Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Gender, Sexuality, and Family”

December 4, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #316 “I Surrender All” & #303 “Blessed Assurance”

Testimonies – What’s a way that you’ve been challenged this fall to be more winsomely weird?

Teaching

Recap & Intro

Let’s remind ourselves of what we’re doing here. This fall we have been talking about how we as the church, the remnant redeemed out of the wreckage of the world by Christ, are to live as citizens of another world, the world to come, where righteousness reigns. So we don’t march to the beat of the world’s drum. We’re weird in that sense. But we are also not self-righteous, hateful, arrogant, or cold, but rather kind, humble, gracious, and deeply desiring others to be saved. Winsome is the word. Winsomely weird.

But the pressure to conform to the world is powerful and strong and insidious and relentless. Think of Jesus’ parable of the soils. Some seed fell among good soil and grew and produced fruit. That’s the real Christian. Other seed fell among the path and Satan plucked it up right away. That’s those who quickly reject the word of God. But two other options are given. The rocky ground, referring to the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy, but they have no root in themselves, endure for a little while, and then, when tribulation or persecution arises, they fall away. That’s those who face the open hostility of the world and fall back into it, proving that they never really were delivered from it. And then there is the seed among thorns, those for whom the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word. That’s not the outright opposition of the world, but the more subtle allures of the world that really have captured people’s hearts (cf. Mk. 4:13-20)

Paul says in Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” That’s what we’ve been trying to do this fall. It’s not a game. We’re at war for our souls. The world, the flesh, and the devil are out to snooker us. This morning in my Bible Reading I read 2 Peter 1. We have all we need for life and godliness so that we can escape “from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” But it takes making every effort. Being regularly reminded of the gospel and consciously building on that. That’s what our Midweek Meetings have been about.

And tonight, the last night, we come to perhaps the hardest one of them all, the area where there is the most contempt and pressure from the world around us at this time to lose our saltiness and blend in. I think that’s probably why it was the last one picked and kept getting postponed till the end – you know that this is perhaps the hot button issue where God’s ways clash with the world around us and we’re feeling the heat. We’re talking about Gender, Sexuality, and Family.

Jesus on the Creation Order

Let’s start with what Jesus says on the topic, because people are cool with Jesus, right… because he was just all about love and tolerance, right… and didn’t mention things like homosexuality, right? Can someone read Matthew 19:3-9:

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

What is Jesus doing here? He’s answering a first-century debate about divorce. But he’s doing more than that. He’s laying out a theology of Gender, Sexuality, and Family. He’s pointing to the Genesis narrative as the normative, God-ordained pattern for these things. From the beginning, the original design and intention of the Creator, is that human beings would fit into two, binary gender categories: male and female. And one man and one woman would be united together in a life-long marriage. And any sexual relations outside of this one man, one woman bond is beyond the bounds. That is the teaching of the Bible from the beginning on God’s ideal, corroborated by numerous other passages, but ultimately by the Lord Jesus himself.

Paul on Creation Disorder

So that’s Jesus on creation order; now let’s look at Paul on creation disorder. Jesus in Matthew 19 alludes to the fact that the original design has been marred and human hearts have been hardened and corrupted. Genesis 3 certainly recounts that. But Paul in Romans 1 gives the clearest theological explanation of what has happened with the entrance of sin into God’s good design. Can someone read Romans 1:18-27…

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

At the Fall, the world went wacky. All of us. Perverted. It centers around our rebellion against God and rejection of him and his order. Something switched in us and instead of a glad submission to our Maker, there entered a deep-seated resentment. We suppress the truth, reject reality, engage in asinine idolatry, and become warped in ways that get reinforced and augmented by culture in this vicious vortex of sin. That is the world.

And Paul clearly links this idolatrous insurrection with gender and sexuality confusion. We resist the clear will of God, and God gives us over to all forms of sexual depravity to the point that we don’t even know which end is up anymore, although we pompously assert that we in fact do.

This is all of us! Not just some really messed up people. We’re all born into this. We’re all sick, twisted, prideful people apart from the merciful intervention of God to remake us. For some, our war against God looks like morality, trying to be straight-laced and good enough to not need him. And it’s often those sorts of Pharisaical environments that loudly tout traditional sexual mores that have some of the most sinister scandals. But even if you succeed at being outwardly ‘pure’, if it’s to prove your goodness, it is still evil wickedness aimed at sticking it to God. And don’t forget how Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount took sexual ethics to the inner thought life, where no one can sustain such scrutiny. The point is that we’re all sexually screwed up, because our relationship with God is screwed up. It takes the gospel to cover our sin and shame and change us at the heart level so that we start to love and submit to God.

Gender

Let’s talk briefly about gender identity issues. This is a growing issue today. People born with a certain sex, but identifying with a different gender, or genders, or no gender, or both genders. We don’t have to deny the reality of the feelings. In a fallen world we have all kinds of fallen feelings. We must empathize with the pain of the confusion and the sin of others heaped upon those prone to gender dysphoria. But to encourage people to ‘transition’ and go with their feelings is not loving. It is aligning with sin. It is our sinful, fallen nature to resist receiving and insist on achieving. That is our sin. We don’t want to submit to something given to us from God. We chafe at having something dictated to us and bending our will to God’s. And so in our sin we want to assert our own will, defy the limits placed on us.

If we have a y chromosome and boy body parts, but feel like a girl, then we don’t want to submit to the givenness of our gender and learn to act in line with that. We want to determine for ourselves. Remember back when we talked about Authority & Purpose? The fallen world way is to live from Self and for Self. My SELF – my thoughts, feelings, desires – is what tells me what to do. That’s a pretty good description of sin.

And so to say, “I know that I have a woman’s body, but I feel like I’m a man” is to let your feelings be your authority. And it doesn’t go well. This is such a new realm that our culture is boldly venturing out into, but the emerging stats on suicide among trans people is so sad. The studies on gender dysphoria pre vs post puberty should give pause. I think some people are starting to see the insanity of it all as biological men identifying as women are winning women’s sporting contests. But I don’t have hope that the world will snap out of this anytime soon.

So how are we going to be winsomely weird? First, we must be loving and patient and compassionate to those who are confused about their sexuality or even self-assured in their non cisgendered identity. We can’t be disgusted and want to have nothing to do with that.

But second, we must be a community that stands out from the world and doesn’t rush headlong with it into craziness. We must be men and women who are glad and happy with our gender as a gift from God based on our assigned sex.

We must hold that men and women are equally image bearers and therefore absolutely equal in dignity, value, and worth. And yet we must hold that men and women are distinct, with different roles and functions in the world for God’s glory. Both are weird at different times and places. In hierarchical, patriarchal cultures where men have all the power and women are treated like property, the Bible’s emphasis on the equality of women and Jesus’ elevation of women will be weird, but must be unequivocally maintained. And in egalitarian, urbane settings where any differentiation of gender roles is considered oppressive and heretical, the Bible’s clear teaching on male headship in the home and church will be not just weird, but utterly despised. If we hold both, together, joyfully, in our city where women are still treated like property and also expected to be just like men, then we’ll really be different.

We must be committed to searching the Scriptures to see how God wants us to be as men or women and submit to that, not our culture’s definitions or our personal feelings. Godly women can win over the world without a word (cf. 1Pe. 3:1). And Christlike men, tender warriors, neither complacent and lazy nor abusive and boorish, that is really weird… and winsome! Brother or sister: be very careful that you are getting your ideas about all this from the Bible and not the world, either the traditional side or the progressive side.

Sexuality

Let’s talk about sexuality, what we do with our bodily urges for sexual stimulation and release and the emotional sensations connected with that. Remember: the sinful, fallen world lives from Self (I determine for myself what I can and can’t do) and for Self (I do what makes ME happy). And so I like to talk about the world’s way of sexuality as selfish sex. The only limit that the world right now wants to put on sex, is that it has to be consensual. But beyond that, if it feels good, I do it. I get out of sex what I want. I’m doing it for me.

Pornography and masturbation are obvious selfish sexual expressions. You get what you want without having to deal with another person. In your fantasies you are completely in charge. When we do involve other partners, we go for the fulfillment of our selfish urges. Maybe we want multiple partners. Maybe I want a partner of the same sex who gets me more easily and knows what I want. The world’s approach to sex is ultimately about self-fulfillment. And so we use people to try to make ourselves happy.

And by the way, selfish sex can happen in heterosexual monogamous marriages. Each person is just trying to get his or her own climax. Or have power over another person in some selfish way.

But the Christian vision for sexuality is not just about getting, but primarily giving. It’s to be selfless sex. How can I use my body to love and cherish and comfort and bring joy to another? That should be what we’re thinking about how to steward our sexuality. How can I serve? How can I show love – selfless, self-sacrificing love to another? That should be how we are thinking about every sexual encounter in our marriages.

And if you are not married, not in a covenanted, committed relationship with another where you’ve given your body and whole self exclusively to this person, then you have no place for having sex. You are called to deny yourself and find other ways to serve people. And that is a grand and noble calling too (cf. 1Cor. 7).

But, the world asks, why can’t you have selfless sex in a monogamous, loving, homosexual relationship? One, probably unconvincing on its own, reason is that selfless sex is also designed to create other people to love and care for. Sex completely divorced from procreation is not a good thing.

Family

So let’s talk really quickly about family. Most people want to have sex without any possibility of babies coming along and cramping your style. That’s pretty selfish. It’s not serving society. It’s just about you. But God designed men to be the provider and protector of a family, moving out of himself into a woman who then receives and nourishes and nurtures life. And altogether they carry on the human race in a context of love and self-giving. That’s the ideal. Those who do have kids these days often do it for selfish reasons – to have someone who needs me, someone who looks like me, someone to keep me from being lonely, someone to control, someone to vicariously live my life through, someone to try to make succeed so as to justify myself… instead of someone to love and lay my life down for and eventually send out into the world to make society continue to go.

I know there’s much more to say about all of these things…

The Bigger Picture

But back to the objection that a monogamous, loving, homosexual relationship could be in some ways selfless… they could even adopt children and give them a caring environment to grow up in. But the main reason this is wrong, and there are a myriad of Bible verses we could bring out that say so, is because the biblical idea of selfless sex isn’t just about pleasing the other person or procreating more people, but it’s about picturing the magnificent metanarrative of God’s salvation. Why did God make men and women and marriage in the first place? To set up a parable, a picture of Christ and the Church. Jesus never got married in his earthly life, showing that marriage is not a necessity. But he does have a Bride and he has pledged his love to her and is coming again to consummate his relationship with her. The Bible begins and ends with a wedding.

Gender, Sexuality, and Family is all designed to be not ends in themselves, but means for imaging something grander, more cosmic. Truly selfless sex says I’m not doing this for my pleasure, or ultimately my spouse’s pleasure or my children’s protection. I’m submitting to this God-ordained form of sexuality so that I can show something of what really matters.

Gospel Conclusions

Let me just wrap up this short treatment of a huge topic with a few gospel conclusions.

Will you let God define you? Not just as a man or a woman, but as someone declared righteous in his sight because of the work of Christ? Will you let him define your identity, or will you continue to try to carve out your own, seeking to define yourself through your works, efforts, redefinitions…

And will you live not controlled by the world’s small narratives, but captivated by the weirdest and most winsome one found in the Bible. That you’re a sinner, a spiritual harlot, totally screwed up. And yet the strong, loving Lord Jesus came on a mission to woo and win you not by force, but by laying down his life to take your debts and give you his riches. And now you want to submit yourself to him unreservedly. And can’t wait to see him face-to-face. You want that more than anything else.

Listen to how Jonathan Edwards describes what that will be like:

In that resurrection morning, when the Sun of Righteousness shall appear in the heavens, shining in all his brightness and glory, he will come forth as a bridegroom; he shall come in the glory of his Father with all his holy angels. And at that glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ shall the whole elect church, complete as to every individual member, and each member with the whole person, both body and soul, and both in perfect glory, ascend up to meet the Lord in the air, to be forever with the Lord. . . . Then will come the time when Christ will sweetly invite his spouse to enter in with him into the palace of his glory, which he had been preparing for her from the foundation of the world, and shall take her by the hand and lead her in with him; and this glorious bridegroom and bride shall, with all their shining ornaments, ascend up together into the heaven of heaven, the whole multitude of glorious angels waiting upon them; and this Son and daughter of God shall, in their united glory and joy, present themselves together before the Father; . . . and they shall together receive the Father’s blessing; and shall thenceforward rejoice together in consummate, uninterrupted, immutable and everlasting glory, in the love and embraces of each other, and in their shared enjoyment of the love of the Father.

That’s what your Gender and Sexuality are all about!

What’s Next?

Next week we’ll be having our Koinonia Christmas Party. Then after the New Year we will be resuming Small Groups. If you also want a format with more teaching like what these Wednesdays have been, we’ll be having an adult Sunday School after our worship services going through the 1689 Second London Confession of Faith, which actually has a helpful section on marriage.

Prayer – Break up into groups to pray with and for each other: (1) Single Men (2) Married Men (3) Single Women (4) Married Women

Pray to be captivated more by the grand vision of the wedding feast of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9)…

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8… Pray for sanctification in your sexuality…

Praise God that 1 Corinthians 6:11 is true of us and pray that more would be added to our number…