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Episode 10: Gender

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[audio http://revivalmedia.org/medias/audio/TEP010.mp3]

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Episode 11: Sex & Sexuality

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[audio http://revivalmedia.org/medias/audio/TEP011.mp3]

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An evangelistic talk on gender, sex and sexuality.

 

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Talk Title: Can you find love in sex?talking-about-sex-with-your-kids

AUDIO

Marilyn Monroe: “The sex symbol becomes a thing, I hate being a thing. I’ve never liked sex myself. I don’t think I ever will. It seems just the opposite of love”

Actually Christians disagree. Christians say:

GK Chesterton: “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.”

Sex and love belong together, profoundly.

Sex and God belong together, profoundly.

To understand sex we need to understand the Christian view of God, the universe and everything. Then we can see where sex fits…

Luke 3:21-22: Jesus enters our filth to bring us to His Family.

God’s Family (the Trinity) is the origin of gender.

The way into that Family (oneness with Jesus) is the origin of marriage.

Now we can understand the Christian sexual ethic. Gender reflects the difference-in-equality of God. Marriage reflects the saving love of Jesus.

In the Gospels Jesus affirms both of these foundational points in Matthew 19.

Therefore, according to Jesus, sex is God’s way of saying to another human being “I belong to you completely, permanently and exclusively.”  It’s the most romantic view of sex imaginable.

And – more profoundly – it’s a proclamation of the ultimate oneness available in Jesus and the ultimate love He brings us into.

That’s why GK Chesterton was right: everyone knocking on the door of the brothel is looking for God.

But don’t settle for the picture of intimacy and oneness – receive the reality.  Come to Jesus and know the truth of what sex points towards.

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meatDear Mr Lama, (Reverend Lama?? Your holiness???)

I’m sorry I’m not trying to be rude, I don’t know how to address you, not being Buddhist myself.

I heard your “teaching” (sorry if that sounds patronising, I don’t know what you call it :-?) at a uni thing put on by the Buddhist Society. A friend invited me and tbh I was there for the free lunch. Lol! – no offence.

Anyway.  You’re clearly a good speaker and you seem like a nice guy.  But this is why your teaching is SO INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS.

In the interests of full disclosure, let me tell you that I am A PRACTISING CARNIVORE. And proud of it!  Right now I’m half-way through a cornish pasty and I’m LOVING it.  That probably sounds BLASPHEMOUS to you, but it’s WHO I AM.

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t enjoyed sausages, steaks, fried chicken, you name it.  And I can honestly say it has NEVER done me ANY harm. (Alright, there was that dodgy kebab last week, but you can’t judge a whole food group by one salmonella infection).  You preach about meat but you’ve never had a bacon sandwich yourself, so how on earth can you comment??

Maybe I’ve now committed some “”sin”” by tempting you with the wonders of bacon but, honestly, I think if God – or whoever – exists he wants you to be happy :-)

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried your whole Buddhist thing.  Well, I tried giving up meat anyway.  When I was 16 I dated a sweet vegan guy called Chris. He made it all sound so convincing at the time. (Love does strange things to people!)  I gave it my best shot for three long months.  But it REALLY wasn’t for me. I know that in my heart of hearts I have always been – AND I ALWAYS WILL BE – a meat-eater. SORRY!!

In fact, no, NOT SORRY! And this is why I’m writing.  When you told us that your branch of Buddhism denounces meat-eating, my blood  l i t e r a l l y  boiled.  Like literally!  I wonder if you realise just HOW OFFENSIVE that is???  One of my best friends is studying agricultural science and next year he’s returning to manage the family farm. Do you denounce him??  My cousin Joe works in an abattoir, but HE IS THE NICEST, MOST BUDDHISTY GUY YOU COULD EVER MEET. Do you denounce him????

And just now I Googled Buddhism and found out that many branches of your own belief system ALLOW meat-eating. So not only are you out of touch with the real world – YOU ARE DISAGREEING WITH YOUR OWN WIKI PAGE!!

From personal experience, I know how damaging it is to fight your omniverous desires. When my boyfriend pressured me into veganism I felt guilty, repressed and seriously protein-deficient.  Your message is one that makes us hate other people and hate ourselves.  And don’t give me that crap about ‘love the meat-eater, hate the meat-eating’!  That’s just patronising.  In the end it’s just thinly veiled CARNI-PHOBIA.

You gave out your details in case we wanted to find out more about your religion but seriously, NO!  I do NOT want to know anything more about your sick, demeaning life-philosophy.  You said that if we spent time chatting you could make me understand your position on meat.  You said that it fits in with some cosmic understanding of life, the universe, karma, compassion blah, blah, blah.  All I know is that I’m a Meat-Eater and if the universe hates me for that then we’ll have to agree to disagree and go our separate ways.

So no, I’m not getting in touch to find out more. I’m getting in touch to say PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stop the hate-mongering!  Meat is food too.  Carnivores are people too.  And now, if you don’t mind (AND EVEN IF YOU DO!) I’m going to finish my pasty, nom nom!

yours respectfully,

Jenny.

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The first thing to say is that the bible’s sexual ethic is different to the world’s sexual ethic.  And it always has been.   This might sound too basic to mention, yet the point is commonly forgotten.  Egyptian and Assyrian views of sex were markedly different from Israel’s.  As for the Greco-Roman culture surrounding the New Testament church… what’s the saying? “A woman for necessity, a boy for pleasure and a goat for ecstasy!”

Both Christians and non-Christians need to realise that the bible’s ethics were never the ethics of the surrounding culture.  Therefore Christians ought not to hearken back to some golden age when the bible’s norms were upheld by the culture.  Neither should non-Christians insist that “Christians move on from their conservatism and embrace a new golden age.”  The truth is that the bible never enshrined the culture’s sexual ethic – it always stood apart from it.

This leads to another basic observation… secularists need to recognize that they too have a sexual ethic. They are not champions of liberation – except in the most limited sense. They are simply trying to impose a different sexual ethic and therefore to define a different set of sinners.

The next point is the explosive one, but it needs saying in order to blow apart some suffocating assumptions: Jesus is utterly anti-heterosexual.  It’s difficult to think of anyone as anti-heterosexual as Jesus.

I mean really, can you imagine Jesus in the sermon on the mount turning to his disciples and saying “Let your sexual desire be unto the multitude of women.”  If you can imagine that sentiment on the lips of Jesus, you don’t know Jesus!  Christians are not – or at least should not be pro-heterosexual.  Lust is lust and never a positive marker of identity – no matter which cross-section of potential sexual partners are in view!

These modern taxonomies of sexuality are so limited, so unruly, so new, so western, so 21st century.  We struggle to apply them to other 21st century westerners, let alone other parts of the world, let alone other parts of history.  If you try to use our modern categorisations and apply them beyond our tiny blip in time and space you’re in for trouble.  If you want to actually listen to Jesus’ teaching on sex you’ll need to forget everything you think you know about “modern liberal” notions and “out-dated conservative” notions.  Because Jesus’ teaching is something else…

Jesus’ view of sex is crazy and it’s beautiful.  Same as everything else.  “Turn the other cheek?  Go the extra mile?  Love your enemies?”  Crazy!  Impractical!  Totally unrealistic!  But beautiful!  Let me explain…

Jesus only really said three things about sex, but on these three foundations you have a crazily beautiful / beautifully crazy view of sex.  In Matthew 19 He quotes approvingly from Genesis 1: “In the beginning the Creator made them male and female.”  Then Jesus quotes from Genesis 2 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. What God has joined together let not man put asunder.”  Combine these two truths and what do you have?  You have humanity created as interlocking opposites who become “one flesh” when man and woman come together in an exclusive permanent marriage bond.  That’s his teaching on sex and marriage.  And to that He adds, in Matthew 5, that sex is not for any other context.  Not even in your thought life.  Don’t even think about sex outside marriage.  That’s Jesus’ sexual ethic.  It’s crazy, but it’s beautiful.

Because, according to Jesus, when you have sex with someone you are saying “I give myself to you utterly, exclusively, irreversibly and unconditionally for life.”  It’s the most romantic view of sex the world has ever seen.

This is sex as a Ferrari.  If I owned a Ferrari, you could not drive it.  Only if your name was Scrivener could you get behind the wheel.  But if I owned a beat-up old Lada – anyone could drive it.  The Christian view of sex is a Ferrari.  The modern view is a Lada.

But for that reason, this sexual ethic is for the followers of Jesus.  Explicitly the bible tells Christians not to bother non-Christians about their sexual ethics.  1 Corinthians 5 tells Christians not to worry about what people are doing outside the church.  God can worry about them, we’re meant to only worry about ourselves.  This point will be controversial among Christians but I suggest that, in line with the first truth outlined, we address ourselves with the ethics and the world with the gospel.

Which means that the question for the non-Christian is not “Can I live under this sexual regime”?  The question is, What do I make of Jesus?  If He rose from the dead as Lord of the world, then maybe He knows a thing or two about sex.  And if I come to Jesus – not as hetero-sexual, homo-sexual or bi-sexual but simply as a sinner – then there’s a place at His table equal to every other sinner.  And though I fail at His crazy-beautiful life in a thousand ways, He knows how to lead me, step by step, into greater and greater freedom from sexual slaveries as well as the other really dangerous sins – like greed, unforgiveness and moral self-righteousness!

For another approach, here’s an older post on the subject…

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Mother – perhaps you should go and walk the dog, I have some blush-inducing blogging to do.  We’ll let you know when it’s safe to return…

Is she gone?  Ok….

Dear (Young) Marrieds,

I know you always thought sex was going to be an intense, tantric, mind-blowing union of heart and soul as well as body.  I know you anticipated an emotional and spiritual connection attended by intense, honeyed delight.  In short, I know you thought of sex in a quite disembodied way.  And I know that now the mechanics of the whole enterprise are threatening to burst, not only the bubble of your sexual misconceptions, but your very identities as male and female and stir up all manner of existential terrors.

I know this because every couple struggles deeply here.  Sorry if we didn’t mention this.  Sorry if we don’t talk about it more.  But allow me to offer one word of advice.  Sex is difficult enough without the added pressure of trying to really mean it.

An analogy:  One Sunday I’ll go forward for communion and take the bread and wine with a profound sense of my spiritual need and the sacrifice of Christ.  The next Sunday I might take the bread and wine and feel only a faint sense of gratitude.  Perhaps the next I have only a prayerful disappointment that I’m not ‘feeling it’.  But I take it nonetheless.  Question: On which Sunday have I really communed with Christ?  Answer: all of them!  And actually going through the motions (as I argue for here) is the best way of ensuring my heart catches up with my body.

If I sit in my pew until I really really feel a heart-felt connection to Christ, I’ll never take communion.  But if I’m assured that Christ is promised in the bread and wine, then the focus is taken off my feelings and put objectively onto the real offer of Christ.

So it is in the bedroom.  Marital communion is marital communion whether you’re just ‘going through the motions’ or whether you’re ‘really feeling it.’  Of course mind and heart are meant to be united as bodies are.  But let’s believe in ‘the real presence‘.  One flesh’ is ‘one flesh’.  Let the mind and heart catch up.

You’ll notice that I’m not a memorialist when it comes to the sacraments.  Actually I’m against memorialism in the sexual realm too.  I reckon modern western approaches to sex are basically memorialist already.  We live with a divorce of the physical from the spiritual so that, on the one hand, Demi Moore says in Indecent Proposal “it’s only my body, it’s not my soul.”  On the other hand the vast majority of sex which does happen in the West is now fantasy sex (i.e. pornography).  This dualism feeds into Christian marriages where we see two common problems: 1. A disdain for the physical (sex was always taught as dirty) and 2. a flight into fantasy (the mechanics of sex put us off and we retreat into remembrances of the real thing – porn).

Anyway, that’s just a side-point.  My real advice is this: one flesh is one flesh.  Your best shot at mind-blowing sex is to forget completely about mind-blowing sex.  And just, you know, have sex.  Because it’s Wednesday – and Wednesday is the night we usually make love…

That can be easier said than done I know.  And this one piece of advice is not meant to solve all your problems.  But hopefully it takes a significant pressure off of sex and, you never know, it might just help with those other issues too.

Now could someone go and fetch my mother?  Tell her it’s safe to surf again.

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A repost from two years ago…

Over the summer we got Sky Sports so I could watch the Ashes (I still think I should ask for a refund).

One morning I turned on to watch some highlights and caught the end of  ‘Aerobics Oz Style.’  I immediately laughed remembering the show from my youth in Australia.  As I recall, the whole thing was basically an ultra-gay fitness instructor in ultra-pink lycra teaching ultra-fat housewives to star-jump.

But it seems Aerobics Oz Style has changed.  The gay guy in spandex has been replaced by 5 supermodels – part silicone, part botox, part peroxide, all legs and boobs and hair and teeth – gently stretching in the Australian sunshine.  I stood there holding my remote – my laugh of recognition turned into this boyish burble.  “Hur hur hur- the purdy laydies with their purdy hair, hur hur.”  After a few seconds of slack-jawed, misty wonder I snapped out of it and changed channel.  But I couldn’t help asking myself – What just happened?  How did I go from grown-up to idiot boy in the space of 5 blondes?

Well here’s my quick answer: when women uncover themselves to serve passive men some fundamentals of masculinity are reversed. Or to put it another way: pornography turns a man into a child. (I’ll leave to one side women and porn here – though that needs thought too.)

Think about it:  A man is meant to go out from himself and win a bride.  He is meant to proactively serve an actual flesh and blood woman with real and costly service.  He – and he alone – is to uncover her nakedness (a common biblical phrase, see Lev 18) and enter into a deep oneness, not only of flesh but of soul and spirit also.  The woman is to be discerning, to give herself only to the one man who lays down his life for her.  She is to warmly receive him (and him alone) with single-hearted faithfulness.

But then, what happens with the man who indulges in pornography?  He doesn’t go out from himself but turns in on himself.  He pursues nothing but his own desires.  He woos no-one but himself.  He is not the active servant, he is the passive recipient.  He doesn’t uncover her nakedness, she indiscriminately uncovers herself.  He doesn’t engage her mind or heart but merely consumes her flesh.  This image calls forth nothing from the man except his credit card details.  And the habituation of this selfishness will only shut him down further.  Pornography turns a man into a child.

Which is why the male icon of the porn industry pads around his mansion in his jim-jams.

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A friend of mine is very supportive of my ministry but is passionately opposed to parachurch organisations.  He makes many different arguments, but here’s an argument that might persuade me (though I haven’t heard him make it)…

If a local church rented advertising space on the side of a bus, what slogans do you think it would run with?

Anything like “Not Gay, Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud.  Get over it”?

I’m not saying they’re wrong. I think the reification of ‘sexuality’ as an unchanging marker of personal identity deeply undermines our humanity.  I think the elimination of choice (such that one in unable to be ex-anything) is akin to Islam’s apostasy laws!  I think the ad’s censorship betrays the deep intolerance of many so-called liberals.

But, but, but, when those behind the ads say that the controversy was a God-send, I have to wonder whether they’re mission lines up with mine (which I hope is Christ’s!).

INTERVIEWER: You couldn’t buy this level of publicity, now that it’s been banned…

REV LYNDA ROSE: We couldn’t, one has to wonder whether God is not perhaps active in this. It wasn’t our intention to provoke this situation… The publicity is obviously good.  (From Channel 4 News)

Lynda, maybe the publicity’s good for you.  Speaking as an evangelist, let me tell you it aint so good from where I’m sitting!

And it just  makes me wonder, who gets to be a spokesperson for Christianity in the world?  The church, right?  But when does the church lose it’s voice and get drowned out by interest groups?  Certainly the media can’t tell these things apart – and I can’t blame them for it.

It seems to me that our public face needs to be a lot more aligned to both Head and body!  Otherwise local churches (and parachurch evangelists!) are going to have to pick up the pieces.

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was placarded as crucified. (Galatians 3:1)

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