Sunday, September 16, 2018

Beauty & the Christian Sexual Ethic: Week Two

* Notes from a class taught at Redemption Church (Peoria).
**Additional resources for this class are found HERE.


1.     Quick review

a.     Sexuality and our worldview

“When we make sexual decisions, we are not just deciding whether to follow a few rules.  We are expressing our view of the cosmos and human nature.”[1]

b.     What the class is about

·      Can’t cover everything!  Starting a conversation!

c.      How we want to think and speak à Show forth God’s love & holiness simultaneously (Francis Schaeffer)

d.     Why the issues of sexuality are important

                                               i.     Constant New Testament issue

                                              ii.     People leave the faith over these issues

                                            iii.     Rich theological setting of Christian sexual ethics

e.     Detailed look at 1 Corinthians 6.12-20

                                               i.     Importance of the body: word “body” à 8 x’s

                                              ii.     Trinity interacts with our bodies

                                            iii.     Gospel message engages our bodies

1.     Cross à bought by the blood (Past)

2.     Spirit à indwelt by the Spirit (Present)

3.     Resurrection à raised up (Future)

2.     What I want to do today à a number of things! (3 different roller coasters!)

a.     Set Christian sexuality in the broad framework of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration with a quick look at Genesis 1 & 2

b.     Explain a philosophical concept from Nancy Pearcey regarding the body/mind split and why this is relevant

c.      Look briefly at what is known as the “hookup culture” as a specific example of Pearcey’s thought

                                               i.     Hookup culture: tragedy

                                              ii.     Christian view: beautiful in comparison

3.     Christian Worldview: Creation, Fall Redemption, Restoration

a.     Creation à the body matters!

                                               i.     Good à Genesis 1

                                              ii.     Has a natural teleology à Pearcey Love Thy Body page 23

“The implication is that the physical structure of our bodies reveals clues to our personal identity.  The way our bodies function provides rational grounds for our moral decisions.  That’s why, as we shall see, a Christian ethic always takes into account the facts of biology, whether addressing abortion (the scientific facts about when life begins) or sexuality (the facts about sexual differentiation and reproduction).  A Christian ethic respects the teleology of nature and the body.”[2]

b.     Fall

                                               i.     Affects everything!

                                              ii.     Cannot simply look at what is now broken because of the Fall and claim that it is good

                                            iii.     Four-fold separation

1.     God
2.     Others
3.     Ourselves à important for issues of homosexuality and transgenderism
4.     Earth/created order

                                            iv.     “To understand the breadth of salvation, we must realize that all is abnormal now.  It is not what originally was, and it is not what it was meant to be.  The abnormalities touch all of life.

“First, we individually have been separated from God by our moral guilt.

“Secondly, we individually are each one separated from ourselves.  The most striking part of this is our coming physical death when the body will be separated from our spiritual portion.  But also in the present we are each one separated from ourselves psychologically.  Each of us is to some extent ‘schizophrenic.’  There are degrees, but this present psychological separation is true of each of us.

“Beyond ourselves individually, each person is separated from others.  We can think of (and feel) all the personal and sociological separations that exist between all people.  This is true in the terrible cruelty to refugees, but it is also true in the separation between the closest of families and friends.

“And Man is separated from nature.  And also nature is not at peace with nature.

“In short, abnormality stretches out on every side… This is not just a theological statement to be maintained as theology; rather, we are to understand this all-reaching abnormality and live in the comprehension of what the present situation truly is.”[3]


c.      Redemption

                                               i.     Picture of Christ and the church à Ephesians 5

                                              ii.     Jesus’ healing ministry à cares for the body

                                            iii.     “Substantial healing” (Francis Schaeffer)

“I want to point out that when we use the word ‘substantial,’ we must recognize two things.  The first thing is that there is the possibility of substantial healing, but the second is that ‘substantial’ does not mean ‘perfect.’”[4]

d.     Restoration

                                               i.     Bodily resurrection à the great hope of Christians

                                              ii.     Resurrection maintains maleness and femaleness for eternity[5]

4.     Gen 1.26-28; 2.15-25

a.     Matthew 19.4-6 à Jesus points to Gen 1 & 2 for marriage

b.     Bodily: we are created as material beings

c.      Gendered: created male and female

d.     Language of “leave” and “cleave” (“be joined”—NASB; “hold fast--ESV)

                                               i.     “The Hebrew word translated ‘cleave,’ ‘dabaq,’ is a very interesting way of describing the sexual embrace, for it brings together two meanings of the same word.  On the one hand, this word means to cling physically to something.  This word is used when a person’s tongues clings to the roof of his or her mouth (Psalm 137:6) or when a man’s hand clings to his sword in battle (2 Samuel 23:10).  On the other hand, this word is used to describe the tight bonds of loyalty and affection.  During a time of intense uncertainty and fear, King David’s army was described as clinging to him (2 Samuel 20:2).  Clearly, this word is describing deep, heartfelt commitments of loyalty and affection that endured through good and bad times.”[6]

                                              ii.     “When Adam and Eve were clinging to each other, this was not a sign and seal of their relationship with God.  However, on a human, interpersonal level, it was a sacramental action signing and sealing a covenantal bond.  Their ‘clinging’ to each other was both the sexual embrace and the bonded relationship symbolized and confirmed by the sexual embrace… Stated differently, more psychologically, sexual intercourse communicates much of the marriage covenant and vow in a nonverbal and symbolic manner.  Because of the way we were created, sex is one of our strongest forms of nonverbal communication; sex is a promise of affection and loyalty, not only to each other but also to the children who may result from the relationship.  The physical union is a sign of a more comprehensive union, including spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of life.”[7]

e.     Ordered toward reproduction

f.      Covenantal: Proverbs 2.17; Malachi 2.14; Ezekiel 16.8

                                               i.     “Thus a covenant is not like a human contract that can be dissolved with little or no sanction.  The covenant of marriage is a union which God himself witnesses and ratifies.”[8]

                                              ii.     “The sanctions following breach of covenant are not merely human but divine.  In marriage a man and a woman make a public agreement (or covenant) to live together in a sexual and social union until death parts them.  To this agreement God stands witness.  He is present when the covenant is made (and this has nothing to do with whether or not there is any ecclesiastical context for the vows, for this is irrelevant).  His presence at all marriages means that he will hold each party accountable to him for the keeping of these vows.  He places the whole weight of divine presence in support of the vows and in judgment on any who threaten or break them.”[9]

5.     NOTE: Philosophical Case for Marriage

a.     Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, and Ryan T. Anderson, “What Is Marriage?” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 34.1 (Winter 2010), 248-287.[10]

b.     Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, and Ryan T. Anderson, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (New York: Encounter Books, 2012).

c.      Ryan T. Anderson, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2015).

6.     Nancy Pearcey’s concept of the modern body/mind split

a.     Biblical view of the human body

                                               i.     Created by God

                                              ii.     Integrated psycho-physical unity à no dichotomy between body and person

“We may summarize our discussion of biblical words used to describe the various aspects of man as follows: man must be understood as a unitary being.  He has a physical side and a mental or spiritual side, but we must not separate these two.  The human person must be understood as an embodied soul or ‘besouled’ body.  He or she must be seen in his or her totality, not as a composite of different ‘parts.’”

“My preference, however, is to speak of man as a psychosomatic unity.  The advantage of this expression is that it does full justice to the two aspects of man, while stressing that unity.”[11]

                                            iii.     Teleological à purpose driven; designed

“The implication is that the physical structure of our bodies reveals clues to our personal identity.  The way our bodies function provides rational grounds for our moral decisions.  That’s why, as we shall see, a Christian ethic always takes into account the facts of biology, whether addressing abortion (the scientific facts about when life begins) or sexuality (the facts about sexual differentiation and reproduction).  A Christian ethic respects the teleology of nature and the body.”[12]

b.     Naturalism and the body

                                               i.     Charles Darwin Origin of Species (1859)

1.     Materialism

2.     Appearance of design is an illusion

3.     Humanity is the result of purposeless forces[13]

                                              ii.     “The next step in the logic is crucial: If nature does not reveal God’s will, then it is a morally neutral realm where humans may impose their will.  There is nothing in nature that humans are morally obligated to respect.  Nature becomes the realm of value-neutral facts, available to serve what values humans may choose.”

                                            iii.     “And because the human body is part of nature, it too is demoted to the level of an amoral mechanism, subject to the will of the autonomous self. If the human body has no intrinsic purpose, built in by God, then all that matters are human purposes.  The body is reduced to a clump of matter—a collection of atoms and molecules, not essentially different from any other chance configuration of matter.  It is raw material to be manipulated and controlled to serve the human agenda, like any other natural resource.”[14]

                                            iv.     Descartes two-story dualism[15]

MIND
A free autonomous self
BODY
A mechanism operating by natural law


                                              v.     “The main reason people today find it difficult to understand biblical sex ethics is that their thinking has been trained by the two-level mindset to sever the natural order from the moral order.  In the academic world, a teleological view of nature as purpose-driven has been ousted by a materialist view that sees nature as devoid of spiritual and moral meaning… As a result, most people no longer ‘hear’ the body’s own message—for example, how the very structure of male-female differentiation speaks of relationship, mutual love, and self-giving.”[16]

                                            vi.     “And if morality is disconnected from nature, then it becomes merely a social construction. It is whatever we decide.  A modernist view of nature leads inevitably to a postmodern view of morality.  Postmodern gender theory grounds your identity not in your biology but in your mind.  You are what you feel.”[17]

                                           vii.     The postmodern body/person divide[18]


AUTONOMOUS SELF
Free to impose its own interpretation on the body
PHYSICAL BODY
Raw material with no intrinsic identity or purpose



7.     What does this have to do with the “hookup” culture?

a.     “What does it mean to say the hookup culture is based on Cartesian dualism?  Most college students have probably never read Descartes.  But they can describe the split mindset perfectly.  In an interview in  Rolling Stone magazine, a student named Naomi said hooking up has made ‘people assume that there are two very distinct elements in a relationship, one emotional and one sexual, and they pretend like there are clean lines between them.’”[19]

b.     The hookup culture: “clean lines between them”

PERSONAL
Mental & emotional relationship
PHYSICAL
Sexual relationship


c.      Voices from the frontlines of the hookup culture[20]

                                               i.     “Hookups are very scripted… You learn to turn everything off except you body and make yourself emotionally invulnerable.”  --Alicia (college student)

                                              ii.     “Sex should stem from emotional intimacy, and it’s the opposite with us right now.”  --Fallon (college student)

                                            iii.     “It’s the body first, personality second.”  --Stephanie (college student)

d.     Hookup culture is a symptom of a cheapen view of sex and the body!

                                               i.     Peter Singer (Princeton ethicist)

“Sex raises no unique moral issues at all.  Decisions about sex may involve considerations of honesty, concern for others, prudence, and so on, but there is nothing special about sex in this respect, for the same could be said of decisions about driving a car.”[21]

                                              ii.     “Some may think sexual hedonism gives sex too much importance, but in reality it gives sex too little importance.  It treats the body as nothing more than a physical organism driven by physical urges.  It treats sex as a strictly physical act isolated from the rich inner life of the whole person.  Thus is deprives sex of its depth by detaching it from its meaning as self-giving between a man and a woman committed to building an entire life together.”[22]

8.     Why talk about the hookup culture?

a.     See in stark relief the degradation of a non-biblical view of sexuality

b.     Contrasts the key philosophical and theological ideas

c.      Hopefully highlights the beauty of the sexual ethic

9.     The hookup culture: not simply for shock value

a.     Need to see people as both “sinners” and “sinned against”

b.     The New Testament sees people as both responsible agents (“sinners”) as well as caught in the bondage of sin and the dominion of Satan (Acts 26.18).

                                               i.     Ephesians 2.1-3

                                              ii.     Ephesians 4.17-19

                                            iii.     2 Timothy 2.25-26

c.      “We have been addressing people only as sinners.  Surely they are sinners, all of them—all of us.  But we have forgotten the sinned-against, those who are victims of the sins of others.”

“I am prepared o make a bold suggestion: that compassion for people is possible only when we perceive people as the sinned-against.  If we look at people as sinners (as distinct from the sinned-against), we have concern for them, affection or pity, but not compassion, i.e. suffering together with another, fellow-feeling, sympathy.  Many of the evangelistic activities of today have little perception of people as the sinned-against.  Many are thus void of  compassion.  We must recover compassion in our evangelism.”[23]

10. Pulling some thoughts together from week one and today

a.     1 Corinthians 6.12-20: theological importance of the physical body

b.     Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration: importance of the physical body

c.      Implications for our view of the body that flow from a biblical worldview and from a naturalistic worldview.

d.     What we find: in all the areas of non-biblical sexuality that we will examine there is a denigrating view of the body.

                                               i.     Just a “wet machine” or “juicy robot”[24]

                                              ii.     The body does not provide us direction for its teleology/purpose.

“The implication is that the physical structure of our bodies reveals clues to our personal identity.  The way our bodies function provides rational grounds for our moral decisions.  That’s why, as we shall see, a Christian ethic always takes into account the facts of biology, whether addressing abortion (the scientific facts about when life begins) or sexuality (the facts about sexual differentiation and reproduction).  A Christian ethic respects the teleology of nature and the body.”[25]



     [1] Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 156.
     [2] Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 23.
     [3] Francis A. Schaeffer, True Spirituality (1971) in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview Volume 3 (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1982), 373-374.
     [4] Francis A. Schaeffer, True Spirituality (1971) in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview Volume 3 (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1982), 327.
     [5] The scriptural and theological justification for this statement will be given in the notes on Transgenderism.
     [6] Thomas K. Johnson, What Makes Sex So Special? MBS-Texte 132 (Berlin: Martin Bucer Seminar, 2009), 6—online: https://theoblog.de/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Ethics-of-sex.pdf.
     [7] Thomas K. Johnson, What Makes Sex So Special? MBS-Texte 132 (Berlin: Martin Bucer Seminar, 2009), 7.
     [8] Denny Burk, What Is the Meaning of Sex? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2013), 93.
     [9] Christopher Ash Marriage: Sex in the Service of God (Vancouver, Bristish Columbia: Regent College Publishing, 2003),342-343 as quoted in Denny Burk, What Is the Meaning of Sex? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2013), 93-94.
     [11] Anthony A. Hoekema, Created in God’s Image (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1986), 216, 217.
     [12] Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 23.
     [13] Nancy Pearcey quotes historian Jacques Barzun, “This denial of purpose is Darwin’s distinctive contention.”  She also quotes Zoologist Richard Dawkins, “Natural selection, the blind, unconscious automatic process which Darwin discovered… has no purpose in mind.” Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 24.  For a more extensive list of modern thinkers arguing the same point of purposelessness see my blog post “Quotations on the Meaning of Life” White Rose Review (October 22, 2016)—online: https://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/2016/10/quotations-on-meaning-of-life.html.
     [14] Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 24.
     [15] Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 50.  It is not appropriate to blame Descartes for how later philosophers described his views (i.e., “ghost in the machine”).  Descartes may have had a notion of the unity of the mind and body that is more robust than is normally recognized.  “For Descartes, to refer to the soul is simply to refer to the self. I am my soul. Or, to put it differently, the term ‘soul’ refers to what I am speaking of when I use the term ‘I.’ For Descartes, a person has a body, and indeed has a particularly intimate relation with that body. He says, for example, that the soul does not simply reside in the body ‘as a pilot resides in a ship,’ but rather forms a kind of natural unity with it.” C. Stephen Evans and Brandon L. Rickabaugh, “What Does It Mean to Be a Bodily Soul?” Philosophia Christi 17.2 (2005), 323.
     [16] Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 162.
     [17] Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 163.
     [18] Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 165.
     [19] Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 118.
     [20] Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 119.
     [21] Quoted in Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 121.
     [22] Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 121.
     [23] Raymond Fung as quoted in Mortimer Arias, Announcing the Reign of God: Evangelization and the Subversive Memory of Jesus (Philadelphia, Penn.: Fortress, 1984), 79-80.
     [24] Language quoted in Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 122.
     [25] Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2018), 23.