever Have”.

This is the huge banner hanging on the side of our building, right next to a major freeway.

Part of me is a little hesitant to bring all this up, having people know that I go to the sex church (as I heard it referred to in the grocery store the other day). But the thing is, sex is from God. He invented it and He wants husbands and wives to enjoy it. A lot. I have no doubt there are those who saw that banner and thought “that crazy church is blazing a path to hell”, but the truth is this subject matter is biblical.

My parents will be visiting the first Sunday of the series, but I won’t let that stop me from taking copious and detailed notes.

And this is where it all turns personal. All of you who know me in the real world may not want to read further. It could be too much information. I’ve gone back and forth about whether I should write this for everyone to see or not, but the reality of it is this is my life. And I won’t be writing anything that won’t be in my book for all to read – if it gets published.

So here we go. *deep breath*

Todd and I were in our early 20’s when we got married. And in the way of most all young couples things were great.

In our mid to late 20’s we had children. Those of you who have ever had small children know where I’m going with this. Who has the time or energy for sex??

Somewhere around 34 I hit my stride you could say. Todd was one happy, if not exhausted, man. I’ve heard of women peaking in their 30’s, but a peak suggests a downward descent and things were pretty even until half way through my 39th year. April 27th, 2005, to be exact. The day of my diagnosis.

Nothing works like a cold shower better than a diagnosis of some mortal illness. As you can imagine – or some of you may know first hand – sex is the last thing on your mind at a time like that.

Then there are the physical issues that come with surgery and chemotherapy. And did you know with certain chemos – maybe even all of them – you are advised against sex for so many days after treatment because the poison can leach to the partner? Yeah. So there’s a little education for you today.

Sometimes, as in my case, there are more surgeries to be had after treatment. Everything heals, but things are never the same. I have no ovaries to make estrogen, which, in turn, depresses the sex drive. I also have very little to no feeling from just a few inches below my collar bone to an inch or so below my belly button. If I may be so bold, and I don’t know why I should stop now, that’s quite the bummer. While a man goes from 0 to 60 in under 10 seconds, us women usually need to be primed and warmed up. No feeling in the “primer parts” makes warming up a little slower than it used to.

(Was that too much? Did you really need to know that?? I realize it’s too late to take it back, but I’m just wondering if I’ve sent any of you running away screaming.)

There’s also the matter of body image. I know you all are probably sick of hearing me gripe about my weight, but there’s that. And the fact that my girls aren’t really my girls, but my tummy just come to live in a different place.

I’m going to be 42 in a month. Before this aspect went south I used to think how lucky we were to be so fulfilled in that area. I also figured if I was 39 and Todd was 40 we still had a lot of good years left. I even thought about how much fun our 25th anniversary trip to Scotland was going to be – you know, sex in a castle and all that. But instead of tapering off slowly it was like hitting a brick wall.

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you know I’ve had one medical issue after another until very recently. I’m thanking God because I’m not having any of those issues anymore. Not to any extent, anyway. So I’m anxious to hear what Brian has to say on the issue of sex. And while I know for a certainty things will never be the way they had been, I’m still hoping for a great trip to Scotland!


  1. Dev on October 12, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Well, I think your church sounds great Jen. I do think all our problems stem from the interpretation of the bible, versus what God/Jesus actually has to say. As far as sex, I haven’t dated in over 8 years, so I can’t really comment on that. I agree, it’s a gift from God. I hope you let us know how the classes at church are.

  2. Wow….this is pretty much letting it all go…..good for you honey!!I am not sure if the rest of you readers know how hard this must have been for Jen to write. She does not share personal issues with outsiders at all, and for her to do this is a big deal.Everything she has said here is quite accurate. Her perspective on Church is right on….I will worship the Lord wherever I am or choose to be. CCV is an awesome environment, one that you can see the Spirit of God moving in….what more can you ask for??I could add more to the sex part, but will not. I have seen her struggle so much with this, and not knowing how to help her is killing me. When she says that she will never be the same again…..she really means it, I cannot tell you how many times that she has told me this while shedding tears. I tell her that I am trying to understand, and do to a point, but that her still being alive and with me out weighs anything else. I married the most beautiful girl on the inside and the outside and none of that has changed for me…and never will!!I Love You Sweety!!Todd

  3. Monnik on October 12, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Aw, what a great post, and can I just say that your church sounds really great! I hope you learn a lot from the sex series.Todd’s comment made me tear up a bit. The two of you really ‘get’ each other, and will come through this valley. Sex in a castle. Does it get much more romantic than that?!

  4. Lynilu on October 12, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Oh, gosh, Todd, I love you for your comment to Jen! Oops, sorry! But sincerely, what a loving set of words and thought conveyed in those words. :’)Jen, I agree with you so strongly on the church issue. I’m a silly twit who believes that God wants us to find Him in our own way. Only then is it truly pleasing to Him, because only then is it genuine. We mortals put God in a box and then assume that if someone else doesn’t have the same “boxed God,” it isn’t the “real” one. Balderdash!! Your church sounds cool! I like ritual and comfortable, I like the nontraditional and funky, I just like feeling good about being with people who are really, really finding God … however they are doing it. And Jen, my heart goes out to you. I understand a little about the numbness, as I have some following a couple of surgeries. It doesn’t compare to the plethora of surgeries and treatments you’ve had. And, no, nothing is ever the same, but I’m glad you have Todd. He is obviously one of a kind. Hugs to you both. πŸ™‚

  5. Shauna on October 12, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Wow, if I wasn’t weepy before, afer I now. Todd, what beautiful words.Jen, I agree with you about God and Sex and the two going together. And your church sounds a lot like my church! The one thing I love about NewLife is the acceptance that is extended to the newcomers and, as you said, the people the world sees as “less than loveable.”Sex. Jen, that took a lot of courage. I can’t begin to imagine the challenges that breast cancer brings to the bedroom. Fear, depression, anger, shame, embarrassment. The list goes on. Your courage in sharing your struggles amazes me and just makes me love you more (as a friend and sister in Christ). You are brave. You are beautiful. I hope you can catch a glimpse of how truly stunning you are! And I’m not talking just this post. ;-)Your candidness and courage in opening yourself up, allows people to see your heart…and we care even more deeply. You are precious and I count your friendship among my heavenly treasures!

  6. Shauna on October 12, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    Hmm. How ’bout I re-type that first paragraph. Here’s how it was supposed to read:Wow. If I wasn’t weepy before, I am now. Todd, what beautiful words.There. Fixed it.

  7. April on October 12, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    You definitely got my attention. Our last church had a “Intimate Issues” Night for married woman. The older women in our church encouraged the younger ladies to love their husbands in this way. I especially appreciated how they handled each discussion topic with care and discretion. The book recommendation was “Intimate Issues” and Intimacy Ignited” (commentary on Song of Solomon) by Dillow and Pintus. Supposed great books to help answer questions and encourage a God-centered love between couples.

  8. Becky on October 12, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    Jen, it’s an amazing thing when a posting can both make you laugh and cry. Your commentary on church was like you’d crawled into my brain, organized my jumbled thoughts on the topic and expressed them how I’ve always wanted to. Amen, sister Jen! And I totally love that your church is referred to as “The Sex Church”, LOL. If only more churches were bold enough to proclaim these things, they might hang onto their youth! Red-hot monogamy (there is a great book by this name) promises a whole lot more sex (and more meaningful sex) than an occasional, one-night-stand ever could, because it goes out deep in the waters of love instead of staying in the kiddie pool. Your frank honesty about your feelings and your struggles in this area and then Todd’s posting made me cry, both because I feel for you, and because it’s so wonderful that you have such a loving and supportive husband to care for and love you and walk with you through this. He adores you, Jenster, and thinks you are beautiful inside and out…I think it’s safe to let him be your mirror instead of that one on the wall, and to see yourself as he sees and loves you. You are a blessed woman (and he’s a blessed man), loved through and through.With the Lord in your lives, and a relationship that is like a rare, valuable vintage wine, aging to perfection, that Anniversary trip to the Castle will be everything that you both ever dreamed of and more. The two of you have what millions of others only wish they had…that deep intimacy and heart closeness with another that can only occur in a long, committed marriage that has been built on a solid foundation and added to all these years. What the two of you have is a beautiful thing, Jenster. You are an inspiration in so many ways, friend!This needs to be put into a book, Jenster. All of it. A frank, honest look at your side, and perhaps also some things from Todd’s perspective as a loving, supportive husband…because other couples facing this need to see both angles, how people that are as deeply in love as the two of you are have made it through each step of the journey. (((hugs)))

  9. Frank Chiapperino on October 13, 2007 at 1:07 am

    Thanks for your open approach to the subject. I couldn’t help but pray for you and Todd as I read your post.

  10. Carolanne on October 13, 2007 at 6:26 am

    What you said about church – I agree with you.For sharing the very personal part, I thank you. What Todd said was also very touching. You are both a beautiful couple and I thank you so much for sharing your lives with us, including your struggles.

  11. Daisy on October 13, 2007 at 9:32 am

    In my (humble) opinion, I feel that it’s wonderful to be able to share our questions and concerns within a Christian atmosphere. Sex is complicated by the mere fact that it isn’t “just physical” as some very unwise people assume. I hit the wall 6 years ago. I had to undergo an emergency hysterectomy and lost both ovaries as well. I was 36 and had only been married for 6 years. I had “waited” until my husband, Bee. To say this is frustrating is an understatement. We are trying to find our way though this.Holding you in my prayers.Thank you for sharing. :o)

  12. Shushan on October 13, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Actually any serious surgery (and many painful conditions that lead to surgery or treatments) can greatly impinge on the sexlife of a couple. My husband’s had three years of intense medical care. I am glad this will be coming at a relatively good time for you, but given your background I hope you will understand that I am glad I don’t have to face this in person. Anytime in this period, having my whole church life revolving around sex would not have been particularly welcome. Including now. Its not all better yet. As it is, I see more teasing than I want to even watching the evening news. I am not saying churches shouldn’t deal with these topics, but it would be nice if those who have to or choose to live a celibate life aren’t forced to confront the topic at church services too. Maybe have the sex bit as evening bible study? Or alternate services for those who aren’t blessed by that focus?Just a thought.Susan

  13. Shushan on October 13, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    I didn’t mean to leave this off in the last comment, so please don’t take this as an afterthought.Thank you for explaining your church’s position on their sex series. I had heard about it but didn’t really form any thoughts. I wasn’t angry or anything – just was really glad I didn’t have to go there right now, because all the billboards and such would have made it hard to ignore. & I am so very glad to hear your health is improving and you have that trip to Scotland to look forward to. May God bless your trip with your beloved to be everything you hope for, including everything pleasurable!;-)Susan

  14. Barb on October 13, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    I have mixed feelings about large group sex talks in churches. At our prior church they brought in a guy from Canada (hi Shauna!) on Valentine’s Day to talk to the married couples about sex. By the time he was done, the husbands were completely aroused and the wives completely embarrassed. It probably depends on the attitude of the speaker and whether genuinely helping individuals/couples is more important to them than being provocative.Now on a huge tangent, my Mom had 2 major cancer surgeries 35 years ago. I remember those times clearly becuz it was scary for all of us. Last month my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage. They invited a small group of family and friends out to dinner to help them celebrate, and right before dessert they stood up and told us they were there becuz of the grace of God and many miracles. Mind you, half the people in the room didn’t even know my Mom had ever had cancer, tho those of us who did definitely knew what my parents meant. My Dad then proceeded to toast each of US–each family member and friend–for the blessing we have been in their lives. It was more than humbling.All that to say that while sex is definitely one of the most exhilarating things in life, there are some things that are much more important. Like life itself. :o)

  15. Lori on October 14, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Jen, I admire you so much for putting your thoughts and feelings out there. I think it’s wonderful that you have a place that you feel comfortable to go and share your joy in your faith. And as for your church being different, my attitude is that wherever anyone can go that makes them feel close to God, and teaches right from wrong is fine with me. I’m firmly in the “live and let live” camp. As a Jew, it’s important to me that people don’t try to convert me to their way of thinking/believing, and I always show the same courtesy.Now, on to the rest… plenty of religious institutions have “sex series”. The only harm comes (IMO) when they teach that there is shame involved or that it is somehow wrong to enjoy it. So go, take notes, and get everything you can out of it. And can I say, that I love Todd’s comment. I can’t imagine how difficult all this must be for you both, and he obviously loves you inside and out. I’ve learned over these long years with my hubby that as the years fly by for our hubbies, it’s about the emotion for them as well as the physical, just like for us. And there is a wealth of emotion, so you are obviously beautiful to him.

  16. Jenster on October 14, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Lori – I’m always willing to talk about my faith and why I believe what I believe and I like to hear why other people believe what they believe. But just like you, I don’t want other’s religions forced on me and won’t force mine on others. If you’d rather just talk books then I’m game! lolAnd just like you, I got majorly blessed in the hubby department!

  17. Gretchen on October 14, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    1. I would say that Todd is a keeper.2. I don’t have breast CA and all the stuff that goes along with it to blame for my lack of sex drive, but it still sucks. However, like you, it is something I want to enjoy and it is something that we as women share a lot more than we know (IMO). 3. Love you dearly, and if things don’t work out btw you and Todd…you can come live with me and we can just drink coffee and read together. :)4. You are strong and brave and brave and strong, and God is so in you. CCV is lucky to have you.xxxooogretchen

  18. Tara Marie on October 15, 2007 at 5:16 am

    All I can say is… “Jen and Todd rock” and it’s not a surprise that you go to that “Sex Church”.I so agree with your thoughts about finding a church that fits your needs, and it can be traditional and it can be non-denominational. I’m trying to get my sister to understand this, as the more traditional church works for me at this point in my life and the non-denominational works for her.

  19. Stacy~ on October 15, 2007 at 7:05 am

    I am more spiritual than religious, and believe everyone should worship in the way that works for them – as long as their is no hating, I’m okay with it. God accepts us as we are. Jen, what a wonderful, brave post. Your words will definitely go far in healing and helping others, and I thank you for sharing a private part of yourself. Hugs!

  20. Cheryl Wray on October 15, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Great post, Jen!!I personally think that church is the perfect place to be talking about sex! All parts of our lives–even our sex lives–are important to God. And i just had to say that I think your church sounds GREAT!! I go to a church that is more traditional on Sunday mornings, but we have other opportunities to be more contemporary at other times. I think that God is pleased with ANY church that loves Him. AAnd I LOVE that Todd Agnew song!

  21. Tanya on October 15, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Awesome post. When I was engaged, it was so hard for me to realize that suddenly something we were supposed to avoid, was now something that was permissible and great. I wish more churches took the time to talk about it. Media shouldn’t have to be our teacher. In a marriage sex is perfect, whatever form it takes. The first book my husband and I read together was Sheet Music, by Dr. Leeman and it has been so good for us. Thanks for sharing. Its great to see other Christians. πŸ™‚

  22. radioactive girl on October 16, 2007 at 9:22 am

    I absolutely know what you are talking about with this. Your husband is wonderful, his comment just shows how awesome he is. But you already know that. I really understand your thoughts on this, and am so grateful that you shared this!Your church sounds amazing and fun…I wish I could find one for us that was fun!

  23. Jodi_Lee on October 16, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    I’ve gone through my issues with church environment. I was brought up in a strict Baptist environment where wearing anything less than your Sunday’s best was a mortal sin! However, I feel I waver in the progressive environment. I’m not a proper person, and by all indications, I should enjoy the progressive environment best, but I don’t. I truly think it depends on the person. Whatever works for you, is where you should be. I absolutely believe that is why there are so many different denominations in the Christian faith.The Lord wants to move mountains, even in your sex life. This type of thing plagues more marriages than you can imagine, which is probably the reason your church is doing a teaching on it. How many private meetings do you think there was before the pastor thought to himself “hmmmm, maybe I should just do a teaching on this.” You are not alone, my dear. πŸ™‚

  24. Jen on October 17, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Here is my thought on church – Going to church does not make you a “Christian” any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. We have lost sight of the fact that having a personal relationship with God is just that – personal. While I prefer a more traditional approach, I am totally fine with a more sweeping scope. That is what some believers like and as long as the Bible is being taught and the Word is being preached, then I say Enjoy!!I admire you even more after reading this Jen. You and Todd are like a lighthouse!

  25. Kristie (J) on October 20, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    I don’t know what more to add to what you already said. The main thing is our personal relationship with The Lord and if we feel close to him in a non-traditional setting – then that’s where we should be. It’s the daily walk that counts.And I agree. Sex is a gift that He has given us. A Really Good Gift *g*

  26. His Girl on December 24, 2008 at 11:20 am

    just letting you know that i jumped over here as soon as i could… and yes, it’s exactly what you described… and more -how is it that i can adore you so much?

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