Weekend Links – Sexual Ethics and Practice for Christ Followers

For those interested in the ongoing conversation that’s unfolding on this blog about sexual ethics, here are some links to other articles that you’ll find helpful.  As God’s people, our calling is to bring light into dark places, and there’s perhaps no arena where we’ve done that more poorly throughout our history than the realm of sexuality and sexual ethics.  What I offer here isn’t a set of answers, but a bringing of the conversation into the light.

Why the term “Gay Christian” is helpful, written by a Christian who is attracted to his own gender. Wes Hill makes the clear distinction between temptation and sin, between longings and practice – a distinction we all need if we’re to realize ongoing transformation.

Do we make virginity an idol?  How can we have these conversations about the church and sexual ethics without shaming people on the one hand, or saying “the church doesn’t care what you do, as long as it’s consensual” on the other?

Here’s an article about the need for the church to entirely rethink the manner we teach this stuff.

The myth of commitment free sex, and the reality of our culture’s sex habits are exposed in the book, “Premarital Sex in America”, a great read for everyone seeking to understand what’s happening in our culture.  If you don’t have time for the whole book (and you probably don’t), then at least check out this article that summarizes it, including this poignant quote:

Indeed, our current preoccupation with keeping sex sanitary, salutary, and unencumbered by anything resembling a moral judgment has led to a narrow focus on preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and an effective denial of the regret and depression that follow many sexual encounters. Facing up to the psychological problems associated with casual sex (which are far more common among women) will require the medical profession to decide whether it is possible to withhold judgment without denying necessary care.

There are many more…but I hope these few will help.

Finally… any questions or comments you have about these important topics might add to the value of our conversation, if they’re offered in a respectful tone.  If not, I won’t publish ‘em -it’s that simple.

Enjoy the weekend and the west coast offense!




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.

  • Dean W.

    Thank you for taking the time to send out some links. I also appreciate that you are at least mentioning being a gay Christian. As a gay Christian man myself I really hope for this topic to enter our conversation about intimacy. It’s sad to me that there are still people who consider these things to be mutually exclusive. To me that kind of thinking places a really strange limit on Christ’s love. We don’t say that divorced people are no longer Christians. Even though I enjoyed the article that talked about being a gay Christian, I do disagree with it’s conclusion. I don’t think that celibacy is the only way to express ones sexuality as a gay Christian.

  • Dean W.

    Being a monogamous gay Christian, is also a way to express oneself. Particularly since our state just passed gay marriage I think that this conversation needs to be had in a more open way in the church. There are many Bible believing Christ following people (myself included) that have looked towards (not away) from the scriptures to land on an understanding of themselves as gay Christians. And as a gay Christian who IS allowed to have a loving long term committed relationship. Now…whether or not my church will marry me is a slightly different (but closely related subject). I think a better question is if I go get married by a justice of the peace…what would Bethany do with me? Would they accept me? Would I be able to be a member, and maybe even lead a Bible study? Or would I still be a “second class citizen”?

  • Dean W.

    I think these questions aren’t just important for me, they’re important for our whole community. Gay or straight, there’s something to be learned about how we treat each other and what issues are really “primary” to the faith. If we as a community are saying that being gay or straight is not an “essential”…then we need to think about how gay people are treated. As it is there seem to be pockets of discussion around this topic…but I have yet to hear it clearly stated that there are legitimate Christians that whole heartedly believe it is possible to be a monogamous gay Christian. Not talking about the “pro-monogamy” gay Christians just makes us feel sort of less welcome.

    While I respect that this may be a difficult thing to understand for some, I would also like to say that it is vital for the health of the church. I only know one gay Christian who killed himself over this, personally…but it’s one too many for me. I mention that incident, because I believe that the popular Christian culture of the day indirectly drove that friend to his death. He knew that he couldn’t change his sexual orientation, and the pressure to do so was too much for that young man.

  • Dean W.

    Now at least the conversation is shifting from changing (our orientation) to how to live with it. Celibacy may work for some but I take issue with the idea that because I am attracted to the same sex that I have automatically been called to celibacy…and if I’m NOT CALLED…WHY would I be pursuing it?! Pleasing the church is a bad reason in my mind.

    Larger than our sexuality, coming to this place of self acceptance also helped me to think through how I evaluate scripture. It’s forced me to not only get intrenched in thinking about a small set of verses…but also to pull back and look at the bigger story arc of scripture. And this kind of thinking for me affects so many other areas of my life. I feel failed as a congregant by most of my church life that it’s only now in my mid 30s that I’m figuring out how to back up and look at the bigger picture of Christ message of love and Grace.

    Here’s a great link to the “gay Christian network” where they talk about both sides of this issue…celibacy and monogamy. I hope that people will share their thoughts about being a gay Christian, and the TWO sides of this debate.