Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Does the Bible have anything to say to our post-Sexual Revolution views on gender and sexuality?

If you are jerk this conversation might not be for you. Tonight, we are talking about modern conceptions of gender and sex. These topics are both deeply personal and widely debated in the Christian community. They have and continue to split congregations around the world. Remember, we will disagree, but disagreement is part of the communal process of theology. Whatever is said, this is a perfect chance to practice both humility, hospitality, and true listening. You don’t know who is at your table; you don’t know what they’ve been through. Be empathetic, be present, be kind, be like Jesus. 

The Main Questions

  • Look at the definitions of gender and sex in the section below. What do you think of these definitions?
  • Considering the above discussion about sex and gender, answer the following questions:
    • How are sex and gender related to each other?
    • Is gender binary, a spectrum, or something else?
    • Is sex binary, a spectrum or something else?
    • How does the theological concept of sin relate to sex, gender, and/or the relationship between them (i.e. how are sex and gender affected by human brokenness?)
  • How are gender and sex dealt with in the Bible? Does our modern conception of gender and sex match the Bible, and does it matter?
  • Read the short description of the sexual revolution in the section below. Answer the following questions:
    • What are some of the positive outcomes of the sexual revolution?
    • What are some of the negative outcomes of the sexual revolution?
    • Is the sexual revolution, or various aspects of it, incompatible with the worldview of the bible? If yes, how do you deal with modern conceptions of sex and gender? If no, does the Bible have any critique to offer concepts from the sexual revolution?
  • What passages and ideas do you find helpful in constructing an approach to gender and sex? What passages and ideas do you have difficulty dealing with?
  • What are some next steps you could take to work towards creating a holistic theology of sex and gender? What do you need to learn more about? What questions do you need to deal with?

Key Definitions

  • Gender // Refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men, such as norms, roles, and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed.” // World Health Orientation
  • Sex // Refers to a person’s biological status and is typically categorized as male, female, or intersex (i.e., atypical combinations of features that usually distinguish male from female). There are a number of indicators of biological sex, including sex chromosomes, gonads, internal reproductive organs, and external genitalia. // American Psychological Association
  • Sexual Revolution // the sexual revolution, also known as a time of sexual liberation, was a social movement that challenged traditional codes of behavior related to sexuality and interpersonal relationships throughout the United States and subsequently, the wider world, from the 1960s to the 1980s. Sexual liberation included increased acceptance of sex outside of traditional heterosexual, monogamous relationships (primarily marriage). The normalization of contraception and the pill, public nudity, pornography, premarital sex, homosexuality, masturbation, alternative forms of sexuality, and the legalization of abortion all followed. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Sexual Orientation // Refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions to men, women or both sexes. Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors and membership in a community of others who share those attractions. Research over several decades has demonstrated that sexual orientation ranges along a continuum, from exclusive attraction to the other sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex. // American Psychological Association

Important Scripture

  • There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? // James 4:12
  • Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. // Romans 1:26-28
  • But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. // Matthew 5:28
  • Jesus said, ‘From the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ // Mark 19:6-9
  • However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. // Ephesians 5:33
  • And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” // Genesis 1:28

Thoughts from Others

  • God’s good design [is] that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception—a perception which is often influenced by fallen human nature in ways contrary to God’s design. // Southern Baptist Convention
  • Can we imagine a world in which the divine pronouncement at the beginning of creation, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18), might find a range of deeply satisfying resolutions, from heterosexual marriage, to celibate communities, to gay and lesbian committed unions? // James Brownson
  • This oscillation between male and female becomes, at the end of the day, only a ‘provocative’ display against so-called ‘traditional frameworks’, and one which, in fact, ignores the suffering of those who have to live situations of sexual indeterminacy. // Congregation for Catholic Education
  • I urge not that we assume that love will provide a reliable foundation for knowledge but that we nonetheless keep the requirements of love of neighbor foremost in our interpretations of Scripture. We should consider, for example, love to be a necessary criterion (a minimum) when defending an interpretation of Scripture even if it cannot be a sufficient criterion that will guarantee ethical interpretation. // Dale B. Martin, Sex and the Single Savior
  • To the extent that it does talk about homosexuality, the New Testament appears to be talking about only certain types of homosexuality, and it speaks on the basis of assumptions about homosexuality that are now regarded as highly dubious. Perhaps, then, we could paraphrase what the New Testament says about homosexuality as follows: If homosexuality is exploitive, then it is wrong; if homosexuality is rooted in idolatry, then it is wrong; if homosexuality represents a denial of one’s own true nature, then it is wrong; if homosexuality is an expression of insatiable lust, then it is wrong. But we could say exactly the same thing about heterosexuality, couldn’t we? // William O. Walker Jr.