Stories are powerful. They tell us who we are, why we are here, and what we are to do. And while we may not always be conscious of it, we live in story, which shapes the way we eat, work, celebrate, make love, and die.
It’s no surprise then that men learn who they are and what to do with their sexuality through story.
It is good then for us to consider what story we are telling ourselves, and if a better story is needed.
The typical story for many men is the one of sin management.
Men are often thought to be incapable of controlling their sexual desires. And to avoid any number of perversions, addictions, and infidelities it is believed male sexuality must be kept on a tight leash. It is considered inherently problematic, or suspect at best.
As such, men are taught not to touch themselves, to bounce their eyes, to go running and take cold showers. Internet filters should be installed, accountability partners in place, and they’re encouraged to regularly attend support groups for every man’s battle.
Whatever it takes to keep from falling into the trap of sexual sins.
This is a compelling script. It speaks to our fears and underscores the seriousness of sin. It also contains several good practices.
Where it falls short is that it focuses primarily on managing behaviors and not on who we are becoming in Christ as the true sons of God.
So, when it comes to understanding and engaging our sexuality, we are left with two options (or roles), that of the slave or the orphan.
The slave lives in fear, desperately trying to earn goodness and avoid punishment, and the orphan lives in shame, never believing his sexuality has any worth or dignity.
Ironically, these roles often lead to the very downfall this script was trying to avoid.
The slave becomes bitter and angry when all his efforts never seem to be enough, so he develops a secret life to steal whatever pleasures he can.
The orphan, on the other hand, begins a never-ending quest to feel worthy as a sexual man and moves from one encounter to the next desperately looking for validation.
These stories often operate in the background without our awareness.
The Sons of God
An alternative script may be one as the true sons of God.
Here there is still an honest assessment that we live in a fallen world and many things, including our sexuality, are not as they should be.
However, we also acknowledge God as Sovereign and don’t live in fear. We seek the light more than we fear the darkness.
We learn to ask better questions…
- Who has God created me to be as a sexual man?
- How would Jesus live my life as a sexual man if he were me?
…and discover life in God’s kingdom includes the fullness of our sexual nature.
Instead of the slave’s fear or the orphan’s shame, as the sons of God we live our sexual lives not only for God but with God.
We no longer have to hide, downplay, or lock away the sexual part of who we are.
We are free to be love and to let love flow through every sexual thought, feeling, and behavior. And knowing who we are, we live daily with honor, doing nothing that will disgrace our family name.
As we lean more into this story, we become more creative, passionate, and generous, as we also experience deeper contentment, joy, and confidence.
What story are you telling? Which story do you want your son to live in? If fear, shame, and frustration are regular themes, maybe it is time to tell a better story.