Theology for the Long Haul

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Just Can't Seem To Get Sex Off Of My Mind

I heard a commercial for a local church on a classic rock station in the city where I work. The confident voice, pumping through the speakers argued that in his opinion, Christians, by addressing issues of marital infidelity, homosexuality, and abstinence are overstating sexual concerns. The challenge posed by the radio personality was to somehow follow God's advice about sexuality, while not addressing specific contemporary concerns. Is this possible? Is it helpful?
On hearing this monologue, two thoughts immediately came to mind. The first is the (in my humble opinion) misguided contemporary Christian conviction that all sins are the same. Many Christians would be surprised to find that the Bible doesn't teach this conviction. The Bible does not teach that all sins are equal before God. What the Bible does teach is that God equally forgives all sins. No matter what the sin may be, once confessed, is forgiven on account of Christ's sacrificial death and victorious resurrection.
The second thought was that Christians have consistently focused on the issues that give impact and conscience within its own contemporary context. To say that Christians talk too much about homosexuality is like criticising Christians in the 1960's and 70's for focusing too much on issues of racial equality, or rebuking the early church reformers for overemphasising the priesthood of believers.

Christians, in order to be relevant and influential must address the concerns and issues of their times.


  1. Interesting reflections Phil. I agree with you wholeheartedly that it is important for Christians to address important issues of their times. In this regard, your point about relevancy is particularly applicable. I wonder what the intent of the radio personality was for this issue. I would imagine that he or she was advocating some kind of “relevant” approach for our contemporary culture (but just what this is I’m not sure). I think you’re right that skirting issues or avoiding problems can be counterproductive and ultimately unhelpful. I do think that charity and sensitivity to one’s neighbor requires a certain amount of discernment as to which issues should or should not be mentioned at any given time (for example, in some instances talking about the dignity of the human person first might appeal to some people more and could lead to later conversations about ethics and sexuality). Are Christians too preoccupied with sexuality? I am tempted to respond by saying that our culture in general is too preoccupied with sexuality (particularly advertisers in the media). When people charge Christians with this I think perhaps they are upset more about Christian ethical standards on sexuality rather than their level of preoccupation with it. Perhaps at times though some Christians and groups have been overly concerned with sexuality (for example, I have heard this critique leveled against some of Augustine’s writings and some of the Puritan settlements in early American history like the one in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter). So yes, perhaps some Christians and groups are at times too preoccupied with sexuality in a way that is not beneficial and that is ineffective for reaching the culture with a message of hope and transformation in Christ. I think that it is a mistake however to paint all Christians with so broad a brush. Sexuality is an important topic for Christians because Christ’s call to His followers for righteous living was holistic, touching all dimensions of their lives. To leave the area of sexual purity out of the equation of the Christian life would fall short of Christ’s intentions for His followers. If this reasoning does not make sense from a secularist point of view I understand, but I do not see internal inconsistency (as far as Christians are concerned, historically speaking) on this issue. I am optimistic that many Christians do heed the holistic call of the gospel in a way that is healthy for ministry to the broader culture. By the way, your point about sin reminded me of the passage in 1 John 5:16-17. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Howdy Phil. Great blog. What Scripture verses do you have to reinforce these interesting and true thoughts about how sin is NOT all the same, but is ALL FORGIVEN? I would be greatly blessed to know, so that I can study these verses and pass them on.

  3. Well, basically my argument is one "from absence". The Bible is clear concerning the totality of God's forgiveness in Christ. What is absent from the Bible are passages which unequivocally equate all sins as equal. An interesting reference that comes to mind is Jesus' dialogue with Pilate before His crucifixion. After acknowledging God the Father's providence over His situation, Jesus tells Pilate that the one who betrayed Him was guilty of a "greater sin"(Jn 19:11).
    Just some thoughts from the top of my head. I will follow this response with a more comprehensive response shortly.