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Why Men Need a Better Conversation About Sexuality

Why Men Need a Better Conversation About Sexuality

I walked into the Verizon wireless store to get help from a face-to-face human, which is what one does when you’ve got a problem and customer support gets you nowhere. Evan, a young twenty something behind the counter, stepped forward eager to help. In the course of our conversation, as a good salesmen attempt to sell me a business line, he asked, “Can I ask what you do for work?”

“I am a therapist and an author.” I said.

“So like you write books?” he said, while typing away.

“Well, my first book The Sex Talk You Never Got comes out in June.”

No longer looking at his screen, I had his full attention.

“Huh. I never got a sex talk,” he said with a laugh. “My mother handed me a book and told me if I had any questions to ask my brother. My dad wasn’t going to say anything. Funny thing is I did ask my brother and he got the anatomy wrong.” But now he wasn’t laughing. I got a sense his sexual journey didn’t stay so funny.

I could hardly believe it. Here we were sitting in a Verizon store talking about this young man’s sexual formation. And yet I could believe it too. Once given the opportunity, this young man poured out his story, maybe without knowing how much he wanted to and needed to talk about it. Men are left to figure so much of their sexually out on their own.

Though men are over sexualized in our culture, a man’s sexuality is often the most neglected part of his development. It’s the place we’ve had the least meaningful conversations in our lives. Few men got an adequate sex talk, maybe a simplistic anatomy lesson or a purity lecture, if they got anything at all. When nothing else is talked about, it often leads men to assume sexuality is meant to just work and run itself. And when that doesn’t work, men bury their sexual struggles in silence and shame. Or worse, act them out in a spiral of sin and self-hatred. It’s left men so underdeveloped and stuck.

Within the church, we often only talk about men’s sexuality with the language of lust and sin. We rightly read in the Bible that God wants us pure hearted, yet wrongly tell men this purity is the entire goal of their sexuality. Almost everything written for men on sexuality within the church focuses on resisting the urge to act out in impure ways. If lust is every man’s battle, we assume this is what we need to do—treat our sexuality like a lion at the zoo and cage its wildness. But in the process, we’ve left men to relate to their sexuality only as a source of sin. In name of killing the flesh, we end up inviting men to repent of having a body.

If Adam’s sexuality bore an original blessing from God, we do well to help men care for it better. There is so much more to our sexuality that just lust. Our sexuality is the artwork of God. Song of Songs makes clear that a full hearted, virile lover was the vision God had for our sexuality. And if we are ever to invite men to a fuller and freer sexuality, we need a better conversation on sex for men.

So often the source of sexual shame in a man’s story is not his own sin, but his wounds. The statistics say that 1 in 6 men has suffered childhood sexual abuse. This is almost certainly lower than reality. Another study found that men are almost four times more silent than women about their abuse. The CDC says that over their lifetime, 1 in 3 men will suffer some sort of sexual violation. Though not all men have stories of abuse, evil attacks all men, inviting them to bury their sexuality in shame.

We need to approach our sexuality with greater kindness and curiosity. Remember, God’s first question to Adam and Eve in the garden was not “Why did you screw up so bad?” but “Where are you?”—not condemnation, but pursuit and curiosity. And Jesus had some of his kindest, most intimate conversations with the sexually broken, sinful, and oppressed of his day.

We must help men wrestle with their own stories of sexual formation—to be curious about our own behaviors and stories, and to treat it with greater kindness and not condemnation. It’s in God’s kindness that we find freedom from our shame, allowing us to become the full-hearted Lovers God intended.


About the author:

Sam Jolman is a professional therapist with over twenty years of experience. He specializes in men's issues and sexual trauma recovery. Being a therapist has given him a front row seat to hear thousands of men and women share their stories. His writing flows out of this unique opportunity to help men work through and understand their stories and find freedom from sexual trauma.

He received his master's in counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary and was further trained in Narrative Focused Trauma Care by Dan Allender through the Allender Center at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.

Sam lives in Colorado with his wife and three young sons--the people that inspire his writing. Together they enjoy exploring the best camping spots in Colorado in their pop-up camper. Sam goes to therapy, loves mountain biking, and can often be found trying to catch his breath on the floor of his local CrossFit gym.