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Latest Podcast: Hot Topics – Sexuality

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We begin a new series thinking about hot topics in evangelism.

In this episode we think about sexuality. It's not the first (or the fifteenth!) topic that we want to raise with non-Christians. Nonetheless it's one of the first that will be put to us. So what do we say?

Andy and I talk about the vital importance of being a sexual sinner and of not being straight.

During our conversation we mention the excellent LivingOut.org website, my earler blog-post on not being straight and I also refer to  this fascinating photo history of male affection.

Enjoy - and do get in touch in comments. We'd love to hear what you think.

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12 thoughts on “Latest Podcast: Hot Topics – Sexuality

  1. Sam

    Hi Glen,

    Thanks for this, I've just listened to it.

    4 points I want to commend you for:

    1. Understanding that heterosexuality is not the goal. As a Christian who is exclusively attracted to my own gender, I was fed the orientation-change lie and it set me off on the wrong journey. And didn’t work.
    2. Realising that homophobia is real and horrible, and many Christians have been or remain homophobic.
    3. Moving away from the Yuck factor argument. Many Christians think that just because the thought of gay sex makes them squirm, that means homosexuality is inherently sinful. The Yuck factor argument is irrational.
    4. Highlighting the erosion of close, intimate platonic relationships between men over the last century in the West. Deep male friendships need to make a revival for so many reasons.

    I would also have to say that I disagree with the premise that because sexuality is a modern construct it is anti-gospel or unhelpful. I agree that it is a modern construct, but I don’t think it really makes much difference whether it’s modern or not. The point is whether or not it serves any useful purpose. The Bible doesn’t talk about other psychological attributes that have really helped me learn to live in a way that is better for my mental health (e.g. realising that I am introverted, sensitive etc. and allowing the awareness to impact my life for the better).

    Having a term for my sexuality (gay) is useful for all sorts of reasons, for example it has allowed me to meet or speak to lots of other people who have similar experiences, from whom I have learnt so much. Even on a more basic level it has helped me to realise that I’m not a freak!

    My concern if we were to go back to a society that didn’t have any taxonomy of sexuality is that people like me would be more isolated, and less understood than we are now. My fear would be that we would go back to a society where most people don’t even realise that people like me exist. At least now there is some level of societal consciousness of sexual minorities. For example, after I came out I got a phone call from an old university friend who felt convicted about potentially hurtful things he had said while we were at uni. To me his apology was healthy – it indicates a better awareness on his part of human sexuality, which has been made possible by our taxonomy.

    So I guess what I hear you say when you talk about getting rid of sexuality labels is that you want to go back to a society that is fine for the majority but not fine for the minority of us who have atypical orientations.

    There was no language of sexuality in Bible times, but was that a good thing or a bad thing? I lean towards bad.

    Having our Western taxonomy of sexuality, imperfect though it is, has been beneficial to me and many like me. Speaking up about my sexuality has been positive for me in many ways, not least my mental health.

    Hope that helps you see where I'm coming from on this topic.

    And again I would say, there is much to be commended here (hence the reason I am prepared to dialogue and not feel like I'm wasting my breath!).

    Thanks.

    Sam

  2. Glen

    Hey Sam,

    thanks for taking the time to listen and to comment. Appreciate it.

    I think there is a biblical taxonomy that has always sat awkwardly with other cultural categorisations - very much *including* fundamentalist Christian ones! I think it had a revolutionary (and positive) effect on Greco-Roman culture and it might have a positive effect today if the fundamentalists can be the first ones to face the challenge.

    I wonder whether getting back to biblical views of the goodness - even the *priority* - of singleness, the goodness of same-sex love (eg David and Jonathan) and the belief that the church reconstitutes *all* our sexual and family identities, would judge fundamentalist Christianity as much as any group (for its idolising of "marriage") and it might end up unearthing even more of our emotional lives in healthy ways.

    Anyway, good to talk

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  4. John B

    I enjoyed listening and found this podcast very insightful.

    Are Christians forbidden from homosexual relationships?

    Jude identifies Sodom and Gomorrah as an example. And Ezekiel 16 describes the guilt of Sodom without explicit mention of any sexual sin. A gang rape couldn't be confounded with a relationship, either homosexual or heterosexual. A loyal, monogamous same-sex relationship doesn't look anything like what was described as occurring at Sodom.

    It may be that Scripture has been enlisted to affirm the culturally predominant "Yuck factor".

  5. Glen

    Hi John,

    Nice to hear from you. I certainly think "yuck" factor has driven some exegesis rather than the other way around. Also that the psychologising of these categories has increased that yuck factor too.

    I think one result of taking seriously biblical (rather than psychological) categories is to prize the physicality of relationships. Too often we say "what's important is their hearts" or "what's important is that they love each other." There's a danger therefore of a Gnostic prioritising of the 'spirit of the relationship' over a biblical prizing of the physical. Our bodies matter, our gender matters, the nature of "one flesh" matters beyond considerations of good intentions.

    Therefore I'd say, Yes, fidelity is important but so too is physicality. And so I'd still say Scripture rules out even monogamous and committed same-gender sexual activity - Romans 1:26-27

  6. John B

    Hi Glen,

    Yes, Romans 1 is clear that the physicality of everyone was corrupted as a result of the Fall, when humans were given up to "vile affections", epitomized by homosexuality. Likewise, Paul goes on to say, everyone was given over to a reprobate mind, as manifested by the long enumeration of sins that follows.

    But, as indeed Jesus "came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance", is sanctification (at least of the physical) a prerequisite for responding to his call?

  7. Glen

    Sanctification is not a prerequisite for responding to the call. But the life of faith is a life of continual repentance. We come to Christ greedy / slothful / lying but are called out of greed and sloth and lying. Sexual sins are not a special category, but they are a category.

  8. John B

    Do the demands of continual repentance mandate that the divorced and remarried (heterosexual) Christian abandon their vows and spouse of the later marriage?

  9. Glen

    I think 1 Corinthians 7 is relevant - I take it there are permissible divorce and remarriage scenarios. And, as a parallel, though unmarried Christians should only marry Christians, converted spouses should not divorce unbelieving spouses. You say at that point, "We are where we are and you can't go backwards only forwards." The marriage is recognised. In the case of a gay couple who are converted, there are lots of complicated details to bear in mind. Are both converted? Are there children? (That's a biggy). Those factors will certainly colour how you approach each unique situation. But I still think one would have an impossible task before them of arguing that the original gay union was a biblical marriage.

    Sorry, is that in the ball park of what you were asking?

  10. John B

    Yes, thank you. It seems that you see a way forward for the gay convert given the specific difficulties of their situation and the obligations that remain to others affected by the union, even if not a legitimate marriage.

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