It is a question that has been brewing in my mind for some time now. It is a question that, I believe, goes to the heart of many issues facing the church.
Does sexuality exist? Is sexuality a natural (read: biological, genetic) aspect of human experience?
This question is crucial because it also leads us to ask one other question: Is sexuality a cultural construction?
You see, sexuality can be only one; it can only be genetic or cultural. If sexuality is genetic than the nature of that sexuality will raise questions about how we are created, the depths of depravity, etc. If sexuality is a cultural construction than it poses questions about how we identify ourselves, understand ourselves as humans, and how we have interpreted what it means to be human.
I do not have nearly enough knowledge to give a comprehensive answer to the question today, but today I would like to start a conversation about the nature of sexuality. I hope you will join me in considering some of this information, and perhaps we can grow through it.
Step 1: Identifying Sexuality--What is it?
Sexuality, at its core, is all about identity. Sexuality could easily be broken into two words: sexual identity. When we talk about sexuality, we talk about characterizing ourselves based upon issues within the realm of sex.
Sexuality, therefore, is a way to define our identity and the identity of those around us based upon issues such as sex drive, sexual preferences, gender, etc.
The question that should be raised here is whether or not this is how we should interpret our identity. Stated another way: Do our sexual preferences really play an important role in defining me?
Step 2: Questioning Sexuality--Is it overvalued?
What I find dangerous about a sex-based identity is that we are establishing value for ourselves and others based on an extremely carnal activity. Sexual desires are real in most every human, but to define ourselves by them is to give excuse to act upon any and all sexual desires.
It becomes acceptable to cheat on a husband/wife because she didn't meet my needs (without sexual identity can we really say sex is a need?)
It becomes acceptable to engage in multiple sex partners because I am simply expressing the way I was created.
This also leads to homosexuality becoming something more than a sex act between 2 people of the same gender because they identify themselves based upon a sexual attraction to someone (not everyone) of the same gender.
If we take this to its furthest, if we choose to allow us to be identified based upon our sexual needs/preferences it blurs even deeper moral lines for our culture. Can we really say certain sexual identities are acceptable in our culture (heterosexual/homosexual/multisexual) and yet angrily despise those who perform despicable actions such as incest or rape when they point to the same reasons (it's just who I am!?)
Finding our identity in sexuality certainly poses a problem for society
Step 3: Rediscovering Identity--Moving beyond sexual identity
Perhaps we can take a big step by returning to a different source of identity: God.
When we begin to see ourselves as God created and, therefore, God identified, we can see sexual needs and urges within a much bigger framework.
Placing our identity in theology allows us to take into account how issues such as sin, redemption, and new creation play a part in finding out "who I am" and more importantly (who I am intended to be).
Theology tells us that everything that I currently am, that I currently feel, is not all that God designed. It tells us that there is growth, change, and refinement that needs to occur.
Going back to issues of sex, when set in a theological identity, we can see that just because I feel certain ways does not make those feelings valid for who God intends me to be.
My attraction to people other than my spouse, though very real, will not allow me to excuse myself from my monogamous relationship with her. The relationship I am in is a picture of where God is taking me, and what he plans for the whole world, therefore I must image it forth in my identity as best I can.
For those who live feeling the urge and need of homosexual relationships, I believe theological identity provides freedom. We realize that we can have wonderful, committed relationships with humans of any gender without inviting sex to the party. It also means that those attractions to those of the same gender, while very real, do not define who you are or where God is leading you.
Theological identity, in a nutshell, allows us to have God-honoring relationships with people--male and female--while reserving sex for the position within God's scheme that he has placed it.
How do you think sexuality leads to confusion? Do you think sexuality is a healthy way to seek our identities? How does theological identity change the way you view those around you?