baby steps? by kati griess
buenos aires, january 2009.
so i used to work for an international evangelical student group, which ministers to and works with college students of a fairly conservative bent the world over. they have a publishing house called "intervarsity press" that is pretty well respected, both in academic and more popular circles. like the ministry itself, the books that come out of IVP are conservative in their theology of sexuality. (both the organization and the press are in the forefront of things like racial reconciliation and women in church leadership, but they haven't been able to budge when it comes to sexual orientation...yet).
they just came out with a new book called "global dictionary of theology", sort of a systematic theology attempting to include perspectives from christians from distinct geographical regions of the church. for example, the current theology of economics/poverty as seen not only by megachurches in the states, but also from christians in the global south...etc.
so i read the book's article on sexuality with interest....and i have to say, i'm shocked. it's not suddenly UCC or MCC or anything like that...in no place does it say "gay is good" or anything similar. BUT. it also DOESN'T say in any place that being homosexual is a sin! it doesn't once mention repentance, restoration therapy, or romans 1. seriously, the non-negative-ness of it all is a HUGE change. what's amazing are the facts that it
a) just describes the variety of sexualities, while not being particularly happy that a variety exists, it just describes it without saying that we have to forcibly change that to make everyone heterosexual and
b) addresses sexual issues, both good and bad, to the Whole Of Us all together, talking towards heterosexual folk, homosexual folk, bisexual folk, all at once, instead of the usual way of talking TO or ABOUT the homosexuals from the perspective of the assumed universal heterosexual.
i just want to type out a few portions that really struck me, so everyone can marvel with me....
...The conclusions of Genesis become problematic when applied to male and female categories as observed by social sciences. Conventional social science defines sexuality in four dimensions: natal sex, which refers to the physical and biological features at birth; sexual identity, which refers to a person's sexual self-concept--the view one has of oneself as a sexual person; gender role, which refers to one's gender identity as defined by a particular culture; and sexual orientation which refers to the direction of one's erotic attraction--to the opposite sex (heterosexual), the same sex (homosexual) or both sexes (bisexual)....
...Our theology of sexuality, then, is based on the premise that God created us to show forth God's image as male and female in relationship...We are, however, acutely aware of how all of creation was altered after the Fall. Therefore none of us achieves sexual wholeness in accordance with God's highest ideals...Homosexuals, bisexuals and heterosexuals must strive to find a wholeness in their lives before God in a less-than-ideal world...
...A theology that insists on procreation as the sole purpose of human sexuality makes it difficult to attach sacred meaning to sexual desire and pleasure in and of itself. Procreation is not the exclusive reason for sexual expression...
[Global Dictionary of Theology, IVP, October 2008]
p.s. also includes super positive texts about the ok-ness of physical pleasure in general....!!
Other Sheep e-news february 2009