Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ed Young sexperiment

Hi Sarah,

Sounds like Rev. Ed Young intends to challenge a long tradition of church silence on the topic of sex. He is confronting sensibilities by talking about sex in a very open, direct and loving way. He is using language that sounds controversial but is completely within the bounds of traditional Christian morality and Biblical norms.

Ethically there is no problem with a pastor suggesting that marital couples in his church have sex daily for seven days and telling the singles to eat chocolate.

Young’s scholarship is good when he says that God created sex and wants us to enjoy it. Sex has God’s stamp of approval.

The Bible offers us a Creation Story in which God sees everything as good except one thing. Man was alone without a partner. To correct this God created male and female and sex so that ‘one-flesh-unity’ could happen. Sex is good because it is not good for man to be alone.

This Creation Story says that gender and sexuality are essential to the fulfillment of the need for safe loving emotional/spiritual connection. God’s answer to lack of communion was gender, sex and one-flesh-unity.

We now know that infants cannot survive without personal handling and loving touch. Companionship is essential for life. Not just infants but all of us need to be acknowledged, responded to, touched and loved.

Young wants couples to observe their reactions to his sexperiment. They are each to keep a journal. Hopefully he really means it when he says, “It’s really not about sex itself, it’s what surrounds it.”

Do I think this challenge will work? I do not think a woman granting more sex will resolve true sexual addiction. Young may have to back track on any such suggestion. In my opinion sex addictive behaviours are attempts to fill an inner void – a need for love. Even after a week of sex that void may remain. The void often reflects emotional disassociation as the result of lack of bonding or trauma in the primary years of childhood.

Young will bring significant issues out into the open by talking openly about sex and advocating daily sex for a week. More important, in my eyes, will be the conversations about love. Men do look at other women when their needs for both sex and loving attachment are not met.

I would like to say three things:

1. More sex may not solve our need for intimate connection.

2. Sex can be done in such a way that bonding and connection are avoided.

3. Therapy may be needed the deep inner emptiness that underlies sexual addiction.

In my article on The Avoidant Personality and Silent Divorce I make the observation that one can have sex and avoid heart to heart bonding. “This is done by avoidance of eye contact, stepping away from the afterglow period then a powerful opportunity to deepen the marital bond and feed and nurture one another’s spirits is missed.”

According to Dr. Sue Johnson developer of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, loving relationship – safe emotional connection with a partner – is our primary need. Gender and sex was God’s answer to that need. I hope Young gets beyond sex to what we might call the ‘real marriage’ – the emotional bonding.

George Hartwell M.Sc. counsellor, Mississauga, www.HealMyLife.com (416) 234-1850