Purity, consent, and other lenses on sexual ethics

Sex is complicated. So is Christian reflection on it.

I teach at a religious college in a small town littered with hormonal 20-year-olds. If you turn off your headphones while working in a local coffee shop, you will almost inevitably hear discussions about sex. More likely, you will hear talk of sexual ethics and the spiritual life. Less tale of conquest, more caffeinated conversation about how to draw boundaries. I say this without any condescension. These are my people. I know their questions as important and their angst understandable. How one holds together a life of flesh and a life of spirit does not always feel straightforward.

But as Bromleigh McCleneghan makes clear in her compelling addition to the conversation, she believes these students, and the church more broadly, are thinking about sexuality in an entirely wrong way.

The church universal . . . can be so entirely goofy on topics of sex, love, and relationships. Sex is a critical part of identity (but only if you are straight, and fit traditional gender roles, and are married). Singleness is great and easy to bear and a virtue, and celibacy is expected; but whoa, man, does God want you to get married and enjoy the marital bed (which is both joy and obligation!) and start cranking out some Christian babies who will complete your life and give you purpose.