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Just Another Vice: Sex

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By Sarah Patton

Everyone seems to be talking about sex—except Christians.

I was taught—don’t have sex. No reasons. No explanations. Just don’t participate.

Throughout middle and high school, I watched people stand on the church stage and apologize through tears after getting knocked up. I made a mental note—never let anyone find out when you mess up.

You can hide for a bit, but the truth always comes out.

I got away with a decade plus worth of shenanigans, until one day my best friend walked in on me having sex. I had to look her dead in the face and have an honest convo. It was an awkward experience, but she handled it with absolute grace. The best part about getting exposed? There was nothing left to hide. E V E R Y T H I N G was on the table, and I could begin piecing together the brokenness.

Annie F. Downs says it best on Day 64 in 100 Days to Brave, “People caught up in any sort of secret sin get defensive, elusive, and sad.”

Maybe you’ve:

  • Cheated on your spouse or boyfriend
  • Slept with a married man
  • Had sex with someone who’s name you don’t remember
  • Engaged in sexual intimacy because you were lonely

You’re not alone. I carried around shame and guilt for years, but I finally surrendered the past and changed my ways.

Back burner boys.

You’re snickering because you know exactly who I’m talking about. Those guys you keep around when you’re feeling lonely, need a confidence boost, or want a free dinner. Don’t get those Judgmental Judy pants out now, sister.

We’ve all been there. He’s good enough.

But after that heart-to-heart with my BFF, I knew I had to cut ties with my “just in case”.

A rule I implanted years ago and wholeheartedly stand by today is—if I’d be upset by this treatment from my friends + fam (not calling, bailing on a date, ignoring me in public, making me feel less than) then it applies to him as well.

Side note: if my friends ghosted me, I would quadruple text them and not bat an eye. Then I’d DM them on IG and FB message them, too. But, we allow guys to treat us like trash.

Stop settling. You deserve better, sis. There are amazing men out there who will call when they’re sober. He will take you on a date because he’s honestly interested in the menu – not just getting in your pants, and guys who genuinely want to meet your family and friends.

In the words of Elsa, Let It Go:
• If he only texts when he’s drunk
• If he only wants to hang when sex is involved
• If you’re consistently waiting by the phone for a text or call• If he won’t introduce you to his friends
• Insert whatever excuse you’re telling yourself right now

Line in the sand.

Having sex is easy. Saying no is a challenge. This applies to every aspect of life. Hiding your eating disorder, not exercising, staying in a job you hate, and holding onto unforgiveness requires no effort. What’s tough? Coming clean about your past and taking a stand that others might not agree with. That’s brave.

Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

I never wanted to question that a guy was only into me because of sex, take another walk of shame, or call the girls in tears because it didn’t work out—again. So I made a list of non-negotiables. This list protects my heart and set a standard of expectations.

He must:

  • Love Jesus
  • Honor marriage + want a kid (please note the singularity)
  • Value me + be willing to wait to have sex
  • Have a servant’s heart

Your list might look different than mine, and that’s okay, but you need one. It will help you weed out the guys who aren’t right for you.

Let’s talk about sex.

We can all agree that God created sex, and it is fiyah. However, our casual, hook up culture has it twisted. God intended sex as a bond between husband and wife.

Genesis 2:24 tells us, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

Maybe you don’t believe in the Bible, but science backs me up here. Sex is not just a physical act, it’s emotional, too.

“Dopamine – it’s released when we do things that feel good to us…. having sex. High levels of dopamine and a related hormone, norepinephrine, are released during attraction. These chemicals make us giddy, energetic, and euphoric.”

“Oxytocin is often nicknamed “cuddle hormone” … is produced by the hypothalamus and released in large quantities during sex… (and are) precursors to bonding.”

But the more you sleep around—the allure fades. It’s also why you make excuses for his bad behavior and let things slide.

Harvard University says, “Sexual arousal…appears to turn off regions in our brain that regulate critical thinking, self-awareness, and rational behavior, including parts of the prefrontal cortex. In short, love makes us dumb.”

Answer the following:

  • Have you ever sat by your phone waiting for him to text?
  • Have you ever wished you wouldn’t have given that person the time of day?
  • Have you ever regretted sleeping with someone?
  • Have you ever cried over a guy who crushed your heart?
  • Have you ever awkwardly run into someone that you slept with and wanted to hide under the table?

If you responded yes to any of the questions then we’re on the same page. Sex complicates things. It send your emotions into a tailspin and causes you to lower your standards.

You’ve got to have something more than sex holding your relationship together. Losing a child, getting fired, sickness, and financial woes aren’t bang-worthy celebrations.

Moving forward.

If you don’t think talking about sex matters, then why are 40-50% of our marriages ending in divorce? Spouses are cheating. People are looking for their next thrill, and it comes at a cost because we aren’t dealing with our sexual brokenness before we marry.

A husband will not complete you. Sex will not fulfill the emptiness inside of you. You must deal with the root issue. Why have you turned to sex to celebrate and medicate?

I’m not going to lie and tell you there aren’t days an ex pops into my head or I don’t wish there was a warm body in my bed, but that’s when I reach out to my Tribe.

Accountability is key. Surround yourself with people who will check in, call you out, and champion you on your comeback.

Whatever your sexual journey has been, I’m not here to judge. However, I want to champion you to live above mediocrity, even when it’s challenging. Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” Your story matters. It allows others to know that they’re not alone, and they too can overcome whatever is keeping them bound.

Don’t settle, friend. You deserve better than a one night stand, drunken booty call, and a back burner who is good enough. You are amazing, and your past does not define you. Don’t allow shame and guilt to hold you back from being the woman God created you to be!

Sarah Patton is an encourager, passion chaser, and difference maker.  She has a heart for God, community, and all things Nashville. Sarah loves coffee dates, hiking at Radnor, receiving snail mail, and sunny days at the lake. Sarah is a first-generation college student who loves empowering women to chase their dreams. She is an entrepreneur, public speaker, and loves addressing hard issues that others sweep under the rug. Sarah founded Creative Souls Tribe – a community to inspire, equip, and challenge women to live above mediocrity. She loves meeting new people so reach out and say hello on Instagram @sarahcharlottepatton or check out the Tribe at @creativesoulstribe.


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