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

God, Sex and Orientations

Written by: on February 19, 2014

In spite of the fact that I had to hide my God, Sex and Gender book by Adrian Thatcher within a newspaper while at church (the cover was a little risqué for some of my conservative friends),I found it fascinating and indicative of the prevailing shift in position among many evangelicals.  My assumption is that the author would be considered a liberal by the tribe which employs me, so his conclusions didn’t come as much of a shock.  But the truth that many other evangelicals support his deductions, although in a somewhat clandestine fashion, is new and surprising. Just a few short years ago, Thatcher comments, Biblical models of sex and marriage would have been dismissed as fantasy by the evangelical church, citing that the Bible upholds and gives us s picture of the perfect nuclear family; a married couple with no premarital intimacy, bearing 2.1 children. Of course they would be of different sexes but same ethnicities and the man would assume patriarchal roles of provision and leadership and the wife would submit gently in a godly way while raising the children. But that’s not our reality, and Thatcher points out that it wasn’t the reality of the Bible either. Using the various actualities and historical contexts he believes the Bible indicates, modern-day misconceptions are challenged and then new alternative responses are shared, which surprisingly, correspond greatly to contemporary society. Current views on virginity, celibacy, marriage and chastity are challenged by studying their historical developments and contextual underpinnings.  How we frame our debates on sexuality today are confronted by his understanding of what sexuality meant to those in the times in which particular scriptures were written. Even lust is described as a potential for virtuous living, if the tight-rope between desiring a greeter union with another in reaction to merely self-serving gratification and leanings toward destructive behaviors, can be walked and navigated. He broadens the discussion on same-sex desire and unions, taking a stance that many evangelicals would find difficult to stomach.  That’s where Andres Marin in Love is an Orientation picks up.  Marin understands not only the possible misinterpretations and contextual sexual issues in the Bible, bit more importantly, he also understands conservative evangelicalism.  His knowledge of how evangelicals think and the beliefs we hold leads him to another path, a new debate.  Instead of focusing on what the five verses that partially speak to the issue of homosexuality mean, he wants the conversation elevated to a new level – one of love and acceptance in Christ, the ability to agree to disagree, aligning our energies instead on love, compassion and unity of the believers. This has been a great position for many evangelicals but not so much for those on a gay affirming side.  But he has his share of critics because of his so called “middle ground.”  In visiting with him he shared that he is disliked by many, both the gay community and the more conservative element of Christianity.  However, his message of reconciliation and common ground needs to be heard.  It’s a first step and entry point for many on this new journey of understanding homosexuality within the bounds of Christianity and one of the few books that would be accepted by the majority of conservative evangelical churches.

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Phil Smart

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