Why We Have to Rethink Sexuality
by Dr. Juli Slattery
Christians have a long history of avoiding and mishandling topics of sexuality. For generations, we simply didn’t talk about things such as sexual addiction, sexual abuse, sexual dysfunction, or even sexual pleasure in marriage. People were left to navigate this terrain on their own or seek help from modern psychology.
When the church has addressed these questions, it’s too often been with a judgmental, condemning tone. The focus has been on compelling teenagers to stay virgins and exposing the many ways sexuality translates into sin. Because we tend to address sexuality with this problem-solving approach, we divide people into categories of virgins and sinners, sexually whole and sexually broken. If you found yourself in the wrong category, church was the last place you wanted to seek help.
In today’s world, we are unable to ignore the sexual pain and questions around us. And let’s be honest: the culture seems to be a more compelling and consistent guide than the church. Ask Christians their views on issues such as sexual orientation, cohabitation, sexual healing, and masturbation, and you will likely get confused stares or conflicting statements of what the Bible actually says. The world is watching and laughing as Christians who worship the same God and read the same Bible can’t agree on God’s intention for sexuality. We can’t guide others if we ourselves are lost.
Although sexuality presents an enormous challenge to Christians and to the world at large, it is not a problem to be solved but a territory to be reclaimed. The culture has captured the conversation of sexuality with a persuasive narrative, while Christians seem stifled with an outdated list of sexual dos and don’ts. We will never combat the growing confusion and pain of sexuality by swatting at the issues of pornography, premarital sex, same-sex attraction, sex trafficking, sexual harassment in the workplace, and abuse. Each of these problems is a devastating by-product of a larger tragedy: we don’t understand sexuality within the context of the Christian narrative and the call to follow Jesus. As a result, Christian leaders and parents are at a loss as to how to navigate the growing chorus of sexual pain and chaos.
Respected author and Christian leader Philip Yancey stated, “I know of no greater failure among Christians than in presenting a persuasive approach to sexuality.” We worship a God who created sex for a purpose and has communicated His design both in creation and through His Word. The Bible tells us that we have everything we need to live a life of godliness through Christ Jesus. I believe that includes our sexuality. However, God’s truth won’t make a difference in this area of our lives unless we change our approach and begin reclaiming the lost territory of sexuality.
Excerpted from Rethinking Sexuality by Dr. Juli Slattery Copyright © 2018 by Juli Slattery. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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