Category Archives: Sexuality & Gender
This week’s announcement of a new marriage vow to be introduced by the Anglican Diocese of Sydney* has caused quite a stir across a range of circles.
The vow, which is expected to be approved at the synod of the Sydney Diocese in October, and which may not in fact comply with federal laws, would require a minister to ask the bride regarding her groom, “Will you honour and submit to him, as the church submits to Christ?” and for her to pledge ”to love and submit” to her husband.
These words are taken unmistakably from Ephesians 5:22:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Complementarians regularly claim that their understanding of this text is in line with its “plain meaning” or “plain sense”. In other words, women submitting to men in marriage (and often in other areas) is the literal meaning of the text.
But the idea of a “plain meaning” of a text, particularly ancient texts far removed from our own chronological and geographical context, is at best questionable. Read the rest of this entry
This is old news now, and I hate to be jumping on the bandwagon, but here it is anyway…
Jared Wilson’s post over at the Gospel Coalition entitled The Polluted Waters of 50 Shades of Grey, Etc. has received a lot of attention. In the post, an apparent response to the new-book-on-the-block “50 Shades of Grey”, Wilson approvingly provides a lengthy quote from Doug Wilson’s thirteen year old book Fidelity: What it means to be a One-Woman Man. The quote addresses rape and sexual authority. I will also quote the passage in its entirety:
A final aspect of rape that should be briefly mentioned is perhaps closer to home. Because we have forgotten the biblical concepts of true authority and submission, or more accurately, have rebelled against them, we have created a climate in which caricatures of authority and submission intrude upon our lives with violence.
When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.
But we cannot make gravity disappear just because we dislike it, and in the same way we find that our banished authority and submission comes back to us in pathological forms. This is what lies behind sexual “bondage and submission games,” along with very common rape fantasies. Men dream of being rapists, and women find themselves wistfully reading novels in which someone ravishes the “soon to be made willing” heroine. Those who deny they have any need for water at all will soon find themselves lusting after polluted water, but water nonetheless.
True authority and true submission are therefore an erotic necessity. When authority is honored according to the word of God it serves and protects — and gives enormous pleasure. When it is denied, the result is not “no authority,” but an authority which devours.
A number of high profile bloggers have responded critically to Wilson’s post Read the rest of this entry
Yesterday Christian leaders from a range of denominations in Sydney, including Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Baptist, joined together in a show of unity.
So what has the power to unite the largest branches of Christianity in Australia?
Is it global poverty and the recent deferral of Australia’s foreign aid commitments? No.
Youth homelessness? No.
Problem gambling? No.
Youth suicide? Australia’s failure to sign the ban against cluster bombs? The danger posed to the Great Barrier Reef and other natural beauty by mining companies? Australia’s role in unjust wars in Central and South-West Asia? Closing the gap on Aboriginal life expectancy?
Australia’s treatment of refugees? Wealth disparity? Racism? Climate Change?
No, no, no and no.
Hello readers! It’s nice to be back on board life.remixed after a week of work travel – apologies for the gap.
Since I’ve been away for a little bit this post will be reflecting on an event from last week. Though it is a little old, I feel that this event deserves some treatment, particularly since I have been asked about it a number of times.
On Wednesday last week the Christian Post ran a story entitled John Piper: ‘God Gave Christianity a Masculine Feel’. It reported that Piper, at the 2012 ‘Desiring God’ Conference (which he founded), declared “God has given Christianity a masculine feel.”
The full transcript of the sermon records that Piper, speaking to a room full of pastors, backed up this claim by saying:
God has revealed himself to us in the Bible pervasively as King, not Queen, and as Father, not Mother. The second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son. The Father and the Son created man and woman in his image, and gave them together the name of the man, Adam (Genesis 5:2). God appoints all the priests in Israel to be men. The Son of God comes into the world as a man, not a woman. He chooses twelve men to be his apostles. The apostles tell the churches that all the overseers—the pastor/elders who teach and have authority (1 Timothy 2:12)—should be men; and that in the home, the head who bears special responsibility to lead, protect, and provide should be the husband (Ephesians 5:22–33).
The sermon goes on, concentrating largely on the ‘masculine’ life of 19th-century English bishop John C. Ryle. I will refrain from quoting it at length (click the link above for the full text). Much has been written on other blogs, so I will simply offer some points of interest as to why I think Piper’s claims are simplistic, exegetically sloppy and ideologically-driven. Read the rest of this entry
The Australian Labor Party (the current government) voted on its policy position regarding same-sex marriage at its National Conference; it voted to change its platform in support of changing the Marriage act to include same-sex couples.
In addition was a rally held in the Sydney CBD, with somewhere between five to ten thousand participants, calling for marriage equality in Australia.
In response to these events many Christians I know on Facebook posted comments critical of the push for the recognition of same-sex marriage.
Some, on both sides of the argument, were reasoned and thoughtful, recognising that there are in fact different viewpoints on the matter. They merely sought to offer an opinion in a respectful way.
Others were not so gracious.
But what struck me most was the amount of Christians posting quotations from the Bible, completely out of context and, by my judgement, absent of any form of exegetical investigation.
Something that I found fascinating was the repeated quotation of verses pertaining to Sodom and Gomorrah. Read the rest of this entry
Late last week Kyle Sandilands, a well-known Australian breakfast radio host, made headlines all over the country.
In response to a news article by a female journalist about the unpopularity of his new television show, Sandilands launched into an on-air rant:
Some fat slag on news.com.au has already branded it a disaster. You can tell by reading the article that she just hates us and has always hated us …
… What a fat bitter thing you are. You’re deputy editor of an online thing. You’ve got a nothing job anyway. You’re a piece of shit …
… This low thing, Alison Stephenson, deputy editor of news.com.au online. You’re supposed to be impartial, you little troll …
… You’re a bullshit artist, girl. You should be fired from your job. Your hair’s very ’90s. And your blouse. You haven’t got that much titty to be having that low cut a blouse. Watch your mouth or I’ll hunt you down.
Within days 20,000 people had signed an online petition calling for sponsors of Sandilands’ radio show, and also the radio network on which it appears, to drop their support. So far at least 16 sponsors have pulled out in varying capacities.
Much has been said about this event in opinion columns throughout the weekend, so I will not add to the cacophony.
What I do wish to add however is some thoughts about the underlying misogyny reflected in Sandilands’ comments. Read the rest of this entry
Many Christians are very critical of contemporary sexual culture, and rightly so. But what is the worldview behind this culture of so-called sexual liberation? Perhaps, by directly attacking modern ideas about sexuality, Christians are like people trying to scoop water out of their hallway with a teaspoon when it would be much smarter to turn off the flooding bathtub.
In their book Colossians Remixed, Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat make a very brief and powerful statement about the connection of contemporary sexual culture to our culture of consumption. Speaking about Colossians 3:5 they say:
Sexual sin, greed and idolatry – what is the relation among these? Why end a list of sexual sins with an economic sin? Because sexual sin is fundamentally a matter of covetousness, an insatiable, self-gratifying greed that has the control and consumption of the other person as its ultimate desire. Sexual sin is not sin because it is sexual but because it is invariably covetous. it replaces the pleasure and sexual enjoyment of two people in a loving relationship with a self-centred gratification of sexual longings that can never be fulfilled apart from commitment. Read the rest of this entry
This post is the third part of a series on Walter Wink’s views on homosexuality and the Bible. It is advisable to read Part 1 on the Old Testament and Part 2 on the New Testament before continuing below.
The very notion of a “sex ethic” reflects the materialism and splitness of modern life, in which we increasingly define our identity sexually. Sexuality cannot be separated off from the rest of life. No sex act is “ethical” in and of itself, without reference to the rest of a person’s life, the patterns of the culture, the special circumstances faced, and the will of God. What we have are simply sexual mores, which change, sometimes with startling rapidity, creating bewildering dilemmas. Just within one lifetime we have witnessed the shift from the ideal of preserving one’s virginity until marriage, to couples living together for several years before getting married. The response of many Christians is merely to long for the hypocrisies of an earlier era.
– Walter Wink
In this final offering on Walter Wink’s views set out in his article Homosexuality and the Bible, I will attempt to gather up the loose ends that have escaped the net spread out in the previous two posts of this series.
For Wink there is nothing more and nothing less at stake in this debate than the way we read Scripture. His view seems to be that literalistic readings will not do, given that the Bible is culturally bound (it was inspired by God through culturally-bound humans), and that our readings/interpretations are necessarily selective and culturally bound: Read the rest of this entry
This post is the second part of a series on Walter Wink’s views on homosexuality and the Bible. It is advisable to read Part 1 on the Old Testament before continuing below.
The debate over homosexuality is a remarkable opportunity, because it raises in an especially acute way how we interpret the Bible, not in this case only, but in numerous others as well. The real issue here, then, is not simply homosexuality, but how Scripture informs our lives today.
With these words of Walter Wink we launch into the second part of this series on homosexuality and the Bible. In the last post I summarised Wink’s case as presented in his article Homosexuality and the Bible in regards to the Old Testament. In short his argument could be summarised as claiming we cannot simple say “the Bible says” while holding an inconsistent approach to interpretation in which we allow some parts of the Bible to dictate our behaviour while ignoring others for no reason other than arbitrary selection (based on our own cultural preferences). In this sequel I will summarise Wink’s comments on each of the relevant New Testament passages that speak directly about homosexuality (since there are only a few). Read the rest of this entry
Sexual issues are tearing our churches apart today as never before. The issue of homosexuality threatens to fracture whole denominations, as the issue of slavery did a hundred and fifty years ago. We naturally turn to the Bible for guidance, and find ourselves mired in interpretative quicksand. Is the Bible able to speak to our confusion on this issue?
These words of Dr. Walter Wink, professor emeritus at Auburn Theological Seminary, ring truer than ever as Australians engage in constant debate about homosexual marriage. Whatever our position we must recognise that this is not a simple debate, nor is it abstract; it affects real people who are made in the image of God.
This post begins a two-part (maybe three-part?) series on Walter Wink’s thoughts on the Bible and homosexuality. This series is intended for the purpose of asking important hermeneutical and exegetical questions that often go overlooked in the course of all-too-common prooftexting. Such a practice is, in my view, inconsistent; why do we accept some of the Bible’s imperatives, but not others? Surely we need deeper biblical engagement on complex issues such as homosexuality. It is for this kind of discussion that I offer these posts. Read the rest of this entry