Let’s talk about sex for a moment.
No, not the kind we always write about in the Christian blogosphere. Let’s talk about the 90% or more of the people who engage in sex with those who have different plumbing.
Question: Does God care about sex?
As good United Methodists, we turn first to Scripture as we seek to find answers to this question. You can do the detailed exegesis. I’ll just note here that the overwhelming answer to the question appears to be yes. From the beginning to the end of the Bible we have Yahweh, the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles speaking about sex. I will note that it is overwhelmingly in terms of prohibition and limitations. Sex is polluting, dangerous, and a gateway to idolatry and all manner of sins. Yes, there are some exceptions that get a lot of mileage — kind of reverse clobber passages. But the Scriptural references to sex appear to be mostly about limitations and boundaries rather than celebration.
My sense is that most of our conversation about sex these days has little to do with theology and a great deal to do with biology, sociology, and economics. Without saying it explicitly, we presume that the biblical view of sex was really just a god-talk cover for concerns about patriarchy, disease, and unwanted pregnancy. In our day, where these concerns are more under our control, we can ignore the biblical witness. That seems prudent only if we believe the biblical witness is just a culturally conditioned artifact that has no bearing on our world.
The traditional Christian teaching has long been that sex should be contained within certain bounds, often articulated as heterosexual marriage. I’m not claiming to be an expert on this, but I struggle to see any argument that honors the place of Scripture in our theology that does not start with a deep-seated suspicion about sex and caution about its power as a dark force in our life.
I know this puts me at odds with American popular culture. What I can’t figure out is how to avoid that conflict without undermining Scripture’s role in our theology.