01 November 2010

Jesus and Sex and Justice - Part 2

Source: greenberg-art.com
And this you do as well: You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor at your hand. You ask, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was a witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did not one God make her? Both flesh and spirit are his. And what does the one God desire? Godly offspring. So look to yourselves, and do not let anyone be faithless to the wife of his youth. For I hate divorce, says the LORD, the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.  Malachi 2:13-16

In light of all this, the author of the original statement may respond, “Yes, I see that Jesus is concerned about who our sexual partners are, but I didn’t deny that. I merely assert that Jesus is much more concerned for matters of justice than for who our sexual partners are.” Again, there would be many Christians who would agree with this assertion.

So, back to the original question that those who act out of a deep concern about family values and sexuality issues neglect the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. Those Christians who follow Jesus under the banner of “social justice” certainly accuse many of their conservative, evangelical, family-oriented brethren of exactly that.

But as one carefully considers the basic meanings of justice and of sexuality quickly discover that these two ideas are not mutually exclusive but symbiotic. What is justice? Justice is the integrity in the dealings of people with each other. As with all important issues in our Creator’s world, justice is about the quality of our relationships. Are our dealings with each other fair? Are our transactions just?

What is sexuality? Sexuality is how we relate to one another as men and women. Sexual integrity denotes a justice and kindness between one another as men and women. Do we value and serve one another as men and women?

We learn about the origins of sexuality as we read about when God created the world. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Christians uniquely understand God to be three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Because these three persons have a perfect relationship in mutual submission to one another, they are one God. Apparently, humans are uniquely created to share in this kind of relationship through God’s institution of marriage between a husband and wife, “and the two shall become one flesh”. When a husband and a wife have perfect, mutual submission with one another, we can better understand the blessed Trinitarian relationship.

Conversely, when our sexual relationships are taken out of God’s design, our created lives go pear-shaped. We stop looking to serve the other, but look to take pleasure as long as the other can provide it. We start judging one another based on who can bring the most pleasure. The strong use the weak for their own pleasure. The rich humiliate the poor. The beautiful humiliate the unpopular. We do not care what the other has to do or how vulnerable they become or the harms they endure as long as we get the pleasure we will do anything to achieve.

A Profound Cultural Shift
 According to Gertrude Himmelfarb, author of “The De-Moralisation of Society”, in Great Britain from 1800-1960 children born outside of marriage stayed between 5-7%. Then, the sexual revolution of the 60s happened. From 1960 onward, children born outside of marriage have increased steadily to the point where today 40% of U.K. children are born outside of marriage. This mirrors the experience of Australia and the U.S. according to the ABS and the U.S. Census Bureau, respectively. That is a profound cultural shift. When one laments the loss of community and the weakened church, this cultural shift explains quite a bit.

Through empirical and anecdotal evidence, we know at our core that everyone is profoundly affected by their family. We live in an era where men are only seen as necessary sperm donors and child support cheques, children of all men derive who they are from their fathers and how they regard their mothers. Fathers are indeed the spiritual leaders of the household, whether they acknowledge it or not, whether they are good spiritual leaders or not.

Sons and daughters derive their self-image, learn how genders should relate to one another, and what love looks like from both mothers and fathers. Broken sons and daughters become broken men and women who become broken fathers and mothers and the cycle continues... Knowing this, it is clear that those who aspire toward biblical sexual ethics are speaking to the Kingdom of God’s higher matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.

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