Traditional sexual ethics vs. Christian morality

I happened upon a book by a former student of mine, Matthew Rueger, now a pastor in Iowa with a Ph.D.  The book, just out from CPH, is Sexual Morality in a Christless World.   Matt (if I can still call him that) tells about being put in the position of defending Christian morality in an Iowa State college classroom, whose professor was teaching pretty much the opposite.  He became a regular guest lecturer, up against great opposition, but his input grew to be respected, if not appreciated.  Those experiences became the basis of this book.

The Rev. Dr. Rueger includes a fascinating treatment of sexual morality in the Greco-Roman world.  The wide practice of homosexuality in that classical culture–specifically, pederasty, the sexual use of young boys–is particularly illuminating.  He also treats sexual morality in the ancient Hebrew world, which was not without problems of its own (such as easy divorce).   The Christian perspective on sexual morality, he shows, has always been counter-cultural.  It took its shape from consideration of our identity in Christ.  

He says that those who are hailing a “new” sexual morality that has progressed past “traditional values” have it exactly backwards.  The “traditional” sexual morality exemplified in the ancient world was one of promiscuity, homosexuality, pederasty, prostitution, and rape.  In contrast, Christianity offers a “new” perspective on sex, one that challenges culture in a way that is truly progressive.

The author then applies all of this history and cultural analysis to today’s sexual issues, with special attention to pastoral care.  His approach is not just laying down the Law, insisting on a moralism that no one can live up to.  Rather, he uses the Law to bring readers and other sinners to the Gospel, to Christ, who makes all of the difference.

Read this book.  (You can get a generous sample from the “look inside” feature on Amazon.)


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