Sex and theology

Sex and theology August 12, 2012

One of the massive and ongoing projects in Christian theology is the filtering out of all the Neo-Platonism we’ve been ingesting ever since St. Augustine spiked the punch bowl with that stuff.

Intrepid blogger Dianna Anderson tackles a smaller, but similar project — trying to explain to American evangelicals that C.S. Lewis’ pervasive Platonism isn’t from the Bible. (As Lewis’ own character, Prof. Digory Kirke, put it: “It’s all in Plato, all in Plato: bless me, what do they teach them at these schools!”)

Part 1: “C.S. Lewis and American Protestants

Part 2: “The Forms of Shadows

Part 3: “Mistakes in the Shadowlands

This is a smart and helpful series of posts, including a sharp exploration of how Lewis’ embrace of Plato’s ideas has, like Augustine’s NeoPlatonism, led to some Christians having some strange and extra-Christian notions about sex.

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Speaking of strange notions of sex and problematic theology … Darrel Dow of Stuff Fundies Like takes another look at the most recent sex scandal at Hyles-Anderson College. The unaccredited fundamentalist Bible College in Indiana, Dow writes, has been home to a series of “Isolated Incidents (Completely Unrelated to All the Others Just Like It).”

While the folks over at Hammond are still feigning shock that one of their own would be guilty of a “sexual indiscretion,” I though it might be a good time to look back at the last few years and observe some of the other infamous offenders from this church and school. This is not an exhaustive list and do keep in mind that these are only representative of the ones who have been caught.

And then he lists a dozen examples of predatory and criminal sexual behavior by people in leadership at the college and its related mega-church, First Baptist Church of Hammond, all within the last 20 years.

This appalling, astonishing list raises a chicken-and-egg question about Hammond/Hyles-Anderson and its aggressively patriarchal, authoritarian theology. Specifically: Is that theology simply the product of all the sexual predators who have served in the leadership there? Or did they become sexual predators due to that theology?

The answer, I think, is “Yes.”

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Nevermind the Bricolage has been blogging through a short class on theology and popular music, wrapping up with a discussion of some recent works by Flo Rida and Niki Minaj.

This led to a fairly lengthy conversation about how we might think theologically about sexuality in light of what had been expressed in terms of the overt sexual stuff we had watched. I began with an invitation for the class to offer up some theological views about sex and sexuality — what we might garner from the theological tradition, from scripture, about how we should look at sexuality. There were a few ideas here and there, but it became apparent very quickly that there was very little sense of a comprehensive theology of sexuality — which is a bit ironic given how much time and energy it seems that churches and the like spend on rattling on about sex morality etc. It was actually a very good discussion once we came to terms with the lack and thought about how important it might be to think these issues through and develop some theological shape and not try to fudge and proof-text our way forward.

That lack of any comprehensive — or coherent — theology of sexuality is a bit ironic, isn’t it?

It’s also a bit ironic that if I want to see the clearest articulation of what most evangelicals have instead of a theology of sexuality, or instead of sexual ethics, I have to turn to a blogger here in Patheos’ atheist channel. Libby Anne’s “tale of two boxes” at Love, Joy, Feminism does a terrific job of spelling out the clumsy approach that American evangelicals have been employing in lieu of such an ethic or theology.

When “forbidden” and “not forbidden” are the starting point of your ethics, rather than the conclusion, then you’re bound to be confused.

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