The Weekend Wanderer: 22 February 2020

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

92299“Polyamory: Pastors’ Next Sexual Frontier” – Here’s a topic you may not have thought we would have been talking about in the church, but Preston Sprinkle and Branson Parler help us consider an issue pastors may encounter more in days to come. “For many Christians, polyamory seems so extreme and rare that there’s no need to talk about it. But it is much more common than some people think, and it’s growing in popularity. According to one estimate, ‘as many as 5 percent of Americans are currently in relationships involving consensual nonmonogamy,’ which is about the same percentage as those who identify as LGBTQ. A recent study, published in a peer-reviewed journal, found that 20 percent of Americans have been in a consensual non-monogamous relationship at least once in their life. Another survey showed that nearly 70 percent of non-religious Americans between the ages of 24 and 35 believe that polyamory is okay, even if it’s not their cup of tea. And perhaps most shocking of all, according to sociologist Mark Regnerus in Cheap Sex, roughly 24 percent of church-going people believe that consensual polyamorous relationships are morally permissible.”


Burkina Faso attack“Gunmen massacre 14 Christians during Protestant service in Burkina Faso” – If you haven’t paid attention to the religious tensions in the West African nation of Burkina Faso in recent years, this is a good time to pay attention. There have been increasing attacks against Christians by Islamic militants, including this past week. “Gunmen launched yet another attack on a church service in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, killing 14 people and wounding several others in the small eastern town of Hantoukoura. Sunday’s massacre follows attacks by radical Islamist insurgents on military posts, a mining convoy and places of worship in the restive countryside that the army has struggled to contain. The assailants fled on motorbikes after spraying bullets into the Protestant congregation, authorities said.”


Fasting“The Most Neglected Spiritual Discipline” – I have a love-hate relationship with fasting. I love it because when I fast I encounter my self-will and find ways to meet God in that place in a very tangible way. I hate it because…I encounter my self-will and, let me be honest, I just get downright hangry. With some slight exceptions, I have found that difficulties with a spiritual practice often mean that we really need it. However, as we draw near to the beginning of Lent, Thomas Christianson’s exploration of the significance of this spiritual practice is right on time.


115488“We Need to Read the Bible Jesus Read” – As I continue preaching through a series on the minor prophets at Eastbrook Church, I am reminded of just how significant the larger biblical context is for our understanding of the nature of Jesus as Messiah, the kingdom of God, the gospel, and so much more. In this article Brent A. Strawn, Professor of Old Testment at Duke Divinity School, explains why the Hebrew Bible is so important for us to understand as Christians.


Russell Moore“Trump critic Russell Moore, ERLC to face scrutiny by Southern Baptists” – “The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee will launch a task force to examine the activities of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the convention’s public policy organization headed by the theologian and author Russell Moore. Southern Baptist leaders fear controversy over Moore could lead to a drop in donations. Moore, 48, who has been president of the ERLC since 2013, has been an outspoken critic of Donald Trump since the president began campaigning for the White House. In 2016, Moore called Trump ‘an arrogant huckster’ and wrote an essay for the National Review citing ‘Trump’s vitriolic — and often racist and sexist — language about immigrants, women, the disabled and others.’ In response, Trump attacked Moore on Twitter, calling him ‘a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for.’ The same tweet called Moore a ‘nasty guy with no heart!'”


1776“Sorry, New York Times, But America Began in 1776” – One of the most notable journalistic achievements of 2019 was that of the New York Times‘ “1619 project.” It would be mild to say that project generated a lot of conversation about both the content of the project and the nature of the journalistic approach. Now, this past week saw the launch of a non-partisan black-led response to the “1619 Project” called “1776.” Wilfrid Reilly, a participant in “1776,” outlines the three core goals of this response project: “(1) rebutting some outright historical inaccuracies in the 1619 Project; (2) discussing tragedies like slavery and segregation honestly while clarifying that these were not the most important historical foundations of the United States; and (3) presenting an alternative inspirational view of the lessons of our nation’s history to Americans of all races.”


Flannery O'Connor“Flannery O’Connor’s Good Things” – When I was in college, my wife, Kelly, took a class on the writings of two southern novelists I knew very little about at that time: Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy. I am forever grateful that she took that class and patiently introduced me to these two authors, who have become a couple of treasured voices in my life. James Matthew Wilson introduces us to a recently edited collection of O’Connor’s previously unpublished letters, including some with Walker Percy, that is aptly titled Good Things Out of Nazareth.


Music: Herbie Hancock, “Watermelon Man” (1962), from Takin’ Off

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

Preaching on Sexuality: A Theological Framework

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Last week I had the privilege of joining Matt Woodley of Preaching Today to talk about “Preaching on Sexuality: A Theological Framework” as part of the Monday Morning Preacher podcast. We talked about the the challenges and opportunities of preaching on sexuality, gender, love, and the body.  A good deal of the conversation is a reflection of a series from this past November at Eastbrook Church, “Love – Sex – Body: Toward a Theology of Embodied Sexuality.” Another resource that you could look at is the bibliography for that series here.

How do we give a theological framework for thinking about specific sexual issues? Matt Woodley talks to Matt Erickson, Senior Pastor at Eastbrook Church about his experience with preaching on sexuality. His church took the concept of the four chapter gospel: creation (the original goodness of sexuality), fall (how sin, evil and brokenness impact our love), redemption (Jesus redeeming work is significant for love, and our life in our bodies) and restoration (points to the new heaven and the new earth). He challenged people to think about how their love, conception of the body, and sexuality fit together in that big story of God. As a result, the church can then engage with issues like adultery, pornography, homosexuality, gender dysphoria etc…

Check out what was referenced on the podcast:

Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).

Bibliography for Love-Sex-Body series

Here is the resource bibliography that accompanied the development of the recent preaching series, “Love-Sex-Body: Toward a Biblical Theology of Embodied Sexuality.” I utilized many resources for specific messages within this series, and many, but not all, of those are included in this bibliography.

Bibliography for “Love-Sex-Body: Toward a Biblical Theology of Embodied Sexuality”:

Alberry, Sam. Is God Anti-Gay? UK: The Good Book Company, 2015.

Butler, Brian,  Jason Evert, and Crystaline Evert. You: Life, Love, and the Theology of the Body. West Chester, PA: Ascension Press, 2016.

Coakley, Sarah. The New Asceticism: Sexuality, Gender and the Quest for God. London: Bloomsbury, 2015.

Coles, Gregory. Single, Gay, Christian. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2017.

Collins, Travis. What Does It Mean to be Welcoming?: Navigating LGBT Questions in Your Church. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2018.

Comiskey, Andrew. “Design and delusion: God’s direction for gender identity.” Desert Streams Newsletter. Spring 2017, http://desertstream.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Spring-Newsletter-2017_WebV2.pdf.

Cortez, Mark. ReSourcing Theological Anthropology: A Constructive Account of Humanity in Light of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017.

Cretella, Michelle, M.D. “Gender dysphoria in children.” American College of Pediatricians. August 2016, https://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/gender-dysphoria-in-children.

Davidson, Richard M. The Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007.

Dawn, Marva J. Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993.

Freitas, Donna. The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture Is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy. New York: Basic Books, 2013.

Gagnon, Robert A. J. The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. Nashville: Abingdon, 2001.

Genetics Home Reference: Your guide to understanding genetic conditions. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/

Green, Daniel and Mel Lawrenz. Why Do I Feel Like Hiding?: How to Overcome Shame and Guilt Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1994.

Green, Joel B. Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2008.

Grenz, Stanley J. Sexual Ethics: An Evangelical Perspective. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997.

________. Welcoming But Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998.

________. The Social God and the Relational Self: A Trinitarian Theology of the Imago Dei. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001.

Henson, Bill. Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones, 2nd ed. Acton, MA: Posture Shift Books, 2018.

Hiestand, Gerald and Todd Wilson. Beauty, Order, and Mystery: A Christian Vision of Human Sexuality. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2017.

Hill, Wesley. Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, updated and expanded ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016.

________. Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2015.

Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity–Dr. Mark Yarhouse’s website, which includes videos on various topics. http://sexualidentityinstitute.org/

John Paul II. Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body. Boston, MA: Pauline Books, 2006.

Jones, Beth Felker. Faithful: A Theology of Sex. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015.

Longman, Tremper, III. How to Read Genesis. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.

McMinn, Lisa Graham. Sexuality and Holy Longing: Embracing Intimacy in a Broken World. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2004.

Mayer, Lawrence S. and Paul R. McHugh. “Sexuality and gender: Findings from the biological, psychological and social services.” The New Atlantis, No. 20, 2016, pp. 4-143, http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/introduction-sexuality-and-gender.

Mead, Christina.  “What the Catholic Church wants the transgender community to know.” Life Teen Blog. 2017.

Owens, Tara M. Embracing the Body: Finding God in Our Flesh and Bone. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2015.

Paris, Jenell Williams. The End of Sexual Identity. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011.

Pearcey, Nancy R. Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2018.

Roberts, Vaughan. Transgender. UK: The Good Book Company, 2016.

Smith, James K. A. You Are What You Love. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2016.

Sprinkle, Preston. People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just an Issue. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015.

________. Grace // Truth 1.0: Five conversations every thoughtful Christian should have about faith, sexuality, and gender. Boise, ID: The Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender, 2017.

________. Grace // Truth 2.0: Five more conversations every thoughtful Christian should have about faith, sexuality, and gender. Boise, ID: The Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender, 2018. 

Van der Kolk, Bessel A. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. New York: Viking, 2014.

Walls, Jerry L., Jeremy Neill, and David Baggett, eds. Venus and Virtue: Celebrating Sex and Seeking Sanctification. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2018.

West, Christopher. Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to St. John Paul II’s Sexual Revolution, rev. ed. North Palm Beach, FL: Wellspring, 2018.

Wilson, Todd A. Mere Sexuality: Rediscovering the Christian vision of sexuality. Harper Collins Publishing, 2017.

Yarhouse, Mark A., Richard E. Butman, and Barrett W. McRay. Modern Psychopathologies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal. Downers Grove, IL : InterVarsity Press, 2005.

Yarhouse, Mark.  Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing CultureDowners Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015.

________ and Olya Zaporozhets. Costly Obedience: What We Can Learn from the Celibate Gay Christian Community. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2019.

 

 

Specifically for Parents:

Clark, Chap. When Kids Hurt. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 2011.

Hancock, Jim and Kara E. Powell.  Good Sex 2.0 Leader’s Guide: A Whole-Person Approach to Teenage Sexuality and God. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2009.

Jones, Stan and Brenna.  God’s Design for Sex. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2007. Series includes:

  • The Story of Me (Ages 3- 5)
  • Before I Was Born (Ages 5 – 8)
  • What’s the Big Deal? (Ages 8-11)
  • Facing the Facts (Ages 11-14)

Yarhouse, Mark. Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends.  Bloomington, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 2010.

________. Understanding Sexual Identity: A Resource for Youth Ministry.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2013.

Restoration and Embodied Sexuality

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I concluded our series, “Love-Sex-Body: Toward a Biblical Theology of Embodied Sexuality,” focusing on the fourth chapter of God’s Good Story: the Restoration of all things.

I spent a lot of attention in this message on Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15, which draw together Adam and fallen human bodies (ch. 2 – the Fall), Christ and His resurrection body (ch. 3 – Redemption), and the hope of future resurrection bodies for all those who belong to Christ (ch. 4 – Restoration). I connected that with the calling of the church to be a community marked by resurrection hope, living in holiness and love, touching upon Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 6. The conclusion of the message directed attention to the ultimate consummation of Christ and His bride, the church, with the new heavens and new earth described in Revelation 21.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities to connect.

Read More »

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.

Redemption and Embodied Sexuality

Love Sex Body Series GFX-05I continued our series, “Love-Sex-Body: Toward a Biblical Theology of Embodied Sexuality,” this past weekend at at Eastbrook Church by turning to the third chapter of God’s Good Story: Redemption in Jesus Christ.

This message builds off of previous messages on Creation and the Fall, looking at Christ’s redeeming work as outlined in Romans 5. I take some time to reflect on the significance of Jesus’ incarnation for redemption from John 1 and 1 John 4. I then examine the reality of Christ’s bodily redemption in relation to our bodies, sexuality, and love with reference to various passages of Scripture, including John 8 & 9, Romans 6, 1 Corinthians 6 & 13.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities to connect.

Read More »

Sin’s Disruption and Disordered Love: Insights from St. Augustine

image 1 - Adam and EveWhen Adam and Eve turn from God and His will by choosing for themselves and their own will, they were in essence choosing to love themselves over God. Sin can be both the decision for and experience of disordered love.

Saint Augustine, the 4th century Bishop of Hippo in present-day Algeria, described this reality when he wrote: “virtue is nothing other than perfect love of God” (On the Morals of the Catholic Church, XV.25) Augustine is telling us that the good life – the virtuous life – is formed around well-ordered love of God. 

In light of that well-ordered love of God we learn to love everything else, whether people or things. He writes:

though [something] is good, it can be loved in the right way or in the wrong way – in the right way, that is, when the proper order is kept, in the wrong way when that order is upset. (City of God, XV.22)

This helps us to understand what happens to our love through the Fall.

It is dislocated from its proper center in love for God, and then, being out of order, it leads us to love people and things in wrong ways. And so, impacted by sin, we try to love things in ways that do not give us life:

  • A father tries to feel love and acceptance in life through others’ acclamations of his child’s athletic accomplishments 
  • A daughter tries to receive love from her mother by always doing the right thing or pursuing goals her mother likes but the daughter does not
  • A man tries to feel loved through serial sexual experiences with others but finds intimacy and love elusive
  • A woman escapes an unhappy marriage through an emotional affair but still fees empty

The catalog of ways we experience disordered love could go on and on. It is because love is disordered that the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13 are so powerful and praised: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast.” The very fact that this passage is so revered tells us just how special – and perhaps rare – ordered and right love truly is.

But it is not only that we love things wrongly in our Fallen state. We also, apart from God, evaluate love wrongly in ways that reveal our utter disorder:

  • someone’s love for sports overruns their priorities and ruins their marriage
  • someone’s love for their work becomes obsessive, ruining the family they are trying to support with that work
  • someone’s love for interacting with others on social media loses all bounds, ruining their actual face-to-face friendships 

As Augustine writes elsewhere, real love knows how “to love things…in the right order, so that you do not love what is not to be loved, or fail to love what is to be loved, or have a greater love for what should be loved less” (On Christian Doctrine, I.27-28).

This attention to disordered love is foundational to our discussion about the ways in which we experience disorder in our sexuality and our bodies because, as Jesus says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45). That is, our outer life of action flows from the inner life of the heart and its related desires. Or, as Jamie Smith says, “you are what you love.”

We were made by God for loving relationship with God and others, but the Fall sunders that relationship and creates disorder in love.

God made us with the creational good of love to sustain and hold together every aspect of our identity, including our sexuality and bodies. But sin dislocates us, leaving us confused and muddled in the way we love things. All of this has tremendous impact for our bodies and our sexuality.

[This blog post is excerpted from my message, “Fall and Embodied Sexuality.”]