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A Theology of Human Sexuality

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D.. Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy. Union University. Adjunct Professor of Bioethics. Trinity Graduate School. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. A Few Caveats. Our anthropology requires charity..

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A Theology of Human Sexuality

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A Theology of Human Sexuality

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D.

Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy

Union University

Adjunct Professor of Bioethics

Trinity Graduate School

Trinity Evangelical Divinity SchoolSlide2

A Few CaveatsOur anthropology requires charity.

Our language anticipates




Our calling demands compassion.

Our experience requires humility.

Our task calls for discernment, fidelity, and courage.Slide3

Why So Important?


a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed



Genesis 2:24-25 ESV)Slide4


sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints



Ephesians 5:3 ESV)Slide5

Why Such a Difficult Subject?

A confused culture in which our paradigms have shifted radically.

A marginalized church.

A challenged Bible.Slide6


Human sex and sexuality are important, powerful, and good

aspects of

God’s creation


Genesis 2:15-25 – bonding, procreation

Proverbs 5:15-20 – pleasure, fidelity


Morality: CreationSlide8


is a dimension of our


existence. There are only two ways to be human—as male or as female.


its core, this embodied


includes a fundamental


, one which is

symbolized by biological sex and is based

in our fundamental sexuality. Through sexuality we give expression both to our existence as embodied creatures and to our basic incompleteness as embodied persons. It forms the dynamic that lies at the basis of the uniquely human drive toward bonding. Sexuality forms the foundation for the drive which moves male and female to come together to form a unity of persons in marriage.” --




Sexual EthicsSlide9

Goods of sex and marriageProcreational

good – Gen 1:28; 9:1

Relational good – “Humanity which is not fellow-humanity is inhumanity,” Barth,



Public good – Ordered and regulated relationships in human society. Slide10


The relational purpose of marriage

Genesis 2:24 “one flesh”

Sexual and non-sexual companionship

Giving of one’s person to another

“[The] ’casual’ sexual encounter . . . is dehumanizing because it treats the giving of the body as if the person were not thereby involved, as if persons entirely transcended their bodies and were free to use the body simply as a pleasure-giving


--Gilbert Meilaender, Jr.Slide11


1. There

is a causal connection between words or pictures and human behavior.

2. “Shame” is part of the natural human condition. It is the counterpart of natural human modesty.

3. The political purpose or result of pornography is to make us shameless.

4. There is a connection between shame and self-restraint, and, therefore, a connection between shame and self- government or democracy.

5. Self-restraint is necessary to the moral and political well-being of the community.

6. Pornography threatens self-restraint and thus threatens democracy.

7. Conclusion: Therefore, government has at least a modest interest in censoring pornography (as a protection of democracy).



, “Beyond the Garbage Pale”Slide12

Sexual Morality: After the Fall

Sexuality and sex are disordered.


is to be expressed according to God’s



ot outside the covenant of marriage –



sexual lust is

forbidden – Matt 5:27:30Slide13

SexNot the most important thing in the world!

1 Corinthians 7:1-5


not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control



1 Corinthians 7:5 ESV)Slide14

MarriageThe healing purpose of


“it is better to marry than to burn”


Corinthians 7:9 “Marriage functions to provide needed restraint and discipline as the God-given place of healing for our sexual nature.” --

Gilbert Meilaender Slide15

Celibacy or singlenessVocation




Gift parallel with marriage

?1 Corinthians 7:7, 32-35Adam and Eve were married

Jesus was singleSlide16

Celibacy or singlenessPastoral


Identity and


Solitude and

lonelinessSexuality and celibacySlide17



According to sociologist Patricia Morgan, cohabiting relationships are fragile:

Cohabitants last less than two years.

Less than 4% last for ten years or more.

Cohabitants are more likely to divorce later.

Cohabitants are more likely to cheat.



Cohabiting couple accumulate less wealth than married couples.

Married men earn 10%-40% more than unmarried or cohabiting men.

Cohabiting and single mothers often lack a father’s income.

Cohabitants have more health problems than marriage couples, including an increase in depression.Slide20


Cohabiting women are more likely to be physically, emotionally, and sexually abused than married women.

Children of cohabiting couples often suffer.

Only 36% of children whose parents were cohabiting at their birth in 1997 were likely to live their entire childhood in a two-parent home.

70% of children born in married households in 1997 were likely to live their entire childhood in a two-parent home.Slide21

Cohabitation: The Biblical Witness

Creation—the only appropriate expression of sexual intimacy is the bond of marriage.

Singleness is an inappropriate context for the sex act. “One flesh” is reserved for married couples.


permission for cohabitation

in scripture.

Marriage and the marriage bed are held up as honorable.Slide22


The theologian who speaks of the dubious character of homosexuality—and he would be blind or


of his mission if he ignored it—must in any case look at another side of the matter and dare not defame the


of the person so conditioned in order to make his negation easier.




Theological Ethics



3, Sex (Eerdmans, 1964), p. 271.Slide23

“It is true that the homosexual relationship is not a Christian form of encounter with our fellow man; it is nevertheless very certainly a search for the totality of the other human being. He who says otherwise has not yet observed the possible human depth of a homoerotic-colored friendship. Moreover, the perversion inherent in the reduction of sexuality to mere “physical excitation” is also to be found in heterosexual relationships.”




Theological Ethics



3, Sex, pp. 271-272.Slide24

“All people (including Christians) are called to redemption and sanctification in their being as sexed creatures, as male and female. Persistently tempted to borrow their understandings of the significance and meaning of sexual being as male or female from sources which are themselves radically alienated from God who is Lord of all creation, it would therefore be unsurprising if these ‘understandings’ were not themselves forms of self-alienation.”


Sexuality: Redeemed and Celebrated

1 Timothy 4:1-5

“Salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ is not redemption from sexuality, sex, or our sexual impulses. It is rather redemption within our created sexuality, necessitated by distortions of the Fall”Slide26

God’s will for today


this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you



1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 ESV)