Let’s talk sex. That’s our topic this month in “A Pastor’s View” or “APV” for short. In just 7 months of existence we’re already shortening our name for efficiency! No, really, let’s talk sex and sexuality and all the fairly new terms that are now attached to this topic such as identity, orientation, LGBTQ+, fluidity, gender, same sex attraction and transgender.
This is just a partial list of the dizzying terminology coming at all of us who deal with this important topic. We are a long way from the once familiar terms of lust, celibacy, purity, fornication, adultery, premarital sex, extra marital sex, incest and immorality.
Dr. Jim Denison reminds us that in our culture the mindset of a growing number of people is that truth is subjective, sexuality is therefore personal, so the church’s teaching and influence on sexuality (and all other topics) is at best irrelevant and possibly damaging.
There are many impacts and implications from this worldview that shapes virtually every aspect of life. It has deep and damaging consequences for individuals, families, groups, and society in general especially with sexuality. Sexuality is core and vital to human identity. Because God created human beings both free and sexual, the potential for human sexuality to bring either blessing or disaster is enormous.
We watch this reality play itself out in our lives and our world daily. Our goal this month is to provide you as church leaders some clarity, direction and resources for shepherding those you influence towards God’s grand design for human sexuality.
Why talk about sex? Because it’s a powerful gift from God! It is perhaps second in power and influence only to our faith and worship of God. If you question sex’s power, just look back at the most recent, all too frequent story, in your congregation or community of someone who “lost it all” or “sacrificed it all” to achieve the sexual connection they couldn’t resist. The stories of personal betrayal and family devastation can be astounding and require years of effort and grace to recover from among all those involved.
Because sex beautifully reflects our unique status as being made in the image of God, what God intends for good can and often is, twisted by Satan and fallen human beings into massive calamity. Surely, churches and church leaders need to step into this critical topic with aggressive biblical, theological, relational and practical ministry to assist those under our care.
Perhaps a better way to appreciate both the power and beauty of sex to glorify God and bless human beings is to remember the creative, life producing capability found in sex. God ordained uniquely in creation that a man and a woman would come together in sexual connection under the seal of marriage to reproduce, to pass the miracle of life to another human being.
Next to the miracle of salvation in Christ, nothing really compares to this life-giving power. As the father of two adult children and a grandfather to a 2-year-old, this part of God’s creative design astounds me in fresh ways. This life producing ability is what makes abortion such a hideous reversal of divine purpose and design. Christian leaders must continue to sound God’s declaration of the sanctity of every human life from the moment of conception while pursuing compassion-filled ministry to those tempted or caught in the deception of killing the preborn.
But sex is about more than precreation. It is about uniting and celebrating what God created as a blessing. As I once heard a student pastor say to teenagers, “Sex is not god and it’s not gross. But it is really, really good.” As are all of God’s blessings. Sex is about connecting in the most profound way two humans can.
Paul references this in his letter to the church at Corinth: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NIV).
This is a huge statement. Theologians struggle to understand the depth of what God is saying through Paul when he says that sexual sin is “against their own body” and unlike any other. This phrase at least means that there is no such thing as “casual sex” as the devil and the world would have us believe. Whenever people engage in sexual thought and action there are profound realities of beauty or destruction that reach beyond the physical to the emotional, mental and spiritual essence of those involved.
While the culture bounces between idolatrizing and trivializing sex, its mysterious reality and power enables some who follow Christ to discover God’s intention of sacred spiritual, emotional and physical “oneness” (Genesis 2:24). This, while others take sexual approaches that lead to some of the deepest wounds that human beings can ever encounter or perpetrate on each other. We must learn how to present God’s sexual design as attractive and better for all people.
When I started in ministry almost 40 years ago, my church and denomination, Southern Baptists, taught a biblically-based, sexual abstinence curriculum called “True Love Waits.” The goal was to instruct and inspire teens to rightfully reserve the gift of sex until they were married. This was good material and good ministry.
Today, churches and leaders need an understanding and a curriculum that goes further in revealing God’s grand design for human sexuality and why His plan and purpose are not only beautiful and attractive compared to the alternatives, but also the only way human beings can flourish and thrive in this exciting mystery.
In recent months, I’ve discovered a number of great Christian resources that can help pastors and church leaders increase their understanding and ministry effectiveness regarding sexuality. One of those is Mere Sexuality by Todd Wilson. Wilson holds a PhD from Cambridge and is pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois. The subtitle of the book is, “Rediscovering the Christian Vision of Sexuality.”
Taking inspiration from C.S. Lewis’ work, Mere Christianity, which seeks to express the abiding core truths of the Christian faith, Wilson reviews the historic biblical understanding of sexuality and sexual expression with concise clarity. He then briefly compares the biblical truths to the worldly alternatives present in our current culture. This book is a simple and useful tool for the pastor and church leader who is helping people with sexual spiritual struggles through their pastoral and preaching ministries.
Come along with us this month as we explore this beautiful topic and discover ways to help our churches shine the light and love of God through this most amazing gift.