The second issue of the Journal of Christian Studies, volume 1 will be available soon! As a reminder: Issue 2 is available by subscription only! You can subscribe to the journal here. This issue has outstanding contributors to the topic "Marriage and Human Sexuality."
Here is the Table of Contents for this issue:
Jeffrey Peterson (Lipscomb University—Austin Center), "The Nuptial Vision of the Bible and Its Opponents."
Carl R. Trueman (Grove City College), "Plastic People, Liquid World."
Mary Eberstadt (Catholic Information Center, and Faith and Reason Institute, Washington, D. C.), "Unforeseen Consequences of the Sexual Revolution."
Keith D. Stanglin (Center for Christian Studies), "Christian Moral Reasoning and the Question of Homosexual Practice."
DeAnn Barta Stuart (Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture), "When Love Isn't Love."
Darren Williamson (School of Discipleship, Tigard, Oregon), "'Male and Female He Made Them': The Church and the Transgender Debate."
Patrick Fagan (Director of MARRI, the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, and editor of Marripedia.org, Great Falls, VA), "Did You Know...? Some Social Science Data on Sexuality."
Here is an excerpt from the editor's note to this issue:
In 1 Corinthians 11:18–19, Paul writes, “When you come together in assembly I hear that schisms exist among you, and in part I believe it. For there must be heresies among you, in order that those who are proved might be evident among you.” The language of necessity may be a tongue-in-cheek overstatement by the apostle, but he does suggest that something good can come from schisms or heresies. How can heresy—or, let’s just say, false teaching—possibly be good? First of all, it is not the case that God causes the divisions; the “must” is not a divinely determined necessity. Rather, false teaching is a result of human ignorance or sin (or both). As with all that is wrong in the world, though, God works to bring something good out of it. But what is that good thing? In short, it is this: false teaching provides an occasion for testing or proving what is true.
This phenomenon may be seen throughout the history of the church. Controversy drives the development and codification of doctrine. Valentinians helped the early church clarify its beliefs about God and creation. Marcion impelled the church to think about its New Testament canon. Docetists, Ebionites, and Arians, among many others, helped the church articulate a more coherent and biblical doctrine of Christ and the Trinity. Examples abound. Nearly a thousand years after Paul, Hugh of Saint Victor said, “The Lord uses heretics to fulfill his intentions, because, while they may draw some of the Church to their errors, others become firmer in their faith and their perception of truth.” In general, every controversy causes the church to think more seriously about its embedded theology and the implications of that theology for the church. Indeed, the crisis can be viewed as an opportunity.
If this is so, then disciples of Christ today find ourselves in a time of great opportunity. Recent years have seen rapid and significant shifts in cultural attitudes regarding sexual ethics. The traditional Christian description of marriage as the godly union of one man and one woman, in which context sexual intercourse is primarily for reproduction, has been dismissed not only by society but also by many Christians. Modern culture’s new sexual orthodoxy includes a range of beliefs and practices that are antithetical to Scripture and the Christian tradition. I am speaking, of course, of the “LGBTQ+” message that is conveyed through popular culture and media. In certain sub-cultures of our society, the change may be more or less pronounced. But, in general, pop culture outlets have squashed dissent, announcing that the change is here to stay.
The church has not really gone out seeking this conversation about sexuality. Secular culture seems obsessed with sex, especially so since the so-called Sexual Revolution of the 1960s. The obsession has been brought to our doorstep; the conversation has come to us. David Gushee correctly observes that “neutrality is not an option…. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.”
As implied above, Christian responses have varied. Certainly, the cultural and ecclesial situation has led to much confusion and division across denominations. First, some have already capitulated and simply succumbed to the zeitgeist. Much of progressive Christianity is fully “open and affirming” (that is, embracing non-traditional sexual expression), entirely on board the cultural bandwagon. Others take the easiest response—they ignore the issue. It could be that many of these Christians do not know what to think, and so they simply do not think much about it at all. This group may also include some who appreciate traditional marriage, but they do not consider the matter all that serious. If they continue to ignore such matters, then, within a decade or two, the culture will likely move them to the open and affirming position.
Still other Christians personally reject or resist the agenda of the new sexual ethic. Many of them remain silent, though. Why? It could be that they censor themselves because they are scared of the repercussions, and such fear is justifiable. If ignoring the issue is the easiest response to the cultural challenge, then Christian resistance to a libertine sexual ethic is, arguably, the most difficult response, for no one wants to be labeled a hater simply for advocating the sexual ethic that is taught in Scripture and throughout the church’s history. Additionally, they may be silent because they have not been equipped with the tools to use or words to say. They do not know how to resist confidently, or, to put it positively, they do not know how to speak the truth in love effectively.
In a fellowship of autonomous churches, such as Churches of Christ, where are these discussions happening? Who is going to have them? And, perhaps most important, is one permitted to raise such questions, let alone dissent from the new conventional wisdom, without being called hateful or a “homophobe?” It is not so in popular culture. Will it be allowed in our churches? ...
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