Archive for the ‘sexuality’ Tag

Intermarital Sex   3 comments

Brad and I had an unmarried couple from our church over for dinner a while back. The man was a Christian, divorced, and in his forties. He met a Christian woman who seem to be an answer to prayer. Over time they had fallen in love and hoped to get married eventually, but were delaying for “financial reasons”. Meanwhile they “become intimate.” They announced this while at our house for dinner and noted that they didn’t feel convicted by the Holy Spirit for having unmarried sex, but did feel judged by friends — though not Brad and I, which is why they felt comfortable “being honest” with us.

“We waited until we were in love before we had sex,” she explained. “I think there’s a difference between premarital sex and unmarried sex for older adults who have been married before,” he added. “God understands that we’re not young adults just having a fling, but that we can’t afford to get married right now.”

Then they did it. “So what do you think? Why shouldn’t two adult Christians who happen to be divorced and have fallen in love sleep together?”

What follows is the synopsis of what Brad and I said during the dessert course. We were flattered that they trusted us enough to be candid, but a hasty conference in the kitchen assured that we had to respond to the question.

Brad, my husband, is kind of a Christian rogue. He doesn’t necessarily attend church every Sunday and he has a few dings in his image consistent with being a recovering alcoholic. Enough said about Brad. I bring it up only to explain our particular view of things and the reason we answered the way that we did to a couple who are regular church-goers. That, and they asked. Don’t ask if you don’t want an honest answer! I suspect they asked us because they thought two Christians who admit to dirt on their spiritual feet wouldn’t condemn them.

And, we didn’t, but we didn’t give the soft-soap answer either.

In the big picture of the world, an adult male having sex (we refused the euphemism) with his adult girlfriend is no big deal. Russia’s unofficial annexation of the Ukraine … people getting their heads lopped off in Syria … the upcoming mid-term elections … those are all bigger issues than two single people loving one another with their bodies. The world we live in certainly expects two people in their 40s who love one another to have sex. Even in the churches, people pretty much wink at it, though we were puzzled how anyone knew if they weren’t telling them.

Sex is enjoyable, so we weren’t surprised that they liked doing it. The Bible supports the concept of sex as a gracious gift from God not just for procreation, but also for enjoyment … within marriage. Genesis 2, Hebrews 13 and the Song of Songs are good resources for understanding this. Fire in the woodstove is a good thing that keeps Alaskans from freezing to death, but outside of the woodstove, it burns the house down. Similarly, sex is a wonderful thing that is meant to be enjoyed. God wired human beings that way.

BUT …

And, you’ll have to wait for the next post to read what we said over coffee in the living room.

 

Religion is the Key to Culture   Leave a comment

According to observers at the American Conservative, the trends suggest that sex is the lynchpin of Christian cultural order. The polls and studies show that church membership declines as sexual liberation increases. Is it really true that casting aside Christian teaching on sexuality removes the power of Christianity as a social force?

Philip Rieff’s landmark 1966 book The Triumph of the Therapeutic suggested “yes”. Rieff analyzed what he called the “deconversion” of the West from Christianity. It’s a process that’s been underway since the Englightenment, but Rieff shows that it had reached a far more advanced state than most people, especially Christians, recognized.

An unbeliever himself, Rieff understood that religion is the key to understanding any culture. Every culture demands a series of moral imperatives on its members for the purpose of community and then provides support to help those members cope with those demands. A culture requires a sacred order, a cosmology that roots these moral demands within a metaphysical framework. You don’t pick and choose your behaviors based on what is good for you, but rather on a moral vision encoded in the nature of reality.  Rieff, looking at the start of the 1960s sexual revolution, saw the seeds of Christianity’s demise as a cultural force. He found that classical Christian culture rejected sexual individualism as a means of opposing the pagan culture surrounding it. It was this renunciation and redirection of the erotic instinct that gave Christianity its power. Rieff saw the West’s rapid re-paganizing around sensuality and sexual liberation as a powerful sign of Christianity’s demise.

While he had important things to say about sex and Western culture and the corrosive effects of re-paganization on Christianity, I think he was confusing symptoms with causation. Also, as a non-believer, Rieff did not recognize the power of God to work His will in the world.

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