WATCH: Are Sexual Ethics Part of Orthodoxy?

With debates over sexuality roiling many denominations, many are calling for Christians to stop fighting and unite around the creeds. But can we so easily separate ethical and doctrinal orthodoxy when it comes to sexual issues? Brad Belschner and Alastair Roberts discuss.




00:01 – Why do we call God Father? Does it matter that we use this gendered term? Is it really that bad to call him “Mother”? Is this important?

00:30 – This Discussion’s topic is orthodoxy, particularly sexual ethics in orthodoxy. How does the creed help us to think about sexual ethics and things like homosexuality, fr example.

00:50 – It helps us to think about this issue in a positive way. We must first relate these issues to positive truths that we are living out. For example 1 Cor. 6: the body is the temple of the Lord. Our bodies are the limbs and organs of Christ. So we need to think of ethics first in this way, and not by the negative statements that we tend to think in terms of: don’t do this and that.

1:45 – So first relate ethics to things that we are living for. Truths about our bodies. Often we think of our bodies as repressed by Christian truth.

2:10 And how do statements like “father” and “Son” help us to think about God? Is this important?

2:30 – It is important, but also we must be careful of reading gender back into God. We do notice that when people push against Christian sexual ethics, we hear the creed droning. They write books and say that using the terms “father” and “son” are patriarchal and that we should move beyond these terms.

3:14 – When we put our cultural sexual ethics in the driver’s seat it tends to go upstream, and affect how we confess our belief in God.

3:40 – It seems that sexual ethics is distant from the creed. Is it what it’s talking about?

3:55 – 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 show us powerfully the proximity between the creed and sexual ethics. Paul alludes to key statements in the creed and relates them to the need to be first disciplined against sexual immorality, and secondly, to the need of a robust ethics of sexuality.

4:25- First, the oneness and holiness of the church. A little leaven leavens the whole lump: the church must be holy and purge out the old “leaven of wickedness.” Likewise, in Christ’s second coming “such will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This is truth that frames Paul’s teaching on sexual ethics. The fact that our bodies have been claimed by Christ’s death, one baptism for the remission of sins. Further, the resurrection of the dead: our bodies are for the Lord.

5:19 – Paul hangs his sexual ethics on these statements, not just left there all by itself, but hanging by the creed. And if you pull threads on theses statements, the creed also begins to unravel. And if you separate them from each other, the creed simply floats away because these statements weighs it down to reality.

5:42 – So then, it’s not that sexual ethics are spoken of in the creed, but that they are a requirement for thinking of the creed properly. And ultimately, the creed is based on Scripture, and if you deny Scripture, you will deny the creed.

6:08 – How do we think of situations where people assert the creed and also claim to assert homosexual marriage?

6:30 – First we make a distinction between the judgements we make on people and those we make on teachings. In this situation we see tensions emerging with the creed. In our age we have seen how closely relater are sexual practice and doctrine. It is because our bodies matter, which is declared in the creed.

7:40 – The creed is the story of Christ’s body, in large part. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, baptized in the Jordan, crucified by Pontius Pilate, died, buried, rose on the third day. I this way it is the story of Christ’s body and this has implications for our bodies. So sexual ethics is where the rubber meets the road on this.

8:10 – This is why Paul in Corinthians relates Christology to sexual ethics, because they are intertwined.