If you missed my recent sermon on sexuality and marriage, I would very much encourage you to read it here
I am so grateful for all those who have asked me questions about this vitally important issue, and as it is a subject which continues to attract so much attention, we need to carry on discussing what the Bible teaches, if not for our own sake, then for our the sake of our children and grandchildren.
Some of the questions I have been asked include:
What about abusive marriages? Jesus clearly allowed for divorce in the event of adultery (Matt 19:9) but what about one spouse abusing another? My answer has always been such marriage is not the sort of relationship described in Genesis 2, which is a partnership of equals where each respects and cares for the other. If it is necessary to leave a marriage for reasons of personal safety, then I do not believe that the Bible forbids getting out of the situation. This is a position I have always maintained and if this is so, then it falls upon the church to be safe space where people can be open about their issues and experience the healing power of genuinely loving relationships. This leads to another important question:
What about loneliness? It is all very well for God to say, “It is not good for man to be alone” but the reality is, many people are alone, often not through choice. That is indeed true, and there is no point the church teaching Genesis 2 unless it is also serving as a community where everyone can feel they belong. So alongside our teaching we need to build genuine relationships as brothers and sisters one with another. We need to have an identity as a family in Christ, whatever earthly family we may have. We need to find ways of supporting and encouraging each other in prayer, even when we are not physically present with each other. And we need to do all this in such a way that we draw in, rather than exclude, the outsider and newcomer.
Others have also raised the issues of singleness and gender identity which I only briefly mentioned in my sermon and I recognise these are also really important topics. Too often, it seems, the church has not valued single people as those called in their own right and tried to marry them off. Single people in particular need the friendship and support the church can offer so they can devote themselves fully to their work in the Lord. As for gender identity, there is a deep confusion here which goes against the basic idea God created us male and female, and changing identity in fact does nothing to relieve that confusion.
Clearly much more could be said about these and many other related topics. We are covering the whole subject again in our small group on the evening of Thursday 21st February. You would be very welcome to join us, please contact Revd Tim to find out when and where we meet.
And finally, one resource I have found very helpful is this recently produced book by Martin Davie called Glorify God in your body. It is an exhaustive Biblical analysis on all the issues raised and at the end of each chapter there are a few summary questions which are helpful to stimulate group discussion. If you just want to read up one issue then you need read only the related chapter. It is highly recommended, and I can easily lend out my copy.