What a book. What a topic. What a world we live in.
It was interesting timing that we were assigned to read this book. I dont mean to be hyperbolic and just shout “wow its worse than ever”, but this is just a few weeks after the final act of the story of the golden Vagina statue made from the melting down of purity rings was published. If you haven’t heard about this story yet, it’s a real doozy.
Huffington Post’s article, Christian author Nadia Bolz-Weber plans to create something beautiful out of the rings once used to pledge abstinence.
We obviously need more teaching on human sexuality but really, we need to know about divine sexuality. What it is that God had in mind when he created it.
I was raised up in a ministry where the leadership was challenged not to own any movie with nudity in it. Braveheart? Can’t do it! I questioned this when I went to Fiji for a missions trip and did ministry alongside a Fijian national pastor whose ministry was constantly surrounded by manifestations of the Holy Spirit and amazing moves of God.
We get back to his house/hut at the end of the night and we begin to relax and share stories. I see in the corner of his hut a modest sized TV and big stack of his collection of DVD’s. All of them pirated versions from the local market, some of which were still in theatres. One of those he owned, 300, a movie I was dying to see in the theatre but was choosing not to because of the few scenes of nudity it was reported containing. Normally a pastor in my setting, would not have owned that movie, and if he did it wouldn’t be out when a bunch of other pastors came over! I think at this moment I started to realize that not every culture is as hypersexualized as American culture. And perhaps, therefore, did not have all the same stumbling blocks because of it. Or maybe he just shouldn’t own that movie because it’s not good for your soul. Ironically this Fijian pastor also threw all of his plastic bottles into the ocean whenever he was done drinking. A weird sight to see when you’re standing in the middle of paradise.
On to our book, Grant changes what the typical dialogue is like when he speaks about sexuality. Grant’s most powerful question he asks, what is the primary text? Our lives, or the Gospel Narrative. What’s important, ourselves or the Kingdom?
The most redeeming part of this book was of course section two, which was masterfully done. Its so easy to shout the problems in the world. The sexual liberation, things are worse than ever, secularism, etc. etc. It’s easy to just say things are bad! Its easy and in fact, everyone already knows that. But Grant also moves forward with real helpful dialogue to bring us closer to solutions. The most helpful chapter for me was chapter 9 getting to the heart of things: redeeming desires and becoming our true selves. I think this resonated with me most because I see it as the reason that people get sexuality wrong. We have fallen short of becoming our true selves. Not true selves as in the self-actualized human 2.0, but the us that God had in mind when he originally created us. I also know that so much of sexual immorality comes from someone’s own wounds. Chapter 9 starts clarifying the problem, “if we worship in the temple of consumerism, then sex is it’s god.” This sets Grant up to also writes about, that humans are creatures of desires but these desires are not superficial. The carnal desire or the materialistic desire is actually a yearning of the heart.
Grant discusses how in a supernatural and also a spiritual discipline can work to create a “gospel-renewed desire”. A discipled sort of life that the Christian can experience fulfillment in living in the daily grace and love of God. Its this sort of living that enables a Christian to live a fulfilling satisfying life in chastity, whether it be chastity in singleness or chastity on marriage. This is an important distinction for the church to remember because too often we have simply tried to teach more instead of relating to the whole person.
“when we try to address discipleship through ideas and beliefs alone, “it’s as if the church is pouring water on our head to put out a fire in our heart.”
The answer is journeying into the divine desire, as Grant points out from Bernard from the medieval era.
We all know we need change. We need change in the culture. Lets start with two areas I have a bit of investment in.
The local church & higher education
What can be done in these two areas?
- Better teaching
By incorporating teachings like this that speak to deeper things more than just try harder. Dealing with wounds (conqueror series is excellent) and helping people understand the deeper level of innate desires is something that will raise the water level for both the local church congregants and those traveling through higher education.
- Less teaching.
And by less teaching I mean more discipling. Remember as Grant says that we can’t extinguish a heart-fire by watering the mind. We need to speak to where the needs really lie. This means less content and more interaction. Less passivity and more engagement. This is of course one of the million-dollar problems when it comes to ministry. If people were able to do this good in regards to any topic, not just sexuality, they would make enormous impacts in the company.
I think that’s a start!
 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. 165.