After reading Part 3 of Rethinking Sexuality by Dr Juli Slattery, I was filled with questions (as evidenced by the post I wrote last week). I am pleased to report that Part 4 addressed many, and maybe all, of them!
We begin this week with relationships, “the most profound vehicle for passing on truth.” This question made me stop and think, so I ask you as well: “Have you ever considered that God has arranged your relational world for a purpose?” At first, thinking of every relationship having a purpose was a little overwhelming to me. It’s too many people! Then, as I read, I saw how Jesus ministered to the masses, helped many, and taught a few. I can see my relationships falling into these categories, and that makes it less overwhelming.
Every relationship takes time to develop and grow. Trust doesn’t appear out of nowhere. Understanding each other’s lives and cultural contexts doesn’t come automatically. We have to invest ourselves in our relationships.
Dr Slattery shared a story about an acquaintance who had come into her home to help her with some interior decorating, and the acquaintance ended up scolding her for the types of movies she had in her living room.
Haven’t we all experienced being judged by the convictions of someone we only just met? Or have we been the one who told a practical stranger that what they were doing was sinful?
If the truth is being spoken in these encounters, it is not being spoken in love. There is no relationship out of which to speak. Neither truth nor love are communicated without a bridge built by listening. Dr Slattery wrote, “You have no platform to speak into someone’s sexual choices or beliefs if you’ve not chosen to first understand that person’s world.”
Towards the end of chapter 12, I found the questions I have been asking: When Christians disagree about the truth, particularly as it pertains to sexual morality in this current era, how do we proceed? Or, in other words, how do we speak truth in love when we don’t agree on the truth?
Three steps are listed to help in these disagreements, but they are not nice and neat. We should have the same worldview, we should all uphold scripture as the authority, but people may still draw different conclusions. It’s definitely going to be messy and at times the way forward may be unclear. We must be gracious and humble and seek the truth together.
Where do we go from here? We make disciples in the context of relationships. We conduct ourselves in humility, with grace and love, seeking the truth together.
Personally, I believe that it is vital to incorporate sexual discipleship – especially the purpose of our sexuality – into the discipleship I’m already part of. An understanding of the covenant of marriage and the covenant between God and us would be transformational for so many believers. I can’t leave that out as I make disciples.
Finally, I leave you with a very long quote because it sums up the point of all of this so well:
“Remember that even as we address sexual issues, the mission of our relationships is not to convince people about God’s design for sex. Rather, our conversations about sexuality are an outgrowth of the greater purpose: to tell people about Jesus and equip Christians to obey what Jesus taught. This means that sexual discipleship isn’t ultimately about sex. It is about exalting Jesus as Lord and winsomely compelling others to follow Him.”
Now it’s your turn. Come on in to the comments. Has this book changed or challenged your views of sexuality? Which part of sexual discipleship seems most pertinent to where you are right now? What questions are you still asking? What answers did you get?
In October we will be reading Jewel of the Nile by Tessa Afshar! Here’s a summary of the book: In this transformative tale of historical fiction, bestselling author Tessa Afshar brings to life the kingdom of Cush and the Roman Empire, introducing readers to a fascinating world filled with gripping adventure, touching romance, and a host of lovable characters—including some they may recognize from the biblical book of Acts.
Here’s the schedule:
October 5: Prologue – Ch 8
October 12: Ch 9 – Ch 17
October 19: Ch 18 – Ch 26
October 26: Ch 27 – Epilogue