Advent & Sex-lessness: here’s to singleness & celibacy!

Yesterday, I wrote a post about some implications of Advent on sex. And, of course, I stressed the goodness and beauty and transcendance of that act as God intended it.

And it was one of my least read posts in a long time (as an update, interestingly, this is to date one of my most-read posts of all time!). I’m wondering if people are tired of hearing Christians talk about sex ad nauseam.

It is my humble opinion that the American Church right now is currently obsessed with sex. Well, to be fair, it’s always been obsessed with it; but now, it seems, the obsession is with “taking it back” and yelling and screaming about how Christians are just as sex-crazed, sex-eager, and sexually exciting as the most ardent secular hedonist.

Of course, they all qualify it by saying (as I even said yesterday) that this (oh my god really amazing Christian sex that we value so much) has to be “within the confines of marriage”. And so, this sex-obsession often expresses itself in an equal obsession with marriage. Preparing people for it, encouraging people towards it, beating up guys that aren’t “pursuing” women (or at least “preparing to”), and giving women tips on how to attract a “good, godly husband.”

And yet, yesterday, when I was thinking about the Advent of God into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, and the idea of the Incarnation, I realized something:

What is the story of Advent but the story of a virgin girl who has a virgin birth of a man who will remain a virgin his whole life?

The story of the Incarnation is, relatively speaking, one of the most “sex-less” stories in the Bible.
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Advent & Sex: we are holy ground


Update: I’ve also written some Advent thoughts on singleness and celibacy.

In Advent, we celebrate that God came as a human, in a mysterious act called the Incarnation. But in this act, God didn’t merely clothe himself in humanity. Flesh and blood were not the trappings of God. Instead, he became human. It was no mere illusion, nor was it a facade God took on.

God became flesh and blood.

God found it suitable (desirable, even!) to take on a body–a created, formed, physical, material body. The implications of this are huge. Take sex for example.

Advent show us that the created world can contain God, and it still does not violate God’s Holiness–his “Otherness” or “Separated-ness”. He can know his Creation in such union and intimacy and yet still remain transcendent above it. Our bodies do not challenge his Holiness. He can take it on and still remain Other. He became “one” with us in a similar way to how we become “one” with others in sex. With this in mind, let’s unpack some implications:
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Two quick questions for all you complementarians out there….

I’m still in the process of writing my first post on a specific text (1 Timothy 2:8-15). It’s not done yet (I chose to have an amazing of night full of wings and really good friends instead of writing it).

Because of the impending holiday weekend and the travel days that it entails, I’ll probably be putting that one up on Monday (sorry to get everyone fired up just to drop you for almost a week), but in the meantime, I wanted to solicit some help from my more conservative friends out there (also usually called “complementarians“) on a couple of questions I’ve had during this on-going series on Women in the Church. First:

Under a complementarian view, what would the traits of a failed husband in this respect look like? In other words, what does a “feminine” husband look like? Does that look anything like the way you think women are supposed to act in the home?

What I’m getting at is this: when I think of these answers (on both extremes), I think of terms like “weak, passive, indecisive, silent, not-present, abusive, exploitative, manipulative, and aggressive”.
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“Sleeping Alone”: for all those hurting in their singleness…

My good (online) friend Lore Ferguson (for whose site I recently guest-posted) just had an old post of her’s published on the site The High Calling. It’s called “Sleeping Alone” and it’s some of her meditations on the sustaining life of God in her singleness.

And wow, is it amazing. It’s raw, honest, unflinching, and gracious. Read it right now and then come back here. Here’s an excerpt:

Singleness is a beautiful thing and when I take account of the past decade I see a faithfulness to its beauty in my life in a way that only comes from grace, but I also see a succession of tiny funerals every step of the way. A cemetery full of them. Adventures I have had alone. Mornings I have woken alone. Moments I have reveled in alone. Each one bringing joy in its experience and mourning in its completion.

Life is meant to be shared and marriage is not the only way to share life, I know this, but the mystery of two flesh becoming one is a mingling that cannot be known by me, with my bed all to myself, 400 thread count sheets, open window, and quiet morning. And I mourn this.

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On Masculinity (here’s looking at you, Driscoll & Piper) [QUOTE]

I know it’s a little long for a quote, but I promise, it’s very worth your time.

Within Christianity, the masculine image of God is often defined in these terms of control, power and dominion. Much of the Christian faith, though, requires that men recognize their limitations and depend on God. We accept salvation through his son and sanctification by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a faith where the last shall be first (Mk 10:31), marked by a life of service to others….

Consider the definition offered by John Piper: “At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships” ([Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood] Piper and Grudem, 2006, p. 35). It is a definition that emphasizes leading, providing for and protecting women. But it offers no insight on how men relate to one another. Depending on your reading of this definition, it either smacks of male chauvinism or places greater value on women’s needs. No doubt well intentioned, it offers little guidance for men who are already confused, wounded and lost about their masculinity….
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Weekly Must-Reads {01.09.11}

Last week I experimented with a little feature on my new favorite bookmarking service, Diigo, where it would automatically write up a weekly blog post containing all my bookmarks for the week and the comments I posted and quotes I highlighted.  Well, I went in blind and the post last week was a little messy.  So, this week, I took some time to clean it up a bit.  This week’s articles range the gamut from abortion to blogging.  If you click the links, they will take you to a special annotated version of the page where you can even see the little sticky notes I left.  Please read any of these articles that interest you and please–if you could–let me know what you think down in the comments.  Thanks.

U.S. teenager tortured in Kuwait and barred re-entry into the U.S. – Glenn Greenwald –

I really don’t think the Founders wanted us to be terrified of our government.  Just think of it: you as an American citizen–with no legal record of any kind–could be studying abroad and have this happen to you.  This guy had NO indication that he could end up here.  This is like some crazy movie.  I’m actually scared of my country.

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Open Mic: A Theology of Transgenderism? (pt.iii)

As I said in a previous post in this series (Part 1, Part 2), this problem of how the Church must address Trangenderism will be an increasing problem as time goes on. This is mainly because of how the whole idea of gender identity has changed in the past 100 years.

It is only since Sigmund Freud that we use our sexuality as an “identity”. And it’s only after the Enlightenment that living in light of one’s natural identity is seen as the highest ideal.

Now, Christianity agrees with the Enlightenment on this point, but with a caveat. A very, very important caveat that should shape this entire discussion, especially as it pertains to how we actually counsel and interact with transgendered individuals.

The caveat is this: humanity is the image-bearer of God. We are called to reflect and live in light of that Image. When we don’t do this, we are actually going against how humanity was truly designed to live. We are, in effect, acting less human, not more.

Therefore, as we become Christians and our hearts are (slowly) changed, we live more and more as our fully-human, Resurrection selves. Being joined to Jesus as our representative for true humanity, we find our truest, most truly human identity in him–not in our sexuality, not in our physical sex, not in our gender.

In Christ there is neither slave nor free, Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, gay nor straight. There is only Christ.

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Open Mic: A Prolegomena of Transgenderism (pt.ii)

UPDATE: This series is finished. Part 1 can be found here and Part 3 is here.

Yesterday, I started a little miniseries on Transgenderism in response to a question a friend sent me. They were wondering how Christians are supposed to look at this particular issue. I laid out the questions and definitions involved here and asked for feedback (be sure to read all of those comments). Today, I’m talking about a “Prolegomena of Transgenderism”.

Prolegomena” is just a big (but appropriate) word that basically refers to all the things we must keep in mind before trying to answer big questions. For example, in Systematic Theology, Prolegomena is when we lay out the very foundation of our knowledge about the given topics and the presuppositions that will guide us through the rest of the endeavor. That’s what this post is. I want to explore a couple of perspectives that have driven a lot of the answers I’ve seen about this before trying to come to firm conclusions in the next post. So, with all that being said, let’s get started.

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“Let’s Get it On” – Song of Solomon blog


I have a new post up on my Song of Solomon Bible Study blog.

It was written a few days ago and since then it has been brought to my attention how weird it might be that I concern myself even somewhat with the sexuality of married couples.  The thought process is: you’re single.  Therefore, you have no business telling couples how the Bible says to have good sex.  It’s inappropriate and “shameful”.

My favorite metaphor for my relationship with Christ is the Bride/Bridegroom metaphor and the subsequent parallels between the sexuality and spirituality.  I love it.  But is it weird for me to think this way before I’m married?  I’ve thought and talked like this for several years now and no one has ever told me it’s awkward or inappropriate, but now a couple of people have, so I’m wondering:

Is it inappropriate, awkward, or weird for me to write the kind of post I just did on the Song of Solomon Bible Study site?

I’d really like feedback from everyone.  WARNING: the post is potentially sort of sexually graphic.  No more than Song of Solomon itself, but still – Jewish boys weren’t allowed to read the book until they were twelve for a reason.  So if you are drawn into temptation particularly through text and words, you probably shouldn’t read.

But for everyone else, please read and let me know.  I really am ready to change my perspective on this if I need to, I just need some feedback from my brothers and sisters.  So, here it is.  Read and let me know what you’re thinking.

I hope everyone has a good weekend.  I’ll be back on Monday with some posts I’m pretty excited about including posts on Christian cursing and the Southern Baptist Convention.

“Do I?” (a poem)

[Audio for “Do I?” from upcoming book of poetry “Of Clefts and Gardens”]

Just because I’m joined to One above
does this mean I am in want of desire for
one below,
one beneath,
one under?

Do I not dream the same as you?
A joyful consummation at the end of the day
of rising and falling
rising and falling?

Of breaths and sighs
of whimpers and cries
and half taken breaths whispered in my ear
under the weight of knowing

that which was good before we Fell,
before we fell away from Him-
fell away from one another.

Let me fall back into Him, into you:
fall for you as I rise into Thy love
and thine
and mine.

Restored –
a picture thereof as my soul is known
and I know this union once more.

So can I want?  Can I dream?
Can I read the words of wisdom old
and long for your fingers to drip with myrrh
as I reach into your garden latch

and seek the rose I long to taste?

May I?