The Journal of Christian Studies vol. I/2 is almost ready for mailing. This issue, on the theme of sexuality and marriage, will be an indispensable resource for churches and Christian leaders, and it will be available only to subscribers. Subscribe now to secure your copy.
Here is the table of contents for this issue:
The Nuptial Vision of the Bible and Its Opponents
Plastic People, Liquid World
Carl R. Trueman
Unforeseen Consequences of the Sexual Revolution
Christian Moral Reasoning and the Question of Homosexual
Keith D. Stanglin
When Love Isn’t Love
DeAnn Barta Stuart
“Male and Female He Made Them”:
The Church and the Transgender Debate
Darren T. Williamson
Did You Know…?
Some Social Science Data on Sexuality
JCS is pleased to publish Jeff Peterson's excellent article, "The Nuptial Vision of the Bible and Its Opponents." Here is an excerpt from its introduction:
“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” That first line by the novelist L. P. Hartley applies to the past world disclosed in Christian Scripture as well as any other ancient text. This article considers, briefly, a fundamental aspect of the Bible’s conception of human nature, flourishing, and destiny, which has itself become foreign to an increasing number of people in our time. I refer to this as “The Nuptial Vision of the Christian Bible.”
My basic observation is that in the Scriptures of the Old and New Covenants, as also in the Christian tradition that they inform, the lifelong marital union of man and woman ordered toward the procreation and nurture of offspring is both a pervasive norm for the ordering of personal life and a recurring symbol of divine creation and new creation. Nor are these two aspects of the Christian Bible’s “nuptial vision” unrelated. By living in accordance with the norm, the people of God exhibit the divine image in their daily existence, becoming participants with God in the creation and care of new life; their natural lives bear witness to the biblical vision of the God who creates all things, filling the earth with life, and who in Christ bestows eternal life on those he has created in his image, creating new heavens and a new earth and making all things new.
Most of the biblical texts that develop this vision are familiar, but they raise numerous and thorny issues of interpretation, and a comprehensive treatment of the subject is far beyond what space or the limits of my expertise will permit. In these remarks on a few texts and their interpretation in our context, I will hope to be found guilty only of sins of omission, which will be many. This essay focuses on how communities and individuals committed to ordering our lives in meaningful continuity with the Christian tradition should understand, teach, and practice the sexual ethics encoded in the biblical witness; such related and significant questions as what sort of legislation governing sexual mores should be supported by Christians granted the democratic franchise falls outside its scope.
The foundational text is, of course, the prologue to the biblical narrative in Genesis 1–3. God’s creative works in the Bible’s opening chapter culminate in the creation of humankind, male and female, in God’s image and likeness, given the divine charge to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:27–28). As Ronald Hendel comments, “Procreation (as the human mode of creation) is part of what makes humans correspond to the image of God.” Humankind, brought forth through the union of the man and the woman, is entrusted responsibility over the earth as God’s representatives. It is only when humankind has arrived on the scene that the evaluation of the Creator’s work is upgraded, from “good” to “very good” (Gen 1:31).
In Genesis 2, the focus narrows to the relationship between the man and the woman, described as an organic union in which they “become one flesh,” so that a man leaves one household to “cleave unto his wife” (Gen 2:24 KJV) and form another....
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