A Theology of Sex: The Danger of Compromise In The Church

theologyofsexIf you talk to anyone about their particular soap box issue they will tell you that it is the most important issue facing the church. The litany of significant items includes: adoption, abortion, worship music, expositional preaching, social justice, the environment, and much else. I want to, if I can, avoid extremism in my own writing. My own circle will tend to dictate what I believe is the most pressing matter for the church today. I do not think that sexuality is the most important issue facing the church today. But that is not the same as saying that sex is unimportant to the church. The danger of compromising Biblical sexual ethics is real and serious. There are a couple of reasons why the church needs to continue to think critically about the subject of sex and sexuality.

Sex is closely linked with spirituality. What we do with our bodies both reveals and affects what we believe about our spirit. In many corners of our culture sex is an idol. Do what you feel. If it feels right then it is. Many have become essentially Hedonist in their ethic and slaves to their sex drive. But the Scriptures explore this reality and call it idolatry (I’ll make my final statements about this next week).

God’s standard is still the right standard. Christian ethics ought to take our cue from God’s Holy Word, and there God outlines for us what is appropriate sexual expression and sinful sexual expression. The reality, however, is that not only is that unpopular with the general public, it’s unpopular with the Christian population too. In a workshop I attended last week a Christian sociologist reported that Evangelical teens are more likely to engage in pre-marital sex than their religious counterparts. His theory is that for most their abstinence has been largely rooted in convenience (i.e. don’t want to risk my career by getting pregnant, or catch an STD). Their abstinence was not rooted in the moral standards of God. So if the risk is taken away or minimized then there is no fear of fornication. We have a whole generation of young Christians who not only don’t conform to God’s standard of sexual expression, but who don’t feel the need to either. We must reinforce Biblical standards for our church’s health.

Sex matters too because there is so much hurt and pain in the church regarding sexuality. The number of men and women who are sexually assaulted every year is staggering: 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men (Holcomb & Holcomb, Rid of My Disgrace. 31). That means that there are people in your church, like there are in mine, who have been molested. There are husbands and wives whose sex life is suffering, or devolving into sin. There are men and women addicted to pornography hiding in your Sunday School classes, feeling ashamed and alone. There are young women using their bodies to seek emotional comfort, and young men who are using these girls for selfish gain. The church is full of hurting and desperate people in the area of sex and sexuality. We need  a whole theology of sex presented and reinforced to help our people understand God’s design and intent for their sexuality.

If we don’t teach and impress now the importance of a Biblical sexual ethic I fear what the consequences will be. It’s not about spelling out all the “no’s” of God’s standard (“no sex before marriage,” “no pornography,” “no adultery,” “no homosexuality,” etc.). We’ve done that and it’s not done a great deal to change our sexual culture among Evangelicals. What we need are defenses of God’s design for a healthy sex life. A willingness to express the freedom and pleasure that Christians can enjoy within those boundaries. A frankness and openness about sin that allows people to gain freedom and the help to change. If we ignore this I fear it will do more than just affect sex. It will affect marriages, families, and futures.

Sex is not the most important issue facing the church. I think a clear understanding of the gospel and of the doctrine of sanctification are more pressing, at least in my context. But that doesn’t mean that sex is unimportant. Sex is an incredibly powerful tool, and Satan would use it for ill just as much as God would have us use it for good. The church must not compromise God’s standard here. We must develop a whole theology of sex for the church, today. It’s important, even if it’s not the most important.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: