Sexual Anarchy & Sexual Freedom

The church, over the years, hasn’t done a very good job, in my opinion, of addressing sexual ethics.  We invoke “you’ll feel guilty” (but sex feels good as often guilty, for lots of reasons I won’t address here), or “you’ll get a disease, or get pregnant” (but there are ways of dealing with both of those things), or “because God says so” as if we should just blow our brains out, not caring for God’s rationale, becoming mindless servants in spite of the fact that we’re to love God with all our minds.  Here’s my take on God’s sexual ethic, prompted by recent events in the news.

Whether it’s MTV’s newest show exploring the seemingly endless sexual appetites of some American teens, or the now famous Karen Owen F*** List powerpoint, her tale of bedding various Duke athletes, offered in sordid detail with ratings for each (based on anatomical size, lovemaking skills, attractiveness), the reality is that an increasingly large percentage of our youth culture are floating on the stormy seas of awakening sexuality and adulthood with neither an anchor, nor a compass.

This is, in itself, troubling.  Worse though, is the observations by some that Karen Owen’s diary of drunkenness (she woke up with bruises after one encounter during which she blacked out), servitude to thoughtless males, and objectification of her stream of partners, is a lifestyle praised by some highly educated and powerful people.   Penelope Trunk, author of The Brazen Careerist, writes:

I, for one, am fascinated that Owen has so much self-knowledge. I wish I had had Owen’s self-confidence, pluck, and earning power when I was her age. I wish I had been taking control of male tools when I was that young. I wish I had been so good at getting the guy. I am twenty years older than Owen, but she inspires me to be brave, take risks, and let my creativity get the best of me.

Other students confessed that they secretly envied her brazen boldness and “strong sense of self”.  To hear from her positive admirers, one gets the sense that she does, indeed, have a map and compass, and that’s she’s charting the way into previously untested waters of sexual freedom, if only the women of America can muster the chutzpa to rise up and follow her.

Oh.  I’d better mention this too.  As the Atlantic Monthly article about her exploits reveals:  Asked by a reporter from Jezebel for her thoughts on everything that had happened, she responded with a fully human and entirely feminine sentiment. “I regret it,” she said, “with all my heart.” Sexual anarchy, it appears, isn’t as fulfilling as we’d like to believe.

There’s a better way and perhaps once we’ve stepped into the cesspool of sexual anarchy and taken a look around, we’ll be open to considering something different.  That’s my hope anyway. Here are some valuable insights, some lessons to be learned as we survey the current sexual landscape of America:

1. Anarchy and Freedom aren’t the same thing.  It’s strange to me that the marvelous generation of young adults who are so intent on changing the world by ending hunger, homelessness, poverty, and oppression could, at the same time, so often be unaware of the destructive and oppressive nature of sexual anarchy.  With every casual bedding, every broken relationship, every serial sexual exploitation, another heart is trampled, another barrier to long term intimacy is erected, another weapon of cynicism and anit-vulnerability is created.  “No matter” is what is often hear.  “What two people do in the privacy of their space is their business alone.”  Really?  Such an assessment presumes that none of us have an interest in the social capital destroyed by divorcing sex from commitment.  But look around – the carnage is everywhere, including our precious economic prosperity.

2. If sex and commitment go together – then sex belongs in marriage.  The reason for this?  It’s because sustaining a relationship of intimacy and commitment with one other person for a lifetime is perhaps one of the most challenging things any of us will ever attempt, outstripping the challenges of career, finances, and more, by sometimes exponential degrees.  Because it’s so hard, and so important, cultures throughout history have built support systems to bring the community together and stand with those who are making such a vast commitment.  The support begins with that thing called a wedding, and continues on, ideally, with ongoing collective energy working towards the well being of couples.  There are spiritual, economic, emotional, political, and societal reasons why everyone has a stake in the success of these long term commitments.  But make no mistake about it:  everyone has a stake.  That’s why your sexual hobbies aren’t only about you and who you bed.  They’re about the whole community, the whole civilization, though in our hyper-individualistic culture, you need to really work to wrap your brain around this one.  Work it at please.  It’s worth it.

3. God’s not anti-sexual, neither should we be. I completely understand that it’s hard to hold one’s sexuality in the ways of which I speak, especially during your youth, especially in a hyper-sexualized culture.  And believe me when I say I’m not writing to condemn our failings.  I’m writing to name our commitment free sex for what it is: a failing, and invite a vision for holding sexual differently, inviting us to restore the linkage of sexual intimacy to marriage and commitment.  You’ve failed?  Start over.  You’ve failed again?  Start over again.  It’s never too late to recapture God’s vision of intimacy, for God has this great capacity for renewal.

4. Learn to really be free.  Seeking to live this way though, will mean that we’ll struggle with abstinence.  But of course, this is the real freedom right?  I was with some students in Austria recently and we all went out for supper after class because I wanted to introduce to one of my genuine Austrian loves: Garlic Soup.  These students have agreed to abstain from alcohol while studying there, even though they’re over 21.  Some of them were Germans who grew up drinking beer.  But on this night, we practiced, all of us, our freedom to abstain because the truth of the matter is if we don’t have the freedom to abstain, we don’t have freedom.  Note, please, that the freedom to abstain from sex will be asked of you once married.  Children, illness, weariness, company.  I can share that there will be bio-rhythms of intensity and abstinence, even in the best of marriages (and mine’s one of the best :) )  So, we might as well learn that our freedom to indulge must include the freedom to abstain – otherwise it’s not freedom at all.  It’s slavery.

If you like this post – please pass it on.  It’s an important subject for everyone who has an interest in sex.  And, as always, I welcome your thoughts.

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • http://www.campfirwood.org Rob Lee

    Great thoughts Richard. I have been talking with my HS daughters giving them as much guidance as I can about their sexuality and the boys that they are interested in and vise versa. The one thing that I am trying to impress upon them is that they are growing up in a generation like no other. They are the first generation to “date” young men who have never known not having easy, available access to pornography on the internet. I believe with all my heart that this access has changed how young men view women and I believe that it is going to ultimately change how women view themselves and how they react and respond in dating/courtship relationships (which of course will form the foundations of how both will function in a marriage relationship). As dad’s of daughters, the standard “men only want one thing” talk is not even close to enough (it was a flawed talk anyway as you pointed out so effectively above). As communities of faith, we need to step into the sexuality conversation wholeheartedly.

  • Jeremy

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways we (I) abuse sex and these ways are often the way we (I) abuse worship.

    I have struggled with Sex addiction and pornography. Of course this greatly affect my sex life once married. After salvation and much healing the sex with my wife is vastly different.

    I’ve noticed really good sex is about giving. It feels the more I am concerned with and in tune with her needs and desires, the more she reciprocates. My intention is not the reciprocation, but the reciprocation drives me to focus even more intently on her. This has become sex for us. Before, as an addict, sex was about me and my needs. If something changed from what I expected it could derail the whole experience for me. It was all about me. Part of redeeming sex was being forgiven by my wife. She accepts me and loves me knowing full well who I am and what I have done. I can know give and accept love during sex. Before I would always wonder, “would she really be here if she knew.”

    In worship I have noticed how easy it is to turn the focus on me. “How do I look with hands up (or down)”, “Did I stand at the table long enough after taking communion”… It goes on and on. It sounds ridiculous to vocalize these thoughts, but they are there. I can make the worship of God about me really quickly. Times when I am most aware of grace, I feel I can pour my heart out. Whether I am singing, or speaking, or giving… I can do these things with great joy. Jesus knows me inside and out, and He still wants me to be there with him. By giving myself up in worship, by focusing on his glory I feel like he gives me joy and peace. That’s not my motivation going in, but it increases my ability to give myself over to him.

    I recognize it’s a metaphor and has its limitations. I love the words you chose to describe freedom. I have been frustrated many a July 4th to hear freedom described as “I can do what ever I want”. Being an addict whom Christ set free, I feel very grateful that God has empowered me to say “no” to things that once owned me.

    • Roy

      Powerful words, Jeremy. Thanks for sharing them.

  • fluger

    Not sure how to respond on this. I agree with all that you are saying. I’d say its also the thing that is hardest to get non-believers to come to terms with. And, not to open up a whole new can of worms, but this is also related to the backlash from the world towards the church’s stance on homosexuality.

    Its hard to pin point WHY we care about these things as believers. Especially when you look at Old Testament heroes like David having multiple wives (although, you do see the story of Bathsheba showing issues with stepping outside of marriage). Or even the story of Abram and Ishmael’s conception. Or Jacob and his relations with his wive’s maidservants? Seems outside of what we are expecting.

    I think you did a good job getting at the point of this. We seek intimacy, and sexual anarchy takes away from that. I’d like to see you explore this further and get your thoughts on it, as its a tricky subject with a lot of landmines.

  • http://bluedrew.wordpress.com Andrew

    Excellent post. Churches definitely need to find ways to engage on this issue, and to do so honestly and constructively. This seems like one of those cases where the message needs to be delivered very carefully so that the people who most need to hear it don’t tune it out as just another church scolding them about sex, but can engage in real and honest conversation on what is still an uncomfortable and taboo subject…which, of course, is why it is so prevalent in mass media. After all, what provides more drama/comedy than people dealing with that which is uncomfortable and taboo?

  • http://www.tinaschermersellers.com Tina Schermer Sellers

    Dear Richard –
    Thank you for your wisdom and courage. Beginning to cast light on the muck and mire of our cultural and religious ‘understanding’ of sexuality takes boldness. I love that about you!
    There are few subjects we broach as Christian’s that are more silenced, misunderstood and filled with fear. And yet paradoxically our sexual loving is mysteriously capable of ushering us into embodied communion with God. This mysterious and transformative experience cannot happen outside of the commitment to love, cherish and honor. ‘Having sex’ is not the same things as ‘making love’ outside of marriage and inside of marriage. ‘Having sex’, ‘getting sex’, ‘making sex’ is often self-serving without concern for the other, the relationship, the self or the impact on community. Far too often someone feels entitled and someone feels obligated … both insure love cannot be made.
    As you point out, this is being held up as an example in culture and many are following suit, only to pay the price later. But I also want to say that many are also bringing this long learned cultural attitude into their marriages as well. The organized church in its sexual mantras of ‘don’t’, chastity and focus on intercourse has not only left people naïve of God’s detailed design in sexual communion and why waiting makes sense, but has also failed to provide all the relationship teaching that undergirds how you craft this in marriage. It is an art form – our practice ground to live into our given nature as God’s beloved and into our call to love … every day. The gift of sexual communion is an invitation by God into co-creating love with our beloved. The very love that created the universe, created us, and is God. The image of God coursing through our bodies is the invitation to enter into communion with God most powerfully in the actions and words of making love. This is the embodiment of our commitment to love, cherish and honor.
    What we often fail to realize when we stop at the statement “sex belongs in marriage” is that this decision to love, cherish and honor is a daily decision to live our vows. This is like learning to tango … be prepared to step on each other’s toes, say ‘ouch’, learn and keep dancing anyway! When sexual lovemaking is the most erotic, dynamic and satisfying, it is also an act of creation, an act of unity and an act of absolute love. When a devoted couple comes to each other for the purpose of lovemaking, loving God and being a conduit of the magnification of this love through the embodied spirit of the sensual body … it is an act of creation, unity and love each and every time. Lovemaking isn’t about intercourse, orgasms, genitals, or any particulars … though all of this and more may be involved. Just as a mind blowing jazz number might involve piano, sax, bass, drums and vocalists … it is the act of creation that happens before your eyes when with intimate familiarity to each other and to their art, the group creates an original piece right before your eyes. Sacred lovemaking … in the image of God … joins with God in the dance of unity and love, and gives birth to another perfect creation. You become the music – your lovemaking the creation. This is God’s intention in the gift of sexual expression to love, cherish and honor.

    The reason we encourage people to wait to become sexually and emotionally intimate is because it takes a lot of intention, maturity and careful preparation to be ready to enter this holy of holies inside the daily commitment of marriage. This is also the reason we need to support couples after they get married. It is a dance of wisdom, courage, vulnerability and humility. And as you say, “sustaining a relationship of intimacy and commitment with one other person for a lifetime is perhaps one of the most challenging things any of us will ever attempt, outstripping the challenges of career, finances, and more, by sometimes exponential degrees.” Bless you my friend!

  • Dmaninseattle

    Good post pastor. I wonder if you could be a little more direct, in what you consider to be part of of the “sexual anarchy” that is affecting our culture and the church. There is quite a lot of doublespeak around this topic, and confusion within the church, so it seems important to be – explicit. For instance, is sex outside of marriage inherently wrong, or is it just a bad idea? Is it merely “non-commitedness” that is at issue, such that a committed relationship of any kind is acceptable? (i.e. perhaps a serious dating relationship) And, as mentioned above, is homosexual behavior part of the problem of sexual anarchy? What about dating or marrying non-believers?
    It seems in a time of sexual – and verbal? – anarchy, clarity on these topics would be very helpful.

    • Lamont

      Agree wholeheartedly. One should start w/what “is” an acceptable sexual relationship (don’t assume that everyone knows what one is) in Gods eyes and move from there. Anything outside of that is rebellion against God. He also states (God) that the wedding bed is not defiled. If Christians are engaging in sexual intercourse outside of marriage, as well as any other intentional sin i.e. adultery, stealing, drunkenness, etc… then the correct biblical steps must be taken to restore our brothers and sisters, not short of, and including, excommunication. Their souls are in jeopardy, as well as the congregation that knowingly allows leaven in the ranks.
      Thank you for your input!

      • Jeremy

        One clarification I would add to your comment would be that we can abuse sex within a marriage context.

        Marriage allows the appropriate context for us to fully experience sex and oneness that God intended, but if our hearts are not right, we can abuse sex inside of a marriage. We saw pharisees abuse giving, though they were giving, Jesus mentions people that did works in his name, yet he will declare he does not know them.

        The action will never correct the heart, the heart must be corrected by Christ and out of that will flow actions.

        I don’t think my comment disagrees with Lamonts or Dman. I’m simply stating there exists brokenness in all of us, prodigals and older brothers alike. Discipline is necessary to protect the flock in a pastoral sense, but how will we ever confront motives and hidden thoughts and hidden actions if our words are only directed at visible actions? Everyone is in need of Grace, not more for some and less for others. We all need it desperately. And discipline and correction have been vital to my growth, but we must also remember the metaphors Christ and Paul use to describe a faith-life. The metaphors are infants and seeds. The life is a growing life. Sure we weed and cultivate and provide food, but it is Christ who brings growth and healing. If the heart is not repaired, no amount of action modification will ever save a soul.

  • Roy

    Hello Richard – I was going to bring up a few things your post brought to mind but it seems others have done a good job of it. Having this conversation is good but you don’t really shed any light on how to live out sexuality other than wait for marriage. Just dangling marriage in the face of young people is irresponsible. I’m gay and I can’t marry and, as it stands, have no place to make a commitment to another person within the Christian family that is Bethany. How should I express my sexuality? It isn’t going away.

    • Jamie

      Hi Roy,

      I should start out my comment on what you’ve posted by saying that I’m pretty afraid to voice my thoughts on this topic. It is, as another person said, a minefield. In my experience, this topic is one that so often divides and separates people, we typically avoid it, allowing fears and differences to boil under the surface. And I just want to bring people together, to grow in our faith together, and to bravely face our hearts’ most terrifying questions- together, faithfully. So, despite my immediate temptation to forget your brave words and not respond, I’m going to try responding- in the hopes that it doesn’t piss too many people off, and that I might learn something in the dialogue it creates:

      My advice is simple, so simple that it regularly terrifies me: Trust your heart Roy. I don’t know you, I don’t know what baggage/demons/fears you struggle with. I don’t know if you “should” accept your sexuality as you’ve described it. I’ve met people that sure seem like they are “naturally” gay, whatever that actually means. And I’ve met people that seem blocked from being attracted to people of the opposite gender by previous traumatic experiences. I think the important question to ask ourselves is this: what is driving us emotionally? Now here’s a truly bold assertion: If what is driving your actions, attractions, and thoughts is fear, there’s a better way. By this I mean, if you’re acting to feel comfortable, safe, or to protect yourself from perceived dangers, what’s driving you is probably fear. And if what is driving you is love, trust it, despite how painful and frightening it is. This, so far, and as far as I can tell, has worked for me, and for the people I love. That’s the only evidence I have. I’m not certain. And just to clarify, I’m not advocating getting in cars with strangers- we can protect ourselves out of love. I think it takes a careful self-discipline and courage though to know the difference.

      What does this mean in action? As you said, you can’t marry currently. What does your heart tell you? Tina above said “And yet paradoxically our sexual loving is mysteriously capable of ushering us into embodied communion with God. This mysterious and transformative experience cannot happen outside of the commitment to love, cherish and honor.” I agree with Tina on that, or rather, my heart resonates with her sentiment. And I see no reason why one must be legally married to have a commitment to love, cherish, and honor. That seems ridiculous. The law of the land does not define right and wrong, and it doesn’t take a deep look into our nation’s policies and actions to see the truth in that.

      My father and step-mother are in their fifties, they’ve been together for 23 years, and married for 15 of those. None of us are pictures of perfection, but could I possibly call their lovemaking for the years prior to legal marriage immoral? No I couldn’t. And that’s because they were committed, there was just no legal proof.

      Beyond this, I’m confused myself. Does a successful commitment to love, cherish, and honor necessarily mean only with one person ever no matter what? I don’t know about that, but I think about it all the time. If I married today, would the fact that I’ve loved before- emotionally and physically, mean that my husband is somehow slighted? Certainly in my case it does entail particular barriers to intimacy, but the experience also helped me learn and grow. Was my commitment to this first love a failure and mistake because we aren’t together now? I truly don’t know, and I wonder. I loved him and will always love him; I really don’t think that prohibits me from loving another. I see the center of this question as being: Is love truly scarce? Maybe perfect love is not, but imperfect human love is, and maybe that is why our best expression of love is in a life-long commitment with one other person. What do you guys think?

    • Jeremy

      Roy,

      I appreciate your honesty. It is certainly difficult to talk about sex, especially in a christian setting. The blog avenue helps as we can remain anonymous, but it also causes us to make assumptions about people in our responses. That’s my way of a disclaimer, but really I should apologize. I have often tried to over simplify some of the causes of homosexual tendencies.

      I suffered from abuse as a child, and it really screws up the way I engage this subject. Of course I’ve also made poor choices and that also screws up the way I engage the subject, and there is the stuff I just plan ignore or do not want to listen to.

      Roy we have done a horrible job as a church addressing your struggle. Mainly because a lot of us are ignorant, but we are all broken. I assume you are a christian, but if you are not know that you have incredible worth. God loves you, died for you, and wants you to know him. If you are a christian then I would push you on labeling yourself as gay. Certainly in the church we allow the label of straight to fall without reaction, but we shouldn’t/ I’m not defined by my sex, I am defined by an infinite God who adopted me. If I’m going to label myself it should be child created and redeemed by God to worship him. Anything else is secondary. I can’t change that I am a father, but as important as it is it is secondary.

      I’m not a great father. I’m not a great husband. For my identity to be rooted in these things will surely cause me great suffering and anguish, but to root my identity in Him who can not fail should bring great comfort and joy.

      I feel it would be inappropriate to offer up specific actions for your specific problems since I do not know you, but I’m sure there are people who do know you who could speak in to your situation. I would however challenge you to be vulnerable. This is different then transparent. Transparent is one way, we show our cards but will not listen to anyone else about how to play them.

      I would also suggest that you are called into a relationship with your church community that is quite strong. As a leader in a church I often realize I can not serve in all the ways I would like precisely because I am married. Paul makes it quite clear that it is good to remain single, you have freedom and opportunity to serve in ways those of use who are married can not.

      Shane Claiborne has been quite inspirational in my life, and I love his quote on his singleness and celibacy, “…we can live without sex but we can’t live without love. And there are a lot of people who have a lot of sex and never experience love, and people who never have sex [but] have deep experiences of intimacy and love. So how can we as a Church create a place that’s safe for people to experience intimacy and love and that doesn’t say that the only path God could have for you is to have a husband and wife and two-and-a-half kids?”

      • Dmaninseattle

        “there are people who never have sex but have deep experiences of intimacy and love..” As deep? As intimate? There are people who have walked on the moon as well, but that’s not a rational expectation.

      • Jeremy

        Dman,

        You really don’t think that is a rational expectation? I’m pretty certain Paul experience deep love and intimacy with churches that supported him, young men that journied with him. I’m quiet certain David experienced a deep brotherly love with Johnathan. I have many men in my life who know me at least as well as my wife. They know my insecurities, they know when I try to BS them. I would say not only is no sexual love and intimacy a rational expectation but it is essential to growth and transformation.

      • Roy

        I appreciate your reply, Jeremy. There are many reasons I label myself as gay. For one, it is a simple way to communicate who I am attracted to. As I have met men at Bethany the first two questions I usually get are: what I do for employment and if I am married. While the question of my marital status seems innocuous enough, it is a question of my sexuality. It makes the assumption that I am attracted to women. Our sexuality is woven through out our conversations whether we’re conscious of it or not. Is it terribly important that people know I am gay? On one hand I don’t think it is. On the other hand, if you want to truly know me, I think it is important you know. My journey as someone who tries to engage Christianity is inseparable from my sexuality. My faith is characterized by that struggle to understand myself and how God and the church community respond to it.

        While I tend to agree with you that it is possible to have intimate and powerful relationships that are not sexual, it is very difficult. I live in Seattle and, while I have very close friends, the nature of life in the city is a transient one. Despite loving them very deeply, people leave. In many ways I like the life of being single because it does afford me the opportunities of only having to answer to myself. But an intimate relationship, one where sex might be involved to some degree, is ideally more stable and lasting. And in its ideal form, isn’t sex an expression of that relationship just like deep conversation and sharing are? Regardless of who you are, sex with the same person gets old and it takes effort to make the work of sharing deeply with someone fresh and engaging. But I think the positive aspects of those relationships outweigh the labor involved in creating them.

        As you said, talking frankly about sex is sometimes treacherous but we ARE sexual beings. Even if I chose to live a celibate life my sexuality will not evaporate. It will express itself in some form. The church universal’s stance has often been one of “Just say no!” but that isn’t responsible or reasonable. So, how do single people wanting to treat their fellow man/woman well express their sexuality? I doubt we’ll figure that out in a blog entry but we can try. :)

      • Dmaninseattle

        Jeremy, it should be fairly obvious, that God created the institution of marriage to, in part, meet needs – needs that, by definition, are not met outside of marriage. Not to recognize that simple fact seems pretty disingenuous, and even callous. Of course this includes intimacy – that is part of what marriage was created for. The fact that the Apostle Paul may have made peace with his situation does not mean his experience was equivalent – indeed, it simply may mean he suffered in that area as well. Would you choose his situation if you could? I doubt it.

  • Jeremy

    Richard,

    I noticed my comment is still “awaiting moderation”. I’m curious if something I said is inappropriate, or if my comment was way off topic. Send me feedback directly if needed. My comment is an idea in development and I was hoping for some good feedback.

    Jeremy

    • raincitypastor

      sorry Jeremy…. no problem on what you’ve shared – your comment somehow slipped through and I didn’t realize it wasn’t approved. There’s a good conversation here, and I have many thoughts, but little time to respond today until I’ve met some other study goals…however, I’ll respond soon – either directly to comments or with a follow-up post.

  • http://brokentelegraph.com Ian

    Richard- a truly great post. Thanks for not churchifying this topic and for staying frank and direct. I think you struck a good balance between grace and conviction. That’s a tough thing to do when it comes to sex.

    For others: I want to offer a link to my most recent post which I think is something like an unintentional companion piece to what Richard wrote here. On lust, porn, and other drugs: ‘Lust is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.’ http://brokentelegraph.com/2011/01/26/telegram-lust-gives-us-meaning/

  • Pingback: the invitation to abide in love « Living Life. Abundantly.

  • “Anon”

    Mmmm, thank you for the post!
    I’m a female in the midst of everything you speak of being a 20-something year old, post-grad attempting to make clarity out of the madness that is life in these parts.. Over the course of my travels to rather twisted parts of Asia back in the States again.. Things can be extremely confusing sometimes. If it wasn’t 5am I’d post more, but I find it very interesting how all these replies have their own little touch of.. Personalism.. haha.. I, myself, like to wallpaper it and avoid the subject– so it’s neat that you brought it into the open even if like one commenter said a “can of worms”.. Especially when 90% of my acquaintances are atheists / agnostic.

    I’m still wrestling but every bit helps.. Thank you!

  • Greta

    This blog and these comments make me think a discussion community group around this topic would be really helpful. Perhaps we could talk about these topics:
    - God’s vision of healthy sexuality
    - What “purity” should look like
    - What intimacy is meant for
    - HOW to navigate being a sexual being while also being a Christian (especially in the cases of homosexuality, or singleness, where sex is essentially “off the table”)
    - How to begin again after sexual abuse
    - How to begin again after messing up
    - What intimacy in the context of marriage should look like

    And so on. My guess is– especially when considering the average age of the Bethany church-goer– this is a topic a lot of people could use some honest conversation about. So maybe we should talk about it!

  • Lisa

    I see this conversation as being about so much more than sexuality. I know, for myself, and see this also at work in our community (and the world at large but particularly in the church), that clear answers feel so much safer than mystery. Answers crowd out doubt about our belonging and value in relationship, society, family, vocation, and even within the kingdom of God. I’m afraid that answers can also crowd out the movement of God in each our lives. Rationally we can know that our place at Christ’s table is beyond question, but in the face of so many voices of authority telling us who/what is in and who/what is out, it can be confusing and too noisy to hear that still small voice inside each of us. I think we’re onto something with the idea of having various community groups to discuss these matters. Perhaps what we need is answers, black and white decisions made that apply in each and every situation. Or perhaps our faith isn’t that tidy, maybe God created us as complex, nuanced souls with whom He wants to write all kinds of different stories. I hope we, as a community, can find a way to talk about this that is honest and respectful. As Christians we disagree on many things and these differences don’t divide us, neither should our discussions about sexuality.


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