Breaking news of Chad Ochocinco’s new drama is proof positive that we have lost the meaning of sexual integrity in our society.
The last few years reality television has pointed out that we are accepting a lower standard of behavior in dozens of arenas of our lives. We follow the example of Maury, Temptation Island, Housewives and Bad Girls and Boys Clubs with little to no consideration or thought.
Our young people are being formed by these behaviors and our lack of commitment to better behavior. It starts with our inability to show integrity in one of the most basic areas. Sex is just one road that we have lost our boundaries if not thought patterns. You can definitely hear it when you speak to young people. Over the years, many people have asked me the question “what is the difference between abstinence and sexual integrity? Aren’t they basically the same?” It is a good question. Many may say well “Well, I have chosen a season of abstinence.” That is not an answer because it does not change your behavior. It only changes your end result.
My goal in writing this article is for you, the reader, to walk away understanding the difference between abstinence and sexual integrity and understanding how to live out your sexuality with integrity.
In order to achieve these goals, we must first define both concepts. According to Webster’s Dictionary, sexual abstinence is the practice of voluntarily refraining from some or all aspects of sexual activity. It is not having sex for some stated period of time. This seems to imply more than just not having sex. So what is it saying to us?
I will never forget what happened a few years ago when I went to speak to a church youth group about sexual integrity and making healthy sexual choices. I asked the young men and women there to tell me what they thought of when they heard the word “sexual .Their answers reflected how our society has been defining sex for us. These youth were confused, as are many of us, on what “being sexual beings” really means. We have been brought up with images and definitions that distort what sex was created to be. Many of those things are inappropriate or incorrect. I know, not as exciting, is it?
Many of us were raised to believe that sex equals intercourse, when really this definition is talking about who we are – male or female. According to Genesis 1:27 “God created man in His own image, in the image of God, He created him; male and female He created them.” Our sexuality is more than just “sex”. It is nothing less than our masculine and feminine nature itself – like a unique thread, woven throughout each part of our lives: emotional, physical, social, intellectual and spiritual. It is only when we express our sexuality appropriately – in light of all the areas of our lives – that we become healthy, whole, empowered men and women. When we live this way, we are living with sexual integrity.
We never really look at what sexuality means in the context of our lives. There are many more facets than just looking at a woman or man for their physical attributes.
- Emotional. The sexual choices we make affect us emotionally. Just ask any girl whose heart has been broken when the love of her life decided to end the relationship. When we live with sexual integrity in the emotional part of our lives, we become emotionally whole. A lot of us have pain and baggage and have made past choices that have left us emotionally broken. We need to take the time that is needed to go through a process of healing our emotions so that we can have healthy, whole relationships in the future. This area is really important for women to understand because we tend to move rather quickly emotionally when it comes to relationships. We dive in and share and talk and wear our emotions on our sleeves. Face it, some of us are emotionally needy. We long to hear someone say they love us or they desire us. But, true emotional bonding comes when we take the time needed to get to know the other person. It takes trust and unconditional love (ingredients that are usually lacking in relationships that move too quickly) to sustain an emotionally healthy relationship. We need to save our hearts for true love – love that will last a lifetime.
- Physical This is the part of our sexuality that gets talked about the most. We hear story after story about unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and diseases and HIV and AIDS. What we do with our bodies impacts our sexual integrity. This is why the definition of integrity includes being free from damage or disease. The physical aspect of our sexuality is a beautiful treasure that God created for us to be able to bond (with our husband or wife) and to procreate (have children). It is so powerful that He clearly tells us to keep the marriage bed pure and not commit sexual immorality (Hebrews 13:4). Our bodies were designed to experience love, pleasure, unity and intimacy in a specific context: marriage. When we are living out our lives with sexual integrity, we present ourselves in ways that reveal our true inner beauty, not our bodies.
- Social God created us for real relationships. When we are living with sexual integrity, our relationships are in order. We have healthy friendships and healthy relationships with our family members. We are not being stressed out by “baby mama/daddy drama”. ( Read Hello Beautiful’s breaking news on Ocho Cinco here) When we don’t have sexual integrity, our relationships are usually in turmoil, our friendships are unhealthy and our romantic relationships keep falling apart. And after awhile our reputations can be affected and even damaged. We can begin to build positive and healthy social relationships reputations no matter what our past choices have looked like.
- Intellectual Understanding sexual integrity and how to walk it out in our lives involves using our minds. God has given us the ability to become mature and wise. This is a life long journey of learning about ourselves, how others perceive us, how our bodies are designed and how we can have successful relationships. We need to fill our minds and thoughts with those things that are going to improve us. Spending our time watching movies and television with sexual content will not make us wiser or smarter men and women. I know some would argue that what they do in their free time as adults is their business.
Unfortunately, that is untrue because those images taint what is natural, normal and real. It gives unreal expectations to what women or men are. We therefore, need to be careful what we read, watch and listen to. Those things affect how we think and what you think determines how you act. A small litnus test for you would be ask any young man what he was thinking watching Rhianna at the Grammy’s this past Sunday. I guarantee he wasn’t listening to the lyrics.
- Spiritual When we live with sexual integrity, we are spiritually whole. God created us as spiritual beings that have been designed for a relationship with Him. God also created sex and He knows that if we begin to live with sexual integrity, we will be free from guilt and shame. It is that guilt and shame that keeps us from a relationship with Him. We need to believe and understand that God loves us regardless of the past choices we have made. When we realize that God is the only one who can take that guilt and shame away and help us to make healthier choices regarding our sexuality, then we can begin to move closer to God, therefore receiving healing and forgiveness.
As you can see, there is a difference between abstinence and sexual integrity. Sexual integrity is more than saying no to sex. It is expressing who you are in every area of your life in a true, excellent, honest and pure way. When we live out our sexuality (our femaleness and our maleness) in every one of these area’s we will be living whole and happy lives that truly celebrate who we are.