Monday, September 15, 2008

Sex and Politics

Wow... if I add "money" to the title of this post, do I win some prize!?  At least I probably got your attention.  Luckily for all of us, the compound title is because there are two separate topics for this particular post.  I couldn't decide which idea to write and I'm too impatient to hold one thought for next week...

Our Sunday School class spent last semester talking about "love."  All different kinds of love, from marriage to God's love for us to love of humankind.  The most valuable part of the conversation was probably the visual metaphor that we used on and off throughout the class: the image of all of us as points on a circular plane with God located in the middle.  As we enhance our relationship with God, we move closer to the center of the circle, and consequently closer to everyone else that is moving inward; and as we develop closer relationship with eachother, we bring eachother closer to God as well.

This imagery works well for me because it actually works geometrically:  If you have two points on a circle (people) with God at the center of the circle, if you move those two points in a straight line toward eachother, the distance between each of those points and the center of the circle will decrease:  As we build closer relationships with eachother, we become closer to God.

As an introvert, I find it hard to develop relationships with other people.  Now I have another reason to work on developing that skill.

This year's Sunday School class is about what I think is probably one of the closest human relationships one can have: marriage.  We're working through a formal curriculum on love, marriage, and sex.  The thing that I'm struggling with from the author/presenter, though, is what the Bible and God really do have to say about sex.  When Adam and Eve were caught naked, is the implication they were having sex?  What about the various women of ill repute in the Bible?  What is the historical versus theological significance of Biblical statements about homosexual acts?  Is human sex important to God, to our faith?  I think so, but I don't know how, exactly.

I said that sex and politics wouldn't have any relationship in this post, but I can't help but stretch for some kind of segue:  Like sex, a lot of people are very uncomfortable talking about politics in a church setting.  (How was that?)

The political arena really is a special kind of human relationship that is both inevitably influenced by faith, but also somehow separate from the strictures of any particular faith.  I think it is an interesting and complicated idea to say that a political candidates positions and policies are"bigger than their faith" and that their faith is "bigger than their policies."  Back to geometry, maybe for some it's a simple Venn diagram where politics and faith overlap, but in my mind it's something more Escher-like where personal faith is both inclusive of and bigger than politics, while politics is both inclusive of and bigger than personal faith, all at the same time.  Maybe something geometrically related to the Mobius strip that has 1 continuous side and 2 oposing sides both at the same time.

All that aside, I think we need to feel more comfortable talking about politics: in our churches, in our places of work, in our schools.  Politics impacts those places heavily.  We should feel free to discuss politics there.


Stushie said...

With regard to sexual issues, especially in the New Testament, words that are used for homosexual activity cannot be literally translated from Greek into English and preached from the pulpit, otherwise half the section of old ladies sitting at the back would faint. The elders would also have a fit at the next Session because the pastor used two highly offensive curse words in his or her preaching. (I could write the words here, but that would cause this blog to be flagged as offensive).

As for politics in the church, I like to quote Bishop Tutu on this one. "When people say we shouldn't mix politics and religion, I ask them, "What Bible are you reading?""

Stushie said...

PS Paul - you need to tag the post - putting sex, homosexuality, politics, and PCUSA as tags will get many outside readers hitting your post.

Sarahlynn said...

Is human sex important to God, to our faith? I think so, but I don't know how, exactly.

We've only had one week, but clearly I've not yet done my job. Expect a handout listing relevant verses next week. Which, incidentally, will have nothing to do with slurs against homosexuality. It will, along with the focus of the rest of the class, focus on the way we're called by God to be in our own relationships, rather than worrying about whether and how others are fulfilling their own callings.