The Jackson 5 (of Michael Jackson fame) had a song in the 1970’s that said: “ABC, it’s as easy as 1-2-3, As simple as do re mi, ABC, 1-2-3, Baby you and me”. Oh, how times have changed. Now, it is not as simple as ABC or 1-2-3 or who gets to be “baby” or even “you and me”. Relationships, sexuality, morality, and normality have become quite convoluted.
Throw in a Christian mindset, framework of the Holy Scripture, and you may be in for a battle on what is acceptable and non-acceptable. To help the concoction, mix in Adrian Thatcher’s God, Sex, and Gender: An Introduction. Thatcher’s “Introduction” asks two questions: “Who are You?” and “Who am I?” I have good bead on who I am.
But who is Thatcher? Thatcher says, “Well, no one can set aside who they are, especially if they are writing about sex and gender! Feminist theologians, lesbian and gay theologians, evangelical theologians, Catholic theologians (traditional and revisionist), queer theologians, and others are all writing in part of their own experiences. I am no exception.”
This is where the truth flourished. We all write and think from our experiences, without exception. So, who has the right experience and standard of truth would be my next question. If this is a moving target, who determines how far you can more the moral boundaries and manipulate scriptures? Maybe the Jackson 5 were wrong! It is not as easy as ABC, 1-2-3!
Thatcher tells us that he is “…male, straight, and a grandparent. It will become clear his sympathies generally lie with progressive or revisionist themes, as long as these are deeply rooted in traditional theological sources and doctrines.” From this launching pad, Thatcher takes us on a journey of sexual theology and sexual history that is quite compelling and filled with blushes, if read in a mixed crowd aloud.
My title comes from Thatcher’s use of ABC = Abstinence; Being faithful to one partner for life; Using Condoms…. SAVE = Safer practice, Available medical interventions, Voluntary counseling and testing, and Empowerment. SAVE is more about public prevention policy, whereas ABC was about individuals’ self-protection.” I see the thoughts behind each, but the Jackson 5 leaned ABC.
Quoting from the book may have its challenges for some. Using clip art in my post could result in some R-ratings in content. I have chosen to summarize the book by its chapters.
Part I – Sex, Gender, and Theology. Thatcher takes on a construct of sex, sexuality, and gender in biblical times and in late-modern Western societies showing us how churches and some theologians identify and use theological sources for thinking.
Part II – Being Theological about Sex. Part II contains and analyses different forms of desires and links sexual desire with a desire for God (at first sounds awkward, but really it is not). It also looks at the concept and framework of marriage being the only place for Christians to have sex.
Part III – Being Theological about Gender. Thatcher looks at the gender of God – masculine or feminine. The “body of Christ” and how that relates to gender.
Part IV – Being Theological about Same-Sex Love. Thatcher examines can long held views of same-sex relationships still be viewed the same today. He also examines the condemning of homosexual practice; is it justified or not.
Part V – Learning to Love. Thatcher looks at sexual love in the eyes of virginity versus chastity, celibacy, contraception and the wedding vows.
I would say that ALL views on sexuality are being questioned by institutions. From our government to schools, to sports arenas determining which bathroom you can use, to churches being forced into abnormal choices that would have never been dreamed or imagined, we are in more than just a revolution – we are at a moral crossroads. I am not throwing stones because we all live in glass houses that are being impacted by these shifts.
Thatcher talks about “Intersex and Transgender People”. This sounds like it is from a sci-fi, horror movie, until you know someone who is in this category. “By the 1930’s however, ‘medical practitioners had developed a new angle: the surgical and hormonal suppression of intersexuality.’” Yet having technology and advanced medical procedures available, it is not a panacea for success. Having knowledge of people in this position has been challenging for the individuals and their families.
Thatcher refers to Harriet Bradley’s book from 2007, Gender, and makes the following overview, “The statements confirm that relations of gender are universal. They are constructed, like the discourse of gender that analyzes them. They are pervasive, percolating down to habits of dress and speech. And they are mediated by institutions.”
Over the last semesters, we have read books that have caused me to questions “Where do you draw the line? Who gets to be the one who determines where the line is? Is everything that is historical and dated wrong?” Last week’s reading of Tanya Luhrmann’s work, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God, brought us to the institutional Evangelical Church (Vineyard by flavor) and challenged us to where is the realness of God today? Even when it seems He is showing up and showing off.
After reading the book and being open to Thatcher’s research and processes, I fall closer to his “covenant” analogy in Chapter 6. As Thatcher made clear, “A key doctrinal theme which blends together the relationship of God with the world, and the relationship of people with one another, is that of covenant…” We can change the language and we can improve surgeries that can alter genitalia, we can embrace oddities in relationships even if they break with traditional Christian views and interpretation of Scripture. But there is something to living and walking in covenant. God revealed Himself to us through covenants and I believe He is asking us to abide in Him and with each other and with our spouses in covenant.
One of the lines in the Jackson 5 song ABC, 1-2-3 said, “Let me show you what it’s all about, Reading, writing, arithmetic, Are the branches of the learning tree, But listen without the roots of love everyday girl you education ain’t complete. Teacher’s gonna show you how to get a “A”, How to spell ‘me’, ‘you’, add the two, listen to me, baby that’s all you got to do.”
 Adrian Thatcher, God, Sex, and Gender: An Introduction, (West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley Blackwell, 2011 – Kindle Edition), location 144-197.
 Ibid., location 172 – 197.
 Ibid., location 197.
 Ibid., location 6846-6865.
 Ibid., location 197 – 226.
 Ibid., location 541.
 Ibid., location 512-541.
 Ibid., location 710.
 Ibid., location 3018.