fbpx
But What About The Christian Sexual Ethic? | POD 024

But What About The Christian Sexual Ethic? | POD 024

Show Notes

But What About Christian Sexual Ethics?

Have you ever felt that the Christian sexual standard is overwhelmingly narrow? In this episode, we delve into the topic of Christian sexual ethics with our host, Bill Gorman, and guests Ben Beasley and Nikki Dieker. Together, they navigate the complex landscape of human sexuality, revising Christ Community’s paper to make it more relevant to today’s cultural moment. Throughout the conversation, they discuss the theological and practical implications of the Christian sexual ethic, addressing questions about church life, gender dysphoria, and more. They also highlight the importance of community, spiritual discipline, and the pursuit of Jesus in navigating these challenging conversations. Get ready for a thought-provoking and insightful discussion that offers guidance and resources for those seeking to follow Jesus in today’s world.

 

THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Identity and Vulnerability: They discuss the importance of questioning one’s identity in relation to core beliefs of the Christian faith, and the need for a supportive and safe community within the church, especially in dealing with the vulnerability and brokenness associated with discussing Christian sexual ethics.
  • Community and Accountability: The significance of being involved in a faith community surrendered to scripture, rich spiritual friendships, and the importance of accountability in living out a Christian life and sexual ethic. The emphasis on the communal nature of faith and the need for support from others in following Jesus.
  • Spiritual Discipline and Faith: The impact of rigorous spiritual discipline, self-mastery, and faith, including spiritual disciplines like prayer, study, and fasting, in guiding one’s life and recognizing and redirecting bodily desires.

#ChristianSexualEthics #FormedLifePodcast #BiblicalSexuality #TheologyOfSexuality #SpiritualCommunity #FaithfulLiving #ScriptureAndSexuality #CulturalContex #JesusAndSexuality #ChristianEthicalLiving

 

RESOURCES:

CCKC Position Paper | Exploring God’s Design for Human Sexuality

POD 003 | Gender Dysphoria Issues | Dr. Julia Sadusky

POD 007 | Addressing Sexual Brokenness: Clues to Healing Through Story and Curiosity

POD 016 | Exploring Same-Sex Sexual Expression in Romans 1 with Greg Coles

Gentle and Lowly | Dane Ortland

Does The Bible Support Same-Sex Marriage? | Preston Sprinkle

Embodied | Preston Sprinkle

Finding Your Best Identity | Andrew Bunt

 

GUEST BIOS:

Ben Beasley enjoys communicating God’s Word in speech and writing, and he is interested in the church as a place of transformation for people individually and collectively. He is fond of exploring the many questions of faith and spiritual formation by engaging with the works of authors, poets, and artists. Ben received his Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and his Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Nikki Dieker has been on staff at Christ Community since 2017, but has attended the Olathe Campus with her family since 2007. She is married to her best friend Ryan, and has three incredible children, Noah, Calvin, and Hadley. She loves hiking, getting lost in books, coffee, and spending time with friends. Nikki is passionate about connecting people to one another and the church.

 

QUOTES:

“We need each other. And so I think, yeah, we need those mothers and fathers who’ve gone before us. We need those brothers and sisters who are running beside us. And we need those kids that we’re encouraging that are coming behind us.” — Nikki Dieker

 

“We are all sexually broken. So yeah, it highlights that this is something that rubs up against each one of us in deeply personal places, because we’re all broken.” — Nikki Dieker

 

“The traditional Christian sexual ethic just feels like, to our moral taste buds, it almost feels, like, absurd. It doesn’t, you know, like, it doesn’t taste well.” — Ben Beasley

 

“Being involved in a faith community, is key. A community that is surrendered to scripture. That’s where life is. And when we follow Jesus, we follow him through his word.” — Ben Beasley

 

CHAPTERS:

00:00 Church revises paper on Christian sexual ethics.

06:24 Positive feedback on updated Christian sexuality content.

07:06 Paper revisions respond to evolving cultural context.

12:55 CS Lewis’ challenge on following Jesus honestly.

15:14 Modern age of identity questioning and harm.

18:40 Embracing vulnerability, shame, and mental health.

22:58 Growing in faith, friendship, and intimacy experiences.

Carrying the Cross of Gender Dysphoria

Carrying the Cross of Gender Dysphoria

The second of a 4-part series titled, “Gender Dysphoria & the Question of Distinctly Christian Resources,this blog originally appeared January 21, 2018, on the website of the Andreas Center at Dordt University in a publication titled “in all things,” and was written by Mark A. Yarhouse, Psy.D. & Julia Sadusky, M.A, We repost this blog by permission in its original format. Visit in all things website to read all parts of this series.

One thing we have seen as a successful method of coping for gender dysphoria is offering oneself in service to others. This may seem counterintuitive at first. Isn’t it draining to invest in other people, especially in the very moments when a person is struggling immensely? But, one biological female who uses she/her pronouns and describes herself as transgender shared otherwise: “Helping other people—focusing on the problems of others. I was created to love God and love people. God made me generous and empathic and that’s what matters” (Yarhouse & Houp, 2016, p. 58). This is not as surprising a conclusion as it might seem, at least not when taken in light of the many Scriptural references to receiving much in giving of one’s self (Proverbs 11:25; Matthew 10:8; Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:11; Galatians 5:13). In fact, we are told that the greatest among us will be servants to others (Matthew 23:11), and that the mission of Jesus was “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:27-28). Thus, the transgender person’s generosity with her time and talents is a beautiful response to Christ’s call to follow His example. In the midst of her own struggle, she can offer a powerful witness of Christ-like love and humility in serving.Perhaps the greatest contribution from Christianity has to do with our experience of enduring hardship. A discussion of hardship and pain in the life of a Christian is often Christ-centered, as it entails uniting with Jesus in His suffering. Certainly, it is true that Christ invites each person to follow Him through concrete acts of charity and service. After all, the ultimate expression of God’s love for us, the greatest expression of love and the most radical act, was His suffering and death (John 15:13). His suffering, once for all, won our salvation. But still He commanded that we pick up the daily cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24-26). In Paul’s words, the task for us is to identify with His suffering. But why? Why would a loving God command the embracing of a cross? If He loved us, wouldn’t He carry the burden for us? What is the value of Him carrying it with us?

 

Because He knew what we do not always remember. Death is the door to Resurrection. Encountering our weakness is the path to experiencing grace beyond human comprehension. It seems that we would be much less aware of our need for God if we were not brought face-to-face with crosses that are too heavy for one person to carry alone. Grace makes possible what certainly is, apart from grace, impossible.  If you are hyperaware of your weakness, your lack, and your inability to cope, precisely there is the place where your childlike need for a Savior is discovered. Jesus, perhaps, is able to unite more fully to us in those moments, and to work more fully within us when we come to Him as children, desperately in need of Him.

Uniting suffering to Christ involves a conscious choice to embrace the cross and share it with Him. We can fight the cross, drop the cross, look away from the cross, compare it to that of others, but it will still be there. How are we to respond to the cross? Surely God knows our desire to distance ourselves from it. Why then does He call us to “Come”? Again, he knows that which we easily forget. Embracing the cross is a prerequisite to Christian joy. Whether it be minor inconveniences, temporary pain, chronic illness, or death itself, the freedom that is promised to the Christian is discovered in a willful assent to the pain of the present moment. Rather than fighting it, which brings its own challenges, accepting the cross is liberating. And in this freedom, we can face the cross that we fear most, and enter into joy beyond all telling.

Every person longs for joy, and the early Christians wrote less about pleasure than they did about joy, according to Servais O.P. Pinckaers’ book Morality: The Catholic View (2001). We are fully alive when we are most joyful. This reveals the supreme human calling to endless joy: that is, eternal life. But joy, properly understood, is associated with enduring hardship. Joy is tied to pain that is endured, and, as a result, joy itself is enduring:

Joy is lasting, like the excellence, the virtues, that engender it. Sense pleasure is individual, like sensation itself. It decreases when the good that causes it is divided up and shared more widely; it ceases altogether when the good is absent. Joy is communicable; it grows by being shared and repays sacrifices freely embraced. Joy belongs to the purity and generosity of love. (p. 78)

Too often, we long to find life for ourselves, but we find ourselves less drawn to the way by which this life and this joy comes—by risking or even losing one’s life for Christ’s sake (Matthew 16:24-26). We are much more comfortable praying for healing than for the grace to suffer well. And perhaps as a result of our constant exposure to hedonic goals of the avoidance of pain and the pursuit of pleasure, we easily forget that the Christian faith stands in opposition to an easy life, even going so far as to say that Jesus on the cross embodies an absolute rejection of the notion. His embracing of His cross with absolute consent of His will reveals an altogether different goal for the Christian, and a potential pathway when faced with enduring conditions.

Christian history demonstrates rich examples of embracing suffering. Many Christians before us have walked this path, and we stand on ground soaked with the blood of martyrs who were witnesses of the fruit of this embrace of suffering. In suffering, though, they did not lose sight of Christian hope. Their hope was the root of their joy. Theirs was not a grim-faced suffering, or a begrudging acceptance. At the same time, the saints certainly were not superficial or naively optimistic. Rather, their hope was a grace itself, sufficient for their present difficulty. It was a hope that did not disappoint, we are told.

Still, how can we be sure, lest we find ourselves expecting good things to come and left wanting? We only have to look back to the reason for our hope. Hope certainly did not disappoint the first Christians when they found an empty tomb and came to know that our Lord had risen, just as He had said (Matthew 28:6). Hope did not disappoint when the Holy Spirit descended in the upper room, soon after Jesus had promised He would send the Advocate. Hope did not disappoint when thousands were converted and baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, just as He had told them.

Certainly Christ loves us now with as much love as He loved His other disciples. He will give hope in our own dark nights and raise us into newness of life, just as He said. This brings us back to the reminder that it is in suffering well that the beauty of life in Christ is made manifest. We rejoice in our suffering precisely because it is through our hardships (and handling of those hardships) that God is glorified. This joy is not exhibited primarily through a smiling face. Sometimes it is through tears and open hands that might feel empty. Suffering in these moments, especially, is an act of worship, in which believers unite their suffering to Christ.

Gender dysphoria is painful and real. The question is, is it possible to validate the reality and depth of the suffering and invite one another to pursue Christian joy in and through this particular hardship? Or will this only ever lead to trivializing another’s pain? Can we discuss sanctification without moving the entire discussion of gender dysphoria into the realm of morality or moral categories of sin?  With our transgender family, friends, and neighbors, we as Christians have not always done so well. This could be because we have been less vocal in calling one another to be sanctified through suffering, while shouting down those we have labeled “uniquely sinful” (perhaps the phrase “uniquely wounded” is more appropriate in these cases). Thus, we have missed the opportunity to recognize the real place for exploring what sanctification could look like in the lives of transgender Christians, and all other Christians.

That such a perspective is counter-intuitive to the American Christian makes it difficult to apply it to gender dysphoria. This is a countercultural move that requires a more substantive shift in perspective. This shift would necessarily include a discussion of gender dysphoria, but wouldn’t focus on it exclusively, while maintaining hedonic presuppositions for others of maximizing pleasure and avoiding pain.

Only if we agree that we all are in need of embracing suffering fully, of being sanctified through our crosses, can we begin to find unity, rather than division, when we discuss gender dysphoria. Before any discussion, we must first acknowledge that we struggle to love well when another is suffering. Too often, we have abandoned one another to carry these painful crosses in isolation, masking our departure by quoting Scripture verses as we walk out the door. Next, we must resist the urge to avoid our own pain and the pain of others. In Christian communities, we have gotten quite good at praying for miraculous healing, but there is also much to be gained in praying for the grace to suffer well, even praying for the desire to want to suffer for love of God and love of one another.

It is certainly natural and good to ask for healing, to beg Jesus to give us reprieve from the weight of the cross. And sometimes, Jesus does give reprieve through miraculous healing, whether it be physical or psychological, or the timely support of another person. Sometimes, we have to think to ask, what is our response when the cross is not lifted? Can healing take the form of spiritual healing as we receive the grace of God in the presence of our real and enduring psychological and emotional distress?

Links to other parts of this series, Gender Dysphoria & the Question of Distinctly Christian Resources:

Part 1: Introduction to Gender Dysphoria
Part 3: Sharing the Burden of Gender Dysphoria
Part 4: Continuing to Seek Answers for Gender Dysphoria

 
References

Antonio Guillamon, Carme Junque, and Esther Gomez-Gil. A Review of the Status of Brain Structure Research in Transsexualism. Archives of Sexual Behavior 45, no 7 (October 2016), 1615-1648.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Whatever You Did Unto One of the Least, You Did Unto Me. An address at the National Prayer Breakfast, February 3, 1994. Retrieved from https://www.ewtn.com/library/issues/prbkmter.txt

Pinckaers, Servais O.P., Morality: The Catholic View. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2001.

Mark A. Yarhouse, Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015.

Mark A. Yarhouse & Dara Houp, D., Transgender Christians: “Gender identity, family relationships, and religious faith.” In Sheyma Vaughn (Ed.), Transgender youth: Perceptions, media influences, and social challenges (pp. 51-65). New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2016.

A Loving and Biblical Approach to Gender Identity

A Loving and Biblical Approach to Gender Identity

A seminary professor recently said to a couple of our pastors “We used to argue about what the two genders mean, but this upcoming generation is trying to decide if there are two genders or fifty-eight, or even more.” They were discussing Christ Community’s recent paper on exploring a biblical theology of male and female. That paper raises crucial questions many of us now face on a daily basis.

Like the professor, you might also be shocked about how our culture is shifting around gender identity. For many of you, these are not abstract theoretical discussions. Perhaps you experience profound distress as your internal sense of gender doesn’t seem to match your body’s biological sex. Perhaps your son Jon recently told you his name is now Jen and asks that you only use that name from now on, and you haven’t got a clue about what to do. Perhaps these are the experiences of people you deeply love and care for and you don’t know how to both love and stay tethered to biblical truth. Even as we preach about the importance of male and female and how marriage points to the mystery of Christ and his church (Ephesians 5:21-33), these broader questions of gender identity may rush to the front of your mind. 

Whatever your story is, we desire to be a caring family who loves one another and builds our lives on biblical truth. Too often we place those things in opposition to one another. Our church affirms with our Lord Jesus and believers throughout history that “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’” (Mark 10:6; Genesis 1:27). There is a good design to our bodies being sexed, and a beautiful diversity of women and men contributing in genuinely complementary ways in the church, the family, and broader society. 

The goodness of this design does not reside, though, in cultural stereotypes. We also acknowledge that in our broken world, many people feel great discomfort when their internal sense of self doesn’t align with how culture expects people of their sex to behave. This is typically refered to as transgender identity or gender dysphoria. We want to love people with these experiences well, which means treating them with dignity, gentleness, and respect, as well as pointing them toward the goodness of being embodied, sexed creatures, as Scripture teaches.

We have created a list of ways to help us thoughtfully consider this topic, and to grow both in our capacity to love those navigating matters of gender identity, and to understand the biblical view of gender.

We do not necessarily agree with everything written or said, either in the linked resource itself or by the authors and speakers in their other publications. However, we do believe them to be helpful starting points for further conversation. The list is by no means exhaustive, but will help us begin a deeper interaction with the questions we are already wrestling with. 

 

Read 
 
Listen
  • Theology in the Raw Podcast #881 – “From Trans To Detrans: Daisy Chadra”

    It is important to listen to personal stories to keep this from becoming just another “issue” or opinion. In this podcast, Preston Sprinkle interviews Daisy, who formerly identified as transgender, and now reidentifies with her female biological sex. They discuss her story, the nature of gender dysphoria and social dysphoria, some of the gender ideology that she used to believe but no longer does, the role that the internet played in her journey and transition, and what advice she would give to parents of trans-identified kids. There are also many other interviews with people who struggle with gender identity on this podcast feed. 

 

  • Theology in the Raw Podcast #981 – “What Is Intersex?” Julie Zaagman And Dr. Sam Ashton.  

    Intersex people (umbrella term for a variety of medical conditions that cause someone to have physical/biological sex traits that differ from typical male or female characteristics in chromosomes, internal sex organs, and/or external genitalia) are often used in the gender identity discussions as justification for identifying as a different gender than one’s biological sex. In this podcast, Preston Sprinkle interviews Julie, who has an intersex condition, and Sam who completed a Ph.D. from Wheaton College on the topic of intersex. 

Attend 

However you interact with these resources, keep in mind that your pastors are here for you. If you or someone you love is wrestling alone with their gender identity, please reach out to one of us. Alongside the skilled Christian counselors in our network, we would be honored to walk this journey with you.

As we wrestle with these hard questions in our broken world, let’s not lose sight of praising God for how he created humans, men and women both, in his image to reflect his gracious rule in this world.

Psalm 8 (New Living Translation)

1 O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

    Your glory is higher than the heavens.

2 You have taught children and infants

    to tell of your strength,

silencing your enemies

    and all who oppose you.

 

3 When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—

    the moon and the stars you set in place—

4 what are mere mortals that you should think about them,

    human beings that you should care for them?

5 Yet you made them only a little lower than God

    and crowned them with glory and honor.

6 You gave them charge of everything you made,

    putting all things under their authority—

7 the flocks and the herds

    and all the wild animals,

8 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,

    and everything that swims the ocean currents.

 

9 O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!