Sexuality and Christianity
Sexuality and Christianity This is such a loaded and deep subject where do we even begin? I started writing yesterday and got a whole few pages in before I decided it was rubbish, I started looking at the bible passages and looking at different sides of different theological perspectives . I guess I’m a bit of a contradiction really I find myself with a foot in both camps on the one hand I’m an evangelical and on the other I consider myself liberal or progressive both these words are very loaded and can trigger others in the opposite camp. often I find myself in some kind of no man’s land to liberal for the conservative and to conservative for the liberal . I stand firm in my belief and my conviction however knowing that one day I will have to explain myself an justify my actions before god and that comes before my pleasing of a church pastor or being with the “in “ crowd . I could debate the strengths and weaknesses of these groups endlessly yet that is for another time at this moment I just want you to be aware that some of what I am writing may not please either camp but it is heart felt and the spirit leads this post . In a past life I was a karate instructor I worked hard at it punch kick sweep punch kick sweep up and down the halls Simon one of my instructors told me abut the chi energy and we often also practiced tai chi it was a fantastic time of life for me . So a few nights ago I got into debate about idolatry online and the subject of martial arts came up the response was a large copy and paste document it mentioned gichin funakoshi and made several points about the spirit of martial arts . I took no real notice , because the writer clearly had no concept of what it was like to explore your spirit in that way. He had never felt the wonder of the sound a perfect punch makes on a pad. or the feeling you get when you perfectly execute a kata you had been working on for months, As such his point was void in my eyes at least it would be like reading a magazine about riding a motorcycle and then thinking you knew about motorcycles . My point is this the best kind of witness to anything is to have actually of done it yourself and for us to talk about things that we have no understanding of it makes our stance irrelevant. So when I tell you I wish to talk to you about sexuality and sin believe me when I say this I have sinned and I have repented of that sin. that’s how I can speak in authority when I say these things. If I have no or little experience of a matter, then I have reached out to those around me for information especially when it comes to the matter of abortion and of issues facing the lgbtq community. If I come across as overly affirming in my stance then I am sorry and similarly if I come across as to conservative, I am sorry all of the statements and story’s I am about to tell you are either my own or are of those people I have directly spoken to as a result of my outreach work Ephesians chapter 2 verse 1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you used to walk when you conformed to the ways of this world and of the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit who is now at work in the sons of disobedience. All of us also lived among them at one time, fulfilling the cravings of our flesh and indulging its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature children of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved! This story of sexual sin starts with me. I had been attending firwood church on and off for years it was a beautiful church not in so much as the building itself but the people in it on a Sunday it was busy children in the lobby coffee and cake coming from behind the small kitchen people sat in various groups studying different passages and others welcoming each other with open arms it was like a big family. You couldn’t help but be wrapped up in the charisma and the holy spirit was tangible. However this wasn’t a Sunday id phoned Ronnie the pastor a few days before (this was long before I was baptised into the church ) Ronnie I need to speak to you, of course Ronnie obliged he would do anything for me my love for this man is immeasurable and was eve n then. No hustle and bustle today no songs of worship just me and Ronnie sat in the middle of the church hall . (James 5 16) I explained to Ronnie that my life had been one sexual sin after another I knew what to say to make a girl fall in love with me I knew exactly what phrases to say which aftershave to wear I was horrible ,I was a monster ! I used and hurt many women I was horrible. I hated myself for my sin and I punished myself for it daily . Ronnie looked at me hugged me and told me that he couldn’t do anything about what had happened and that we could work this out he didn’t judge me and he didn’t condemn me I can assure you that without Ronnie handling the weight of my sins in this way I don’t think I would be where I am today in fact im certain of it . this is one of the many reasons I plead for sensitivity in the way we approach any sin because in that moment we are instrument of god we are the representative of Christ . we are the face of Jesus . and remember that Christ Jesus laid down his life for us on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. I asked Ronnie years later what if I had told him I had murdered someone that day he said we would of gone to the police station and I would of turned myself in, but he would have been with me every step of the way and I believe him. We are the representatives of Christ it is not our job to judge sin we all sin. now perhaps that sin is serious enough to warrant legal action in which case we let the law enforcement handle it however it is key we still keep loving the person through that sin (romans 13) my first chaplaincy position was in a home for men that had complex care needs most had criminal records many were on the sex offenders register that sin is between them and god our job is simply to love first and foremost as Christ loved us. Let me go one step further with this in my outreach to the LGBTQA community I have reached out to many to try and heal the wounds created by the church no matter your stance on LGBTQA people the fact is they desire a relationship with the creator it just happens they are fearful of rejection One of my work friends who happens to be gay was asking me about the church and Jesus and then proceeded to say but I wouldn’t be welcome I’m gay he was very much convicted of his own sin not just the fact he was gay but other aspects of his life that kept him from forming a relationship with the creator but his presumption that he would be hated and not welcome keeps him from the church stops him having conversations like I had with Ronnie which ultimately led to my baptism and turning back from sin. In another case a young man told me how when he came out he was told he was possessed and if anyone told him that god loved him that was the devil talking and he was abomination I have spent large amounts of time counselling him and telling him god does have a plan for him as well as trying to undo the damage done in the name of god . A girl I once knew became pregnant at 16 and was attending a Christian college she was asked discretely to leave by the principle ensuring that she left education altogether. Is this how we represent Christ ? is this what Jesus would do is this loving the sinner but hating the sin ? Exodus 34 chapter 7 keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty ,but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” This passage is mirrored over and over again the sins of the father become the sins of the son how does this relate to sin ? and transgression to be visited on the son. This again is a massively deep question but it does relate massively to the question of sex and sexuality . We live in a day and age where we know very little about people we make summaries about people based on a few lines of information or based on a Facebook post or the small interaction we have with someone at work or maybe its our neighbour who we see fleetingly putting the bins out . the last year covid lockdown has really impacted these personal relationships in my opinion and with things being even more tense than usual I believe that we are even less tolerant. Far more likely to dehamanise that which we don’t understand. The more we know about a person and there background the more likely we are to help that person through there sin in no matter which form that takes. many sinful behaviours are linked to childhood trauma for instance adultery while some children myself included in this see the infidelity and promiscuous nature of there parents relationships and are therefore hardened against it and swear they would never do that to a partner after seeing what it did to there mother or father . in stark contrast research suggests that children that come from a family where one partner has had an affair are twice as likely themselves to fall into that same sinful behaviour psychologists summarise that in some cases this sends out a signal to the child or children that this somehow acceptable . Perhaps this is why on some level we as Christians are very much invested in sex and sexual sin as we can see and have often experienced first hand the damage sexual sin can cause to families children and individuals perhaps even ourselves trying to save others from the pain which we ourselves has suffered as children or as adults. Of course the family dynamic has created far worse issues than simple infidelity the question does still remain around homo sexuality in the church and it is still widely accepted as sinful yet in my recent studies I came across this case. Lets suppose you see a same sex female couple and they come into your church how do you respond I hope in love , now suppose when you got to know this young lady you asked how it came to be that she was in a gay relationship. She tells you (this comes from a case study and I believe this is not an isolated incident.) She tells you when she was young she watched her mother get beaten and raped by her father when she was old enough it became her turn for years she endured this abuse even though this woman is not Same sex attracted she swore never to let a man have dominion or power over her again and eventually settled with a woman Only when we really get to know the story’s behind these people can we truly give wise council and aid them in there walk with Christ . In fact some theories are around that the some people suffering with body dysphoria a sense of being the opposite gender can be caused by childhood trauma as well as a multitude of other reasons we cannot understand without getting to know the person. The sins of the father and the mother will be visited on our children until the 3rd and 4th generation in fact there is some strong evidence that suggest extreme stress can affect the way that some genetics are passed down to our children and even there children this is a process called epigenetics Now don’t for one second think that I am condoning sin I am not. I am simply stating that snap reads without understanding can force a person further away from faith and repentance. The old cliché love the sinner hate the sin Lessons from genesis And from the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man, He made a woman and brought her to him. And the man said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man she was taken.” You’d be tempted to think that perhaps id be sceptical with all that hurt that love can cause failed relationships can cause serious trauma , yet genesis reminds us that woman was brought from his side . under his arm in a loving embrace that is exactly the way it was intended . A lady friend or wife was not made to be treated a second class citizen the reminder in genesis is there to remind man that she is to be treated as his own flesh not as some kind of sexual object or fulfilment of desire , all things were connected through gods infinite love and Adam and eve were connected both in there union with each other and there union with him. Eve was made as a perfect companion for Adam this is the way things would be in an ideal world however the story of genesis goes on to tell us about the fall of man. May it be a reminder that we live in a fallen world that because of our disconnection to god a marriage or even relationship doesn’t become a new creation or one flesh, but we serve our own selfish desires. Rather than becoming a perfect union. Sex isn’t about that anymore its about lust it’s about satisfying our desires we see that every day on the internet in the red light districts up and down the country. And this is the world that each of us were born into . Were severed cut off we need to learn to grow in our relationship with god re learning that connection that was lost so we may become one flesh with our future partners honouring god in the way we love and make love to each other . You see when I was younger when I was a monster that exploited young ladys for my own sexual gain I may of found physical connection but I didn’t find spiritual connection I had a longing for deeper spiritual connection what I was really longing for was the holy spirit was god was faith in Jesus. Just as the book of genesis says we were disconnected from god ashamed and I felt that I felt that with every fibre of my being. We are not meant to live life this way and the fact that Adam and eve lived in perfect harmony is perhaps one of the reasons we react so strongly to sexual sin. when we begin to mature in our faith we see things in a holy eyes understanding perhaps like Adam that we were made for one soulmate to become one flesh. yet the world is fallen. I remember when I first become a believer, I physically wept at the state of the world we begin to see things through Jesus eyes through holy eyes. Remember though that before the fall there was also no sexual abuse of children. There was no evil inclination, no lust no sin just that perfect connection with our partner and with god union this is what we strive for in marriage in many ways that perfect union that was described in the book of genesis and the reason that many Christians are reserved when it comes to the idea of gay marriage. Sinful lifestyles are attributed to all kinds of sin, personal choice sometimes yes , victims of environment. in my experience the most common cause of sin is not knowing love of the creator and attempting to fill that love with anything you possibly can drugs alcohol sex gambling the list goes on. The only way to truly make these people leave behind this pursuit of worldly pleasures is to fill them with the love of Christ that may indeed lead to repentance and a change of lifestyle or it may not ultimately, we may plant a seed that can take years to flourish. The key thing to remember in our own sexual lives is that all people are divine image bearers of god this is one thing that I found quite abhorrent in the Ravi Zacharias scandal every time he abused one of those women for his own sexual edification, he was doing that to a bearer of the image of god blaspheming against the holy spirit and breaking the union of one flesh with his wife. In conclusion id like to end with this in Jesus in the gospel of Luke quotes from Isiah 61 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour if your look carefully Jesus leaves out one crucial part of the passage and the day of our God’s vengeance, now there are many theories why Jesus did this however I firmly believe this is a lesson in how we should use scripture exactly as Jesus did to many times I see Christians using the so called clobber passages to keep people from truly knowing him hiding there own hard hearts and pre conceived ideas and bias behind scripture Jesus shows us in this passage we can either use scripture to affirm life to bring life or we can use it to do the opposite personally I think if we are doing the later we have missed the whole point of Jesus ministry .