Sexual Repression vs Expression- Part 1
After I speak, I’m occasionally approached by someone wanting to talk. It doesn’t take long before I realize they’re wondering the same thing that many others do. “Where is the switch? Can I just turn off the ‘sexuality switch’ so that I don’t have to wrestle with these temptations any longer?” Sure, it might seem much easier if such a switch existed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. As long as we’re living and breathing, we’re sexual beings. From the cradle to the grave. We simply can’t escape this reality.
However, some people still try, and some might even succeed to a large degree, but at what cost? This denial of all sexual thoughts and feelings is called repression. Dictionary.com defines repression as “the rejection from consciousness of painful or disagreeable ideas, memories, feelings, or impulses.”1 In other words, repression occurs when you do not let yourself experience any sexual thoughts or feelings to any degree. Unfortunately, repressing all sexual desires doesn’t work at all. (I can just hear Dr. Phil asking, “How is that working for you?”) Or it works too well, leaving us completely numb to any desire to be in a physical relationship with another sexual being (namely our spouses).
That’s too high a price to pay; complete sexual repression is not a healthy choice for any individual, especially if that person is married.
But just because we shouldn’t or can’t turn our sexual thoughts completely “off” doesn’t mean we have the right to leave them “on” at full speed, “expressing” them at whim and drawing others into dysfunctional sexual relationships with us. The Bible makes it clear that the act of sexual intimacy was designed strictly for the marriage bed.
If we’re not married, we’re still sexual beings. We’re simply not sexually active. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work according to God’s perfect plan. So an alternative to sexual repression for single people is “sublimation,” defined as “the diversion of the energy of a sexual or other biological impulse from its immediate goal to one of a more acceptable social, moral, or aesthetic nature or use.”2 In other words, instead of looking at pornography and masturbating or pursuing a willing partner with your sexual energies, channel that same energy into painting, writing, dancing, singing, or some other healthy pursuit or hobby. Some of the greatest works of art, books, and songs have been birthed simply because their originator was sublimating their sexual passions rather than expressing them.
1) “Repression,” Dictionary.com, accessed July 9, 2012, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/repression?s=t&ld=1031.
2)”Sublimation,” Dictionary.com, accessed July 9, 2012, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sublimation?s=ts