Gerald Hiestand a fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theology writes, regarding his book Raising Purity, "As a pastor striving to write robust eccleisal theology, a book on dating seems a bit off topic." I have a review copy waiting on my desk, so I can't tell you if it is any good or not yet, stay tuned. However, his story rang bells for me, because my thesis on Paul's approach to prostitution in 1 Cor 6:12-20, where I had to spend a whole year thinking about sex in the ancient world (among other things), started as an examination of Paul's use of the "body of Christ" as a metaphor for the church. My entire 40,000 word masters thesis is in fact a (necessary) digression before I could approach the topic I was really interested in. So why is there such a connection between sexual ethics and ecclesiology, and should it be so surprising? Some ideas:
- Being God's people means being holy to/for God, appropriate sexual conduct has always been one of the ways of maintaining that holiness
- Being God's people involves us in a complex network of relationships, as with all human relationships, sexual conduct must be regulated in order to keep those relationships in harmony
- Being God's people makes us a diaspora in the world, to maintain our unique identity in the world means resisting conformity to the world's patterns in all areas of life, including sexuality
- Especially in light of our increasingly permissive society God's people stand in need of a distinctive, gospel centred and persuasive sexual ethics that works not as a barrier to but as an apologia for the church
- The church's public image (protestant and catholic) has been destroyed in recent decades by sexual scandal, there is an urgent need to get our house in order if we are to have a credible moral witness
- The "gay" debate is dividing churches and yet most pastors cannot give a properly theological rationale for either position, the debate is currently characterised by people not listening to each other, anyone who cares about the church needs to be engaged in this
Any other thoughts?