Did Jesus Talk to Girls about Sex?
Easter Weekend I participated in cardboard testimonies at my local church. We had four services and each service ended with a line of people answering the question, “Why Jesus?” in 15 words or less. My testimony is in some ways similar to that of the Samaritan woman – “He sees the darkest part of me, but still loves me and calls me friend.”
I’ve been identifying with the Samaritan Woman and the Prostitutes in the Bible for years – after all, I’d had sex with more men than I could count by the time I was 21. And, yes, some of those sordid encounters happened even after I decided to follow Jesus. As I mentioned in a previous post, in some ways sex made me feel lovable and valuable. This connection between sex and value is very strong and very present for many young women. It has also been distorted and exploited in too many ways to count.
During the time of Jesus, women had little value or place in society apart from being married, unless they were rich and privileged. For the Samaritan woman’s survival, she may have felt it necessary to repeatedly offer herself to husband after husband, enslaving herself to men who perhaps mistreated or abused her, just to have a place in society – to have value, and maybe find love.
Surely, such archaic notions of a woman needing to have a man to find her place in society or to find value and worth are a thing of the past – and for many people and societies, this is somewhat true. But, unfortunately, not all. In some poor regions of Thailand well meaning mothers send their daughters off to the big city to work to help support the family, implanted with the dream of finding a foreign husband to rescue them from their poverty. Some of these girls are as young as 13 or 14. Unfortunately, the good intentions of these mothers often lead these young girls into the greedy and seedy clutches of sex traffickers. My youngest daughter is 13. It makes me sick to think of her selling herself to make money for the family. But I probably don’t have to worry much about that, after all, we are rich and privileged.
As a rich and privileged white women I often wonder what I can do to help other women find freedom from poverty and slavery and I get overwhelmed with the need. There are many local needs and there even more global needs – where do I begin? How can I make a difference. As I explore where God might be asking me to participate in the Kingdom work of proclaiming good news to the poor and setting the oppressed free, each story of injustice I encounter tears another whole in my heart. I’ve tried to ignore these rips in my heart, but they just keep bleeding, they just keep bleeding.
My heart does not bleed alone. My second daughter heard a message in youth group about modern day slavery issues and sex trafficking and approached me after the message, with pain in her eyes and a bleeding heart on her sleeve. “Mom, for my pre-college trip I want to go somewhere and help stop sex trafficking!” My goal of these pre-college trips is to help my girls connect their passion with the world’s need. And, to continue the conversation about sex. So, I’m heading out on a scouting trip next month with Global Breakthrough to find out more about how my daughter and I can help stop sex trafficking.
Back to my original question about whether Jesus talked to girls about sex – perhaps we could look to the story of the Samaritan woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery and answer yes. Or, we could look to the cultural norms and say that men never talked about such things with unrelated women. Later this month I will be presenting a paper at The Society of Vineyard Scholars annual gathering on Community over Conformity: Jesus and Gender in the Gospel of John. In my paper, I argue that Jesus uses the understanding of gender roles of his day to communicate and legitimize his message, but he also confronts gender stereotypes that are in opposition to the Kingdom vision of a united community of cooperative friends of Jesus living lives of creative goodness in the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of others. As cooperative friends of Jesus, what are we doing to confront the social realities of gender stereotypes that do violence to our humanity – such as sex trafficking? I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep talking to my girls about sex – including talking to them about sex trafficking – and imagine ways we can cooperate with God and help to stop sex trafficking!
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