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SEX IS GOD'S IDEA: SEXUALITY IN GOD'S KINGDOM ON EARTH

Written by Rev. Dr. Adenike Yesufu
Email: ayesufu@yahoo.ca

World Health Organization says that sex occurs more than 100 million times everyday around the world. For all its frequency, sex remains a private, personal, intensely individual and complex matter in people's lives and in many cultures. God in the Garden of Eden inaugurated heterosexual relationship when He gave Eve to Adam. The Bible introduces sex. 

The Bible celebrates sex. Forget the apple narrative; sex is given for procreation and for pleasure. All societies control sexuality. All societies have social norms that grant approval to certain sexual behavior and disapproval of others. No society grants unrestricted sexual liberties. Even as sexuality is God's gift to human beings, God places limitations on sexual practices, not to cause discomfort for His creatures but to ensure that physical relations are the most special and unique expression of love and trust a human being can bestow on one another. God's limitations on sex are positive. Without limitations, sex becomes mere performance and everything is devalued.

However, in the fast-paced world of today, sex seems to be on everybody's mind and lips. Malcolm Muggeridge says Society has sex on its brain; it is a very uncomfortable place to have it. I remember The Thorn Birds, the movie based on the novel by Colleen McCullough. I also remember Richard Chamberlain's excellent performance as Father Ralph. Many people see the Thorn Birds as a love story. However, I see a priest's intense struggle with his Spirituality (his love for God) and his Sexuality (his human passion). There is no doubt that Father Ralph loves his God more than he loves the woman of focus as he claims in the movie. In spite of his unflinching commitment to God and his vocation, Father Ralph succumbed to the lure of the flesh. For me this story represents the sexual struggles of many Christians in today's world. This led me to reflect on Sexuality in God's Kingdom on earth.

Society continues to experience a sexual revolution that has led to changes in many areas of human sexuality. Attitudes towards sexual permissiveness have changed with people having a more tolerant view of it. The Media generally permissive with sexual content continues to portray non-marital sex as exciting, spontaneous sex as romantic, extra marital sex as normal and inevitable. Sexual issues have become so overt with the incessant bombardment and assault by the media that it is definitely always in everybody's face and thereby almost on everybody's mind, even on Christian minds. Who can resist the temptation of thoughtful engagement? Society has become permissive. It is now judgmental within the Church to discuss human sexuality from moral perspectives.


Negative views about homosexuality are waning. With celebrities, many high profile individuals, and religious leaders coming out of the closet, homosexuality is receiving a high five. Heterosexuality is being branded as one of the "isms" (heterosexism). Families and parents are becoming more accepting of their members and children's sexual orientation when it is different from their own. Within the Body of Christ, some are saying that God loves all people and He would never alienate any of His creatures, therefore gay people should be welcomed with love in various congregations and allowed to integrate and be assimilated. This is happening. Homosexuals are claiming that their sexual orientation should not prevent them from fully serving God and therefore should be ordained by the Church. 

Many gay and lesbians have been ordained as Bishops, Priests and Deacons in many denominations all over the world. Many Christian homosexuals are establishing their own local congregations in various parts of the world purportedly to have the freedom to worship God in any way that they deem fit. Many countries of the world have placed the seal of approval on gay marriages. The Church is not left behind. The latest discourse is should the Church marry gay people, in spite of what the Scriptures say about homosexuality as a sexual orientation. Some Christian denominations have overwhelmingly voted for gay people to be married in the Church by the Church. Bisexuality is also receiving legitimacy among Christians with the first female bisexual Congresswoman elected to office sometime ago in the USA.

Although same-sex union/marriages, ordination of gay priests etc are receiving high profile support and validation within the Church, they are not the ONLY sexual issues being played out in the Church today. God's Kingdom on earth has continued to be plagued by other definable sexual issues. Cohabitation, which has previously been branded as "living in sin", now has legitimacy, approval, and support of many societies, governments of the world and of the Church. Many heterosexual Christians, many gay and lesbian Christians, many ordained gay and lesbians in the holy orders are cohabiting in common law relationships. This brings to mind Jesus encounter with the woman at the well. Jesus told her that she has no husband because she was not married to the sixth man she was "living with". This incidence in the Bible has been subject to many interpretations.

Premarital sex, which has traditionally received low tolerance in many cultures and in the Church, has increased in favor, even for the female. Many young Christians male and female are engaging in premarital and informal sex, with abstinence being touted as "unrealistic". Teenage pregnancy has dramatically increased even among girls raised in the Church, with many young single unmarried mothers and fathers in the Church.

Many unmarried Christian adults are engaging in sex in their intimate relationships, which the Bible calls "fornication". Sexual relationships in non-marital situation have become so pervasive that it has become the norm. Marital infidelities, mistresses and sidekicks have become normal societal trends. There is nothing "shocking" about these practices in the Church anymore. They were formally regarded as plagues. Studies show that men and women, Christians and non-Christians alike are engaging in extra marital affairs with the workplace being the most fertile ground for it. Overt and uncontrolled recreational sex; certain sexual preferences like BDMS, which had previously been deemed to be sexual deviance are now being practiced by male and female Christians. Many Christians are poly-amorous. Christians male and female belong to various Swingers Clubs.

Married Christians including the so-called "Men of God", at the top of the hierarchy are struggling with the laws of attraction and are daily drawn into extra marital affairs, which the Bible calls "adultery". Many have fathered and mothered children outside of their marriages. Jesus puts a severe injunction on adultery. He says it is not just the physical violation but also engaging in thoughts about it. Infidelity has become the most prominent reason for divorce, even among Christians. Divorce has become the preferred option with the low tolerance that human beings have for each other's violations. With easy access to divorce, many Christians are divorcing despite the fact that God says He hates divorce (Malachi 2: 16). Christians constitute a sizeable portion of the 50% whose marriages end in divorce. Christians are brushing aside with deep conviction their marital commitment of "till death do us part" with the right to divorce if there is no more love in their marriages and of course if there is violence. Interestingly gay and lesbian couples are already divorcing after all the efforts to secure the rights to be married.

Christians are now heavily involved in remarriages. Christian religious leaders, Bishops, Pastors and Reverends have become "serial monogamists". The Bible says that a woman is bound by law as long as her husband lives. Remarriage can only occur when the divorced spouse dies. This is no more adhered to within the Church. Remarriages and blended families are on the increase in the world and within the Church.

Some Christians now practice "polygamy" which was contrary to the Church's position of "one man one wife", because their culture supports and accepts the practice. Many Christians remind us of some famous polygamous men in the Bible, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon. What happens to a polygamous man who becomes a Christian? Traditionally, the Church has urged them to divorce the women and keep one, but which one has always been the problem. These days the Church does not impose such limitations and choices. Polygamous men proudly come to church with their multiple wives in tow, on their arms actually dressed alike for uniformity and identity.

Today, monogamy/polygamy/singlehood dynamics are being fuelled and played out in various forms because of the lopsided male/female sex ratio. These are manifest in "kept women", "official mistresses" and children born out of wedlock by both single Christian men and women. Maybe there are Christian women out there practicing polyandry (one woman with multiple husbands). Who knows? Even old couples are wondering if it is christianly to have sex at an advanced age. Does God approve? They ask. Who knows?

All I know is that Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old when they were blessed with Isaac.
Some celibate priests are struggling with their vows, claiming that they can marry and still be able to serve God effectively. The Catholic Church has been under pressure to abandon its position of "celibacy" for priests. Jesus said that some people become eunuch for the sake of the kingdom (Mathew 19:12). Hence, celibacy they say is a choice and has never been imposed on anybody. The Bible also talks about the merit of "singleness". Those who are single have more time for the things of God while he who is married cares about how he may please his wife. (1Corinthians 7: 32). However, God says it is not good that man should be alone. The Bible also counseled that people should marry if they burn because it is better to marry than to burn. (1Corinthians 7:9).

Genesis 2: 25 says the two shall become one. That certainly speaks of sexual relations but the Bible never limits it to one dimension. The fact is if people in intimate relationships are not spiritually and psychologically one, meaningful physical oneness is impossible. This probably accounts for the emotional estrangement and disconnect that is often seen among people, Christians as well. Corinthians 7: 3-6 has the most important view of Christian sexual relations. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her and likewise also the wife to her husband. Proverbs 5: 18-19 adds rejoice with the wife of your youth ………let her breasts satisfy you at all times and be enraptured with her love. However many in today's society rebel against the limitations on sex dismissing them as "intolerable", "dictatorial", "austere" and "old fashioned". Ephesians 5:33 says let each one of you so love his wife as himself and let the wife also sees that she respects her husband. Today submission to one another, mutuality and reciprocity are now deemed as archaic and non-practical concepts. Church people now write their own marital vows to exclude some of these considerations with the approval of their leaders.

God's gift to humanity is its Sexuality as well as its Spirituality. Overall, sexuality has become thorny for many Christians. Paul drew attention to the perennial struggle between the flesh and the spirit. God's various commands and injunctions are designed to make life better for humans not complicated. If "Sex is God's Idea", as Earl Paulk suggests in the title of his book, why has human sexuality become so complicated? Just a thought! Sexuality in God's kingdom is experiencing a significant, baffling, complicated, poignant shift and transition. Que faire? As the French would ask. The question some people are asking is "Where will all these lead to?" All I can say is Nobody knows. Only God has the answer. St. Augustine says that our hearts are restless until they find rest in God.

However, one thing that comes to my mind is Revelation 7:13-14 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" And I said to him, "Sir you know". So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb". I am just wondering if this has anything to do with "sexual purity". At this stage, I think I will go with St. Augustine's prayer: Lord, make me chaste, but not yet!!!. But then, If not now, then when?

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