04 2019
Sexual Discipleship?

Those were the intriguing words that fell from the lips of Juli Slattery (Authentic Intimacy) at the recent Sexual Integrity Leadership Summit in Atlanta. As I reflected on this term, it struck me as a calling for the church in our time. A female church leader said recently that our exclusive focus on abstinence for teens in the last generation has been a great mistake. And this from someone who believes in abstinence!

Lets face it, focusing exclusively on abstinence has been more about placating parents’ fears than about equipping the next generation with a biblical view of sexuality.  One of consequences has been a significant number of Christian home-schoolers “saving themselves for marriage” who are simultaneously addicted to internet porn. Moreover, a culture touting the message ” my sexuality is me” is presenting us an opportunity to engage with this complicated and messy area of life. But we can only take advantage of it if we have the courage to join the conversation and the preparation to present a biblical perspective.

Sexuality is both one of the most beautiful aspects of being human and the most fragile. From a Christian perspective it also “pregnant” with meaning, from the first marriage in Genesis to the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” From incest to adultery to sexual intercourse as a sign of Christ’s union with the church, the Bible does not mince words when it comes to sex. To those who would like pat answers in order to end the discussion, we must respond that sexuality does not readily lend itself to being put in a box and stored in the closet. Unfortunately, many of us have attempted to treat it that way. We have sought to remove sexuality to a safe place in order to promote “discipleship”, rather than see sexuality as a core aspect of that discipleship.

What we are lacking in the church and in the home is a systematic discussion of the major themes of God’s Purpose and Plan for Sexuality. How might we lay the groundwork for such an approach going forward?  Here are some dominant themes expressed by one speaker at the SILS conference.

  • Focus on Human Identity, not Behavior. We are made in His Image. Made for a Purpose. That purpose needs to be taught in all of its depth and beauty.
  • Embrace Human Desire, originally a good thing that reflected God’s Glory
  • Defend Human Design, God’s covenant love expressed in sexuality. “Sexual fidelity is the promise of covenant.” Eph. 5:25-29.
  • Proclaim Human Destiny… We are headed to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb…Sexuality is a sign of union and a promise of redemption, a permanent belonging.
  • Nurture Godly Community…Sexuality as a Sign of Life Together…One that breaks down differences and embodies reconciliation.

These are just some of the great themes of sexuality in the Bible. Plumbing their depths and holding them out to this generation is the challenge of our day. We only know a little. God will reveal more to all of us.


Jay Haug
Executive Director