God has given us a deep desire for intimacy. This desire for sexual intimacy points to a greater reality – our desire for oneness and intimacy with God.
Arecent ministers’ event on same-sex attraction (SSA) called us to address sexuality even as we address sexual issues such as SSA. What exactly is sexuality?
Sexuality is our masculine and feminine nature itself – like a unique thread, woven throughout each part of our lives: emotional, physical, social, intellectual and spiritual. It’s a fundamental component of personhood in and through which we, as male or female, experience our relatedness to self, others, the world and God. At the heart of sexuality is a longing for union with someone who will know us and love us unconditionally. At its core it’s a powerful energy and an aching longing to connect.
Sexuality is an awareness of separateness according to Ronald Rolheiser. His book The Holy Longing describes sexuality as an awareness of having been cut off.
He explains that the word ‘sex’ has a Latin root, secare. This means “to cut off”, “to sever”, “to amputate”, “to disconnect from the whole”. If you go to a tree and cut off a branch, you have ‘sexed’ that branch. It would know in its every cell that if it wants to continue living and especially to produce flowers and bear fruit, it must reconnect itself to the tree. That is precisely how we wake up in the world and this is experienced as an aching loneliness, an irrational longing.
Then sex is the complete union of two people – body, soul and spirit. It is becoming one. It is giving one’s body, heart and emotions to another.
God has given us a deep desire for intimacy. This desire for sexual intimacy points to a greater reality – our desire for oneness and intimacy with God. Oneness is at the heart of the Godhead. The three Persons share oneness. God has made us male and female, sexual beings, to lead us into this reality. Eve came out of Adam. Adam and Eve are one being. They are two persons but they come from one being. God is one being but three persons.
Danny Burk in his book What Is The Meaning of Sex? lists the subordinate purposes of sex as the consummation of marriage, procreation, love, and pleasure. They are good and God-honouring but insufficient to understand why God created sex. The ultimate purpose of sex is to glorify God as taught in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.
How do we address sexuality in the congregation? Start with teaching the theology of sexuality and relationships, marriage and singlehood. Get the issues talked about in worship services, small groups and seminars. Encourage people struggling to come forward to talk with the pastoral team.
Hiding is a problem in sexuality, which only perpetuates the problem. Ministers must share honestly about personal struggles. This is not laying everything on the line. It is admission of weakness because everyone struggles.
Men and women need to be prepared to engage in their sexual development, desire and growth while we move through the seasons of life. There needs to be an open discussion around what singlehood looks like at 37 when marriage is nowhere on the horizon or at 27 when engaged and just days from saying “I do”. Such conversations need to acknowledge that it’s not easy. There will be temptation and desire while waiting. There can also be joyful anticipation while waiting.
“Where the river flows everything will live.” (Ezekiel 47:9) To be human is to live as a sexual person. Our sexuality embraces our embodied ways of living in the world as female or male. Our sexuality is to be celebrated while also put in submission to Christ. I encourage you to offer yourself to God by trusting Him with your life. He wants an intimate relationship with you.
Ben KC Lee serves as a bi-vocational minister. He was born in Sabah. Ben has enjoyed assignments such as accountant, church-planter and pastor, but his favourite role is being husband to Dinah and dad to their twins, Daniel and Deborah.