Asking Better Questions: Marva Dawn on a Sexual Ethics of Character

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Here is Marva Dawn halfway through her marvelous book Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy on the ways in which an ethics of character, or virtue ethics, aptly shapes our engagement with love, sexuality, and the body:

The main task of ethics is to enable us to ask better questions about the issues of our day. An ethics of character is especially helpful because it gives us tools to ask new questions out of its comprehensive inclusion of means and ends, rules and narratives, models and virtues, personhood and community. Especially important is the fact that an ethics of character enables us to ask new questions out of the grace of God.  We seek virtues and behaviors, not because we ought to, should, or must, but because they are modeled for us in Jesus, whose Spirit empowers us to follow in his way. We choose to live according to the design of the Creator because he invites us to the delights of such truthfulness. Moreover, we can invite others to participate in those choices, too, because we know that thereby they will be happier, more fulfilled, more whole.

This book is just a beginning. I pray that you will go beyond it to ask better questions about sexual character, to develop a Christian community that nurtures godly sexuality, to offer hope to those who are drowning in our society’s toxic sexual milieu.

[From Marva J. Dawn, Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993), 38.

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