in Jesus’ Embrace:
on Spirituality and Sexuality
ON LINE VERSION BELOW — with easy links to articles
The collection before you is the culmination of a six year reading project on the subject of Christian spirituality and sexuality. Our aim was initially to become more deeply informed in an age of “information smog” and confusion. We began to identify writers who were able to sift conflicting points of view and raise the level of discussion. We found some writings so helpful, that we wanted to pass them on for the benefit of the local church we serve, Forest Home Church in Franklin, Tennessee. While the collection of writings here is directly for a local body of believers in Christ, it is our hope that the collection might be of interest and benefit to other churches as well.
An important process in the believer’s life is being transformed into the image of Christ by the “renewing of the mind” (Romans 12:2). The renewal of the mind surely involves thinking on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise:” (Philippians 4:8). It is important to relate Paul’s claim, “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) with his later description of Christians as ones who “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
We hope to assist the believer’s process of renewing the mind by pointing them to readings which penetrate beneath mere appearances to develop a more refined understanding. We have sought out writers who are informative while also being clear and concise. Knowing the limitations of time for many in the body, who are especially busy raising their children, we have limited the material to shorter readings which can say a great amount in a short amount of space. But short does not mean superficial. Many of the readings are worth reading several times over. For the most part, the material assumes an 11th grade level (up from the typical 8th grade level some recommend for general audiences). So in case some of the material appears demanding, please remember that it might simply be because it raises the bar for “Sunday School” type reading. But that is a bar that needs to be raised for those who are called to love the Lord with “all their mind” (Matthew 22:37).
By choosing material which is significant (advancing the discussion), faith-based (“faith seeking understanding”), science-friendly (“faith seeking understanding) and straight-forward, we hope to bring the reader to a place of “distilled” understanding. This involves more (but not less) than being well informed. Additionally, it involves learning to make right and good judgments based on what we know from being informed. This is why we have taken a great deal of material from writers who draw on what I call the “Great Tradition.” There is a great tradition of Christian thought over the past 2000 years and we ignore it at our loss, even our peril. We have thus looked across “tribal lines,” to learn from the whole nation of the people of God over space and time.
The collection can be read profitably from beginning to end, or as a reference work. We hope the varied types of material serve the reader’s interest. There are interviews, book reviews, blog posts, book summaries, sermons, journal articles, court testimonies, magazine articles, and letters. For those skipping around, it is important to know the collection does have a purposeful movement. It is tempting to focus on God’s “No” under what we treat as special case studies. But it is of utmost importance to understand the context of God’s “No,” for God speaks “Yes” before He spells out “No.” God’s “Yes” is the context for all that follows. So the first section of the collection is indispensable. It sets forth the positive Biblical understanding of sexuality in God’s design. Following the positive teaching of the book of nature and the book of God (the Bible), we set forth in detail our current cultural context, which is contending with the consequences and casualties of the Sexual “Revolution” some 50 years in the running. This is followed by readings that address four case studies especially relevant to our context.
I have enjoyed working alongside Jim McAlister, Coeditor, over the past six years. We hope the readings bless the reader as much as they continue to bless us as we strive to walk in faith seeking understanding.
Lance Hickerson, Coeditor, 2013
The GIN — Good Information Network
There really are times when people are “destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). We live in the information age, to be sure, with internet and multiple news channels running 24 hours. We enjoy being able to have at our mere fingertips such information from the bloom time of hollies to recipes for Texas chili to movie times at any theatre within 30 miles of home. But there are other times, when there is simply too much information; a sort of empty restlessness emerges, akin to something like those lost at sea on a raft must have sometime felt– “water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” And thus we come to our postmodern era’s deafening discovery, that everybody talking at once does not necessarily make for a symphony.
In earlier times, the problem was not enough information. That concern has now paled, and much like those going from “rags to riches,” what do you do with plenty? Now with so much information–the problem, the need, and the opportunity, is for good information. Of course, I like being able to get thirty different views, opinions, angles, and outlooks on most anything–but eventually I get thirsty for what I call “good information.” It’s certainly nice and nouveau genteel to let everybody voice their opinion; but then comes life–eventually I have to come down somewhere and live as if some of these “opinions” are really true. I confess I am thirsty. So much information has left me thirsty for good information.
The urgent need for good information is nowhere more apparent than in the contemporary discussion about sexuality. There is certainly no lack of information out there –but there is just as certainly a lack of good information. The church is constantly interacting with the issue, from family members to multimedia messages to cubical mates at the office. Why not have more than information? Why not have good information? The aim of The GIN is like that of the cotton gin—a revolutionary invention — which separates the cotton fiber from the “trash” of stalks, hulls, and broken seed. The GIN sifts and separates out the fibers of good information from info-husks and broken seeds of thought. It is our hope that readers will benefit from The GIN as it separates out good information. May it provide an opportunity to move toward deeper and more compassionate-while-faithful understanding.
TABLE OF CONTENTS WITH LINKS
Eros Redeemed in Jesus’ Embrace
Links to online articles for reading
Introduction: An Interview with Christopher West: Sex and the Eternal City
Part I Embracing Truth and Profound Understanding:
Seeking a Biblical Theology of the Body
Sex: Where It All Starts by Glenn T. Stanton
God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Body
Human Sexuality as a Picture of the Inner Life of God
Five Key Features of the Theology of the Body
Designed for Sex
The Meaning of Sexual Differences
What’s So Good About Sex?
Part II The Failed Experiment: Consequences and Casualties
of the Sexual “Revolution”
Many of us have lived in what could well be called the sexual century, much in reaction to a stereotype of the Victorians, who were thought to be repressed about all matters sexual, even though they managed to have larger families than most of us—they must have known something. Here is a timeline with some significant events for the Sexual Century:
1900s Expressionism Kinsey Report 1950s 1960s Sexual Revolution Roe vs Wade 80-90s Affluence 2000
Freud —the “Flappers,” “Roaring 20s”–Post WW II Affluence — the Pill—no fault divorce —media agenda–sexual orientation–gay marriage
The Pill and the Sexual Revolution
David Quinn The Meaning of Sex
Toward Sexual Wisdom after the Sexual Revolution by Richard Wetzel M.D.
The Greatest Misconception by Richard Wetzel M.D.
Compromises on Love by Richard Wetzel M.D.
All the Lonely People by Esloen
The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims – Part One
The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims – Part Two
The Perennial Temptation
Christian Anthropology versus the Sexual Revolution by Peter Kreeft
Bonus: Pamphlet “Sense and Sexuality” by Miriam Grossman, M.D
Part III: Case Studies
CASE STUDY 1: DATING, CHASTITY AND THE LIE OF FORNICATION
Who’s on First? J. Budziszewski
Why Chastity Part 1
Why Chastity Part 2
Sexual Revolution Built Upon Sand
The Primitive Cruelty of Modern Love
Premarital Sex and Greater Risk of Divorce
Today was supposed to be my Wedding Day
Bonus: (She did get married)
CASE STUDY 2: MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
Five Rings and a Wedding
The American Myth of Divorce
Married with Reservations
The Family is a Fiscal Issue
Glenn Stanton Marriage, Class and Social Justice
The Bad Divorce
The Romance of Domesticity
A Sermon on Divorce and Remarriage
CASE STUDY 3: PORNOGRAPHY
Steve Jobs and Freedom from Porn
Executive Summary on the effects of Pornography
The Pagan Temptation
The Weight of Smut
CASE STUDY 4: HOMOSEXUAL PRACTICE
Introduction: Trevor Wax: How I Wish the Homosexuality Debate Would Go
SECTION I: CLARIFICATION OF BIBLICAL TEACHING
Same Sex Partnerships: A Christian Perspective (excerpts from John Stott)
The Bible and Homosexual Practice: An Overview of Some Issues
(Note: Why so much material from Robert Gagnon? Professor Gagnon teaches New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is considered one of the top scholarly writers on the issue of the Bible and Homosexual Practice (which is the title of his highly acclaimed book). His high recommendation comes, not from me, but from top scholars in the field of Biblical Studies. This means, for instance, if a person wrote a research paper on the issue at hand and did not interact with Professor Gagnon in the process, that person would under most circumstances receive either an “I” for incomplete or an “F” for failure to do the minimal research required to consider the subject. The advantage of going to a top researcher like Gagnon is that he surveys the whole range of arguments, sometimes even stating the arguments of those who oppose him better than they themselves do. Gagnon raises the level of discussion to a degree of clarity that dispels unnecessary confusions.
What is more, although Professor Gagnon sometimes experiences slanderous slurs against his character for following where the evidence leads, we can personally attest to his scholarly integrity, his commitment to Jesus as Lord, and his heart of compassion for all. I lived on the same brown-stone dormitory floor as Gagnon during graduate school and have been blessed by a renewed acquaintance with him some years later. Lance H)
The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Theology Matters journal)
Homosexuality: How Bad Is It?
What the Evidence Really Says about Scripture and Homosexual Practice: Five Issues
Scriptural Perspectives on Homosexuality and Sexual Identity
Bonus: Two latest chapters by Professor Gagnon
SECTION II FOUR MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS SPEAK
1. Tracey Hansen, Ph.D. (Licensed Psychologist, State of California)
Impact of Proposed School Curriculum Addressing Sexual Orientation . . .
Same Sex Marriage Not in the Best Interest of Children
2. Warren Throckmorton (Associate Professor of Psychology, Grove City College)
(Why so much Throckmorton? Because he is a rigorous and committed researcher who takes time to relate detailed findings in an accessible way for general readers.)
Critical email about my views regarding genetics and sexual orientation
Sexuality Myths and Facts
Dear Abby, Here’s Some Advice
Environmental Factors May Influence Sexual Orientation
Is Psychology Losing Its Way?
Sexually Transmitted Depression – The New STD?
New Book Details Benefits and Limits of Gay Change
Why Do I Have These Feelings?
The Study the Media Ignored
3. Jeffrey Satinover (former Fellow in Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry at Yale)
Testimony before the Massachusetts Senate Committee Studying Gay Marriage
4. James Loder (Professor, Princeton Theological Seminary, deceased, 2001)
The Great Sex Charade and The Loss of Intimacy
Bonus: A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality by Mark Yarhouse (Psy.D.)
SECTION III: SOME GENERAL ARTICLES on Homosexual Practice
So Called Gay Marriage a Dialogue
Dennis Prager: The Bible versus the Heart
Temple Prostitution: A Modest Proposal
Wilson on Wendell Berry’s support for
Glenn Stanton: What we can learn from same-sex couples
Same Sex “Marriage” and the Persecution of Civil Society
When did Idolatry become compatible with Christianity?
Refusing to Stay Silent: A Millenial Case for Marriage (Two young men speak out)
Hate and the Tolerance of Sexual Sin
Let Freedom Ring
Love and the Inhumanity of Same sex marriage
Conclusion to the Collection:
Another Interview with Christopher West: God, Man, and Sex
Back Page Illumination
And Jesus answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:9)
I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
(Jesus , Matthew 5:28-29)
20 And Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:20-23)
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
. . . The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
. . . . 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 13, 18-20)
2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you..
(1 Thessalonians 4:2-8)
32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:32)
4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. . . . . 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:4, 12-14)
And Jesus said (to the woman caught in adultery), “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11).
6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. (1 Corinthians 10:6-8)
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write . . . . I (Jesus) have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. . . . Therefore repent. . . . He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:12-17)