The hot button discussion in American Evangelicalism this week is the recently released “Nashville Statement”. This is an attempt by some Reformed Evangelicals to clarify their views on sexuality; the statement has raised a fair amount of agreement and a fair amount of disagreement. Given the theological diversity of my friends, some have loved it and others have found it terrible. You can see the diversity of public opinion within “15 Reactions For And Against the Nashville Statement.” In my opinion, the following posts have been tremendously helpful in thinking about #NashvilleStatement: [Read more…]
Thomas Creedy wrote “An Open Letter to My Church Friends” in regards to a recent book published by Steve Chalke called Being Human: How to Become the Person You Were Meant to Be. Since anthropology and spiritual formation are such vitally valuable topics for the Church to engage upon, and the intersection of ethics and theology so important, I think Creedy is onto something when he ponders why in the world Chalke would reference Howard Yoder.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Yoder, here’s a quick recap: Yoder past away in 1997 and was a theologian and ethicist from the Mennonite tradition. One of his most popular books was The Politics of Jesus. While Yoder was/is a well known and popular theologian/ethicist, he’s become increasingly more known for the “sexual violence” he committed against up to 100 women (cf. this National Catholic Report and Ted Grimsrud’s chapter, “Reflections from a Chagrined “Yoderian” in Face of His Sexual Violence” in John Howard Yoder: Radical Theologian). Read that again: Yoder’s sexual violence is well known. Just do a google on “Howard Yoder” and you find multiple articles addressing this!!!
So when Creedy requested that Chalke, and his publisher @HodderFaith, “to retract the publication of the book, and edit it to reflect the dehumanising nature of some of the ideas,” he was simply asking what anyone would do.
Yet Chalke sees differently. In a response posted by ChristianToday.com, Chalke response can be found in the following:
Chalke told Christian Today that he didn’t know about Yoder’s personal history before referencing him in the book, but wasn’t inclined to make any changes to the book in light of the information.
He said The Politics of Jesus had been a “massively influential” book in his life. “I think it’s a fantastic piece of theology,” he added – an opinion which would no doubt be shared by many.
He acknowledged that there was a “clear gap” between “who Yoder is revealed to be and what he espoused” but added “There’s always a huge gap between our aspirations and behaviour.”
He said there were numerous cases from history of leading theological figures who had morally questionable personal lives, pointing to the widespread influence of Karl Barth, despite his unconventional domestic arrangements (he lived with both his wife and secretary, who became his mistress).
“King David was hardly sweetness and light,” he added.
He said that although he appreciated Yoder’s theology, it was not a defence of the allegations against him. “Just as I consider Karl Barth an extraordinary theologian… But it’s his theology I’m reading, and I understand there’s always be a gap between who we [say we] are and what we do.”
Uh, Houston… we have a problem. Actually, make that problems.
First, comparing Yoder’s sexual violence to Karl Barth’s alleged marital infidelity is absolute ignorance. Furthermore, concerning Barth, his alleged affair has not been proven and historians differ on what to make of Barth’s relationship with Charlotte von Kirschbaum (check out Charlotte von Kirschbaum and Karl Barth: A Study in Biography and the History of Theology for some ideas why it’s complex). It’s simply amazing anyone would suggest that sexually violating 100 women is on par with possibly having a consensual sexual relationship with someone (not that I’m suggesting marital infidelity does not matter!).
Second, the fact that authors are so quick to dismiss the relationship between theology and praxis deeply troubles me. “Well, who cares about the fact that Yoder sexually violated women.. he has good theology in regards to ethics.” Uh… WHAT?! Isn’t ethics related to this subject?
Third, and this is what I find absolutely undefendable, Chalke actually seems to imply that sexually violating women leads to a “morally questionable” life! WHAT?!?!?! Morally questionable? How about absolutely evil and dehumanizing. This has got to be an example of further Chalke rhetoric that has not been properly articulated… I hope. Unfortunately, this is a response indicating that Chalke is not interested in considering the ramifications of his publication… which is why @HodderFaith should step in and do the right thing.
Fifth, and this is aimed directly at you Mr. Chalke, you should issue an apology and use this as an opportunity to move away from continuing a cycle of dehumanization and overlooking the tremendous affects of sexual abuse and talk about the importance of integrating our theology and our practice.
Come on… do the right thing.
Continuing our look at D. F. Wright’s essay on Pauline sexual ethics, we read about the apostle Paul’s thoughts on “sex in relationship.” He writes,
“Paul cites Genesis 2:24 (“the two will become one flesh”) to demonstrate what is involved in the seemingly casual one-night stand with another woman; you become one body with her (1 Cor 6:16; note that Paul substitutes his own favorite s?ma for the Septuagint’s sarx). It is the peculiar dignity of the one-flesh union of heterosexual marriage, on the other hand, that not only is it quite compatible with spiritual union with the Lord (1 Cor 6:17), but also it expresses the myst?rion (“mystery”) of the union between Christ and his church (Eph 5:31–32; 2 Cor 11:2). The analogy covers not merely reciprocal mutual love, respect and care but the union itself. A couple’s becoming “one flesh,” which entails sexual congress whatever else it may entail, is comparable to the bonding between Christ and believers. They become members, limbs, of his body, just as a husband loving his wife loves his own body, his own self (Eph 5:28–30). There is a close affinity between the teaching of 1 Corinthians 6–7 and Ephesians 5.” (Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, 872)
There has been a lot of discussion about the sexual progressiveness of our culture due to the recent Super Bowl half-time show (e.g., Denny Burk), I am reminded that sex is not to be viewed as “dirty” or “evil” or anything like that. No! The way that God intended sex to be experienced actually requires that we have more depth in our relationship with our spouses. Very provocative.
Pornography is a serious problem, according to various studies. One study I read indicated that in the United States, $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography every second. Every second there are 28,258 Internet users viewing pornography as well as 372 Internet users typing adult search terms into search engines. Even more troubling is the fact that every thirty-nine minutes a new pornographic video is being created.
Let’s be clear. People who either consume or participate in pornography can totally be redeemed by the gospel. I think we need to be careful not to mention the above statistics in a way that makes it sound like those who are involved in pornography are unredeemable. That’s simply not true. Jesus loves people who are addicted to porn and Jesus loves people who are participating in the porn industry.
What many people think is “innocent fun” is actually extremely harmful. In fact, you do not need to be a Christian to see pornography as destructive.
Dr. Victor Cline suggests that there is a four step progression for people who continue to use pornography. It is as follows: [Read more…]
According to D. F. Wright, Paul’s second concern is under the title, “Sex, Self and Christ.” He explains this as follows:
For Paul sexual intercourse is not on a par with the satisfying of other natural appetites like eating. To that extent his approach is as inimical to the post-Christian West’s obsession with unbridled sexual gratification as it was to Corinthian licentiousness. Sexual intercourse is uniquely expressive of our whole being. “All other sins a person commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body” (1 Cor 6:18). To deal with a blatantly intolerable perversion of Christian freedom (unlike the subtler ascetic alternative), Paul applies his richly articulated concept of “body” (s?ma), which may mean—almost at one and the same time—a person’s physical nature (“the body is not meant for sexual license,” 1 Cor 6:13), the whole human self (“your bodies are members of Christ himself,” 1 Cor 6:15; “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,” 1 Cor 6:19) and the church as Christ’s body. According to Paul, “there is clearly something wrong in having both an intimate relationship with Christ as a member of his body and also a relationship which is intimate in another sense with a prostitute, especially if she is a temple prostitute” (Whiteley, 215). Abusing the body in this way conflicts also with its destiny to be raised from the dead (1 Cor 6:13–15).