Our Culture is obsessed with sex and relationships…and rightly so!
The sexual revolution over the last 60 years has brought about remarkable changes in attitudes, opinions and practices, and many of those changes are to be welcomed and championed. But has the revolution gone far enough? Has our culture been left ‘satisfied’ in terms of sex and relationships? I am not sure. Statistics and personal stories seem to say not. I think it can be well-argued that the legacy of the sexual revolution is not the freedom and fulfilment it promised, but isolated individuals and broken communities.
In the beginning
Why is our culture’s obsession with sex & relationships not all bad? Here is why…In the beginning…at the pinnacle of God’s creation, God gave us sex and relationships (Genesis 2.24-25)
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
We were built for relationships of great intimacy (nakedness) and great security (no shame). Sex and relationships are fundamental to what it is to be human. Why? Because we are made in the image of a triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit – so we’re made in the image of the divine relationship of love, security and intimacy.
However, the Bible says that the reason we are still not ‘satisfied’ is because, ultimately, our satisfaction, our joy, our ‘completion’ is to come through our intimacy and security in Jesus, rather than human relationships (though they have their place, too!). This is what the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5.31-33 when speaking about marriage and Genesis 2.24-25,
This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church (Ephesians 5.32)
Paul and Jesus were both single men who never had sex, yet they were complete and fulfilled. Why? Because they found their completion in God and in many human relationships that God had given them.
The Church & The Culture
Historically, the church has not done a very good job in the area of sex and relationships, not least here in Ireland. Firstly, there has not been enough clear teaching on the positive view of sex that the Bible relates; secondly, there has been a great deal of guilt and shame attached to certain sexual practices; and thirdly, there have been some awful scandals, particularly around the clerical sexual abuse of children and the Magdalene Laundries (the last one only closed in 1997). The ramifications of these three failures are still with us today and will remain for many years to come.
Whilst the church in Ireland has been floundering and exposed for what it has offered (or indeed lacked) in the area of sex and relationships, Ireland has gone through a dramatic U-turn over the last 30 years. As one person put it:
Ireland would become the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote. Over one-third of the country’s births would soon be taking place outside of marriage…the old conventions of holy matrimony were collapsing so fast that one opinion columnist (protesting against tax breaks for married couples would ask ‘why should I subsidise other people’s weird lifestyle choices?’*
Note that the ‘weird lifestyle choices’ he refers to is marriage! Our culture has moved in a different direction from traditional Christian beliefs on sex and relationships.
What is the church’s response to all this change? Silence? More hypocrisy, guilt and shame? No, instead we must offer…
A Better Story
The point of this series is to go over what the Bible does say about sex and relationships and see how it is ‘good news’ for our society as it has been for every society. We want to speak clearly, graciously and truthfully from the scripture about what God says about sex and relationships, whilst painting a better story…a story that completes the sexual revolution that our society is aiming to achieve.
Glynn Harrison in his book “A Better Story – God, Sex & Human Flourishing” puts it like this:
It is time for Christians to regain our confidence, time to offer a better story of our own, a story told with conviction and vision…we were so busy building our moral vision around what we were against – impurity, fornication, pornography and the rest – that we forgot to ask what we were actually for.
In this series, we want to show that whilst God has given guardrails and limits on sex and relationships, he does that because he is a good father who wants to protect us and ensure we enjoy His good gifts. Scott Sauls says:
Sex works like fire. On the one hand, fire can warm and purify. On the other hand, if not contained properly and handled with care, it can burn, leave permanent scars, infect and destroy. So it is with sex.**
So, we want to paint a positive picture, a biblical picture, of the freedom and fulfilment that sex can bring, within the ethical guardrails God has given us.
Our 7 Week Series & Open Questions
Here is an outline of the series:
- Oct 7th – Satisfaction in a sex-crazed culture
- Oct 14th – We are not meant to be alone (Friendship)
- Oct 21st – Married and bored?
- Oct 28th – Single and lonely?
- Nov 4th – Counterfeit Sex (Masturbation & Pornography)
- Nov 11th – Weekend Away (no service this week)
- Nov 18th – Sex, Self-image & Identity
- Nov 25th – Gay & Christian? (follow by a Q&A after the service, with the option for anonymous questions, here’s the link – https://pigeonhole.at/251118)
Open Questions – As ever at Christ City Church, we welcome people who may not agree with what the Bible says about sex & relationships. We invite you to have a dialogue with us, so we can learn from you and you from us. Most weeks we go to the pub after our service to continue conversations and the on 25th November we’ll have a Q&A after the service, on any and every question you might have. These can be asked anonymously via text or paper slip. And I hope, even if you disagree with us, you’ll understand why we think God’s view of sex & relationships really is the best story and the true way to experience human flourishing.
All talks will happen during our Sunday Gathering at Synge Street School. Things kick off at 4.15pm each week.
*Quote from the introduction of Glynn Harrison’s book ‘a better story’, and the newspaper articles with the quote from https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/07/i-oppose-tax-breaks-marriage-%E2%80%93-why-should-i-subsidise-other-people%E2%80%99s-weird-lifestyl. Accessed 2 Oct 2018.
**Scott Sauls – Befriended – create belonging in an age of judgement, isolation and fear, page 76, in his chapter ‘befriend sexual minorities’