Oh Brother: Sex as a Stumbling Block
I asked Tamara (tu MAH ruh, like a Southerner saying tomorrow) if she would guest-post for me when I realized that these last few days before my trip to Bolivia with World Vision would be some high-stress days. She is one of the funniest women I know, and her passion for Jesus inspires me. Plus, she’s word nerd, a la “Dumb Words That Are Really Dumb” which means she holds a special place in my heart. Thank you Tamara for being willing to hang out here today!
As a Christian person with a decidedly adult sense of humor, I’ve thought a lot about what it means not to be a stumbling block. As a Christian person with a decidedly adult sense of humor and a moderately well read blog, I’ve thought about it even more. And thanks to Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, I know that with moderate power comes moderate responsibility. But what I’ve had a hard time coming to is what exactly my responsibility is when it comes to sex as a stumbling block.
When some of my most popular posts include Adventures in Vacation Bible School and Pole Dancing, But for the Grace of God: My Life as a Would-Be Call Girl, Quality Programming (Between the Sheets), and Pole Dancing, Revisited: Wherein Things Get Awkward, it’s pretty clear to me that sex sells, even on a blog with largely Christian readership. There is not a subject I’ve found that people are more interested in, and I have absolutely no problem framing discussions of it in ways that I think are godly, thoughtful, and funny. I think Jesus called it being as shrewd as a snake.
But he also called for being as innocent as a dove. And when I think of people as my brothers and sisters, that’s the way I want my interactions with them to be. I don’t want to trip them up in their walk of faith; the going is hard enough as it is.
So when I write about pole dancing, for instance, I say that I think it’s great for you to do in front of your husband if you feel so inclined, which I trust comes across as clear opposition to doing the same in front of sloppy-drunk strangers. I’m also careful not to glamorize myself. Lord knows a guy doesn’t need to picture his sister in her skivvies.
And yet despite my best efforts to have beneficial conversation without all the tricky tripping points, I will still get feedback– and that’s the most generous term I can muster– that suggests a few brothers have stumbled. (I hate to be vague, but some of the things I’ve had said to me have been too vulgar even to share at my blog, never mind at a classy place like Joy’s.) Some of these stumblers have blamed my headshots, but they’re all normal pictures– no cleavage, no lusty gaze, nothing.
So I wonder: Where does my responsibility not to create a stumbling block end, and where does it fall to my brothers and sisters to watch their own step?
When the Bible talks about Christians’ freedom in all things, it reminds us that not all things are constructive and beneficial; it’s also clear about the imperative to seek the good of others, not our own. So when I go to write about an adult topic, I walk carefully, but I do go down that road because I think the conversation is worth having. I think it can benefit people, including and maybe especially those who are on a walk of faith. If someone intentionally makes a wrong turn and stumbles, I can’t take the blame, and I won’t take the guilt.
When it comes to the topic of sex, I just have to say, “Screw it” and write my convictions.
What do you see as your responsibility when it comes to sex as a stumbling block?
Do you think there’s an end point to your responsibility?