POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ - Part II - Sin and Sex

To some in the secular world the terms "sin and sex" will perhaps conjur up images of puritanism (which are not accurate) and scarlet letters dangling from repressed people's necks. For those who have made sex the central deity of a hedonistic worldview, associating sin with sex is a sort of blasphemy. Yet in our world we are well aware of the pains of sexual sins; the fruit of our own cultures so called sexual liberation engulf us like a swarm of African killer bees. Molestation, abuse, predatory adults, heart break, multiplicity of sexually peverse materials, the objectification of each other all amidst a growing ever waning of intimacy in relationships are the ghosts that haunt our freedom. Part II of the book contains two considerable essays dealing with the issues of sin and sex in our day. The first by Dr. David Powlison entitled Making All things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken. The second by Dr. Al Mohler, hits an issue of great controversary in our times, Homosexual Marriage as a Challenge to the Church: Biblical and Cultural Reflections. Powlison's chapter begins with putting sexuality into context - it is like a garden which brings delight and joy within its proper lattice or framework or it is a soiled darkness swirling with pain. Powlison's thesis is that most of us are somewhere between these two poles - somewhere in the middle moving towards either pole. The trajectory we all so desparately need is to be moving away from teh dark and toward the light (page 66). We all know this, but the power of our captivity to sex in our age is very strong - Powlison highlights this by quoting what is classic Augustine:
As I prayed to you for the gift of chastity I had even pleaded, ‘Grant me chastity and self-control, but please not yet.’ I was afraid that you might hear me immediately and heal me forthwith of the morbidlust which I was more anxious to satisfy than to snuff out. Augustine, The Confessions, trans. Maria Boulding (Hyde Park, N.Y.: New City, 1997), book 8, chapter 17, page 198.
How do we move from sexually broken to the enjoyment and freedom that Christ brings? Powlison, a biblical counselor, goes to great length in answering this question. The first section expounds the point that we must Bring to Light All that Darkens Sex (page 68). For Powlison this means all the unholy pleasures of our day (both explicit and implicit - motions of the affections towards objectifying sex aprt from love for God) must be brought before Christ in repentence, receiving grace and forgiveness rather than continuing to hide in fear and despair. Unholy pain, caused by sex must also be brought to the great comforter of souls, to find safety and refuge. A great quote on page 72:
In different ways, both violator and violated are stained with the filth of a fallen world. In different ways, Jesus Christ washes both. And there’s still other dirt on the shop floor, and other fresh mercies.
Guilt must be brought before the throne of grace. Another aspect of sex is a misplaced view that sexual sin is just a problem with men. Powlison does a great service in dispatching this commonly held idea. We all struggle with temptation, although men and women struggle differently - this section was very helpful indeed. Finally, this section closes with a reminder of the many problems within marriage can be struggles with sexual sin (both from the past and continued into the future). As a married man of nine years, I found his treatment here to be very helpful. Powlison, then moves to encouraging his read that our battle with sexual temptation is A Longer War. His exhortation is clear - the road of sanctification and repentance and trust of God and orientation of our passions is not conquered today and henceforth dispensed with. No, we live a live of trust, repentance, dependance, and by the grace of God transformation. Our war is also a Wider War one that cuts to our deepest longings, our expectations about God, our affections for him, our allegiances, our belief or lack thereof. The war is life wide - our love for Christ is what is at stake, and focusing in only on "resisting sexual sins" on certain nights of the week is a recipe for failure. The war should be expanded, the soul should be discipled and life brought under Christ's yoke. Powlison describes how he helped a man named Tom wage a wider war:
We spent far more time talking about self-pity and grumbling as “early warning sins,” about how the desire for a wife becomes a mastering lust, about how the selfrighteousness construct falls before the dynamics of grace. Temptations to sexual sin greatly diminished. The topography of the battlefield radically changed. The significance of Jesus Christ’s love went off the charts. The lights of more accurate and comprehensive self-knowledge came on. A man going in circles, muddling in the middle, started to leap and bound in the right direction. We experienced the delights of a season of gazelle growth. Ministering to someone who has struggled for twenty years with the exact same thing is disheartening, and frequently a recipe for futility. Ministering to someone who is starting to battle a half-dozen foes that were previously invisible is extremely heartening! Widening the war served to deepen and heighten the significance of the Savior, who met Tom on every battlefront. page 89,90
I will have to pick up the review later - one thing about this chapter is that the organization and structure runs on a bit. Section after section...but this war is for our affections, so that the god of eros has no lofty throne above the Almighty, so I will pick the review back up at a later date... Out --> Back to Main Review Page