Just recently we have been hearing some debates about sex and including where and with whom should sex be occurring. For various reasons we might think these debates don’t concern us. However, there are three reasons we should be concerned and why we need to start praying and be discerning our response.
Firstly, these debates reflect what our society believes to be the standards. Secondly as Christians we need to have a Biblical response to what is being said and lastly we actually have light to share on these issues.
The first debate of which I have become aware has centered on consent and what exactly does consent for sex entail. There is a newish definition or type of consent, which is termed ‘enthusiastic consent’. This aims to protect vulnerable people, usually women, from being forced to participate in sex without being completely agreeable. The debate has largely been in America but also been discussed in various circles in Australia.
The second debate is the fall out from the affair involving Barnaby Joyce and the resulting discussion considering if we can legislate for sexual behaviour in the work place. In addition there has been discussion on his appropriateness for leadership. I was encouraged that people in our society are keen to hold our leaders to certain behavioural standards (and) but (also) not surprised that many people felt what he did with his time was of no interest to those he is leading.
Overall, the debates and discussions did sadden me, especially the ‘enthusiastic consent debate’.
We live in a world tainted with sin and we are people who sin. That sin has meant that we have people who choose to live outside of God’s good design of one man and one woman cleaving to each other for life, (This also means) to the exclusion of others.
In his wisdom God has also instructed men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and women to respect their husbands. He has also created sex to be in this other person-centered relationship that has God at the head. In this plan there is no unwarranted sexual activity in or outside of the marriage. (In this picture then) Therefore there is no need for definitions of consent or legislation to prevent workplace relationships causing power imbalances which impact on your ability to carry out your job.
However, we live in a world that has suppressed these truths and unfortunately these truths will not be the content of discussions on talk back radio, analysed in the paper or on social media. We live in a world where those who have not turned to Christ believe they have the right to express their sexuality however they wish, albeit under the constraints of the law. We also live in a world where we who have turned to Christ still sin and so these sins can be something we have personally experienced and/or experienced in our church families.
How then as Christian men and women, as parents and as grandparents should we respond to these discussions and importantly to the morality stand our society is taking?
Firstly we need to remember who is sovereign over this world. God who created and sustained this world will not be mocked and his will will be done. We have no need to fear or despair. The God who set the stars in the sky is well aware of the debates and decisions we are making in Australia and is indeed still sovereign. At the right time he will put all things right and while we wait for that day we rest in his control. We also pray earnestly for those around us – that they may see the truth of the gospel and turn to Jesus. Our prayers are based on the sovereignty of God, the grace and mercy he has shown in Jesus and his righteous acts of judgment and salvation.
Secondly, we need to ensure that we are upholding sound doctrine in relation to these matters. As our society normalises attitudes and behaviours that suppress the truth of the Bible we must be vigilant not to allow these to become part of our language, thoughts and actions. Ensuring we are faithfully hearing from the Word, talking with God and meeting with other Christians are God’s clear ways of keeping us pure and holy so that we can stand firm. The way we live as men, women, married, single, parents and children needs to be grounded in honouring God, loving others and living rightly in his creation.
Thirdly, this moral conviction of Biblical truth (then) needs to be shown with compassionate love to those around us. We are to love with, work with; and socialise with people who do not accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour and whose lives are very different from ours. How incredible would it be for Christians to stand by the life that Jesus calls us to live without wavering and yet to do that in a way that reaches out and loves the people around us?
This is hard I think – how do we not come across as legalistic? How do we not err on the side of you do what you want and that’s OK when we know that rejecting God is not OK?
Jesus got it right – eating with sinners and tax collectors but calling them to repent; not judging the woman caught in adultery but telling her not to keep sinning.
As an organisation, MU is in a good space to start those conversations so we can work out how to maintain our moral conviction and show gracious compassion to those around us. We need to be opening (us) the Bible together, praying together and talking through how we do this in our homes, our churches and in our communities.
Social Issues & Action, MU Sydney