DMINLGP

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

Standing Firm Together

Written by: on March 6, 2019

Johnathan Grant’s Divine Sex offers solutions to the problem and challenges of contemporary sexual relationships from a Biblical focus within a holistic context of what he calls the “Christian vision of sexuality.”[1] This post will examine how sexual temptation, personal freedom, and immorality contributes to the underlying theme of spiritual warfare and see if there are any positive intersections between standing firm, wearing the armor of God, and preserving one’s sexual identity in Christ.

Human temptation, Biblically speaking, traces back to the Garden of Eden when Satan, as a serpent, approached Eve about eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.[2] When Adam and Eve surrendered to temptation, ate the fruit, they immediately knew they were naked. Their Satanically transferred lust to be like God, gain His knowledge of good and evil, regrettably blew the door wide open for the carnal effects and destructive influences from sexual temptation.  Grant posits the current state of Christian sexuality as a confusing viewpoint that resides between an “aesthetic vision” and the act of “sacrificial self-denial.”[3] Many Christians, to abstain from “the sufferings of this present time,” practice abstinence as the only safe alternative to resist what Grant describes as a “disordered sexuality.”[4] Grant warns that abstinence may turn into a type of self-induced legalism that “does violence to our fundamental identity and Godlikeness.”[5] I agree and see this as a good example of a spiritual warfare scheme where Satan influences a Biblical concept like abstinence, moving it to a legalistic extreme, which perverts the practice, destroys Christian sexual identity, and disrupts the incarnational witness of Christ.

Personal freedom, the God given permissions and abilities to make choices freely without His divine intervention, is often described as a God-given right. The adage “Freedom is not free” currently infers that we enjoy and benefit from the lives lost and blood spent to defend those freedoms. I get that notion because I served with those who gave their lives in both foreign wars and domestic peace-keeping; yes, freedom is not free. Speaking of spiritual wars, I believe Satan has successfully weaponized sex and uses it to divide, dismantle, and destroy relationships and family units who originally began their sexual relationships in a God honoring format. Why is he so successful? How many times have you heard that little voice, like the cartoon depicted devil on your shoulder, whispering into your ear that you have the freedom to make your own choice and engage in sexual practices outside of the Christian vision without any regard for “moral constraints or limitations.” [6] Is there any hope for Christians to have a healthy and happy sexual identity? Lau, a GFU graduate, believes there is hope and says that Grant offers a successful response to the temptations of sexual freedom because he bases his Christian vision from a theological framework that is grounded in the “nature of God that gives definition, purpose, scope, and meaning to sexuality and relationships.”[7]

“Our immorality reins.” That is not the lyrics to a Christian worship song, but when you think about it, within the context of this book and the overriding influence and impact of uncensored, unchecked, and unharnessed sexuality in the world, I think I make the point. Grant calls it a “dysfunction in sexual relationships,” which is a softer way of describing sexual immorality. The author uses a lot of Paul’s theology in his narrative and I support his use of Paul’s directive to “flee from sexual immorality” because this type of sin hurts the body, and therefore influences the personal house or spiritual temple of the Holy Spirit.[8] I wish he would have expounded a little more on the principle that as Christians, we do not have the right to our bodies, which were bought by Christ because of His saving work, crucifixion and resurrection, from his atoning death on the cross. I think the body as temple idea rubs most Christians, but Paul is right, once saved we give up the right to intentionally violate the temple of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, God still allows us our freewill decisions, but they come with a cost. Sex is not free. Christ paid the cost of our fallen nature, our Adamic sin nature, and as the only scapegoat capable of bearing the sins of God’s creation, we owe Him our souls, love, obedience, faith, and yes, our bodies.  The only way to survive this requirement, to preserve the holiness of our bodies for the Holy Spirit, is to again follow Paul’s directive to stand firm and put on the whole armor of God. As I see it, standing firm together and wearing Christ as our metaphorical armor is the only sure way to resist temptation, protect our spiritual freedoms, and overcome immorality.

In summary, this is mostly a conservative Protestant approach, modernized to our present times, that leverages a lot of Charles Taylor’s Secular Age and Modern Social Imaginaries and Stanley Grenz’s Sexual Ethics: An Evangelical Perspective.[9] Personally, I support Grant’s work and believe it is Biblically appropriate and theologically solid with lots of Biblical citations and scholarly sources from respected conservative authors. On a personal note, I was surprised by Grant’s approach to singleness and how he called it a vocation with an “equal status with marriage.”[10] Why? We have a 40-year-old daughter that we have been praying to find a husband. After reflecting on Grant’s position on how both Christ and His Apostle Paul give singleness a Biblically important and meaningful option for ministry and service, I had an “ah hah” moment. I think I had a limited view on singleness that is now expanded and more theologically correct. I think I will need to confess and share my enlightened position with my single daughter. PTL! Overall, great book for some hard times with sexual identity.

Stand firm,

M. Webb

[1] Jonathan Grant. Divine Sex. (Ada, MI: Brazos Press, 2015) 126.
[2] Gen. 2:16 Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, Gen. 3:1 “Did God say” resulting in the fall of humankind.
[3] Grant, Divine Sex, 127.
[4] Rom. 8:18 and Divine Sex, 148.
[5] Grant, Divine Sex, 184.
[6] Brad Lau. “Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age.” Christian Scholar’s Review, vol. 46, no. 2, 2017, p. 190.
[7] Ibid.
[8] 1 Cor. 6:18-20.
[9] Dustin Resch. “Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age.” Anglican Theological Review, vol. 98, no. 2, 2016, p. 408.
[10] Grant, Divine Sex, 146.

About the Author

mm

Mike

8 responses to “Standing Firm Together”

  1. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Mike!

    Our denomination is talking through significant issues. We have come to the same ah-hah moment you did. Your words: “After reflecting on Grant’s position on how both Christ and His Apostle Paul give singleness a Biblically important and meaningful option for ministry and service, I had an “ah hah” moment.”

    Like you, we have read Paul’s words on singleness, and we have come to understand that we have pushed marriage as the higher calling, and we have marginalized the single, and for that we humbly apologize and seek forgiveness.

    Well written once again, Mike (and very early getting it done 🙂

  2. mm M Webb says:

    Jay,
    Thanks! I agree, singleness is a theologically valid position to serve and minster from.

    Stand firm,

    M. Webb

  3. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Mike,

    That was some great final insight in your post and something I think many in the church need to hear and understand. Some of the pressure that young people feel regarding finding a spouse forces them to make unwise decisions that may bring greater anguish rather than satiate any need for companionship. While Paul’s teaching on singleness may have been a result of his belief that the return of Christ was immanent it still provides sound theology for thinking about singleness in our own time.

    • mm M Webb says:

      Dan,
      Thanks for the review and comments.

      I’ll be discussing this “singleness” calling with my daughter and see what she thinks about it.

      I ran a nefarious young man off over 20 years ago who was 10 years older than her. She still remembers

  4. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Mike,
    I’m so thankful this book touched you in a way that you had an “a ha” moment for singleness. Such an important and spiritual understanding…and hopefully will build a bridge with you and your daughters relationship.
    I feel, like with so many other temptations, immorality in sexuality is certainly running rampant and the evil one is loving it. This is a perfect subject to share how ARMORING UP can help. Thanks Mike!

    • mm M Webb says:

      Jean,
      Thanks for the review and feedback. These are rough and tough times for human kind. While making such awesome advances we are giving up more of our souls, so to speak. While we are reaching the unreached and least reached with creative new tech and communications systems, we are giving up on the ones sitting in our church pews.
      I agree, it is the perfect time for everyone to know Christ personally and begin putting him on daily. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a SciFi movie where I am the only one who sees the faces of the demons and everyone else is going thru life and they look just like normal people to them…..weird huh?

  5. Shawn Hart says:

    Mike, still standing firm in the fight; glad to see it. I have taught regarding the sin in the garden and have always found it interesting that scripture shows Satan approaching Eve when she was alone. Why? The reality was that the best way to use Eve was as a temptation to Adam; after all, how do you persuade a man that is walking with God daily? You find the one thing he is most tempted by…WOMAN! The fact of this predicament has not changed since the garden; Satan has always known that “sex sells.”

  6. mm M Webb says:

    Shawn,
    Thanks for your review and comments. Was Satan a sexist too? Of course…

    Keep the armor on, especially when you are feeling comfortable. That is when he likes to hit you, when your guard is down; like after a good sermon or a spiritual high when there might just be a hint of personal pride and arrogance lingering in the midst.

    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *