Jeffery J. Ventrella, J.D., Ph.D., is Distinguished Fellow of Law and Culture at the Center for Cultural Leadership and Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs & Training for the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Today’s world is awash with sexual confusion, clutter, and corrosion. Sexuality, though culturally ubiquitous, is often avoided by Christians and congregations, or if they do address it, they merely focus on one facet or symptom, often inadequately. Worse, compromise also decorates many Christians’ and congregational approaches to this crucial topic.
One thing needed to combat the clutter, confusion, and corrosion, is a secure conviction about how to think Christianly about sexuality. To that end, what follows are theses that tap into the Christian worldview and how that worldview understands sexuality: its meaning, purpose, and end.
• Sexual ethics is a subset of Marital Ethics — always; this requires expounding creational norms “from the beginning” (Matt. 19) and therefore the ethic is not properly confined to “Christian” practice, setting aside that some traditions consider marriage to be a sacrament
• These immutable creational norms require affirming and expounding the “sexed” and complementary nature of the human person, male and female
• Because marriage is a pre-political, foundational public social institution, the role of the State vis a vis marriage must be identified, and public policy — properly within the State’s jurisdiction — must protect and support this institution: marriage, family, parental rights and duties, etc.
• Sexual ethics may not rightly be reduced to biology, mechanics, or desire; rather, teleology lies at the foundation: “What mankind is for” must inform and precede “What mankind does” — accordingly, an informed anthropology is crucial, accounting for both mankind’s finitude and fallenness. This also means that a revelational epistemology comes into play at some point as one cannot fully comprehend anthropology, including human calling (cultural mandate) and Imago Dei, from other supportive philosophical tools such as natural law, new natural law, et al
• Sexual ethics presupposes a cosmology and the cosmology’s theology correlates to the cosmology’s ethics. Sexuality therefore rests not only on the embodied human person but also on the structure of “real reality” in which the human person lives
• Because “contrast is the mother of clarity” (Os Guinness frequently articulates this), competing cosmologies, theologies, philosophies, and ideologies, et al that impact or have influenced how sexuality is or has been both conceptualized and practiced ought to be understood and critiqued. This requires delving into intellectual history as well as engaging in cultural apologetics
Understanding and applying these theses and their implications deeply and well generates moral clarity, moral conviction, and moral courage for today and the future.
The following resources will benefit this task:
George, Girgis, and Anderson, What is Marriage?
Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
Anderson, When Harry Met Sally
Ayers, Christian Marriage – A Comprehensive Introduction
Sandlin, The Christian Sexual Worldview: God’s Order in an Age of Sexual Chaos
Snead, What It Means to be Human – The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics
Moschella, To Whom Do Children Belong? Parental Rights, Civic Education, and Children’s Autonomy
Morse, The Sexual State
West, Our Bodies Tell God’s Story
Reilly, Making Gay Okay – How Rationalizing Human Behavior is Changing Everything
Regnarus, Cheap Sex – The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy
Fortson and Grams, Unchanging Witness – The Consistent Christian Teaching on Homosexuality in Scripture and Tradition
Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice
DeYoung, Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in the Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law
Jones, The God of Sex: How Spirituality Defines Your Sexuality
Jones, Whose Rainbow? God’s Gift of Sexuality: A Divine Calling
Eberstadt, Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics
Bavinck, The Christian Family
Shrier, Irreversible Damage – The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters
Saul, Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West
Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self
Pearcy, Love Thy Body