Today’s reader question is a practical one and worth covering.
I have a question that I would love to get your thoughts on: Is it “OK” for a Christian woman to go to secular websites (such as Cosmo) for sex tips? I do this every so often to find new positions/foreplay ideas/etc. Obviously, there is a ton of trashy/sinful stuff that goes against God’s Word (porn, threesomes, etc.) and I bypass this. As for sex positions, they are obscure drawings…..but is that considered “pornographic material?” I don’t feel like I’m going against my conscience in looking at these sites, but to be honest, I would feel awkward telling my girlfriends (or even my husband) that I do, I guess because Cosmo has a rep for being trashy. But, are there Cosmo-type Christian sites to get ideas?? Yours is the closest thing I’ve found (for which I’m grateful! As is my husband. ;). But it’s not as detailed as what I can find on secular sites. Anyways, I’m interested to hear your opinion!
While standing in the grocery store line, I sometimes pick up the latest issue of Cosmo magazine and flip over to an article titled something like “14 New Ways to Drive Your Lover Wild!” or “Do These 3 Things for a Stronger Orgasm!” Am I looking for ideas? Not really. I’m just curious what they have to say.
But to gather ideas, I have looked through secular sources like books in used bookstores, articles from websites unaffiliated with Christianity, and studies conducted by state universities and research labs. Even if they don’t share my values, they can have useful information.
You can guess my general answer based on what I do, but the complete perspective requires some clarification. (Please read to the end, because the most important conclusions are at the bottom!)
Lay a strong foundation. At one point in my life looking at Cosmo magazine articles on sex would have been a very bad idea, because I didn’t have a godly view of sexuality. You need spiritual maturity to keep your Christian perspective intact while looking through secular sources — that is, a strong foundation.
In Ephesians, the apostle Paul speaks of the importance of God’s people being fully equipped so that “we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (4:14). But I suspect more Christians believe they’re mature enough than really are. 1 Corinthians 10:12 always warns: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” Apparently, people can think they’re standing firm, and still be susceptible to falling into temptation.
I can’t tell you when your foundation is strong enough. But I do know what it feels like. I can actually look at more now because I mentally blow off anything that falls short of the beautiful lovemaking I’ve experienced that matches God’s design. At the same time, I’m less interested in looking at anything that wanders from His truth, because it feels like a waste of time. Maybe that’s a paradox, but it’s one way I know that my foundation is solid. And I think that’s the place to start.
Exercise your filter. It’s impossible to avoid all stimuli that contrast with our worldview. Every day, we have to be able to sort through all the messages and choose what’s good and true … while discarding the lies and temptation that Satan wants to put in our path. It’s smart that the reader said, “Obviously, there is a ton of trashy/sinful stuff that goes against God’s Word (porn, threesomes, etc.) and I bypass this.”
Some secular sources have good information we can access and use, as long as we use discretion and wisdom. For some time, the best sexual position site I’d found was a secular, UK-based site that had some too-revealing images on certain pages but their positions section had tastefully drawn images and excellent descriptions. So I made the conscious effort to avoid anything untoward on their website while accessing the areas that met my moral standards.
In fact, my sharing an article or post on social media doesn’t mean I agree with everything on a website. I’m presuming my smart readers will check out the article or post, but filter through anything else on that site that might not agree with biblical teaching. As Proverbs 2:9-11 says, “Then you will understand what is right and just and fair — every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.”
Know your weaknesses. I don’t keep candy bars in my house. It’s just a very bad plan, because I know how quickly I can devour chocolate if it’s easily within reach. I don’t have a poor foundation of health, nor would I only eat chocolate and avoid broccoli. But it’s a weakness … so I’m better not to plant that temptation in my house.
I don’t know what, if any, weaknesses you have regarding sexuality. But if something appeals to or arouses you that you know isn’t good for you, you’d be far better to avoid it. Which might mean flipping past an article or images or simply putting the Cosmo back on the shelf.
So take stock and ask yourself honestly, deeply, mercilessly whether there’s something you shouldn’t expose yourself to. If something would turn your thoughts away from your husband or God’s design for your sexual intimacy, maybe you should pass over that resource. Just know your weaknesses going in.
Seek better resources. At one time there was a scarcity of quality sources regarding Christian sexuality. But that’s changed! Yes, we still have strides to take in discussing this topic more in churches and small groups and friend circles. But as for articles, books, podcasts, video classes, etc., I can name a lot of current sources. I have a books I recommend page you can check out. And HEY, I wrote a whole book with lots of how-tos, all from a Christian perspective, and you can find it online and in many Barnes & Noble bookstores: Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design.
Remember how I mentioned that secular website where I accessed a positions section? That was years ago, and now there’s Christian Friendly Sex Positions. So why go to a site with lots of stuff I don’t agree with when there’s another website that provides all that information from a biblical perspective? New Christian resources arrive all the time, including Awaken Love’s recent video class launch that gets pretty specific.
Also, you need to think about who you’re supporting. Cosmopolitan‘s cover price is $3.99. I personally don’t want to put that money into the pockets of people who shove cleavage and sensational headlines at me and everyone else every single month. Especially when $4.99 will get me an ebook of Sheila Gregoire’s 31 Days to Great Sex or some other Christian resource. So if you’re actually purchasing the magazine, think about whether that’s really where you want your hard-earned money to go.
So can you get sex tips from Cosmo? Yes, I think you can. But whether you should depends on several factors, and it’s best to make spiritually sound resources your initial go-tos. On that note, Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage has been doing a series highlighting marriage blogs and has a blogs and websites page listing quite a few resources.
7 thoughts on “Q&A with J: Can Christians Get Sex Tips from Cosmo?”
This is a great response! And I do highly recommend Sheila’s books! They are great!!
Very good advice, I think. And you’re right about having a strong foundation and knowing your limits. When our sex life was restored several months ago, I started to look into some sites and quickly realized that many were really porn, not just visually but in the words, and even in the underlying message. I thank God for sites like yours and some of the others you mentioned. Having a firm Christian worldview behind them, they focus on building the marriage. Many secular sites, even if “tastefully” done, promote the idea that sex is super important in and of itself, not because of the intimacy it grows from and which it further strengthens. A couple may engage in all kinds of acts, positions, new techniques, etc., but may do it selfishly, seeking a greater physical thrill rather than a closer relationship.
I agree mostly with J’s comments on this, and I do think that COSMO and many other magazines, books and movies fall into the category of tempting the weaker brother or sister (see Romans 14:13-23). And that includes some who read and contribute to this blog loop.
Re COSMO. I’ve written 12 novels for teen girls, all published by well-known Christian houses, and when I was writing that sort of novel I would sometimes peruse the book section of a large chain store (not Walmart) near my home to see what teen girls were reading. The book department was next to a well-stocked magazine section, and my eye caught an unfamiliar title: COSMOGIRL. I quickly discovered that it contained some ungodly, salacious suggestions aimed at young teen girls. Knowing that the upper management of this chain are professing Christians, I complained to the manager. He took immediate action in my presence, and I haven’t seen this title since. I’ve also discovered that the leading book-fair promoter in American public schools once had (maybe still has) a series of titles not offered in schools but promoted via major chain bookstores. As a former public school teacher I’ve occasionally taken books from girls in class, when I discovered them being passed around, disrupting the class. One day in a sixth-grade classroom such a book was creating a sensation amongst some giggling girls. I apprehended the book.
The passage on the well-worn page described a nude couple, with specific, intimate details of their act of intercourse. I asked the young miss where she’d gotten the book. She affirmed that she’d bought it at a bookstore, and told me her mother knew, but admitted that her mom (who had not read the book) thought it was okay, since it had the imprint of the books sold in the school book fair. I told this girl of 12 that if she wanted it back she needed to have her mom come to school and get it, since I was leaving it at the office–and I did so.
Now, I don’t promote boycotts, and I seldom join them. But as a parent, former teacher and grandparent, I feel a strong need to protect the minds of immature children. Most do need to know more about the real details of sex than they can learn from their friends, or even in a sex-ed class. But porn–in photos or on the pages of a novel or magazine–is something we parents have a godly responsibility to protect them from.
This is something I have been wondering for a very long time and you answered it so well. Thank you SO much for your post!
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My wife stopped buying Cosmo many years ago, 20+, she says she was buying it for the articles on exercise, diet and fashion. Once I pointed out that every issue had a column of some sort about adultery, having sex with one man and married to another, she stopped buying it. Today we see it at the grocery store and those same headlines still appear on the cover. It’s recycled garbage.
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