Sexual Wholeness, and Not Just Purity, Is the Goal

Every other October we sponsor a Sexual Wholeness Week in seminary chapel. The intent behind this series of chapels is to exhort our students in what it means to be sexually whole. This concept goes beyond just helping students avoid adultery in seminary and ministry. The greater concern is that they would be sexually whole people who are not perpetuating brokenness in themselves, their families, and their ministries.

One of the most helpful books I came across in preparation for this series is Judith and Jack Balswick’s book, Authentic Human Sexuality (IVP, 1999). They explain the complexity of human sexuality and seek to define sexual wholeness.

Human sexuality must be understood in light of a variety of influences, including biological, sociological, psychological, theological, as well as gender, emotions, behaviors, attitudes and values. We begin with the presupposition that authentic sexuality is meant to be a congruent, integral part of one’s total being. Further, we believe that God intends for our sexuality to be a real, genuine, believable and trustworthy part of ourselves. In this way we embrace what God has created and declare with God, “It is very good.” (p. 13)


This book is filled with chapter after chapter of some of the best writing I have ever read on sexuality. Since sexual issues are one of the most, if not the most, pressing issues in the American church today, I highly recommend pastors get this book and read it.

Here’s an example of the kind of wisdom gathered in the book. The Balswick’s quote Lewis Smedes on the need to go beyond an emphasis on sexual purity in marriage to sexual wholeness:

A man or woman can be just too busy, too tired, too timid, too prudent, or too hemmed in with fear to be seriously tempted by an adulterous affair. But this same person can be a bore at home, callous to the delicate needs of the partner. He or she may be too prudish to be an adventuresome lover, and too cowardly to be in honest communication and too busy to put oneself out for anything more than a routine ritual of personal commitment.

One may be able to claim to have never cheated…but may never have tried to grow along with their partner into a deep personal relationship of respect and regard within marriage. Their brand of negative fidelity may be an excuse for letting the marriage fall by neglect into dreary conformity to habit and, with that, into a dull routine of depersonalized sex. I am not minimizing the importance of sexual fidelity, but anyone who thinks that morality in marriage is fulfilled by avoiding an affair has short-circuited the personal dynamics of fidelity.

Lewis Smedes, Sex for Christians (Eerdmans, 1976), 168-9.

Can You Miss God’s Will?

The opening line of a familiar table grace for children is a good place to jump off this week: “God is great, God is good. . .”.

In the previous post we discussed God’s good heart toward His children. That’s a comfort to be sure – but what if my thick head can’t discern what His good heart is leading me toward? The second principle focuses on God’s greatness, which thankfully is able to overcome my denseness!

Principle #2: Rest in God’s Sovereignty

It’s a familiar old anxiety that has plagued me from college days. Many of life’s decisions are perplexing, with multiple options each looking attractive. You pray. You confess your sin. You search your heart’s motives. You ask for counsel. You weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option comparatively. You want nothing more than to know and do God’s will.

But still, YOU must make a choice. Careful now. What if you didn’t pray enough? What if you left a sin off your confession list? What if your counselor was having a bad day? What if, what if, what if. . .? And what if you left off an important “what if”?!

Do you notice where all the focus is here? On YOU and your ability to discern. Really, this kind of anxiety is evidence of self-reliance. Let’s get our mind off our inabilities for a minute and onto the greatness of our God. The prophet Daniel’s prayer should do it:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might.

He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings;

He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;

He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness;

and the light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:20-22)

Just think of it. The God who loves you unconditionally in Christ is the omnipotent sovereign of the universe. If He is controlling little things like earthly dynasties and pagan rulers, it’s likely He’s up to the challenge of guiding His children through life.

The next time you’re bordering on a panic attack over some decision, just rest in God’s super-ability to guide you safely toward His ultimate goal for you – that of being transformed into the image of His Son (cf. Phil. 1:6).

Advancing the Church: February 22-25, 2011

Leading and serving a local church is no simple task.The challenges are exhausting. The joys are exhilarating. Both are difficult to exaggerate.

Introducing a bi-annual conference series focused on providing resources to pastors for growing healthy local churches.

We believe God’s servant-leaders need time away to recharge, to refresh, to reconnect . . . and to be reminded they are not alone in the battle.

We’ve designed our new “ATC” conference series to be strategically helpful for people like you. You love your ministry, even on the days it’s making you crazy. You just want to get better at what you do. You want your church to be spiritually healthy. Ultimately, you want a good grade at the final exam before the Chief Shepherd.

We think you’ll find ATC 2011 to be full of helpful resources to that end. Together, we’ll get our faces back into the Book, our knees back on the floor, and our hearts warmed to the One who died for the world we are sent to in His name.

Tim Jordan & Sam Harbin
ATC Conference Hosts

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