Problems With Traditional Christian Sexual Ethics Theology Religion Essay Example
Problems With Traditional Christian Sexual Ethics Theology Religion Essay Example

Problems With Traditional Christian Sexual Ethics Theology Religion Essay Example

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  • Pages: 10 (2544 words)
  • Published: October 4, 2017
  • Type: Case Study
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Sexual familiarity has the potential to bring positive transformation and reclaim religious experiences in our lives, leading to healing, joy, personal empowerment, and fulfilling relationships. Engaging in loving sexual relationships can be a beautiful expression of grace. However, it is important to note that sexual intimacy is not the only way to receive grace or solve life's problems. The goodness of sex can be distorted or destroyed through means such as exploitation, child abuse, or manipulation.

This paper addresses three main issues: firstly, it examines the principles behind traditional Christian sexual morality by highlighting problems and shortcomings. Secondly, it defines sexual familiarity and explores its connection with religious devotion through analysis of the incarnation. Lastly, it challenges any implied correlation between sexual purity and access to God's grace, redemption, or membership in the church.

Issues with Traditi


onal Christian Sexual Ethics

[4] Historically, Christian communities have loosely adhered to a triple standard when judging sexual acts: they should be performed with one's legally married partner (the correct person), heterosexual genital intercourse (the correct manner), and for reproduction (the correct purpose). A. [6] Certain aspects of the traditional moral principle should be promoted.Heterosexual marriage is often seen as an acceptable context for sexual relationships, providing fulfillment and suitability in many cases. However, there are limitations to this perspective. The terms "marriage" and "heterosexual" exclude certain individuals and experiences. This includes divorced individuals, who make up approximately 50% of all first marriages. It also excludes gay men and lesbian women who are unable to legally marry someone of the same sex in most countries. Additionally, it does not account for those who choose not to marry or have never ha

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the opportunity to do so inadvertently.

Consequently, these terms exclude entire groups of people that do not fit within these categories. Moral concerns arise with the use of "marriage" and "heterosexual." Marital sex may not always adhere to societal norms when closely examined. Disturbing statistics emerge regarding marital sex: according to Strause and Gellis (Borrowdale: 68), one-third of all married women in the general U.S population experience domestic violence during their marriage. Furthermore, husbands commit 38% of all rapes in the United States.

Many women and children mistakenly believe they are safe while engaging in either marital or non-marital sex; however, both can involve violent and abusive situations. Assuming that all marital sex is healthy would be incorrect. A proper sexual ethic should consider other relevant factors too.Karen Lebacqz, a Christian ethician, suggests that although some individuals may comply with the regulations imposed by church and state for their sexual lives, their relationships may not align with what God desires. Virginia Mollenkott shares her personal experience to illustrate that conforming to church policies regarding sexuality does not always lead to happiness and healthy relationships. She recounts how she used to live a sinful and estranged life with her husband, which was approved by both the church and state. However, she now resides in a same-sex partnership that she considers holy and fulfilling but is not accepted by the church, state, or society. This narrative can be applied to other situations involving marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as those involved in non-traditional sexual practices such as sapphic gender relationships or non-procreative heterosexual activities. The central argument posits that strictly adhering to church policies on sex

does not guarantee familiarity, joy, or healthy sexual connections. While heterosexual marriage may work well for certain individuals, it can be detrimental for others. Within Christian sexual morality, particularly within the Catholic Natural Law Tradition, there is often an emphasis on perceiving reproduction as the primary purpose of sex. Any sexual activities that do not allow for reproduction are deemed morally wrong from both religious and ethical perspectives.
The text highlights the significance of not obstructing the potential link between sexual activity and reproduction, such as by using birth control. However, it also discourages participating in non-procreative sexual acts like masturbation, homoerotic behavior, or heterosexual practices that cannot lead to pregnancy. These actions are referred to as 'forbidden fruit' and are believed to hinder spiritual growth [11]. Within Christian sexual morality, there has historically been a classification of sexual sins into two categories: those considered "in conformity with nature" (heterosexual intercourse, adultery, incest, and rape) and those deemed "contrary to nature" (masturbation, homosexual and lesbian intercourse, sodomy). The latter forms of sin are seen as lacking reproductive potential. It is worth noting that this hierarchy places masturbation as a more severe offense than rape and considers homosexual and lesbian intercourse more sinful than incest. However, these conventional criteria for evaluating sexual relationships have their flaws. They fail to consider important aspects such as interpersonal connection, self-respect diversity in human life, appropriate sexual expression while also valuing marriage heterosexuality procreation. Therefore, the development of a new Christian sexual ethics requires addressing the fulfilling or degrading nature of the sexual relationship itself..The text emphasizes the significance of examining the potential for development and abuse of sexuality, as well

as addressing power dynamics and consent. Christian young individuals often lack guidance or open discussion about their own sexual desires and experiences. Instead of having constructive conversations without fear of judgment or guilt, they are simply instructed on what not to do. It is crucial for Christian churches to engage in positive ethical dialogue where young people can openly discuss their sexuality without immediate disapproval or guilt. To initiate this dialogue, delving into the meaning of terms such as intimacy and gender is suggested. As defined by Webster's New World Dictionary, intimacy refers to the innermost layer or living membrane of an organ or vessel. The passage stresses the importance of familiarity in our lives, playing a vital role in creating, nurturing, and caring for our bodies. Furthermore, it acknowledges how popular culture tends to oversimplify intimacy by solely focusing on sexual activity. True sexual intimacy requires mutual empowerment, deliberate consent, and loving kindness while any form of abuse undermines its presence. The text argues against exclusively external-focused sexual morality that neglects considering the essence and quality of the sexual relationship itself; instead prioritizing factors like marital status or reproductive possibilities.The text suggests that there is a connection between Incarnational Theology, spiritual belonging, and intimate sexuality. This connection is explained using the quote "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-14). These words highlight how Christian faith emphasizes divinity being manifested in human form through real-life interactions. Jesus is depicted as embodying a unique history, civilization, and physical body. Despite its

occasional difficulty to understand, Jesus's physical existence – including experiencing emotions such as laughter, tears, sweat bleeding,and sensuality – lies at the core message of Christianity. Jesus spoke about liberation concerning our physical bodies. The significance of an incarnational religion lies in appreciating our bodies and their role in our creative, intellectual, moral, emotional, and spiritual capacities. Incarnation suggests that by experiencing bodily experiences and relationships as individuals we can identify what is shared among all humans. Dorothee Soelle argues that some people fear or mistrust a God who embodies because they desire or expect a powerful autonomous figure resembling a King instead. However,the true essence of incarnation involves embracing vulnerability rather than power and control for God.
The text highlights the risk God takes in Jesus Christ, as there is potential for misunderstanding and lack of recognition. Through the incarnation, God seeks companionship and community with humans rather than acting as an independent almighty figure. Jesus affirms that the Kingdom of God can already be accessed and experienced among people. According to Wolfgang Schrage, Jesus brings the tangible presence of the Kingdom into historical reality through his ministry. This connection between the Kingdom and real-life experiences makes it impossible to strictly distinguish between God and the world. The main message from Jesus is not solely about a future divine kingdom but actively recognizing the divine kingdom in acts of loving kindness in the present moment. Jesus emphasizes that caring for others by feeding them, clothing them, visiting them, and showing compassion is equivalent to doing it for him—highlighting its significance. These acts are considered physical displays of grace and representations of the Spirit's presence. The

embodiment encourages the Christian community to recognize God's spirit and grace through tangible acts of kindness such as restoring sight to the blind, enabling the crippled to walk, healing lepers, restoring hearing to deaf individuals, and caring for those who are poor. Jesus' message challenges the notion that mind and body are separate entities while also challenging any belief that grace and love are disconnected from present moments.In the realm of Christian theology, there exist tensions between spirituality and physicality, redemption history, human history, and the connection between mind and body. This has led to a misunderstanding regarding the notion of being in but not of this world, often mistakenly interpreted as being in but not of a physical body. Certain Christian churches have failed to recognize the close relationship between our human bodies and the Holy Spirit. They fail to comprehend that responding compassionately to people's spirits necessitates responding compassionately to their actual bodies as well. If we are to believe that God exists within human history and can be experienced through acts of love, then it follows that our connections with our sexuality should also become apparent. Physical love can serve as an embodiment of God's presence, enabling us to become better followers by becoming better lovers. The question is whether we will acknowledge God's spirit through sexual intimacy or choose not to do so.

The passage discusses how crucial it is for God, spirit, and grace to be integrated into human relationships in order for sex to reach its full potential. It emphasizes that sexual spirituality acknowledges both the goodness and desirability of physical pleasure. This viewpoint rejects passively receiving God's grace while

acknowledging His presence in everyday life. Furthermore, it underscores that spiritual belonging does not exist separately from acts of sexual intimacy and passion. In a Christian context, a sexually-oriented spirituality surpasses mere pursuit of physical pleasure aloneIt encourages individuals to display compassion towards others in all areas of life. Sexual intimacy plays a vital role in forming and maintaining the human community, often referred to as an "organic structure of Christ". Engaging in sexual intimacy can cultivate a passion for social justice, as issues related to material and bodily concerns are rooted within it. Particularly for women, sexual intimacy is associated with creative power such as childbirth or bringing happiness, vitality, and harmony into various relationships. It is acknowledged as one of the fruits of the spirit that exists within our personal lives and collectively. Traditional Christian sexual morality prioritizes heterosexual, marital, and procreative sex as pure while deeming homosexual, non-marital, and non-procreative sex impure. However, an incarnational theology suggests that signs of God's spirit are linked to how people love each other in this world rather than strict adherence to purity codes. In the gospel accounts, Jesus did not call his followers to establish exclusive communities based on physical, cultural, and sexual purity codes; instead he emphasized inclusive unity over exclusive holiness. Biblical scholar Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza explains that God's kingdom manifests whenever Jesus drives out demons or heals the sick and ceremonially unclean; he tells stories about finding the lost and inviting those who were not initially included.The text highlights the significance of God's kingdom being demonstrated through Jesus' inclusive fellowship with marginalized individuals, including the poor, tax collectors, and prostitutes. These individuals

are often considered outsiders or deficient by those who view themselves as righteous or belonging to the "holy people." Rather than attributing God's power solely to the temple and Torah, Jesus challenges Pharisaic rules and believes that God's power can be experienced in people themselves by accepting and welcoming those who are marginalized. The movement led by Jesus values inclusivity over strict regulations. Accounts in the Gospel depict Jesus consistently associating with impure individuals rather than spiritual authorities of his time. He speaks kindly about those who are destitute, sick, crippled, evildoers, tax collectors, and prostitutes. In fact, he states that tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the Kingdom of God before others. By disregarding purity codes related to food, temple practices, Sabbath observance, among others, Jesus establishes a new sense of possibility through diverse relationships and an inclusive community. The Kingdom of God is revealed not only through moments of physical healing but also through its mission to bring healing to others. The authors of the Gospels reject rigid purity regulations in order to dismantle barriers created between human communities due to these regulations - especially for marginalized groups within society. It is evident that applying Gospel teachings on purity regulations has implications when it comes to matters concerning Christian sexual ethics.The text emphasizes that Christians distance themselves from using physical purity as a measure of spiritual excellence, instead emphasizing God's grace. In the Gospel accounts, it is stated that physical purity is not necessary for adornment, salvation, or church membership. According to William Countryman, a biblical scholar, there are no explicit prohibitions on acts such as masturbation, non-vaginal heterosexual intercourse, homosexual acts, or

erotic art and literature in the Gospel. Christians have the freedom to find these acts repulsive and establish their own code of purity around them but should not impose their personal codes on others (243-44). Jesus' rejection of physical purity codes should not be mistaken for a rejection of cultural diversity and uniqueness; rather it separates divine grace from physical purity. While sexual purity holds importance in the Christian tradition, it is more influenced by societal norms than Gospel teachings according to Countryman. Sexual purity may contribute to individual Christian identity but is not crucial based on the Gospel. It's important for Christians to differentiate between personal views on sexual purity and their understanding of Gospel teachings [31]. Ultimately, Christian churches face the challenge of navigating both sexual integrity and supporting diverse expressions of sexuality.The purpose of this journey is to maintain unity within the church and ensure that its members feel loved, safe, and accepted. In my exploration of new perspectives on sexual relationships, which prioritize pleasure, intimacy, and spiritual connection, I want to clarify that sex alone is not the ultimate purpose or exclusive means for experiencing God's grace. While there are various ways to experience grace such as worship, rituals, meaningful work, friendships, the arts, and the natural world; it is important to acknowledge that sex may not always bring satisfaction or be suitable for everyone. Sexual intimacy is not a necessity but rather a desire that can provide an opportunity to encounter grace. Additionally, engaging in sexual intimacy can inspire individuals to care for their own bodies, their partner's bodies, and the broader human community often referred to as the body

of Christ. The ideal goal is for all Christian churches to embody James Baldwin's words by respecting and enjoying the vitality of life itself and fully immersing themselves in every action from acts of love to sharing meals [32].

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