20 June 2012

The Church’s Obsession with Sex

handsA few days ago on the BBCs Today programme, Ben Summerskill (Chief Executive, Stonewall) again accused the church of an obsession with sex – and of being happy to turn a blind eye to poverty or to disease. This has become a mantra for those arguing in favour of a departure from traditional (biblical) sexual morality.

Now, it is true that the affluent, modern church in the west has, generally speaking, been woefully inadequate in addressing issues of poverty, social justice, disease, environmental issues etc. Mea culpa. The church ought to be obsessed with Jesus Christ and with his Kingdom – and these issues are part of this.

However, that does not endorse Mr Summerskill’s point. The church is right to be obsessed with sex, because personal, sexual relationships are at the heart of the fabric of society. Any objective assessment of the post-50s sexual revolution must acknowledge that in its wake have come vastly increased levels of family breakdown, social breakdown, sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy. The departure of British society from traditional (biblical) morality has not been a successful experiment.

That’s not to say that the church always gets it right on sex. The church’s traditional attitude to women needed reformation – and continues to do so, far too many chauvinist remarks are still heard in church, often as an attempt at humour. That’s unacceptable. And, the church’s generally negative attitude to heterosexual sex still needs reformation. The essential place of sex in a marriage as a God-given gift, and the fulfilling joy that comes from it – these aren’t the themes the church has been known for. These problems arise in the church because the church takes on the attitudes of The World.

But to come to the practice of homosexual sex and so-called gay marriage. Society in general may accept these, but the Church must be obsessed with what is a departure not simply from its own practices, but from the design of the Creator for stable and fulfilling expressions of human society. It’s not just the Scriptures that tell us that human society is designed with lifelong male-female relationship at its heart. Nature itself shows us – teleology is fundamental in this debate. Experience through long years of history shows us. And the statistics bear it all out in front of our eyes in Britain today.