Since putting up a couple of posts dealing with sex (the Ben Roethlisberger case and the article on women and pornography in the recent Christianity Today) I’ve had some opportunities to think and talk a bit more about the problems with sexuality in American culture and what a Christian alternative might look like.
The first thing that comes to mind is that Christians are too minimalist when it comes to sex. It seems that the only thing(s) we have to say is that sex is for marriage and that you should marry only x type of person (e.g.: Christian, opposite gender, etc.).
Once upon a time I was candidating for a job at a church where most of the people were single young professionals. I preached, using illustrations about sex/ how we think about sex a few times. Some of the feedback I got was, “Doesn’t he know we’re all single? Why talk that much about sex?” To which my reply was something along the lines of, “The rest of the world you inhabit is not waiting until you get married to form your expectations and desires concerning sex. The “renewing of our minds” should start long before pre-marital counseling.
But the other, more pervasive thought I had was that most of our thoughts about marriage and sex are insufficiently Christian. And by this I mean what I always try to mean when I level such critiques here on my blog: that the story of Jesus life, death, and resurrection insufficiently shapes our understanding of what loving neighbor looks like when said neighbor is a person toward whom we feel (or might be tempted to feel) some sort of sexual attraction.
Put differently: is there a positive, Christian framework of sexuality that might push us toward not only the gold-metal platform of “abstinence before marriage” but also heartfelt faithfulness within marriage, fidelity to our marriage vows, heartfelt revulsion toward pornography, and effectual opposition to sex trafficking?
Yes, I believe there is. It begins with the common Christian starting point of Ephesians 5: “Love your wives as Christ loved the church,” but recognizes this as part of a larger “narrative spirituality of the cross“: a cross-shaped calling that stories all of the Christian life.
More on this tomorrow.