I liked the introduction and first chapter of Mere Sexuality by Todd A. Wilson. I like Wilson’s writing style and feel I can respect him as an intellectual and theologian. In some respects, I can see Mere Sexuality as a book I would write if I were to write a book on sexuality. Particularly on the trend in the Church over the past 10-20 years to swing to other side of the pendulum on its stance on LGBTQ+ issues as they relate to Scripture. The church has kept pace with culture, following its lead and modifying the Bible to it. Whether you are “for” this swing or “against” it, you have to admit that it’s a pretty drastic swing in a very short period of time, which is a pretty fascinating concept in and of itself, and worthy of inspection. What I mean by saying that I could see this as a book that I would write is that Wilson and I are both heterosexual, married men who love Scripture, pastor churches, and love people. So there is a compassionate ache for those who struggle with gender identity or with same sex attraction, but also the conviction that Scripture is the inspired and authoritative word of God and you can’t pick and choose the parts you like and don’t like. In other words, you can’t put your own authority above God’s authority. But then you have to figure out how this plays out in the life of a man or woman who struggle with these issues and give them real paths of life they can walk down.
When I’ve written or taught on LGBTQ+ issues in the past, I’ve always said it’s not about this issue, like we are picking on people who are gay, it’s about your take on Scripture. I think homosexuality just became the dividing-line issue of our era where a person had to choose a “side” on if they were sticking with the long held view that the Bible is God’s authoritative view, or if they were instead viewing Scripture as a number of other options: a book of myths, a book of tradition, etc., believing faulty explanations about what certain words mean or meant, or using a hermeneutic (the method by which we interpret the Bible into today’s world) where things that were applied one way in the 1st century would be applied differently today because of love or other similar reasons.
It’s easy for all of this to stay in the land of theory, debate, and academia for a straight, married pastor such as myself or Wilson. It’s easy to point to gay marriage as the reason marriage has fallen apart, throwing stones at people who struggle with things we never will. What I love is how Wilson points us toward the sexual revolution of the 1960’s as when marriage and sexuality began to crumble away from God’s design in Scripture on a large cultural scale. Heterosexuals lost interest in God’s design for marriage (and were embraced by culture) long before culture adopted homosexual practice as acceptable. In fact, the first break from God’s design laid the groundwork for all the others that would follow. You see this in divorce, premarital sex, the hook up culture, and the myriad of other ways heterosexual sin has been widely embraced by culture and by the Church. I wrote about this 5 years ago when I got tired of Christians blaming gay marriage for destroying marriage, which I felt was our way of dodging the sins we struggle with and commit so we can point fingers and blame people who struggle with things we never will. A little too convenient, but also inaccurate in who should be getting the blame for what we are currently facing in society. Wilson quotes biblical scholar Luke Timothy Johnson, “There is more than enough sexual disorder among heterosexuals to fuel moral outrage.” I agree.
I’m excited to see what else Wilson has in store for us as we read Mere Sexuality. The book is not intended to convince or debate with someone who is passionately for homosexual sex being acceptable. I think Wilson knows his primary audience is the evangelical Church who already keeps to a traditional view of marriage and Scripture, though he does a good job of identifying and welcoming in each type of reader who might be reading the book. I think the book will be especially helpful to Christians who struggle with same sex attraction or gender dysphoria who have always believed the Bible is God’s authoritative word and that sex is designed to be within marriage between a man and a woman, but are now on the fence of what direction to go because of culture and the Church’s changing of the guard. I think there will also be plenty to challenge and strengthen a heterosexual’s walk with the Lord as each of us struggle with our own sexual sin, and needing desperately to be reminded of God’s design for our lives as sexual beings.
Discussion Questions for Book Club Members:
Answer two of the following questions in the comment section below. Answers are due by November 22nd. You also need to reply to at least two other people’s answers.
(REMEMBER THESE QUESTIONS ARE POSTED ON A PUBLIC FORUM. You are welcome to be as transparent and vulnerable as you are comfortable with about your own story, just be cognizant that your answers can be read by anyone.)
Please begin by giving a little bio information about yourself so your fellow book clubbers can get to know you a little and have some context.
1. Wilson says (p.14) that the questions “What does the Bible really teach about homosexuality?” and “How can we love homosexuals as Jesus would?” are both insufficient questions. What makes them insufficient? (or are they?)
2. Thinking of Wilson’s list on the bottom of p. 32, how would you prescribe the balance between grace toward a Christian living in sexual sin and a holding a Christian to what the Bible says?
3. What is Wilson’s definition of ‘mere sexuality’? Do you like it or no? Why or why not?
4. What philosophical cultural norms about authority did the 1960’s sexual revolution cause? (and/or what cultural norms about authority caused the sexual revolution?) — By “authority” here, I mean someone being able to tell someone else what to do or how to live.
5. What role does church history play in the authority of Scripture? (see mid-bottom of p.37 for context)
NEXT ASSIGNMENT: Have chapters 2 & 3 read by Dec. 6th. I will post my reflection and discussion questions for chapters 2 & 3 on the blog on Nov. 29th. Have your answers to those discussion questions posted by Dec. 6th.