The Biblical Case for Chastity
Courtesy of BreakPoint Online
with Charles Colson
A 25-year-old Christian man e-mailed a friend—a young Christian author named Lauren Winner—and asked her a question. He claimed he had endless opportunities for casual sex—including one that very evening. Why should he not take advantage of them? After all, he said, he was already "dealing with seventeen other things in my Christian walk. Shouldn't I just focus on learning to pray, and deal with the sex stuff later?"
Nice try, buster. Winner, the author of Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity, says that in our sex-saturated culture, young, single Christians find chastity much more difficult than many older Christians can imagine. A college minister told Winner that "every college pastor I've talked to about this says the same thing: Their students, even those in their leadership groups, people leading Bible studies and so forth, are sexually out of control."
Winner herself converted to Christianity at age 21, when her ideas about sexuality had already been partially formed by Hollywood and Cosmopolitan magazine—not the Church. One thing she learned firsthand as a new Christian: A few isolated Bible verses are not much help to those who have been sexually active since their teens. What she needed was an entire sexual ethic—truths that are "part of the large biblical narrative of creation, fall, and redemption."
The starting point, Winner writes, is that God created us with bodies and declared that they were good. But in the fall, "our sexual desires were disordered, and one task of Christian ethic is to help us rightly order them." Rightly ordered by a Christian moral vision, she says, "Bodies are tools God uses for His glory."
Winner writes that biblical writers from Moses to Paul understood what happened in the fall and articulated efforts to protect and perpetuate the ordering of things that was established in Genesis. For example, the Mosaic laws about sexual practices "do protective work, pointing to, guarding, and returning God's people to the created order, the world as God meant it to be." And in the Scriptures, the book the Song of Solomon, we find, among other things, "the perfect expression of what this sexuality, restored by law and grace, looks like."
When youth pastors talk about sex, Winner notes, they need to "begin with the picture of intended reality that is laid out in Genesis." They should invite teens to answer "a host of larger questions: Who created us, and for what ends? What is God's creational intent? and What are we made for?"
We need to help youth understand that they are God's creatures, made for His best purposes. And then, when they are alone with a boyfriend or girlfriend, they "may think very differently—even righteously—about sex, and bodies, and the context in which those bodies are to touch and be touched," Winner writes.
I hope you'll read Winner's book Real Sex. It will help you understand and help you teach children that the right question is not, "How far can I go?" but "Who created my body, and for what purpose?"
By the way, her book is not just for children. It's a good reminder for us all—for me and for you.
This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.
From BreakPoint, Copyright 2006 Prison Fellowship
with Chuck Colson" is a radio ministry of
Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission of Prison
Fellowship, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, DC, 20041-0500."
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