I have been talking a lot about sex lately. Maybe a better way to put that is that I have been talking a lot about the ethics and dynamics of human sexuality lately. But when I tell folks I am going to talk about human sexuality they often think I’m going to give them “the talk.”
I’m not giving anyone the “birds and the bees” talk. I’m wrestling with our culture’s precipitous slide into no-holds-barred sexual expression in light of the biblical ethic, reason and research. Between a pastor’s conference, a pastor’s retreat, and three churches, I have given a few versions of this talk about seven times. After a couple of friends asked me to come and speak to their group, I began to feel like “the sex guy.”
That’s not something I expected. But I have come to appreciate the necessity of this talk.
By in large, my talks can be broken down into three or four big ideas. First, I discuss the issue as we currently face it. Most people feel the force of this issue but may not be aware of how expansive the push to normalize the complete sexualization of the human being currently is. Here is where I throw out the red meat and watch people’s jaws drop. It is not uncommon for some to cry.
Second, I deal with the biblical ethic. Here, it is very useful to the Christian to learn two things: what Scripture teaches and how the early church lived that ethic. There are no good arguments (lots of bad ones, though) for the expansion of the biblical ethic on human sexuality: beauty and flourishing are found in monogamous, heterosexual, lifelong marriage. As a powerful example of that ethic, it is encouraging to learn how boldly the early church lived it out. When they did, they protected men, women and children. What we inherited as our Western sexual ethic was the result of the church out-living and out-lasting the debauchery of the Roman Empire.
Third, I talk about a pretty straightforward argument. It seems simple at first glance, but because of how the definitions of terms work in our culture, it is an important argument. Disagreement with someone’s feelings about their sexuality is not the same thing as hate. Love – actual biblical love grounded in the being of God – means we sometimes disagree with a person because we want their best. This is important for us because our culture has decided to re-define love as “acceptance of who I am and all I want to do”. But this just doesn’t hold water over time, and a thoughtful Christian needs to be encouraged that they can love and disagree at the same time.
Disagreement with someone’s feelings about their sexuality is not the same thing as hate.Tweet
As a matter of argumentation, I will often rehearse some of the recent research. The outcomes for children of same sex marriages are not promising. The deep problems involved with gender dysphoria are more often than not solved with time and support, not gender-transition therapy. The research on these kinds of outcomes is coming in so quickly and with results contrary to the pro-LGBTQ+ agenda, that it is hard to keep up. From the point of view that guides my thinking on this, it is not surprising that science and research validate the claim that God’s design for human sexuality produces the best outcomes for people.
And, finally, I talk about how the church can respond to this issue. Where the first step is often the blood-in-the-water kind of moment, the second is clarity on a meaningful ethic, and the third is rational reflection, this last step is what people end up being most interested in. How should I respond? I have a child/boss/friend who is homosexual or transitioning, how can I interact with them?
More people than you may know have jobs at companies or schools that have already made it clear that there is an orthodoxy on these issues and that violating their teaching is a kind of heresy punishable by everything from censure to firing. If we are to be salt and light, how should we talk about these matters? If the church is called to be a brave and loving witness, are there things we should prepare for?
The answers to these questions are critical for us – important enough for some thoughtful reflection.