EFCA Theology Conference – Session 4

A Theology of Human Sexuality – Ben Mitchell

A Few Caveats

Our anthropology requires charity

Our language anticipates double entendres

Our calling demands compassion

Our experience requires humility

Our task calls for courage

Our responsibility requires us to contextualize the question

Why so Important?

The order that God has given us (Gen 2:24-25)

Paul says sexual immorality is not even to be mentioned among those in the Christian church (Ephesians 5:3)

Why Such a Difficult Subject?

A confused culture in which our paradigms have shifted radically

A marginalized church

A challenged Bible – both from the outside and the inside

47% of people who say marriage is becoming obsolete still want to be married

Sexual Morality: Creation

Human sex and sexuality are important, powerful and good aspects of God’s creation (Gen 2:15-25 – bonding, procreation, Proverbs 5:15-20 – pleasure, fidelity)

They don’t cease to be man or woman but their flesh is joined in such a way that we call them one flesh

Stanley Grenz Sexual Ethics

There are only two ways to be human, as male or female, at its core is a fundamental incompleteness

Goods of sex and marriage

Procreational good – Gen 1:28; 9:1

Relational good – “humanity which is not fellow-humanity is inhumanity” Barth, CD

Public good – ordered and regulated relationships in human society

Marriage

The relational purpose of marriage (Gen 2:24 – one flesh, sexual and non-sexual companionship, giving of one’s person to another)

Pornography

There is a casual connection between words or pictures and human behavior

“Shame” is part of the natural human condition. It is counterpart of natural human modesty

The political purpose or result of pornography is to make us shameless

There is a connection between shame and self-restrained and therefore a connection between shame and self-government or democracy

Self-restraint is necessary to the moral and political well-being of the community

Pornography threatens self-restraint and then threatens democracy

Conclusion: therefore, government has at least a modest interest in censoring pornography (as a protection of democracy)

By Walter Evans “Beyond the Garbage Pale”

Sexual Morality: After the Fall

Sexuality and sex are disordered

Sex is to be expressed according to God’s instruction: not outside the covenant of marriage (Heb 13:4), sexual lust is forbidden (Matt 5:27-30)

Sex

Not the most important thing in the world!

1 Corinthians 7:1-5

Marriage

The healing purpose of marriage (1 Cor 7:9)

“Marriage functions to provide needed restraint and discipline as the God-given place of healing for our sexual nature” – Gilbert Meilaender

Celibacy or singleness

Vocation?

Pathology?

Gift parallel with marriage? (1 Cor 7:7, 32-35, Adam and Eve were married, Jesus was single)

Pastoral issues: identity and self-worth, solitude and loneliness, sexuality and celibacy – see C.S. Lewis Four Loves specifically his chapter on friendship

Cohabitation

According to sociologist Patricia Morgan, cohabitation relationships are fragile

Cohabiting couple accumulate less wealth than married couples

Cohabiting women are more likely to be abused

Cohabitants have more health problems than married couples

Children of cohabiting couples often suffer

Cohabitation: the biblical witness

Creation-only appropriate expression of sexual intimacy is the bond of marriage

Singleness is an inappropriate context for the sex act “One flesh” is reserved for married couples

No permission for cohabitation in scripture

Marriage and the marriage bed are held up as honorable

Homosexuality

Helmut Thielicke Theological Ethics vol 3, Sex, p. 271

Sexuality: Redemmed and Celebrated

1 Timothy 4:1-5

“Salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ is not redemption from sexuality, sex or our sexual impulses. It is rather redemption within our created sexuality, necessitated by distortions of the Fall”

God’s Will for Today – 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

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