Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Preaching on Sex: The Cutting Room Floor (Part 1)

I’ve been preaching a marriage series at church these last three Sundays.  I’ve got one more Sunday to go.  This past Sunday I preached on the sexual relationship.  Because I don’t preach on sex very often, my sermon was longer than usual: I just sort of backed up the truck and dumped a lot of content on my poor congregation.  But even then, there were things I would have liked to have said but just couldn’t find the space or the place.  Because of the high interest in the subject matter, however, I want to share in a couple of blog posts some of the stuff that ended up on the cutting room floor of my sermon preparation.  I find it both interesting and compelling, and I hope it makes you think.  We Christians need to think better about human sexuality than does the prevailing culture.  And, of course, it wouldn't hurt for us to live better in this area too.


In reminding us that sex is not just a body thing but a soul thing, G. K. Chesterton once said that “every man who visits a prostitute is looking for God.”


This is from Will Willimon’s book, Why Jesus? (Nashville: Abingdon, 2010), 71:

One subject that is very, very important to most of us is sexuality—a topic of endless debate at national church assemblies and the engine that seems to drive most advertising.  Curiously, we are clueless about the sexuality of Jesus.  Although he seems to have relished the company of men and women, Jesus seems to have held little interest in sex.  Not that Jesus was prudish (John says he intervened in the execution of a woman caught in adultery, condemning her pious accusers more severely than her).  Jesus simply had little concern for the subject that seems to consume many of us.  To the thoroughly liberated, sexually unconstrained modern person for whom sexual orientation is the defining mark of humanity, Jesus’ nonchalance about sex may be his strangest quality.  We simply cannot imagine any fully human being who is not driven by genitalia.  Our preoccupation with sex is surely a testimony to the limitations of modern imagination rather than to Jesus’ undeveloped libido.  Presuming to stand at the summit of human development yet descending to “doing it” like dogs, rutting like rabbits (which is probably a bit unfair to dogs and rabbits), we surely would not impress Jesus.  So before you dismiss Jesus for his lack of interest in the endeavor that often most energizes us, consider that Jesus was working with a very different definition of a human being than those who help to sell soap, jeans, and male-enhancement medications.  Jesus appears to have held the opinion that you and I are destined for more meaningful activity than mutual orgasm.


In his book, Surprised By Hope (p. 43), N. T. Wright shares this:  “Belief in bodily resurrection was one of the two central things that the pagan doctor Galen noted about Christians (the other being their remarkable sexual restraint).”  And in the sex-saturated, anything-goes Roman culture, Christians’ sexual restraint was truly remarkable.  It would be just as remarkable in our culture today.


And this from Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage (New York: Dutton, 2011), 24:

Indeed, sex is perhaps the most powerful God-created way to help you give your entire self to another human being.  Sex is God’s appointed way for two people to reciprocally say to one another, “I belong completely, permanently, and exclusively to you.”  You must not use sex to say anything else.


That should be enough to get you thinking right now.  I’ll post a little more next time.  If you want to read the sermon, you can find it here:  


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