Debra Hirsch has recently released a book entitled, Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations about Sexuality and Spirituality. In the Washington Post’s “OnFaith” section last week, Hirsch discussed her book. She made the point that for the most part, the church often only debates the “rights-and-wrongs” about sexuality and spirituality. The church never really has a meaningful conversation about the topic. Listen to her comments….
Why do we always seem to get stuck talking about the negative stuff? Why does our first response to all things sexual usually come with a pointing finger? Why do sexual sins seem to overshadow all others, marking us with both shame and disgrace? Why do we have such a problem relating to sexual minorities, both in and outside the church? Sex certainly gets a lot of airplay, but sadly, it’s mostly negative.
Hirsch is correct. Anytime the church discusses – more like debates – the topic of sexuality, it often begins with someone declaring an act “sinful” and someone else making a counter point. Now, we come by this honestly, because the Bible often mentions sex in a negative light. The Old Testament spells out certain cultural laws, while the New Testament mentions it in very vague and uncertain terms. There are moments when sex is discussed in a positive manner, but we tend to skim over those because they make us uncomfortable.
Several years ago as we debated human sexuality in a Doctor of Ministry seminar, I jokingly said to my cohorts, “I just wish Jesus would have left us a Christian version of the Kama Sutra. It sure would have made all this much easier for us.” Alas, he did not. But maybe that decision was on purpose, because Jesus left us a guiding principle for everything we do as Christians….LOVE (Matthew 22:34-40).
Love should be the focal point of any discussion we have within the church. When we veer away from love, we tend to become judgmental and shortsighted. In my own Baptist tribe, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, we are undertaking a project called Illuminations. Leaders of this project will be charged, among other things, to address the 16 year old policy against hiring LGBTQ people.
Even within the moderate-leaning fellowship, there are individuals and churches still uncomfortable with this issue. My hope and prayer for this process is that love will guide these deliberations. CBF’s Illumination Project should not be about what is right-and-wrong about human sexuality, but whether or not we are going to let love win the day. If love is allowed to supersede all else, then each of us can maintain our individual conscience while honoring the consciences of others. As Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of Hamilton) recently said, “Love is love, is love, is love…”