To read the papers or watch the news, one would think that sex and gender are the only issues facing Christians today. Christian thought about war and injustice, or about how to believe in God in this postmodern age, almost never makes the headlines.
Expect to see banners with “Song of Solomon 2:6” or “Genesis 2:25” unfurled in sports stadiums along with the customary “John 3:16” signs. Expect these, that is, if the annual multimillion-dollar sale of evangelical sex manuals continues to grow apace. Those two scriptures are cited in such texts, many of them written by Tim and Beverly LaHaye.
Like any Catholic college, mine boasts an ethic of sexual abstinence for students, does not allow any form of birth control to be distributed on campus, and has same-sex residence halls that post visiting hours for members of the opposite sex. Yet most students will tell you, if asked in the right setting, that there is a gap between the ideal and the reality when it comes to sex.
Tom Wolfe may deny that his novel is about Duke, but having spent 20 years there I know a few things about the school. Wolfe’s “Dupont University” has the same number of undergrads as Duke, the same fraternity-sorority dominance of the social scene, the same veneration of basketball, and a dozen other similarities.
When Alfred Charles Kinsey was hired as an assistant professor of zoology at Indiana University in 1920, he began a two-decade study of the gall wasp, collecting over 1 million samples. He loved the gall wasp, he said, because each one was totally different from the others.
Lisa Graham McMinn explores hot-button topics like abortion, homosexuality, masturbation, pornography and other sexual issues in her book. Her premise is that all sexuality is a function of our drive toward intimacy with God and with others. As sin has damaged the rest of the world, so has it damaged sexuality.
Some exegetes and preachers have tried to persuade us that the Song of Songs is an elaborate allegory about the love of God for Israel or of Christ for the church. Yes, the book may have something to teach us about the divine-human relationship, but it is also, and without doubt, a song of erotic love. It is sensual, playful, beautiful and filled with longing.
It was inevitable that the antihomosexual lobby would develop something equivalent to a neutron bomb designed to wipe out the homosexual lobby without (it is hoped) altogether destroying the church. I refer to a tendentious study by Robert A. J. Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.