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Sexuality And Spirituality 5

Here is the last instalment of notes from a seminar
I was asked to give on Sexuality and Spirituality. Feel free to
reproduce, in totality, for discussion purposes…

(for discussion):

In a broken-down world, sex invites two extremes:
avoidance or worship, The first has to do with fear; the second,
lust. In The End of Sex, George Leonard maintains that sexuality,
with its powder kegs of guilt and disillusionment, is simply not
worth the trouble. Add on top of that the fear of disease, a broken
heart, and a failed marriage or two, and sex simply makes people
too vulnerable.

The other extreme is excess. The attitude toward
sex today is often one of worship. The thirst for intimacy and
transcendence, lacking better options, gets routed into the closest
thing many can come to a miracle: sex.

When intimacy and community disappear from a culture,
sexuality is often pushed past its limits. It is like a starving
man who, finding no real food, eats a handful of dirt because,
if nothing else, it temporarily fills his stomach. Because such
sex is mostly disconnected – from values, partners, and the movement
of life – it often leads to promiscuity. It is the act of sex
that matters. Promiscuity of this kind is, as Philip Yancey phrases
it, ‘a modern mutation of the classic idolatry, a commitment of
spirit to something that cannot bear its weight.’

Philip Yancay, ‘Not Naked Enough’, Christianity Today,
19th February, 1990, p.48. quoted in Bill Hybels and Rob Wilkins,
Tender Love, Chicago: Moody Press, 1993, p.51. [203]

Vulnerability may be the precondition for both union
and procreation: without a willingness to be vulnerable, to be
exposed, to be wounded, there can be no union… Sexuality is
therefore a form of vulnerability and is to be valued as such.
Sex, eros, passion are antidotes to the human sin of wanting to
be in control or to have power over another. ‘Appropriate vulnerability’
may describe the basic intention for human life – which may be
experienced in part through the gift of intimacy.

Karen Lebacqz, ‘Appropriate Vulnerability: A Sexual
Ethic for Singles’, The Christian Century, May 6, 1987, p.437,
quoted in ‘Presbyterians and Human Sexuality 1991’, Office of
the General Assembly Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 100 Witherspoon
Street Louisville, KY 40202-1396. [83]

Most people have owned a cheap bomb of a car at least
once in their life. My second car, an old Ford station-wagon,
fitted that description admirably. Because it wasn’t worth that
much, I’d lend it to my friends as often as they wanted to use
it. But if I owned a brand new Porsche, there’s no way I’d lend
it out to just anyone. In fact, I’d probably be scared to drive
it myself. But I’d certainly have particular guidelines for using
something so precious. The media is selling us a cheap old-Ford
view of sex. Lend it out whenever, to whomever – it’s not worth
that much. In contrast, God has a very high view of sex. It is
so special and wonderful to him that there are guidelines for
its use, so it isn’t cheapened and demeaning. For Christians,
our sexuality goes well beyond physical gratification. It is intrinsically
tied to our being.

Angus McLeay, ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ in On Being,
Vol.19 No.4,May 1992, p.17. [157]

A man needs respect and admiration, to be physically
needed, and not to be put down. The woman needs understanding,
love, to be emotionally needed, and time to warm up to the sexual

The man’s sexual response is acyclical, which means
any time, anywhere. The woman’s response is cyclical, which means
she goes through times when she is more interested in sex than
others. A man responds sexually by getting excited quickly, while
the woman is much slower.

During sex, a man is single-minded, while a woman
is easily distracted. The woman wants to know, ‘Are the kids all
asleep?’ ‘Have you checked to see if they’re all covered?”Is
the door shut?’ ‘Is it locked?’ ‘Are the windows closed?’ ‘Are
the blinds down?’ ‘I think I hear the bathroom tap dripping.’

Dennis Rainey, Staying Close, Dallas TX: WORD Inc.,
1989 pp.254-256. [134]

Many… live with a list of myths about infidelity
that can catch them off guard. How many of these do you believe?
1. ‘Lust is the basis for the majority of affairs.’ All the other
reasons far outweigh this one. 2. ‘You can inoculate yourself
against an affair by a strong Christian faith.’ It will reduce
it but we are all still vulnerable. 3. ‘If you have a good marriage.you
don’t need to be concerned since affairs rarely happen in good
marriages.’ Unfortunately, affairs are likely to occur within
75 percent of the marriages of young and middle-aged couples!
4. ‘If the unfaithful person is an evangelical, a strong biblical
confrontation will usually be all that is needed to stop the affair.’
Rarely does this work. 5. ‘An affair is an indication that the
unfaithful person’s spouse is not an adequate partner.’ An affair
can point up difficulties but it does not always indicate something
is wrong with the unfaithful partner’s spouse. 6. ‘A man almost
always chooses a woman who is physically more attractive than
his spouse.’ In many cases the woman is less attractive. The emotional
attraction is a stronger incentive. 7. ‘Most affairs end in divorce.’
Divorce from an affair occurs in about 50 percent of the general
population, but with Christians a majority are able to work out
their problems. 8. ‘If you are certain that your marriage is solid
and ‘affair proof’ then it could never happen to you.’ If you
believe this you are in trouble. 9. ‘A Christian women who is
a close friend of another Christian woman would never have an
affair with that woman’s husband.’ Yes, this does happen. 10.
‘Affairs can improve a stagnant marriage.’ Affairs are painful
and destructive. 11. ‘If a man has an affair, that proves he does
not love his wife.’ Only in a few cases is this true. 12. ‘When
you discover an affair, it is best to act as though it is not
happening and avoid an upset.’ This is definitely not true.

Henry A. Virkler, ‘Broken Promises’, Dallas TX: WORD
Inc., 1992 pp.4-9. quoted in H. Norman Wright, Questions Women
Ask in Private, California: Regal Books, 1993, pp.181-182. [327]

Philosophy is the most practical of all disciplines,
because ideas determine in large measure what [we] do. If there
is no objective truth about ethics, as millions now believe, there
can be no adequate reason to suppose that any one act is better
than any other. If all that we have is a set of personal preferences,
no solid basis of ethical judgment is possible. Why trust anyone
who claims that no ethical proposition is either true or false,
but that each is purely personal choice… In many university
communities, the combination of ethical relativism and subjectivism
is almost universally accepted and accepted without examination
or criticism. What this means is that people are convinced that
there is no real right independent of subjective wishes. The Golden
Rule thus becomes ‘There is nothing good or bad but my thinking
makes it so.’ Since there have always been people in the world
who have maintained this position, the novelty appears only in
the fact that the number has suddenly been multiplied. The multiplication
has been made easier by a combination of Playboy Philosophy and
Feminism. In this combination divorce increases enormously because
the philosophy makes people feel justified in giving up limits
on their freedom.

Dr D. Elton Trueblood, ‘The Family in Crisis’, Closing
address at SBC Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, June 1978, quoted
in The Australian Baptist, July 26, 1978, p.7. [204]

Sexuality is a figure or symbol of our ultimate destiny
with God, because it is a search for the other. We feel that it
is not good for us to be alone. We feel mysteriously incomplete,
so all our life is a searching for a remembered unity we have
never yet known. Sexuality is one of the modes of our search;
it is both a symptom of our incompleteness and a sign of our fulfilment.
For the Christian, therefore, there are two ingredients in sexual
experience. One is clearly a participation in the joy of God.
We need not be afraid to rejoice in the pleasures of our bodily
nature, but we must remember that these pleasures are the sign
and seal of unity, relatedness, bondedness. For the Christian,
sex should be a part of a convenant between two persons, because
it is a reflection or earthly representation of the Godhead, and
it is a reflection or earthly representation of the covenant or
marriage between God and his people and Christ and his Church.
Sex is the outward and visible sign of the mutual commitment that
is achieved in a true relationship.

Richard Holloway, Anger, Sex, Doubt and Death, Great
Britain: SPCK, 1992, pp.34-35. [192]

In the past, a number of external factors had a restraining
effect on sexuality, but they have lost much of their force today.
These external restraints were once described as detection, infection,
and conception. The danger of being found out, the danger of catching
a sexually transmitted disease, and the danger of conceiving a
child, all imposed external restraints upon men and women, and
to some extent still do. The AIDS epidemic has added a new urgency
to this purely practical argument for restraint.

Richard Holloway, Anger, Sex, Doubt and Death, Great
Britain: SPCK, 1992, p.51. [84]

In spite of the claims made by sexual utopians in
the 1960s, sex is never value-free, never without its human and
emotional consequences. Sex may be fun, but it is unpredictable
and mysterious fun. Mary Calderone put it well when she said,
‘The girl plays at sex, for which she is not ready, because fundamentally
what she wants is love; and the boy plays at love, for which he
is not ready, because what he wants is sex.’ Sex is not just about
sex. That is why all societies and religious systems have sought
some kind of control and ordering of the thing.

Richard Holloway, Anger, Sex, Doubt and Death, Great
Britain: SPCK, 1992, p.53. [104]

Tipper Gore, President of the Parents’ Music Resource
Center, and wife of Vice President Albert Gore, has raised some
alarming statistics.

In America, a woman is raped once every six minutes.
A majority of children surveyed by a Rhode Island Rape Crisis
Center thought rape was acceptable. In New York City, rape arrests
of 13-year-old boys have increased 200 percent in the past two
years. Children 18 and younger now are responsible for 70 percent
of the hate crime committed in the United States. No wone is saying
this happens solely because of rap or rock music, but certainly
kids are influenced by the glorification of violence.

Tipper Gore, ‘Hate, Rape and Rap’, Washington Post,
8 January, 1990, quoted in Dr. James Dobson and Gary L. Bauer,
Children at Risk: Winning the Battle for the Hearts and Minds
of your Children, Dallas: Word Publishing, 1990, pp.213-214. [105]

Love is of God, and true love is always giving. God’s
love desires to satisfy the object of his love. ‘For God so loved
that he gave…’ God is love. Love gives. But lust wants to get.
It is basically selfish. Love gives – lust gets… When a man
or woman is lusting they desire to satisfy themselves at the expense
of others… When they are loving, they desire to satisfy the
loved one at the expense of themselves.

A man may be married but lust for his wife sexually
when he only cares about satisfying himself, and leaves her unfulfilled
and unsatisfied. It’s obvious that the young man professing love
for the girl is only lusting when he satisfies himself sexually,
and leaves her to face pregnancy alone and fearful.

Or, a woman is lusting when she uses credit cards
to run up bills that her husband cannot pay… Professing love,
she is really lusting. Corporations lust, one against the other.
Even nations lust against each other.

Edwin Louis Cole, Maximized Manhood: A Guide to Family
Survival, Whittacker House, Pittsburgh and Colfas Streets, Springdale,
Pennsylvania, 15144, 1982, pp.18-19. 167]

Rape… is a violent act of power, anger, and control,
rather than an expression of uncontrollable sexual passion. The
confession of a convicted rapist confirms this new awareness:

It was one of the most satisfying experiences I have
ever had. I got more pleasure out of being aggressive, having
power over her, her actions, her life. It gave me pleasure knowing
there was nothing she could do. My feelings were a mixture of
sex and anger. I wanted pleasure, but I had to prove something,
that I could dominate a woman. The sex part wasn’t very good at

Marie Marshall Fortune, ‘Sexual Violence: The Unmentionable
Sin’, New York: Pilgrim Press, 1983, p.9, quoted in Presbyterians
and Human Sexuality 1991, Published by the Office of the General
Assembly Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Lousiville, KY, p.40. [99]

Each year, of the approximately 11 million adolescent
girls [in the U.S.] who are sexually active, about 1 million become
pregnant. Of these pregnancies, approximately 40 percent are aborted,
10 percent end in miscarriage or stillbirth, and 50 percent result
in live births (roughly one-fifth of all births annually). Approximately
93 percent of unmarried adolescent mothers who give birth choose
to keep their babies. Adolescent pregnancy rates in the United
States are highest among the western nations and are, in fact,
twice as high as England and five times as high as Sweden and
the Netherlands. This is in spite of the fact that rates of adolescent
sexual activity are similar among all four countries, and Sweden’s
rates of sexual activity are actually higher.

Presbyterians and Human Sexuality 1991, Published
by the Office of the General Assembly Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),
Lousiville, KY, p.44. [120]

(All used with publishers’ permission).


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