Sunday, October 7, 2018

Beauty & the Christian Sexual Ethic: Week Five

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

1.     Key themes that connect the past few weeks

a.     Christian sexual ethics is dependent on the whole Christian worldview with all of its theological resources

b.     Crucial importance of the body for Christian thinking/theology

c.      1 Corinthians 6.12-20: Paul’s example of engaging the topic of sexual ethics in the body of the Christ with the full resources of the gospel

2.     Christianity as pro-body (again, see Nancy Pearcey’s book Love Thy Body)

a.     Honors the design and teleology of the body

b.     Applied this insight to issues of: hookup culture, homosexuality, and Transgenderism

3.     Today: finish up with some final thoughts and Questions & Answers

4.     March 16, 2018 à heard Sam Allberry speak on “Is God Anti-Gay?”

a.     He tells the story of meeting a self-identified gay man who in the course of talking to Allberry asked, “Why should I give up my relationship to follow Jesus?  What do I get?”

·      Q: What would you say to such a person?

b.     Mark 10.28-30

28Peter began to say to him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed you.”  29Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for my sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30but that he will receive a hundred times a much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.”

                                               i.     Costly things left behind

1.     Possessions: house, farms

2.     Relationships

                                              ii.     Age to come: “eternal life”

                                            iii.     Now: “a hundred times as much now in the present age”

                                            iv.     Jesus is promising that we will receive more in this life than we ever give up

1.     “Those who have left the things described in 10:29 are promised all these a hundredfold in the fellowship of the church (10:30).  The gaining of a new family (brothers, sisters, mothers [cf. Rom. 16:13], children [cf. Philem. 10]), and hospitality (houses and lands) already now in the present age/time is a foretaste of the greater family in the age to come.”[1]

2.     We get persecutions too!

                                              v.     Jesus is promising family

                                            vi.     It is never a bad deal to follow Jesus!

c.      Allberry’s insight: This is an interesting promise

                                               i.     It requires the church’s obedience to fulfill it!

                                              ii.     We as the people of God, the church are the brothers, sisters, mothers, and children!

1.     Romans 16.13 “Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.”

2.     Philemon 10 “I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment.”

d.     Allberry’s challenge: Do our churches provide more relationship and love than those communities outside the church (i.e., the LGBT community)?

·      What about our Redemption Communities?

5.     Question: Are some sins worse than others?  Are all sins the same?

a.     Important essay to answer this question: "Is Homosexual Practice No Worse Than Any Other Sin?" by Robert Gagnon[2]

b.     Two views

                                               i.     Egalitarian view of sin: all sins are equal

                                              ii.     Hierarchical view of sins: not all sins are equal; some are worse than others

c.      Apostle Paul believed both (1) that some sins are worse than others and (2) that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23)

“The fact that all sin is equal in one respect—any sin can disqualify one from the kingdom of God if one doesn’t receive Christ—does not infer that all sin is equal in all respects—some sins provoke God to bring judgment upon his people more than others.”[3]

d.     Logic, experience, and the Great Christian Tradition

                                               i.     Husband sins against his wife

1.     Lies about spending $50.00 rather than $25.00 on a new watch

2.     Commits adultery against her with five different women

                                              ii.     Parent sins against child

1.     Scolds a child a little more than is necessary for the offense

2.     Rapes the child

                                            iii.     Westminster Larger Catechism (1647)

1.     Answer 150: “All transgressions of the law of God are not equally heinous; but some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.”

2.     Question 151: “What are those aggravations that make some sins more heinous than others?”

“Answer: Sins receive their aggravations,
(1)From the persons offending: if they be of riper age, greater experience or grace, eminent for profession, gifts, place, office, guides to others, and whose example is likely to be followed by others.
(2) From the parties offended: if immediately against God, his attributes, and worship; against Christ, and his grace; the Holy Spirit, his witness, and workings; against superiors, men of eminency, and such as we stand especially related and engaged unto; against any of the saints, particularly weak brethren, the souls of them, or any other, and the common good of all or many.
(3) From the nature and quality of the offense: if it be against the express letter of the law, break many commandments, contain in it many sins: if not only conceived in the heart, but breaks forth in words and actions, scandalize others, and admit of no reparation: if against means, mercies, judgments, light of nature, conviction of conscience, public or private admonition, censures of the church, civil punishments; and our prayers, purposes, promises, vows, covenants, and engagements to God or men: if done deliberately, wilfully, presumptuously, impudently, boastingly, maliciously, frequently, obstinately, with delight, continuance, or relapsing after repentance.
(4)From circumstances of time and place: if on the Lord's day, or other times of divine worship; or immediately before or after these, or other helps to prevent or remedy such miscarriages: if in public, or in the presence of others, who are thereby likely to be provoked or defiled.”

e.     A sampling of the Scripture to show the hierarchical view of sin:

                                               i.     Golden Calf episode: Exodus 32.30 “You have sinned a great sin”

                                              ii.     Numbers 15.30: sins down with a “high hand” (cf. 15.22, 24, 27, 29)

                                            iii.     Ezekiel 8—“You will see greater abominations” (8.6, 13, 15 cf. 8.17)

                                            iv.     Matthew 11.20-24—greater condemnation on some cities for their refusal to acknowledge Jesus.  Verse 24 “Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you [Chorazin and Bethsaida].”

                                              v.     Matthew 23.23: Jesus referred to “the weightier matters of the law”

                                            vi.     Two greatest commandments presuppose a hierarchy (Mark 12.28-31)

                                           vii.     Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3.28-30)

                                         viii.     John 19.11 to Pilate—“the one who handed me over to you has greater sin”

                                            ix.     Paul and different grades of sin in 1 Corinthians 3.10-17

                                              x.     1 John 5.16-17—sin that does not lead straight to death vs. a sin that does lead straight to death

f.      “The Bible is clear and consistent on these four points:

                                               i.     Some commands of God are weightier and greater and more foundational than other commands.

                                              ii.     Some violations are therefore greater than other violations.

                                            iii.     Violations of greater commands are strong indications of a sick soul and of a life that either has never been led by the Spirit or is now turning away from being led by the Spirit.

                                            iv.     Only those who are led by the Spirit and walk in the light participate in the atoning work of the cross.  As 1 John 1:7 says: ‘If we are walking in the light as he himself is in the light we have partnership with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.’  The text doesn’t say: If you believed in Jesus at one point in your life, the blood of Christ will cleanse you from all sin no matter how you behave.  It says: ‘if we are walking in the light… the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.’  There is no sin-transfer to Christ apart from self-transfer; no living without dying; so saving of one’s life without losing it.”[4]

6.     Question: What about intersex conditions?

a.     Disorders of Sexual Development (DSD) à chromosomal and hormonal defects

b.     Normal development

                                               i.     XX = female; XY =male

                                              ii.     Presence of Y determines maleness; absence =femaleness

                                            iii.     Y chromosome has the SRY gene: Sex-determining Region on Y

                                            iv.     SRY has TDF à Testis-determining factor

                                              v.     TDF directs the formation of male gonads

                                            vi.     Week 1-6: the indifferent state of sexual development

·      indifferent gonads can develop male or female

                                           vii.     Week 7: presence of Y chromosome with SRY and TDF initiates formation of testicular differentiation; if there is no SRY then the indifferent gonads develop into ovaries

                                         viii.     XY à Testes à Testosterone à masculinizes the body and contributes to development of male characteristics

c.      Disorders of Sexual Development

                                               i.     Klinefelter Syndrome: extra X’s (XXY, XXXY, XXXXY, XXYY)

1.     Develop as males but with potentially very small external reproductive organs and, maybe, some feminine characteristics (i.e., enlarged breasts)

2.     “It should be noted that the Klinefelter’s Syndrome Association states that Klinefelter’s Syndrome is not an intersex condition.  They believe that people with this condition are unequivocally male.”[5]

                                              ii.     Turner Syndrome: missing an X (X or XO) à develop as female

                                            iii.     XY DSD à develop female characteristics

1.     No SRY or mutation in SRY à testes never form and the body does not masculinize; develop as female but infertile

2.     SRY but CAIS: Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome

·      Mutation in androgen receptor protein so it cannot be influenced by testosterone

·      Even though XY, develops ad female but with internal testes and no uterus

                                            iv.     XX DSD à develop male characteristics

1.     Paternal X has SRY due to being translocated from Y in “meiotic crossover”

2.     Develop as males but infertile

                                              v.     Some XX DSD develop as female but also with male genitalia

                                            vi.     Some XX DSD have CAH: Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

1.     Not normal cortisol which leads to an overproduction of Androgen

2.     External = male genitalia; Interior = female

d.     Disorders due to a fallen world but do not overturn God’s creational intent

e.     Matthew 19.11-12: Eunuchs

                                               i.     “John Nolland says that ‘eunuchs who were born that way’ refers to ‘children [who] were occasionally born with defective genitals and subsequently would fail to develop male secondary characteristics as they grew up.’  In other words, Jesus describes a group of people that seem to have similar characteristics to what we would identify today as intersex.”[6]

                                              ii.     “A eunuch in Jesus’ day was not someone who was sexless but someone who lacked the ability to procreate.  Indeed, those who are made eunuchs by men are not sexless.  They are castrated males.  Those who make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom are not sexless.  They are males who have voluntarily set aside the possibility of marriage and thus of procreation.  Likewise, those who are born eunuchs are not sexless.  They are biological males who for whatever reason are born without the capacity to procreate.  They don’t stop being males because of a disorder of sex development.  The point is that all three categories of eunuchs are viewed as males, not as ambiguously sexed.  The result is that the text still relies on a binary conception of sex even when talking about eunuchs.”[7]

7.     Questions about “gay gene” or “being born gay.”


b.     Even if there is a genetic component this only provides part of the explanation of the behavior but does provide moral justification

“We could easily apply the ‘just that way’ defense to a number of social problems that may involve deeply ingrained (even biological) causes—violence, substance abuse, racism, schizophrenia, pedophilia—but we do not, because we recognize that an explanation for the behavior is not a justification for the behavior.”[8]



     [1] Robert H. Stein, Mark—BECNT (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2008), 474.
     [2] Robert Gagnon, “Is Homosexual Practice No Worse Than Any Other Sin?” (January 7, 2015)—online: http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homosexAreAllSinsEqual.pdf.
     [3] Robert Gagnon, “Is Homosexual Practice No Worse Than Any Other Sin?” (January 7, 2015), 3.
     [4] Robert Gagnon, “Is Homosexual Practice No Worse Than Any Other Sin?” (January 7, 2015), 11.
     [5] Denny Burk, What Is the Meaning of Sex? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2013), 174.
     [6] Denny Burk, What Is the Meaning of Sex? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2013), 177.
     [7] Denny Burk, What Is the Meaning of Sex? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2013), 177-178.
     [8] Thomas E. Schmidt, Straight and Narrow? Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 1995), 133.