DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Divine Sex?

Written by: on March 8, 2019

With a title like Divine Sex, you know you are in for an interesting read. When my wife saw my stack of books for this semester I had this book on the top of the stack, unintentionally, and she was confused. She asked me if I was still in a leadership program, I assured her I was. She was curious how this book would fit into the program as was I. (she was not offended by the book, just curious). If there was a quote from the beginning of this book which helped me focus on why this is a necessary book it was this, “We were seeing a disconnect between people’s spiritual worlds and their Friday-and Saturday-night lives. They seemed to be getting their view of God from the church and their view of sex and relationships from popular culture. [1] So, what is the root cause of this conundrum? Judging from the articles available on a simple Google search, the moral failures of pastors is pervasive. According to a 2008 survey (updated 2016)  by the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership and Development 30-38% of pastors are either in the process of divorce or have had an extra-marital affair. [2] These are distressing statistics. It is no wonder that the congregation would take their cue from the world if pastors are failing. 

Grant asks this question, “What is it about our cultural moment that makes the Christian vision of sexuality seem naive and unrealistic at best and downright repressive at worst, even to many young Christians? Why does the church’s view of sexuality, with all it ‘rules’ and ‘restrictions’ fail to resonate with so many contemporary believers.” [3] Grant goes on to argue that the culture is seemingly informing the church’s culture, by “teaching…scripture without giving due attention to the influence of cultural context…succumbs to the modern illusion that we can choose our own reality free from external influences.” [4] The argument being we choose to be spiritual or not, we choose to live a life that we want to so why should our sexuality be any different? This is similar to the argument I am making in my dissertation work, that congregations choose a “me first” attitude when “doing” church instead of a focus on others. We can even look like we are focussing on others by our outreach programs, feeding, diaper ministry, mission trips, but try changing the culture to one of true discipleship and watch the sparks fly. The funny thing is, and Grant posits on this, is that it is not an overnight happening. This focus on self as opposed to focus on God and true Christian life is a product of our society. Just like Western Civilization did not, overnight, become focussed on self neither did the church. It is sort of like the creep that seems unavoidable, it sneaks up on a church and before they know it, the discussions on what carpet or how to decorate the church become the business of the church rather than reaching a dark world with the light of Christ. While some may argue that this is purely spiritual warfare, I would argue that along side said warfare and maybe just as strong in its influence is our own sinful nature. I want to be comfortable, I want everyone to affirm me and my decisions on how I live my life. If we tell someone something is not right according to God’s standard in scripture we are the bad guys. Sex life is no different, Grant argues throughout that instead of glorifying God in our sex life, it is all about what I want and how I feel. “Modern authenticity encourages us to create our own beliefs and morality, the only rule being that they must resonate with who we feel we really are. The worst thing we can do is to conform to some moral code that is imposed on us from outside”[5] We have all seen this argument when it pertains to sex, “Don’t try to put your morals on me”.  When I read this line from Grant it resonated with me. Don’t try to change my church, don’t try to change how I feel about who I am. The problem is, Christ does change us, Christ makes us a new creation. We are not to be like Israel at the end of Joshua, “In those days, there was no king in Israel, every man did what was right in his own eyes” Judges 21:25 (ESV). We are called to something greater than self gratification or our feelings, we are called to be a reflection of Christ in our entire life, including our sex life. 

This is not a call for a Puritanical purity to be imposed on all of society. I understand that society will do what society wants to do. Regardless, as Christians we are called to be different in this world.

I found it interesting in reviews of this book that the first part was lauded for it’s research and reliance of Taylor’s text, but panned as not as good in the second section. Dustin Resch argues “Unfortunately, the second part of the book, in which Grant sets out his pastoral direction for combating the sheer force of the prevailing cultural formation of things sexual, is largely pedestrian.” [6] He goes on to argue that Grant “appears simply to adopt without defense a conservative Protestant line on sexuality”[7] While he can argue this, I see Grant as arguing from his convictions, the first part of the book is academically informed, while the second section is from his convictions as a minister. This happens all to often, an argument is dismissed because of the influences of the arguers point of view, I wish Christians could have a discourse about tricky subjects without lowering the argument to your conservative or your liberal, lets sit down and discuss, we may not end up agreeing, but at least we can rest in Christ as both our rocks.

 

 

[1] Grant, Jonathan. Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, a Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2015. 18.

[2] Krejcir, Dr. Richard J. “Francis Schaeffer Statistics on Pastors.” Into Thy Word. Teaching People How to Study the Bible. 2016. Accessed March 08, 2019. http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=36562&columnid=3958.

[3] Grant, Jonathan. Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, a Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2015. 20.

[4] Ibid. 23.

[5] Ibid. 30.

[6] Resch, Dustin. “Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age.” Anglican Theological Review 98, no. 2 (2016): 405-06,408.

[7] Ibid.

About the Author

mm

Jason Turbeville

A pastor, husband and father who loves to be around others. These are the things that describe me. I was a youth minister for 15 years but God changed the calling on my life. I love to travel and see where God takes me in my life.

14 responses to “Divine Sex?”

  1. mm M Webb says:

    Jason,
    I did the same thing, except my mistake was when my computer remembered my last login to Amazon on my wife’s account. I ordered the book, noticed it was under her account, and I refunded it. I bought it again on my Amazon account. She saw the charge and title!
    Since I am over in the Middle East, JoAnne sent me a “WHAT” message as you can imagine. I told her it was Dr. J and some new training requirement for some new type of experimental thing that GFU was promoting. She was not amused…
    Dear friend, the root cause…. can only be from Satan. He created sin. God created Hell just for him and his cohort of fallen angels before Adam and Eve even fell from grace.
    Here is one way to look at this. Morally our culture is trying to legislate sexuality much like smoking marijuana. If enough of us say it is OK, then it must be OK, and someone will write laws to make it OK. After a few generations with the new laws everyone will think it is OK.
    Unfortunately for many, there is this one book that says it is not OK. Written by quite a few authors, over several hundred years, who were all inspired by the same Holy Spirit. Breathed into existence by God, His book has just the right words, laws, and principles for a Biblically appropriate, healthy, happy, and God honoring form of sexuality.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

    • mm Jason Turbeville says:

      Mike,
      My wife really did think it was funny once she read the back of the book but man for a few seconds the looks I got….

      I think the individualistic attitude of our culture is the biggest problem, sin is ok, like Joshua, what ever is right in my own sight.

      Jason

    • Shawn Hart says:

      Mike, you crack me up!

  2. Dave Watermulder says:

    Thanks, Jason,
    I thought this quote that you pulled out was particularly good: “They seemed to be getting their view of God from the church and their view of sex and relationships from popular culture.” There is a lot to this– that people’s ideas about sex are largely coming from the culture and almost not at all from the church (beyond the most simplistic “no sex before marriage” type message). A big challenge to reclaim a holistic sexual ethic for Christians…

    • mm Jason Turbeville says:

      Dave,
      I have been in several marriage conferences where this has been the message, sex is good and it is a gift from God, to many Christians see it as good but not a gift, just a thought.

      Jason

  3. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Jason,

    I liked your arguments and questions, and was able to easily track your thread of thought. I especially was interested in your “focus on self” and the implications for centuries.

    And I was grateful for your admonition that as Christians, we are supposed to be different than the rest of the world, including with sex.

    Glad you were able to connect this to your dissertation research. Well done!

    • mm Jason Turbeville says:

      Jay,
      Thats the hard part brother, be different. To many in the US are trying to be like Mike (Jordan). We want the best.

      Jason

  4. Greg says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head that this book was more about systemic issues of self than (I believe) just sex. This insidious view has crept into our families, church as well as all relationships lying to us about what is important. good to see you challenges some of the tough subjects that many steer away from.

    • mm Jason Turbeville says:

      Greg,
      It really is the self worth self reliant american dream pull myself up with no help from anybody mentality we have here in the US.

      Jason

  5. Shawn Hart says:

    Jason, I appreciate the different perspectives you presented regarding this reading; I think there is always a tendency to perceive the problem an then relate to that problem; that is how I felt about this reading. In fact, as I read through it, it was very easy for me to relate various points of my own life, marriage, and ministry to the struggles presented in the reading. I believe it is sad when we get to caught up in opposing that we fail to finish actually reading. (Though I am as guilty as anyone else at doing exactly that at times).

    So my question: How do we convince those we are teaching that Biblical sexuality is still something worthy of studying…and even…living our life in accordance to?

    • mm Jason Turbeville says:

      Shawn,
      The hard part is we have allowed the world to define sex and how it should be viewed. First in the church we need to affirm the beauty that God has given us in sex with our mate. That is the starting point I use when counseling and then contrast it to how the world sees it…as a fulfillment of self.

      Jason

  6. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Jason,

    I agree with you in your review of the book. Yes, the first half was well researched and presented a strong perspective. The second half, rather than being ‘pedestrian’ was experiential and developed out of his own ministry experience. I know the church in Auckland where he is now minister. It is downtown, there are legal brothels within a block of the church and they are ministering in the heart of the city in a country where less than 5% of the population has any meaningful connection to a church. I think his suggestions for reconnecting with the culture ‘out there’ and re-opening a dialogue within a faith community was about as good as it gets. Perfect? Of course not. It is a dynamic work in which he is engaged. It is the static perspective in much of the church that sex is taboo that I believe got us to this point. I hope you find your own meaningful way to engage both your congregation and the wider community in this vital discussion.

  7. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Jason,
    You make an excellent point – the world is all about individualism and it’s no different with our perspectives on sex! Your story (and Mikes) cracked me up. I think you are incredibly wise, slow to judge, and always listening. I so appreciate that about you. Your congregation is lucky to have you leading them and I feel like you can gracefully bring up this topic and start the conversations in your church. Are you considering broaching this sexuality topic?

  8. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Good job Jason and great tie in to your dissertation. I tihnk a self focus is what brings so much destruction to our sexuality marriages and all relationships.

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