I recently went to the open lecture on Sexuality by Ed Shaw – he’s a Christian author who seeks to be faithful to Christ in the area of his own same sex attraction. Here is a summary of his lecture:
A. We all have unique sexualities because of background, personality and experience – think for example of how we see people as the “type” we like. And the number of labels to describe these sexualities is growing.
B. We all have uniquely damaged and damaging sexualities – because of childhood, life experiences or habits or hurts. Ed quoted one writer as saying “we do not really have any clear standpoint of experiential purity” to fix this.
2. Key question: What are our sexualities for?
A. The biblical answers are marital union –“a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). The “one flesh” is the new relationship of which intercourse is the expression.
B. Having children – if God allows conception or adoption, this is the context for raising children who will “fill the earth” and be God’s agents in the world (Genesis 1:28).
C. Giving pleasure. Built into the process of love and commitment and family is the kind gift of pleasure. Is this particular pleasure essential for the enjoyment of life? No. To insist on it and lose your soul is tragedy.
D. Appreciating God. This was a surprising (and helpful) point that sexuality is a signpost to the passion God feels for His people – and that they might feel for Him. Ed quoted one writer that faithful sex is a reminder of God’s faithfulness and unfaithful sex is a reminder of the breakdown sin brings.
E. A trailer for heaven. Believe it or not there is a rapture in heaven that is only hinted at in sexual ecstasy on earth. Ed called earthly sex the “trailer” for the “movie“ of heavenly joy. The proof of this is the way the bible describes the great wedding (in Revelation) between Christ and His people.
3. So how does that help us live with…
A. Sexual differences. It’s a non-negotiable that the human marriage of a man and a woman is the echo of the divine marriage of Christ and His Bride (the church). We cannot change the “trailer” when the “movie“ is so clear. Ed quoted C.S. Lewis who said that to think there things are “interchangeable…is a legal fiction…we have no authority to take the … figures which God has painted…and shift them around.”
B. Sexual attraction. Ed raised the question of why we appreciate beauty in certain people or situations. Part of the answer is that every beauty we appreciate has come to us from God as a pointer to Himself. These things are signposts never destinations.
C. Sexual pleasure. Since – through Christ – the fulfilment and goal and “movie” is guaranteed, it’s not too much to miss the foretaste and signpost and “trailer” now. Those who – by circumstances or choices – turn away from what Christ forbids to take hold of what Christ provides are not great losers but great receivers.
D. Sexual temptation. Ed called this ‘the toughest battle’ and for many it is – especially when it is presented as the key to life and the comfort for all our pains. We need to remember that the greatest joy and comfort comes in our fellowship with Christ, that wise believers feed on things that help godliness (not things that don’t) and much temptation presents itself as water but turns out to be turps. Jesus is the opposite – offering life.
E. What does God know? Ed finished his lecture with the reminder that the bible tells us Jesus was tempted in every way – yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:14-16). Therefore He is able to help us.
[I’ve always been puzzled as to why Jesus in His successful fight could help us in our unsuccessful fight and the answer (I think) is because He knows the pressures – having lived here – He forgives our failures – having died for us – and He has the most sympathy and compassion and kindness in the universe since His heart is unhardened by sin].
This was a wise and comforting lecture – reminding us that when Jesus said He had come to “bring life” He was telling the truth.