Sex, God, and North American Christians

North American Christians are experiencing all kinds of rumblings and changes in the culture around us regarding sex. A Nazarene university president who has shown himself to be wise, thoughtful, compassionate and Christlike is Dan Boone, who recently wrote Human Sexuality: A Primer for Christians. (This must win the “Least Inspiring Title Award of the Year.”) On the back cover Boone says that amidst all the new experimentation regarding human sexuality, Christians most often are found angrily condemning or fearfully quiet. Instead of that, he contends we should be in the middle of this societal conversation: “We have something to say about the body, singleness, chastity, dating, marriage, and same sex attractions. Not all of us will agree with each other… but informed conversation will trump angry judgment and fearful silence every time. My prayer is that you will begin to explore a theology of human sexuality.”

This sounds just like Dan, who has always called for charitable discourse. Something to know about Dan, he is not a fundamentalist calling for gay people to be ejected from church. Neither is he simply swallowing the narrative currently in vogue in the West regarding human sexuality and freedom. By allowing the culture to set the parameters regarding our conversation about human sexuality, I once heard Dan say, we have forced ourselves to try to come up with answers that aren’t from within the Christian story.  A friend gave me the book, and the first place I opened to said this:

“Sex is good, but it is not the end goal of life.  ….If intimacy and sexual behavior are essentially one and the same, I suspect one of our favorite virgins, Jesus, must have lived a half-life. I would also suggest that another of our favorite virgins, Mother Teresa, missed the essence of life and lived as a lonely, loveless, half-person. The idea that human intimacy is fulfilled only in sexual intercourse is a leap of disastrous proportions. Jesus, Mother Teresa, and a lot of my single adult friends are among the most alive people I know. The human need is not sexual intercourse; it is intimacy – to be known, loved, touched, understood, and cared for.

Sex is good. Yes. ….Trinity is not ashamed of naked human bodies…. Christians shouldn’t walk around blushing when the topic of sex comes up. Sex is the gift of our Creator. But when we connect the need for human intimacy with sexual drive, and assume that these two are automatically and inextricably woven together, we are in the wrong story.”

This is classic, vintage Dan. Thanks for writing something for us, Dan. I look forward to the read.

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The NEW Test for Christian Orthodoxy!

In my last post, I listed the ten commitments of the emergent ‘Mesa’ group, here  https://toddrisser.com/2014/04/23/the-mesa-list-of-ten-commitments/

One word in that list will jump out to many evangelicals who I know these days: sexuality. It will trump, override and cross out everything else in the document.

Evangelicalism has a new test for orthodoxy. This is how you see if someone is a Real Christian or not. It’s how you tell if they love Jesus. Like a grocery store scanner scanning a bar code, all you have to do is check their brain for one issue: How do they interpret the verses in the Bible about homosexuality?

Never mind that the Nicene Creed has been the standard for orthodoxy for around 16 centuries. That’s not good enough. A Real Christian is now determined by ideas or questions someone has about homosexuality and how to interpret or apply those seven passages of Scripture.

Forget about if they have repented of their sins and become a follower of Jesus. Forget about placing all their hope and trust and faith in what Jesus did on the cross, and on Him daily. Forget about loving God and loving neighbor. Forget about doing justice, loving mercy or walking humbly with God. Forget about Matthew 25 and what it says about the Great Judgment. No, none of that matters. The new test for a Real Christian is how you exegete and apply seven pieces of Scripture about homosexuality.

It’s not the only New Nicene Creed. About 30 years ago Jim Dobson declared that the moral equivalent of a human being is when a sperm fertilizes an ova, even though it hasn’t attached to the uterine wall (and isn’t viable until it does, I might add). And so, that too became the new test of Real Christianity: your position on when life begins, or when it has the moral significance of a human (the question was never that life is sacred in the womb – Christianity has always agreed on that – the question became your view of scientific theory on whether that moment was fertilization, ovulation,  attachment to the uterus, or later). Though I land in the relatively conservative end of these conversations on sexuality and life in the womb, I find it ludicrous that we’ve now substituted these questions for the Nicene’s summary of faith-assertions about Jesus as the New Christian Orthodoxy.

But before that there was another. The Nicene Creed wasn’t enough for the fundamentalists in the 1920s. They made up a new list of doctrines you had to sign on to be a Real Christian.  Even though one of those doctrines (penal substitution) wasn’t around the first 1000 years of Christianity.

It seems evangelical Christianity is bored with the Nicene Creed and we need other, more interesting tests for Real Christianity than just how we respond to Jesus.