Sunday 13 July 2008

Sex and more

Following the interest in my recent post on marriage, this week at F&T will be devoted to sex and marriage: we’ll have a new “Ten Propositions on Marriage” by Kim Fabricius, and a special three-part series on “Homosexuality and the Church” by Ray Anderson. In the mean time, here’s some of the good stuff happening around the blogosphere:

  • A dialogue with Umberto Eco and Eberhard Jüngel
  • A response by Bruce McCormack
  • An opinion about the best Protestant eccclesiology ever written
  • A quote on the nature of biblical prophecy
  • A bibliography of Rowan Williams
  • A review of Mike Higton's new book
  • Some commentary on David Bentley Hart
  • A glimpse of the new-look Church Dogmatics
  • A post on radical theology and Agamben
  • A chance to win: If you place an order of $300 or more with Dove Booksellers before 19 July, you’ll go into a draw to win one of the following sets: Barth’s Church Dogmatics, the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, or Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (the winner gets to choose any one of these sets).


Shane said...

My wishlist for Kim's 10 props on sex:

1. Sex is good . . .
2. . . . except when it's bad.
3. Sometimes it's good and bad.
4. . . . following Rowan Williams, we can see that nobody knows-- regarding any particular sexual act--whether it is good or bad.
5. Not that we can be sure about #4.
6. As Wittgenstein says . . .
7. Sex is like baseball.
8. [[Off-color joke]]
9. Barth. Barth. Barth? Barth. Barth? Barth! Barth! Barth!
10. I wrote a poem about this once.

David W. Congdon said...


I may side with Kim on most issues, but I have to admit that this "wish list" is hilarious. Nice work!

Anonymous said...

This really is the best theoblog on the 'net.

I'm greatly looking forward to this week's posts.

Ben, if you ever stop this blog, I shall send over a crack team of albino monks to sort you out!

Teresita said...

Shane: 1. Sex is good . . .
2. . . . except when it's bad.
3. Sometimes it's good and bad.


Even bad sex is pretty darn good.

Anonymous said...

With easy marking Shane's got nine out of ten (though a hymn, not a poem), and though there is nothing explicit about Wittgenstein, depending on his debatable sexuality - give the lad another half a point; and as Teresita got one I missed, with which I fully agree (cf. Phyllis Diller: "A terrible thing happened to me last night - nothing") - call it # 11 - well, scrap it, Ben - my Ps are now redundant.

Ben Myers said...

Yes, Teresita, that's what Shane's comments are like too: even when they're bad, they're pretty darn good!

Anonymous said...

Ben. Many thanks for the links, particularly the one to the review of Mike Higton's new book. This book serves to be read more widely than it currently seems to be.

Anonymous said...

Bibliography bookmarked! Its like Christmas came early.

Unknown said...

Re: on the nature of biblical prophecy, I flesh out a bit more systematically what Childs' quote suggests poetically.

I do hope this careful attention to the nature and purpose of prophecy prevails in our day of left behinds.

George Hankins Hull, Dip.Th., Th.M. said...

I thought that the following article "Responsible Non-Monogamy in Christian Marriage Affirmed By Theologians" and Raymond J Lawrence's latest book "Sexual Liberation the Scandal of Chrsitendom may" be of intrest to folks reading this blog.

Responsible Non-Monogamy in Christian Marriage Affirmed By Theologians.
Embodiment: An Approach To Sexuality and Christian Theology, by James B. Nelson, Professor of Christian Ethics, United Theological Seminary

"Fidelity is a commitment of emotional and physical intimacy with the partner; it means caring for the growth and fulfillment of each as a person; it is commitment to growth of the marital relationship itself; it requires honesty, openness, and trust; it involves willingness to explore ways of opening self to the partner at the deepest level; it includes openness to secondary relationships of emotional and potential sexual expression but with commitment to the primacy of the marriage.

Personal growth for either wife or husband may well require other intimate friendships with consent and seeking the best for each other. Secondary relationships can serve not only personal growth but also and at the same time serve the marriage itself. Raymond J. Lawrence, Episcopal chaplain and marriage counselor, observes that transmarital sexual relationships would only be considered "unfaithful" if done for inappropriate motives such as revenge or to hurt the other. But, "the refusal to open oneself to secondary sexual relationships can also be based upon inappropriate reasons. An emotionally immature, religiously self-proving desire for purity and innocence might be one. Another might be the resistance to sufficient autonomy and the persistence in a clinging dependency upon the spouse - which is different from mature interdependency. The high degree of intimacy possible in a good marriage seems to depend in no small measure upon the relative absence of possessiveness and clinging dependency.

Rosemary Ruether presses this further. Historically, she notes, monogamy has been closely linked with the private property relationship of man over woman in patriarchal society. Ruether wonders if we have not lifted up the wrong priority by apparently prizing sexual exclusivity over enduring, intimate companionship and personal fidelity. We might have more of the latter if we were not so insistent as a church on sexual exclusivity."

In another of his books, Body Theology, James Nelson proposes we reclaim sexuality and become sex-affirming, understanding sexuality as a moral good rooted in the sacred value of our sensuality and erotic power without needing justifications that applied to a much different biblical culture.

Raymond Lawrence's book is an account of the ways in which sexual pleasure has been devalued and demonized in the West by the historical forces of Christendom. It tells the story of how sex came to be regarded by societies throughout the ages as perverse, sinful, and wrong, and how the centuries-old motivations of a few have persisted into modern times, coloring our view of sex and sexuality to this day.

For good or ill, Christianity has been, since before the ebbing of the Roman Empire, the principal bearer of public values in the western world. This book traces the changes that have shaped and reshaped what is considered moral sexual behavior (and immoral sexual behavior) by Christians and non-Christians alike. Lawrence's account of the perversion of sexual values begins with the intersection of the early Jesus movement and the morality of the Greco-Roman culture and empire. He goes on to point out the ways Christianity and its moral code were reshaped under the impact of Constantine's adoption of Christianity as the imperial religion, and how key figures of the Middle Ages generally succeeded in promoting a religion whose chief goal was the obliteration of sexual pleasure. The story continues on through the ages until now. This controversial look at sex and Christianity sheds new light on our views of pornography, homosexuality, adultery, and other issues of sex and sexuality.

George Hankins Hull

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