Why do churches debate sexuality so much?
Uniting Church minister Rev. Dr Jason John has released a new book that seeks to broaden the scope about church’ discussions about sex. Insights spoke to him about what is sure to be a controversial read.
Rev. Dr Jason John’s new book Christian Sex Today combines some of the insights from science, scripture, and sociology to explore a number of topics about sexuality, including why Christian tradition hardly discusses sex at all.
At 99 pages plus notes, Christian Sex Today is not a long read. However, according to Rev. Dr John, it has been years in the making.
“My PhD was on the implications of the new evolutionary creation stories for Christianity, and sex was part of that.”
Eventually, the PhD topic was converted into a talk that Rev. Dr John delivered at Yurora.
“When I was trying to interest a publisher in another book idea, I mentioned the talk, and they asked me to write this book first. An early motivation was to show that heterosexual Christians had plenty to think and talk about rather than always arguing about same-sex marriage.”
Sexuality has been a contentious issue for the Uniting Church for decades with debates that garner more anger than perhaps any other topic. According to Rev. Dr John, the source of this anger lies outside of the scope of the Bible itself.
“We almost immediately narrowed the very broad discussion in the Assembly discussion paper, Uniting Sexuality and Faith, into a debate about ordaining gay and lesbian ministers.”
“Then many people felt free to let fly, because they didn’t realise yet how many gay and lesbian people they actually knew. If we also discussed all of the heterosexual relationships happening outside of marriage at the time, people might have proceeded with more caution.”
“For example, it’s just bizarre that there was so much heat about gay and lesbian ordination, yet the statement on divorce went through without any debate that I heard, despite Jesus saying a lot about divorce and nothing about homosexuality,” Rev. Dr John said.
“The anger definitely isn’t about a challenge to biblical authority, otherwise we’d have been yelling about divorce, women in leadership, and especially about wealth. Yet I don’t know of anyone ever arguing that rich people ought not be trusted to be ministers, given all Jesus said about wealth.”
“And, I guess, sex is sex! It’s fun, gritty, sweaty, hilarious, dangerous, intoxicating, liberating, and devastating and so on and so on. Maybe it’s as simple as talking about it make emotionally repressed Anglos like me uncomfortable, along with anyone from cultures colonised by our ancestors.”
Rev. Dr John told Insights that readers might expect to find “Good News” in the book along with “What they knew intuitively.”
“…[T]hat we can have healthy, spiritually nourishing sex outside of marriage, where we love our neighbour and ourselves, is true. And with a bit of theory and context from the sciences and biblical studies, I hope that they can shed the guilt and shame, and will feel braver to share their sacred stories with others.”
“If they do, I’m pretty sure they will be amazed how many others are on similar journeys,” Rev. Dr John said.
“I’d love to do a follow-up book sharing those stories, or at least put them on the website.”
“I also hope it will take the heat off our LGBTIQ brothers and sisters for a while.”
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