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A Shot In The Dark

“A shot in the dark”, Mark Herringshaw
Reprinted from “In Motion Magazine” March/April 2001
A publication of North Heights Lutheran Church
All rights reserved. Reprinted with author’s permission.

Snooping at MacDonald’s

I never learned your name, so this letter is a total shot in the dark…

We met at McDonald’s, the one behind the high school in Pacific Grove, California. I was the pastor of the church on David Avenue, but I never told you. You and your friends talked more openly if I stayed underground. And you did talk openly, about being bored, LSD, tattoos, parents, music, religion, and sex. Everything you talked about was laced with sex. I understand that. Sex is a big part of life.

I want to finish our conversation.

I listened for twenty minutes as your questions poured out. But before I could respond, your friends interrupted us. I didn’t see you the next week; and then I up and moved – Monterey to Minneapolis! Can you believe that? Anyway, I finally have a chance to respond. You knew I was a Jesus Follower, and I could tell that you wanted to be one too, so I’ll shoot straight.

Sex Is Fun

You said, “I don’t think God wants anyone to have fun.”

Remember what I did? I laughed in your face!

I should explain why. God never says “no” to joy! In fact, the Bible says (1 Cor. 1:19) all God’s promises are “Yes.” Jesus’ reason for coming was to fulfill your life (John 10:10), not ruin it. And that means a “yes” to sex as well.

Of course, “yes” means different things at different points in our lives. When I was single, “yes” meant “wait” and “savor your chastity” and “dream about your future” and “write poetry” and “help the homeless” and “travel” and all sorts of things I could do with all my energy not allocated into a relationship. Now that I’m married, “yes” means I enjoy exclusive intimate affection with my wife, and it means that she gets first claim on my time and energy.

Parameters For Sex

To take one gift from God’s hand means leaving other gifts behind.

The question is: Who knows best how to fulfill our sexual desires?

I’m betting God knows best. After all, sex was His idea!

Just like the guy who designs the computer program gets to set the parameters, God sets the parameters for sex within marriage. Sound cruel? Is it cruel to warn you not to put sand in your car’s gas tank? Of course not! Sand would ruin the engine.

Well, when God says “wait,” it’s “yes” to how sex really works. Having sex before marriage is like eating uncooked macaroni and cheese instead of waiting twenty minutes for the hot gourmet feast about to be served. Wait, and see!

Dogs Do Sex

Did you expect your comment about dogs to shock me?
“If they can do sex whenever, why can’t we?

Isn’t that how God made them?”

First, dogs don’t do sex “whenever.” Sex in the animal world is for procreation, not recreation. It’s for making puppies, not love, and the fact that it feels good for them is a bonus.

For humans, sex is also about making babies, but it is also about the choice to express love and commitment in a nonverbal way.

Human sex is not merely physical, because humans are not merely physical. Dogs are slaves to their instincts; you and I are not. We have choices, and that is what lifts us above the animal inhabitants of this planet.

Slave To Sex

Now to hear some of your gurus chanting their mantras on MTV like “gotta have your love” and “can’t help myself,” one would think we were just a pack of raving beasts.

But the truth is, no kid alive, no matter how much testosterone is pumping through his veins, is a slave to sex.

We don’t have to do anything, even in a “turned-on” state (so don’t ever use that line on a girl!). The devil would like nothing more than to push us back down to earth, to convince us that we are nothing more than complicated swamp organisms. He hates the fact that God is making sons out of animals.

But you are destined for greatness, to rule first over your appetites and drives and then to stand with Him, the King, and rule over all creation.

You are more than a slobbering dog on two legs

Just Live Together

About your brother and his girlfriend. You said: “With so many people getting divorced, why not live together to make sure it’s right.”

Logical, except living together and being married have nothing in common!

Marriage is commitment; living together is noncommitment. Relationships can’t be done on a trial basis. They’re too hard.

Without the bonds of commitment, it’s too convenient to bolt. People who live together are always asking “is she gonna bolt on me?” or “should I bolt on her?”

Married people have answered that question and can get on to other challenges like “how can we make this work?”

Tentative, Insecure Sex

And sexually it isn’t even the same either. In marriage we can abandon ourselves in passion because we know our lover will be there in the morning.

Living together creates tentative, insecure sex. And nothing is less enjoyable.

Researchers are finding this… Married people, with only one life partner, have the best sex lives. It seems God does know how the machine is designed to run. The Bible says that sex connects both our soul and body (1 Cor. 6:16,17).

So to have sex outside of marriage is a dangerous prospect. We’re slicing up pieces of our soul to people who won’t be there tomorrow.

Gay Sex

You came out with it. It was heavy on you. “Does being attracted to someone of the same sex mean I’m gay?” Of course not! I’m attracted to lots of men. That’s why they are my friends.

Your confusion comes when sexual feelings coincide with thoughts of admiration. But sexual passions are always happening inside us – kind of like background noise. Now if at the moment, we find ourselves naturally attracted to someone, even of our own gender, and we happen to experience a hormonal rush, our minds will make a sexual association.

Remember the story of the scientist who raised baby ducks. They bonded to him, even though he wasn’t their “normal” duck-mother.

Our sexuality instinct can get cross-bonded like that. Like the energy inside a wall socket: it will charge what-ever gets plugged in. But that doesn’t mean we’re gay.

Gay Propaganda

Growing up is all about sorting out these kinds of passions, and they can be sorted out.

Sometimes it takes a little help from people who know how.

If you’re still confused by this, talk to a Christian counselor or a youth pastor about it. But know this: admiration for other men is healthy, and feeling sexual at the same time doesn’t mean you’re sexually attracted to that person specifically.

Whatever you do, don’t believe the propaganda that says if you feel attraction to a man, you’re gay.

You’re only gay if you engage in sexual activity with a man. And that is a choice. Again, you are not a slave to anyone, even yourself.

A Closing Word

We sure obsess about sex, don’t we!

But these passions are really yearnings for deeper intimacy – a cry to experience God.

I am praying that Jesus will become your intimate friend. As He does, He’ll give you wisdom to know and power to do the right thing. Thanks for waiting!

Mark Herringshaw

P.S. Whoever you are, if you read this, write back.

If you need answers to questions raised here or help in any of these areas, there are people that will listen. You could start by talking to your pastor, or…

To anonymously talk to someone,
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