This post is part of my ongoing response to the questions I posted as part of this month's book discussion
on Colossians Remixed
by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat over at the Emerging Women blog
. (read my other responses - here
Question #5 -
In Colossians 3:5-17 Paul tells us to put to death the things of our earthly nature (sexual immorality, greed). The authors write, "Why end a list of sexual sins with an economic sin? Because sexual sin is fundamentally a matter of covetousness, an insatiable, self-gratifying greed that has the control and consumption of the other person as its ultimate desire" (p160) and "In our culture, the unrestrained economic greed of global market capitalism pimps sexual promiscuity along with its entertainment products, communications systems, automobiles and running shoes. You see, if the empire is all about economic growth driven by a lifestyle of consumption, then all of life becomes a matter of consumption - including our sexual life. ... There is no point in getting all morally absolute about sexual promiscuity if Christians are screwing around with the same consumeristic way of life as everyone else. This text gives us the language to identify what is going on here for what it is: idolatry." (p162). How do you see sexual immorality as being greed and idolatry? What is the value of the alternatives?
I’ve always been uneasy with views of sex that paint it as evil in and of itself. The views that dichotomize body and soul. That disparage the physical world as evil. That are ashamed of our bodies.
Like it or not or intended or not those are the views that dominate the church’s approach to sex. There is something shameful about our bodies, they are finite, they wear down, they tempt us and are therefore evil. In a culture mesmerized with Platonic conceptions of reality the heresy of dualism finds an easy hold. Sex is evil because it is sex.
Christian women are taught to be ashamed of their bodies. To hide away their physical selves lest they “cause” their brother to stumble. Sex is the quintessential sin to be avoid at all costs. Do not think about it. Do not explore or attempt to understand your physical self. You will be ruined as a person for life if you slip up here. Take pride that you have stripped yourself bare of any desire to partake of that tainted act. But from your wedding night onward you had better be prepared to enjoy sex – creatively and proactively or else you will cause your husband to sin from neglect...
I remember the first time I asked (really asked) “why is sex outside of marriage wrong?” The answers I was given (because it is for pleasure and not procreation and because God says so) didn’t cut it for me. And I discovered that was a question you just didn’t ask. Ever. I wanted to affirm the conclusions but wanted better reasons and I just couldn’t seem to find them.
That’s why I liked the the take presented here. It explores the deeper reasons. It doesn’t turn sin into a concrete object or action that is performed, but sees it as an attitude of the heart that gets lived out in various ways. It allows for sex and the body to be celebrated in and of themselves, but still provides caution and care in their expression. And it gets past the hangup of seeing sexual sins as the only moral issue out there.
Idolatry is whatever causes us to turn away from the image of the invisible God and be consumed with other images. When the structures and mandates of empire usurp our worship. When the materialism of the marketplace captures our imagination. When other image-bearers become commodities for us to use. Then we have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.
Labels: Book Reviews, Colossians Remixed, Theology