Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners


The Biblical DO’s (vs. don’ts) of Sex

What does a positive, life affirming, biblically inspired approach to sex look like?

Is it possible that the Bible is actually not consistently clear about the “do’s and don’ts” of sex and sexuality?  Is the expression, “biblical sex,” a bit of a misnomer?  Baptist minister Jennifer Wright Knust thinks so, and she has recently written a book on the subject.  Unprotected Texts:  The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire- which is on my list of books to read- has apparently caused a stir in certain circles.

For the time being, author of Sexless in the City Anna Broadway has written a helpful review in the latest issue of Books and Culture, in which Broadway offers a constructive response to the controversy surrounding “biblical sex.”  Broadway makes the case that the church and Christian culture have over-emphasized boundaries, the “don’ts,” so to speak, at the expense of crafting a more positive, life-giving ethic that embraces the “do’s” that go along with loving one’s neighbor.

Here is Broadway: “…what if we recovered the more positive aspects of the biblical sexual ethic, paying attention to the God who says, ‘Do this, not that’?  When Jesus told his disciples that they should be known for the quality of their love, he did not give them a pass on how they showed love in sexual relations.  If we are called to strive for self-giving, self-denying, other-serving love in general, then this must surely apply as much to sexuality as to hospitality and friendship.”

Self-giving, self-denying, other-serving…in bed.  How’s that for a fortune cookie message?  You will be self-giving, self-denying, other-serving…in bed.  (I must confess that ever since my husband taught me to insert the words, “in bed,” at the end of each mysterious declaration on those tiny, white strips of paper all bunched up and buried in our post-dinner munchies, I’ve never again looked the same at a fortune cookie; the ritual makes the Chinese take-out experience that much more entertaining.)

But seriously, I think Broadway has a point. We Christians waste too much hot air talking about all of the things we shouldn’t be doing in bed, as if we might just as well put a great, big red “X” in front of the topic of sex and sexuality and then wear that “X” on our foreheads, so that no one else will want to talk to us about sex, either.  Because they’ll only get judgment or a fear-laden picture, rather than a vision that exudes the beauty of intimacy within a covenantal relationship.  (Incidentally, A.J. Swoboda, a pastor in Portland, Oregon, has written a great chapter on “messy sex” in his newly released book, Messy: God Likes It That Way, which I’ll be reviewing in the next week.  I hope you’ll tune in again.)

And we Christians have managed to thrust our hang-ups about sex on the rest of the world for centuries.  Augustine in the fourth century actually believed that it was in the act of intercourse itself that the plague of original sin was transmitted from generation to generation.  (How’s that for pressure in the bedroom? At which point I say, “Get thee to a nunnery.”)  And if you find some of today’s prevailing rhetoric against the “evils” of homosexuality a bit tiresome in certain circles of the church, consider this: in the Middle Ages there were whole confession manuals that articulated in fine print which sex positions would land you in the confessional with a priest, or worse, the fiery flames of hell.

Broadway goes on to offer up some embodied practices that might encourage greater obedience to God in the realm of our sexuality, towards this more positive biblical ethic.  Fasting (especially for those wrestling with sexual self-control and restraint), living in community and even cooking are some of the tips.  In the meantime, Broadway’s corrective- an emphasis on the biblical “do’s”- is one I hope to implement in my own conversations as a wife, mother and minister.

 



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nader

    Kristina where in Augustine did you find this argument? ” Augustine in the fourth century actually believed that it was in the act of intercourse itself that the plague of original sin was transmitted from generation to generation.” btw st. augustine is 5cent. and not 4cent. :) i wrote a paper on st. augustine’s understanding of sexuality, i think you may enjoy reading.

Previous Posts

Mental Health Break—Sprawl II
My favorite band these days is Arcade Fire, and I've featured the Canadian indie rock group before at this intersection between God and life. The lead singer studied Kirkegaard in college and their songs, like this one, are often subtle but brilliant critiques of the least aesthetically pleasing thi

posted 12:58:15pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

I Can't Breathe and the Widow's Cry—A Guest Post
Fellow saint and sinner Saskia de Vries is a neuroscientist in Seattle, Washington and has posted before at this intersection between God and life. She, like so many of us, is grappling with the tragedies of Eric Garner and Michael Brown and the larger systemic problem they seem to reveal—namely,

posted 2:10:09pm Dec. 11, 2014 | read full post »

Advent and Emptiness, Via Louis CK and the Prophet Isaiah
I've been making my way through the book of Isaiah. This morning's reading was from chapter 6, where the prophet Isaiah receives his call to go to the people of Israel and proclaim God's judgment of a people who have wandered away from God's purposes for them. Isaiah asks how long God's people will

posted 11:45:39am Dec. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Advent Resurrection
It may seem strange to pair Advent with resurrection. Usually resurrection comes more naturally at Easter. But at heart the labor pangs of all creation giving birth to the Christ child are a longing for a new start. Advent is a longing to be born again. Neuroscience now teaches that every minu

posted 2:47:38pm Dec. 04, 2014 | read full post »

Birthday Cred—Ecclesiastes Via David Foster Wallace
Today I'm still (barely) on the left side of 40, and bea

posted 11:01:03am Dec. 01, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.