J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Single, Sex, and Redemption – Lauren Winner

In the last of the wrap ups by Lauren Winner from the CCEF conference, we’ll look at her discussion on sex and being single.  The last third of this talk made up yesterday’s discussion of the church and singleness and you can find that post at http://bit.ly/3JAtcr.

For many singles, enthusiasm for Jesus does not translate into an enthusiasm for living biblically and sexually.  Many think that what God doesn’t want is meaningless uncommitted sex despite the fact that committed dating relationship is a contradiction in terms.

So often though, the problems are the questions that we ask.  For someone single, it is not really a question of pursuing sexuality while unmarried but understanding how to live in the tension that your body is a way in which you get to God and serve God or how your bodies get in the way of all that.  The number one error in the church related to singles is that the church often fails to connect singleness to the more basic story of creation, fall, and redemption.  The church fails when it segregates talk about sex from the central redemption story common to all believers.

So, how do we connect sex to our redemption story?

Many folks ask, “How can I be single and be sexual?”  The question is typically either asking about masturbation or wondering if there is something a person can do to be faithful and also be sexually fulfilled.  That is a good question but the theological assumption in the question is false.  The assumption is God wants people to be happy and fulfilled in the way they want to be and if people play by the rules, they’ll be happy and fulfilled in the here and now.

But Jesus never promises that if you play by the rules you will be fulfilled in the way you think you should be fulfilled.  Consider Blind Bartimaeus.  He is healed of his blindness and the next time we see him he is not following Jesus off to a pool party or something incredibly fun but with Jesus going into Jerusalem.  In our culture, sexual faithfulness can be immediate suffering as you have to wait for its proper fulfillment. It is however an opportunity for the church to revise the false idea that we get what we want if we are faithful.

The Christian faith is about embodiment.  Gnosticism is the idea of the split between the material and spiritual with body bad and spirit good.  From Gnosticism’s earliest roots, the church has declared their ideas false.  However, in Christianity, a bodily resurrection is a crucial teaching because in the Christian teaching, we are not trying to escape our bodies.  Our bodies are important to God.  They will be resurrected.  Unfortunately, we have reduced our concerns about embodiment to our concerns about sex.

But caring for our bodies includes how we feed ourselves, how we clothe ourselves, how we exercise and a whole host of other concerns aside from sexuality.  The body has a redemptive and communal purpose well before sexuality.  For example, the single largest predictor for teenage girls remaining virgins is not going to church or being a part of a church family but whether or not they participate in team sports.  What happens when you play a team sport?  You are engaging your body and learning that your body will fail you while doing all of this as an embodied person in a community.  That is a healthy picture for both single and marrieds as they learn to live as redeemed embodied person within the church.

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner.  Click and help me earn a penny.

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November 19, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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