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

Sexual Theology

Written by: on April 4, 2018

http://www.truthfollower.com/2015/08/woman-is-gods-finest-and-beautiful.html

 

Author Adrian Thatcher wrote his book, God, Sex, and Gender: An Introduction, for three reasons. They are:

1. “To introduce students and general readers to the exhilaration of thinking theologically about sex, sexuality, sexual relationships, and gender roles.

2. To introduce students and general readers to a comprehensive and consistent theological understanding of sexuality and gender, which is broad, contemporary, undogmatic, questioning, inclusive, and relevant to readers’ interests, needs, and experience.

3. To offer to university and college lecturers a comprehensive core text that will provide them with an indispensable basis for undergraduate and postgraduate courses and modules in and around the topics of Theology, Sexuality, and Gender.” (xi)

As a professor of theology, he knew these issues were not being addressed in the church. He divided the book into five parts:

Part I, “Sex, Gender, and Theology”, an introductory beginning with an understanding of the construction of sex, sexuality, and                                                        gender in biblical times and in late-modern Western societies, and to discover how some of the churches and some theologians                                                        identify and use theological sources for thinking about them.

Part II, “Being Theological about Sex,” address Desire, and Marriage. Distinguishing between different forms of desire, and links                                                      sexual desire with desire for God. Questioning whether marriage must remain the framework within Christian thought for thinking                                                about and having sex.

Part III, “Being Theological about Gender,” – A crucial issue of whether the God of Christian faith is to be thought of as masculine,                                                    and if so, whether the male sex images God in a way the female sex does not.

Part IV, “Being Theological about Same-Sex Love,” closely examines passages in the Bible which have been used to condemn all                                                        same-sex contact, and concludes, perhaps controversially, that these passages can no longer be used in this way.

Part V, “Learning to Love,” develops an inclusive theology of sexual love informed by the gender awareness that a contemporary                                                      faith can provide; develops theological understandings of virginity, chastity, and celibacy that may be embraced in the twenty-first                                                  century. The final chapter draws together the theology of the previous chapters and briefly applies it to sexual minorities, and to the                                                further transformation of relations of gender. (xi)

There are many aspects to this book that would have been best discussed in its own book. Thatcher addressed some issues I remember that surface in past years. For example, Is God a woman or man? According to Thatcher, God is much more than a sexual identity. The image of God is in both women and men. He goes a step further to say that “the suprasexual God may be found in the meaning of sexual love, while never being completely identified with it.” (117-119) Thatchers approached a view that homosexuality as a sin may have been misconstrued by Christians using Jesus’ affection towards his disciples. “For example, those which describe the relationship between Jesus and someone called ‘the beloved disciple’? Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. (John 13:23, Authorized Version) Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? (John 21:20, Authorized Version)” (169-170) This scripture does not represent nor support a sexual relationship between same sex. Jesus and the disciples were more than friends they were family. The disciples were in fear for Jesus since he announced that one of them would betray him. They were celebrating the Passover and relaxing, I am offended by his suggestion.

In reviewing the book, it is a book of conversation. It touches on sensitive issues personally, community, spiritually, and the world. He wrote this book as a tool to teach students, but I would hope that these students are wise enough to study other sources themselves to balance his views with the truth. I am not sure it would be one that would be received in the church community in Sunday School but it would encourage one to study the Word.  Thatcher being a professor of recognition words would be influential to a young person still growing in wisdom.

Thatcher address lust in relationship to the “stimulation of desire.” (62) “Lust is not just sexual but could be whatever you desire after for personal satisfaction. He says that lust is wanting what we don’t need.” (62) My lust for food has been with me as a child. Our relationship has seen and experienced the world changes. Food is a necessity but certain types of food continue to invade my healthy choices.  Maybe he should address how one can control our weaknesses to lust. He addresses “desire as a lack” (63) He provides his support using Plato and Socrates. He says, “Plato establishes three logical points: love always has a direct object, we must presently lack the objects of our desire, and love is divine.” (63). I”m not a student of Plato but I agree with those points. There is a “desire as a union. It does not an artist with a determination to possess what we lack but we are drawn to them.” (66)  “Desiring of God”- we should lust after a relationship with God. (67) I desire to have a better relationship with God daily. His compassion, faithfulness, and love it is more than any human you will ever know.

I agree with Andrew Marin, author of Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community. [1] We need to as a Christian community to have a true and honest conversation about the love of Jesus and his love for the people. Church leaders need to address their fears and the fears of their sheep so that we can lead them the way Jesus led us. Our desire to be Christlike should be our greatest lust.

 

[1]Andrew Marin, Love Is An Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, April 2009.

About the Author

Lynda Gittens

6 responses to “Sexual Theology”

  1. mm Jennifer Dean-Hill says:

    Wow, what a closing line: “Our desire to be Christlike should be our greatest lust.” So good. It reminds me of how God is jealous for us and wants us to be jealous for Him.
    Well summarized in describing the book as a book of conversations. Although, they were more like one-sided conversations. It would have been interesting to hear the other side of the conversations. It felt a bit like I was reading one big monologue, and I found my attention wavering. Let’s do our own dialogue. Anything you would add to the read?

  2. Jim Sabella says:

    Excellent post, Lynda. In the context of Thatcher’s purpose for writing this book to teach students, you state: “I would hope that these students are wise enough to study other sources themselves…” This is an excellent point and good advice for all of us. I agree with Jenn, let’s do our own dialogue! Should be interesting. Thank you, Lynda.

  3. Mary says:

    Lynda, some great connections made there between recent history (is God male or female or neither?), Bible (there were many strong friendships between men, but I agree with you – nothing sexual implied), and even philosophy – Plato’s definition of love. I was squeamish about the word “lust” but maybe I’m just a dinosaur like Jim.
    Your point is well taken – our desire to be like Christ should be our greatest lust.

  4. Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

    Lynda yes our desire to be Christlike should be our greatest lust! In doing so, we should not avoid or repel the power of transformation that come with experience. It should not be the case of separation by community. If we are all God’s children pursuing Christ then we are one community. We need to roll up our sleeves and deal with the messiness and complexity of life together. In doing so, we allow the Holy Spirit to work cooperatively in and through us! ?

  5. Lynda,
    Thanks for the thorough review… as always!

    I think you summed it up well, ‘I agree with Andrew Marin, author of Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community. [1] We need to as a Christian community to have a true and honest conversation about the love of Jesus and his love for the people. Church leaders need to address their fears and the fears of their sheep so that we can lead them the way Jesus led us. Our desire to be Christlike should be our greatest lust.’

    We need to move past our fears and seek out true, honest conversations and relationships.

    Thanks

  6. Kristin Hamilton says:

    Lynda, I agree that this book is probably not best used in the Sunday School classroom, but I do think it needs to be used at the undergrad and graduate level in colleges. These are the topics we tend to avoid in theology but they are the topics being addressed everywhere else so we need to engage the conversation. There are so many books that offer opposing views of almost everything Thatcher says, that it shouldn’t be too hard for a prof to offer a balanced set of ideas!

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