As a pastor, I’ve interacted with numerous people who have struggled with the desire to have a lot of sex with as many people as possible. Generally speaking, this struggle has come from men, but I’m sure there are women who have this desire. At any rate, many, many, many men have shared with me their sexual challenges and I have worked hard to provide accountability and encouragement for them. As a man, I can be transparent to acknowledge that were I not a follower of Jesus, I’d likely have given into this same set of desires and would have been a compulsive sexual type. This is to say that there are many sexual behaviors that I have found people are struggling through, including the whole LGBTQ can of worms (e.g., compulsive sexual behavior)… and a great deal of people are clearly not struggling with their sexual desires too!
So I’m realizing that our cultural trends and trajectories are quickly coming to the place where we are going to simply consider the desires that people have to correspond with their personal identity. This is why you will find more and more people moving away from struggling with their desires because they will allow those desires to define them, another discussion for another post.
Yet the implications of the Kingdom of God and the New Creation seem to have something to say about this. In Derek Morphew’s Different but Equal: Going Beyond the Complementarian/Egalitarian Debate, there’s a helpful way of framing this issue. He writes:
“The general theological position I subscribe to is enacted, inaugurated eschatology. Jesus came announcing and demonstrating the future rule of God in advance of the final arrival of that kingdom. The cross, resurrection and ascension are supremely eschatological events. The coming kingdom will renew creation and restore God’s original intention. Scripture also seems to suggest that the future age will transcend and improve on creation. Because the future has become present in Jesus and through the presence of the Spirit, the church is the reconciled community of the future. The successful proclamation of the gospel to every nation progressively introduces the future into the present.
Paul makes a number of statements about the new man in Christ, renewed in the image and likeness of God. Just as the new age transcends the present age, there is a new humanity, born into the coming age. This new humanity in Christ is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). This crucial text is part of a cluster of new-creation Pauline texts (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 2:15; 4:22-24; Colossians 3:10-11).” (Kindle Locations 358-369).
According to Morphew, the reconciled community of the future lives in the now and is part of a new humanity. Our identity is not to be found in our gender, sexual desire or even sexual behavior; rather, it must be found in Christ.
I’m not ready to concede that the exegetical arguments of those who are “open and affirming” or who embrace an alleged “third way” are convincing. They aren’t. And for my part, most of my future interaction with a certain recently published book will begin with a healthy focus on exegesis. But this theological concern, human anthropology, is quite important too… even if I tease all of my systematic theologian friends that they need to get back to exegesis!
For another great post on this issue, see Thomas Creedy’s first thoughts on Ken Wilson’s book. I think he raises some excellent points that are related to what I’m reading in Morphew.
What do you think? How do the trajectories of the New Creation inform our sexual ethics?
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.
Luke, I will get the ball rolling here but I honestly hesitate to go into depth. I have learned over the years that my mind works in ways to simplify the equation rather than to expound with deep theological implications. My profs in college hated this about me. LOL
So, here are my thoughts. When talking about the subject of same sex attractions, or basing our identities on our sexuality, I look at 4 things.
1. The motivating factor that brought this discussion to the forefront.
2. The end result of where this issue will lead.
3. The historical biblical interpretation of this issue.
4. Where we can make corrections in praxis while maintaining biblical integrity.
So here are my thoughts.
The motivating factor in this issue is our current cultures acceptance of defining themselves based on their sexual orientation. This started in the 70’s and is the part of the path that it started down with the sexual revolution. So the motivating factor of this discussion is not the church speaking to the culture but the culture demanding acceptance from the church.
Where this will lead is amoralism. Soon there will be no standards on what is moral or not. It also is a reflection of the misused belief that we are not to judge. If that was so, then why did Paul excommunicate the man who was sleeping with his mother.stepmother. Sex of any kind, inside or outside the boundaries of marriage is a behavior and an action, thus it is a choice. (with the exception of rape) Thus it has moral implications and as such, is something that the church is commissioned to speak on if for no other reason than to bring a person to an understanding that they need a savior to save them from their immoral behavior.
For 2000 years the church across all denominational lines has viewed sex outside of marriage as sin. There are more than just a few proof texts that it has based this on. As such, we should be reticent about dismissing such a long history and tradition of what the scriptures have said.
However in this whole discussion, there has been a light that has been shone on some of our praxis that should be changed. The unloving and hateful speech that has gone on towards those in the LGBT community is ungodly and immoral as well. The unwillingness to love people where they are at and to lead them to a place of identity in Christ rather than an identity as a heterosexual is wrong. They may never lose the same sex attraction but they can lose the same sex behavior. It does mean they have a different path in front of them, but that path should be celebrated as equal with married heterosexual people. There is nothing wrong with abstinence if that is part of the identity you have in Christ.
Those are my thoughts.