On Writing about Sex

The liberal independent publication, Spectrum, published by the “Association of Adventist Forums,” writes a lot about sexual diversity.  In a recent article, they celebrate a pastor’s wife’s “asexuality.”  This publication has long pushed for acceptance of homosexuality. The only kind of sex Spectrum doesn’t celebrate is the baby-making heterosexual variety. It does not appear to accept that there might be a biological norm–the sort that allows for reproduction. It doesn’t seem to think that there are any binding Biblical norms.  And so it starts with the exception, and makes the exception the norm.

A Christian understanding of sexuality, however,  has to begin with creation.  God created humanity as male and female; their union makes them “one flesh”; this union is indissoluble; and it is blessed by God and is fruitful (Genesis 2).  When Jesus was asked about marriage and divorce, he referred back to this (Matthew 19):

Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Thus sexuality is a good thing.  “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4).

And while Paul had a preference for eschatological continence, he nevertheless said (1 Corinthians 7):

let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

This is the positive teaching of Christianity about sex. And this has to be our starting point, not on variants or exceptions or dysfunctions. This is the norm, and what is out of keeping with this is sin.  Now, at times some Christians focused on the things that were wrong, and neglected the positive teaching of what is good, right, and holy.  And sometimes the rules, divorced from the Eden story, made no sense.  But this doesn’t mean we get rid of the rules–it means we tell the story.

A 20th century Catholic theologian, Karol Wojtyla, recaptured that in a way that Protestants can learn from.  He’s better known as Pope John Paul II, of course (and now, by Catholics, as St. John Paul II).  He framed his thoughts under the heading, “The Theology of the Body,” in a series of catechetical talks on the meaning of creation. Back when I was doing young adult and campus ministry for the Catholic church I gave a talk about it which you may find here:  “Aspirations of the Heart:  Young Adults and Catholic Teaching on Marriage and Fertility.”  Now, I don’t think he went far enough in his approach (see this article), but he was right on the basics:  we have to start with creation, not with the fallen human condition.  That’s where the Bible starts, it is where Jesus started.  Biblical anthropology is the foundation of all Christian talk about sexuality.