What Does God Have to Say About My Sex Life?
Why do Christians make such a big deal about sex? Why does God even care about my sex life? Why didn’t Jesus ever get married? Will there be marriage in Heaven?
Why do Christians make such a big deal about sex? Why does God even care about my sex life? Why didn’t Jesus ever get married? Will there be marriage in Heaven? Vince and Jo Vitale are joined today by special guest Dr. Juli Slattery of Authentic Intimacy Ministries in an honest discussion around these questions.
Authentic Intimacy Ministries helps women reclaim God’s design for intimacy and sexuality. Learn more about the ministry and Julie’s book, Rethinking Sexuality, here. Have a question you want the Ask Away crew to cover? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the hashtag #askrzim on Twitter.
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Vince Vitale - @VinceRVitale
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Michael Davis - @mdav1979
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Michael Davis: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Ask Away with Vince and Jo Vitale. I am your host, Michael Davis. Our culture is awash in contradictory perspectives on sex, and the church has not been immune from this confusion. The concepts of chastity, purity and biblical marriage have at best been relegated as quaint and outdated, or at worse, are seen as oppressive and hateful by our increasingly secularizing culture. Even more concerning is that there has been an inconsistency on this topic for many churches. How is a faithful Christian supposed to view sex and marriage? Why would God even care about who someone sleeps with?
But before we get started, I am excited to announce that we have joining us in our studios Dr. Juli Slattery of Authentic Intimacy Ministries. Juli, could you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, your ministry, and about your new book, Rethinking Sexuality: God's Design and Why it Matters?
Juli Slattery: Yeah, absolutely. About myself, I live in Akron, Ohio. "I'm just a kid from Akron," as they say, when you grew up there. I run this ministry called Authentic Intimacy that it took me a few years to realize what we were actually doing, but we were discipling women and their sexuality, which even sounds weird to say out loud. The new book, Rethinking Sexuality, is really taking that discipleship model of sexuality and teaching other people how to do that. Again, people are going to be kind of freaked out by, "What are you talking about?"
But it's challenging the paradigm of how the Christian church has addressed or even not addressed sexual issues, and I think pressing into a more biblical focus and paradigm of addressing sexuality through the great commission of making disciples of all nations. So that's the big picture, and I know we'll spend a lot of time unpacking that as we talk today.
Vince Vitale: It's great to have you with us, Juli, and just spending lunch together. We've taken so much from what you had to share in your ministry already, so really, thank you for being with us.
Juli Slattery: Thanks for having me.
Why Do Christians Make Such a Big Deal about Sex? Why Would God Even Care about My Sex Life?
Michael Davis: Well, to get us started, this is a question that we hear all the time, why do Christians make such a big deal about sex? Why would God even care about my sex life?
Juli Slattery: Yeah, so really good question, and I think traditionally Christians will feel like the only thing that people talk about in the church is what to do related to sexual moral issues, and what to believe, most importantly, what not to do. Don't think about this, don't do this, this is wrong. Maybe some hope about someday you can get married and sex will be wonderful. I think that this kind of question comes out of that thinking, like those rules just seem like they don't make sense to us. They're not relevant in my life.
We've got to start back by asking a very fundamental question, why did God create us as sexual people? I think a lot of Christians never ask that question. They just kind of assume that sex is bad, that sexuality's bad, and that God just wants us to manage it. But God intentionally created us as sexual people with sexual feelings and thoughts. He made the sex the way it is: passionate, vulnerable, intimate, for a reason. That reason is, and this would take a lot of unpacking to do, which I do in Rethinking Sexuality, but sexuality is first and foremost a metaphor to teach us about God's covenant love.
There's lots of ways to unpack that, but if you think that sexuality is holy, first and foremost, because God created it to teach us about his love, then all of a sudden it takes on this great significance of why God cares about it. So it's not just about making the right choices, it's about having the right mindset.
Vince Vitale: I find that really helpful. I was thinking it's interesting how with other friends, if they don't care about our romantic life, or about our sex life, we criticize them.
But if God does care, then we tend to criticize him for it. So almost a double standard at work there, or perhaps we don't really conceive of God as a friend. I think that's where I landed when I was thinking that through. We think of God as this distant creator of the universe, why would he be interested in something as small as me and my sex life, but actually a good friend cares about every aspect of who you are, and our sexuality is a big aspect of who we are, and if God is very much a friend, then it makes sense that he would care about that.
Jo Vitale: In fact, even more than a friend because a friend is that will come alongside you and support you, but if God is the one who's designed it, if he's the one who came up with the brilliant idea in the first place, then of course he's going to have an opinion about how we use it well. It's funny how offensive we find it, and yet the reality is it's a big deal to up because sex is a big deal, and I think actually how helpful it is to have someone who has an intention behind and a design for it, when we look at the current culture that we're in right now and just the pain that people are experiencing, this whole area of sexuality, and just how confused we are.
I was thinking about this a couple of weeks ago, even with the Supreme Court nomination going on, and it was kind of like the follower of #MeToo kind of reaching this absolute climax politically, and all the pain behind that, that whole movement, but then at the same time I remember seeing a headline that week in the UK for a university where in their welcoming [inaudible 00:05:59] incoming freshman, they had a stool set up to encourage women to become sex workers to help them support their way through college.
Juli Slattery: Wow.
Jo Vitale: And to me, looking at those headlines side by side that we…thought, wow we're just so confused about this. We don't even know what to do with our sexuality. Thank goodness there's a God who would want to help us with that.
Juli Slattery: Yeah. And I think that's so key. You know what you said, Vince, about God is our friend, so of course he'd be interested. A friend isn't someone who just asks you a list of moral questions. Did you do this? Did you think about this? And I think most people perceive that's how God views our sexuality, is just have you been a good boy or girl?
Vince Vitale: Yeah.
Juli Slattery: A friend is someone who says, "I want to know your heart, and if you're in pain I want to hear your heart and I want to help relieve that pain and move you towards healing." Most people never think about God concerned about their sexuality on those terms, that my heart is broken for you. So when you talk about God and sexuality, we have to go beyond just what are the lists of rules of right and wrong. What's God's heart for our brokenness, and for the confusion you're talking about, Jo?
Jo Vitale: That's really good. Juli, say a little more, if you don't mind, because over lunch, I found it so helpful about how you frame this whole thinking about sexuality within a broader narrative, in a broader biblical narrative.
Juli Slattery: Yeah, so our narrative is what helps us make sense of anything. It's the larger story that puts the pieces of our life into context. You've got to think, "Okay, what's my narrative around sexuality? What is larger framework that helps me understand why I feel temptation, why I feel shame, why God cares about my sexuality?" And there are really three narratives, I think, that help us understand this.
The first one is the cultural narrative. The cultural narrative says your sexuality matters because it is a primary way that you express who you are. It's your identity, so nobody should get in the way of that expression. You need to explore, experiment, find out who you are sexually and go with that. The church predominately, as long as I've known the church, has used what I call a purity narrative. It essentially said sexuality's important because it's of moral category and God wants you to be sexually pure until you get married, that the resolution of your sexuality is getting married.
Once you get married, if you keep yourself pure, God's going to bring this wonderful husband or wife, and sex is going to phenomenal and that's the end of the story.
Jo Vitale: And lived happily ever after.
Juli Slattery: Yeah, and I think most people listening right now are like, "That's like a fairy tale narrative. That's not my life. I cannot find-"
Vince Vitale: But that's not yours? No.
Juli Slattery: It's not, and it wasn't my life. I mean I grew up hearing that purity narrative and then got married and encountered all kinds of difficulty in sexuality in my marriage, and there was no help available. But there are other people who are saying, "Well I was sexually abused, so where I am in that narrative?"
Vince Vitale: Yeah.
Juli Slattery: Or, "I've messed up in all kinds of ways, so that's story's not about me," or, "I'm not married, so where am I? Is the end goal again marriage?" So I really think that that narrative, although it might be based on some biblical morality, is not broad enough for us to understand God's heart for sexuality.
So the narrative that I think is truth is a biblical narrative which says that God created our sexuality to be this powerful, physical way of us experiencing a little bit of what his covenant love is like, the longing for that covenant love, the fulfillment of that covenant love, even the breaking of a covenant promise when people have been betrayed or divorce happens, there's a deep pain and brokenness that's supposed to, even reflected in scripture, teach us about God's heart when his people are not faithful to him.
So that's a much broader narrative, understanding that Satan wants to attack holy sexuality, that we have had this great metaphor tarnished in our lives, and that Jesus is in the business of redeeming that. When we talk about that narrative, every person can find their own story within that.
Jo Vitale: It's so interesting to think about how much since it would make that the enemy would want to keep us from a healthy understanding of sex and sexuality precisely because it points to God and his covenant love so strongly.
Juli Slattery: Yeah, one of the number one responses we get through our ministry is I can't believe how much of my sexual healing has led me into a deeper intimacy with God. I didn't expect that. But we should begin to expect that. If it's the metaphor, then we should see that overlap.
Jo Vitale: That's great.
“As an unmarried 25-year-old, what does living a sexually pure life look like for me, both in a non-marriage Relationship and as a Single Person?"
Michael Davis: So let's get to our first user submitted question. This is from Hannah: "Most of the verses in the New Testament are so non-specific, speaking of sexual impurity, that I have a hard time understanding how the church came up with their rules around sex, and even the rules varied greatly. From what I understand, adultery means having sex outside of an existing marriage, but in my experience the church often applies adultery to single individuals. As an unmarried 25 year old, what does living a sexually pure life look like for me, both in a non-marriage relationship and as a single person?"
Juli Slattery: That's a great question. She's talking about adultery. There's another term in the New Testament called fornication that is more addressing single sex. In other words, having sex with somebody that you're not married to, and it's not breaking a covenant. But she's asking the question, what does it look like to live a pure life, a sexually pure life. I would rather use the term, what does it look like to live with sexual integrity?
Sexual integrity means that all of my sexual choices and beliefs are aligned with who I say I am as a Christ follower. What I just presented to us as a biblical narrative is that God created our sexuality to teach us about covenant love. So for a single person, my sexual desires have a purpose. Here on earth, they are what kind of makes me say, "Hey, I don't want to be alone." Our bodies are testifying to us that we were not made to be alone.
Now the only fulfillment of that on earth isn't just to get married and have sex. Our sexuality includes much more than being sexually active. It's what propels us into relationships, and to share intimately, and to form relationships that have promises attached, like even deep friendships. The body of Christ. So you're acting out of your sexuality in a very healthy way by pursing people, by revealing pieces of who you are to people, even though you're not being sexually active. That's a piece of sexuality.
But to live with sexual integrity means that I reserve physical sexual expression to be a celebration of a covenant promise called marriage. Again, I think thinking in terms of integrity is even more helpful than thinking in terms of am I pure or am I not pure?
Jo Vitale: Mm-hmm (affirmative), that's so good. I think, Hannah, the way you frame the question, it's often put to us in terms of people saying, "The New Testament doesn't say anything about sex outside of marriage," is often the way you'll hear it. And how do we make sense of these terms? Hannah, I really appreciate the way you ... you're right to make a distinction between adultery and sexual impurity. The words do mean different things when it comes to scripture, but I think even though this term sexual impurity or sexual immorality or fornication, it can seem hard or vague to take hold of when we just read our Bibles-
And hard or vague to take hold of when we just read our Bibles in a vacuum, but actually when understand the context in which it was written, it really does. As Juli was pointing to, holds that connotation of the Jewish culture of understanding of what sex would have been, which is within the marriage. And, I think it's helpful. A couple of things, Paul says to help us understand what he is getting at when he is speaking this language. The one thing he says in 1 Thessalonians 4 is, "For it's the will of God, your sanctification. That you abstain from sexual immorality. That each one of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles, who do not know God."
Now, what's interesting about that phrase is that the Gentiles actually had strong views on adultery. In fact, adultery was seen as a crime in the realm of the world at that time. But, so what is he referring to when he's talking about the passionate lusts that the Gentile's do? He's referring to having sex outside of marriage, which wasn't a big deal for the Gentiles.
So, I think Paul is making that distinction here. Another thing that's interesting to me is when Paul says ... Actually, he lauds the gift of singleness and says how wonderful singleness is and actually might even be better that is to be single for the sake of being able to serve the Lord. But he says for those who can't bear to burn with passion get married. He doesn't say, get a partner or attend to your boyfriend, or whatever it is. He says that marriage is the resolution for lust. That's the place where we take the full expression of sex, as Juli's been saying. I think it takes a little more digging sometimes. We're not just gonna find a tweetable verse in the New Testament saying this is why sex outside of marriage is wrong. But I think when you dig into the culture, it's pretty clear where the New Testament is leaning on that.
Vince Vitale: I like this category of integrity being applied here as well because I know for myself when I became a Christian my life had to look quite different in this respect. And I came to think in terms of the category of honesty, as well, which I think is closely related to integrity, but I had to ask questions in the context of non-married relationships. Or even situations in which I wasn't in a romantic relationship.
What did it look like emotionally, spiritually, physically, to communicate what was actually true? To have integrity or honesty, in terms of what I was saying. And one of the things that I realized, with God's help, was that if I was always saying I love you and adore you, and I could never imagine life without you to someone in the early stages of relationship. I was actually emotionally communicating something which was far beyond where the commitment in the relationship actually was.
Or even as a young Christian. If I was doing all of my quiet times together with someone. I was spiritually speaking to a unity with someone that wasn't yet there. And the same physically as well. Sex is that strongest word in the physical language. A word that means all of me for all of you, always, and if I'm using that word, and if not actually what I mean. Well, then it's no wonder that when break-ups happen. In the context of relationship, often what we feel is lied to. Because even if the words haven't been said, that were literally a lie, what's been communicated physically, emotionally, spiritually, are often not consistent with what has actually occurred in the relationship.
Juli Slattery: Yeah, I'm glad that you applied it to aspects of other than just sexual because usually that's all we talk about is sexual integrity. But, we're seeing today, even in Christian dating relationships. People crossing a lot of boundaries very early on that just aren't appropriate for the level of commitment, and the level of knowing each other that's appropriate. So, yeah.
Michael Davis: Juli, how do you think that Hannah's statement that the church came up with these rules? Effect the fact that she answers or is the reason that she asks this question?
Juli Slattery: Well, it's a great question that she's asking, because when we look at Jesus' interaction in the Gospels. He says flat out, stop obeying the rules of man and go back to the heart of God. And I do think related to sexuality, the church has made up a lot of rules. We've become very legalistic and lost the heart of God in many places. Now, the rules, I think we're motivated by, hey, how do we keep kids pure? How do we keep them from bad things? We don't want them experiencing sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, on and on. I'm a parent, and I get that, but what happens when the focus is only on rules? Don't kiss until you get engaged, and don't hold hands, and ... How far can you go without technically losing your virginity?
It's all focused on behavior, which it has been. We forget and lose the whole concept of why this is the heart of God, and why it even matters. And people feel like, either you're keeping the rules, and you've got it right, and it's a legalistic thing. Or they realize they can't keep all the rules, so they just give up. And they think Biblical sexuality has nothing to say to them.
I think her question reveals some of the poor teaching that we've had in the evangelical church, and probably the Catholic church. That have kept us from getting to the heart of why sexuality matters.
Why Didn't Jesus Marry?
Vince Vitale: So, let's get to the next question. This one's from Brad. "Forgive me if this question is absurd." I love when people start questions like this.
Michael Davis: Usually the best questions.
Vince Vitale: I know. "But I'm approaching my wedding date, and I've become more curious about marriage in the Bible. I have been wondering why Jesus never experienced or chose to experience the relationship of a woman in marriage. I'm not educated on the context of marriage in the Bible, but I'm curious as to why Jesus didn't model a perfect marriage for us. And, is there something unholy about marriage that is the reason why Christ never married? Thank you guys for all you do, faithful follower." Brad.
Juli Slattery: Wow, what a great question. Yeah, I've never been asked that one. And, I've been asked a lot of questions.
Jo Vitale: There you go Brad, well said.
Vince Vitale: Well done, Brad.
Juli Slattery: Yeah, and now I'm going to do my best, but, you guys are going to jump in and help me out here. But, I think part of it is recognizing that ... I'm going to go back to something we said way at the beginning of the podcast. Marriage is a metaphor of God's covenant love. I think somewhat in our culture today, Christian culture. We've worshiped the metaphor so much that we've forgotten that it's just a metaphor. And, when you look at what Paul taught, you look at the fact that Jesus wasn't married. It's not at all denigrating marriage. But it's saying, although this metaphors holy and should be honored by all. It's just a picture of something infinitely more important.
And, Jesus, while he lived on earth, didn't need marriage. He was in perfect union with the Father. He was about something even more important than marriage. And so, that's not at all to say marriage isn't important, it is, and scripture reflects that. But the way I think of it is ... I'm always working on these word pictures that help me make sense of things. If I'm going to take my kids to Disney Land? Let's say I want to get them really excited about Disney Land. They've never been there before. So, I find a YouTube trailer about all the things they're going to experience in Disney Land and have them watch it over and over and over again.
We're going there, we're going there. Once they've actually been to Disney land, they don't want to watch the Disney Land trailer anymore, because they've experienced the real thing. And, I think we've got to understand that even the greatness of marriage and sexuality then marriage. It's just the trailer. And if we get stuck on watching the trailer over and over without recognizing that's supposed to be getting us ready for something that is so much more profound. Then we kind of lose understanding the importance. And, I think that's part of what's behind this question.
Jo Vitale: I think that's brilliant. What a great way to put it. And even digging into that metaphor a little bit more, because Brad, part of your question, when you said, Jesus didn't model a perfect marriage for us. But actually I think maybe in a deep sense he does. Even understanding Christ is the bridegroom and the church is his bride. Doesn't he model a perfect marriage for us? And, isn't that an amazing inspiration? That's why we have in Ephesians 5, where it says, "Husband's love your wives as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her. To present her pure and holy."
So, in the best possible way, I think we do see that picture of Christ modeling marriage for us. And yet, at the same time, I think it's saying something so profoundly valuable like you said, that Jesus didn't need to be married. And, it just completely busts that myth. People hear that if you don't get married, you don't live a fully human life. You don't live a complete life. And, I actually think, what an amazing hope and picture that is. To show what a great gift singleness is as well. That we can't buy into that cultural rumor that we have someone to look to. Jesus, who did it differently. Yeah, I just think, what an inspiration he is. We can look to that metaphor for him as the perfect husband. We can also look to him as living the perfect single life. You get the best of both.
Vince Vitale: Juli, as you were talking, I was thinking of my younger brother, who when my parents first took us to Disney World, there was a massive delay on the flights. We were in the airport forever, and when we finally got off the plane in Florida. And we got to the baggage claim, that my younger brother. I don't know how old he must have been, maybe five or something. He saw the carousels at the baggage claim, and he thought that was Disney World. And he goes, “Thanks for taking me to Disney World, Dad! I love it.”
Juli Slattery: He's easily satisfied.
Vince Vitale: Easily satisfied. But not after –
Michael Davis: There's a metaphor there.
Juli Slattery: Yes!
Vince Vitale: But not after he actually went to Disney World. Then he wasn't so impressed with the baggage carousels anymore. But Brad. It's a wonderful question, and congratulations. You know, we're excited for you, and I'm particularly excited that you're asking this question. Even when you're saying that you're just curious, and you don't have a full understanding of the context in which the Bible speaks about marriage. Let me encourage you. Please explore that. Find a pastor. Find a friend who's a Christian. Find someone who can help you to explore that, because even as I sit here and look at Jo, and I think about the difference that marriage would be. Trying to do it with two or trying to do it with two plus God.
At one point, the Bible says, "A cord of three strands is not easily broken." And often at marriage ceremonies, that's applied to that cord of three strands. You, your spouse to be, but also God. Who, if you put him right at the center of your relationship, will give you everything that you need for that relationship to be healthy and successful. Marriage is not easy. It's beautiful, it's wonderful, it's that glimpse of the marriage to come, as we've been talking about. But it's not easy. You're going to need a power that's beyond your own. And, I hope you'll continue to explore that in the context of great questions like the one you've asked.
“The view of marriage and singleness and pre-fall perfection is different than the view of marriage and singleness in the new creation perfection. Why is it different? How should this shape our view of marriage and singleness now?"
Michael Davis: So, this question is from Sarah. "Marriage seems to be an ideal relationship before the fall, but Jesus said that there will be no marriage in heaven. The view of marriage and singleness and pre-fall perfection is different than the view of marriage and singleness in the new creation perfection. Why is it different? How should this shape our view of marriage and singleness now?"
Juli Slattery: Okay, so another really tough question that is just based on an understanding of theology. Maybe if we put it this way. Pre-fall, marriage was still a metaphor. But it was a perfect metaphor. And, so now that we're in the fallen world, the metaphors really messed up for most of us. It's distorted. And, even in the best experiences, post-fall, there's still cracks in it that don't give us a great picture of what it is to be loved by God. What faithfulness is, what intimacy is. But, let's not just talk about post-fall and pre-fall, but, post-earth. When the earth is destroyed, there's a new heaven and new earth. We don't need the model anymore. We don't need the metaphor even if it's a perfect metaphor. It's served its purpose. So that would be my best way of explaining that.
Michael Davis: Do you think this is difficult to, kind of, reconcile for a lot of people in a culture that has so made marriage into an idol? I'm mean I love my wife. You mean we're not going to be married anymore?
Juli Slattery: Yeah, I hear people have two separate responses to this at the same time. Some people are like no sex or marriage in heaven? How is that possible? That's been the best part of my life here on earth. And, other people are, Oh, thank God! (laugh) This has been the most painful thing in my life, so yeah. I think people have a different response to this based on their experience with marriage and sex. I love what you said about that Jo. How Jesus lived the perfect, full life, but he wasn't married. And that's a wake-up call for a lot of people that even go to church every week, but have never really heard it put that way. Because we define, in most Christian cultures, maturity as you're married, and you have kids. And you can't be mature if you haven't achieved those two things. So, I think, again, this is one of those things that we've got to say, are we depending on religious traditions of man or are we going back to the scripture and saying what is this scripture really reflect maturity looks like?
Jo Vitale: And not even just within this ... Someone was telling me about a survey done of the millennial generation. I'm not knocking millennials. I'm a millennial, so I wouldn't dream of it. But, basically, millennials were all seen ... When do you consider yourself to be a grown-up or an adult? And, they basically said, when we have children. So, it wasn't even a sort of earlier marker that it probably was a couple of decades there. When you get married. Now it's literally when you have children. That's when you reach maturity. Which is a deep challenge if the Christian faith is saying, even marriage is not the marker of maturity.
Vince Vitale: Yeah, that's an amazing thought to think people are making the decision to get married at a point of which they don't yet consider themselves. We're making the decision to get married at a point at which they don't yet consider themselves to be adults. Sara one other thing I was thinking with respect of your question you know you talk about there being no marriage in heaven. On the one hand that's absolutely correct yet there's another sense ... Randy Alcorn says this and we already glanced in this direction. But there's this other sense in which there is marriage in heaven. In fact heaven is all about a marriage. The marriage of Christ the bride groom married to his bride the church.
I was reading what Randy Alcorn author of Heaven had to say about this and found it really encouraging actually. He said, "Not only is there marriage in heaven." He made this point that actually if you're married now it's also a marriage that you'll participate in with the person who's now your spouse. So he put it this way he said ... He realized this at one point and he had this conversation with his spouse Nancy. He said, "Do you know what according to the Bible we will be part of the same marriage forever. We are both part of the bride of Christ. We will have as a bride groom the only absolutely, perfectly, good, gracious, spouse in all the history of the universe. We will have that to look forward to, and we will enjoy that together. I thought that was just a really interesting way of thinking about it. That actually marriage is not only a component but an essential component of heaven. It's not marriage just between two individuals. It's marriage between us, and the bride groom Christ himself. But it's a marriage we will participate in together. So it's not like we have the experience of marriage with someone and then that is a experience which in some way completely disconnected from the experience of the afterlife it is redeemed and made even better.
What do you think the church could do differently to be able to really kind of show people what the biblical understanding of sexuality marriage and singleness is?
Michael Davis: So Juli looking at the way churches deal with singleness and marriage ... even like single ministries for example the main goal of single ministries is to try and get people married. What do you think the church could do differently to be able to really kind of show people what the biblical understanding of sexuality marriage and singleness is?
Juli Slattery: Mm-hmm (affirmative)- Well I really good question. I think you show in two different ways. Number one is consistent teaching. And I would encourage any pastor teacher to take it seriously that your congregation needs to be exposed to repetitive teaching on biblical sexuality. Not just one sermon every now and then. Not just on the evils of pornography, but what is God's design and purpose in sexuality and how do we walk that out? So there's a teaching component. And if we're faithful to the scripture we're going to teach out of things like these questions that are being asked. Why wasn't Jesus married? Why does Paul say ... You know he of all people who extols marriage why is he saying it's better for you to be single?
And why was he single? I don't know that I've ever heard a sermon or sermon series on those kinds of questions.
It starts at the teaching level. But then that also challenges the structure of the church.
The structure of the church right now is setup really for people to be going down this path of the traditional family. Which again I want to say, the traditional family of getting married first and then having children and raising those children, is a beautiful thing. It's God's design in terms of how he created us but it's not the epitome of maturity.
Not everybody is gonna walk down that same path. And so God designed the body and the church to be not just about a marriage and family ministry but about equipping disciples in all walks of life, in all ages, all stages of life, bringing in all different types of wounds. I think if we took that seriously we'd restructure the kind of groups we're setting up. Why do we have seminars that are only for married people and then others that are only for singled? Why do we have generational seminars? Instead of just saying the whole body of Christ needs to be more of a community. That's working towards discipleship together. I know this is a conversion like that Sam Allberry is bringing up and others in dealing with issues around LGBT is ... Where's the place for somebody struggling with same sex attraction in the church? Cause the answer for them probably isn't you gotta get married and have kids.
So what does maturity look like?
Jo Vitale: In Sarah’s question she spoke about prayerful perfection and then new creation perfection. You just spoke about woundedness. I guess it's been heavy on my heart this week. I just received an email from somebody who had just come out of a devastatingly abusive marriage who feared for her life. The life of her children and basically had been shunned by the church and judged for leaving her husband. And this is heart breaking letter to read. I've just spent a week just reading, thinking, it's been in my mind just thinking like what would Jesus Christ have to say to her? Juli I was just wondering. From your wisdom and from thinking about this ... How do you respond to someone who's just been that wounded and that hurt by their experience of marriage?
Juli Slattery: Yeah. Well it's so traumatizing also because what you said is that she's experienced a second wound. Of how the church has responded to her. That's really common unfortunately ... that you've got this primal wound of my family's been blown apart. I've been betrayed sexually or I've been hurt physically. Then I go to the place that supposed to be safe and a place for me to heal. Not only are they not helping me but I'm stigmatized. Everybody's judging me. Putting the divorce label on me. So again I think we've got to ask the question you're asking Jo. What would Jesus Christ do? And sometimes transport ourselves back to when Jesus lived and to realize I'm the pharisee ... Like I've become the person in the church that is all about the appearance, all about the rules, all about the behavior, and not been the person whose heart is heavy for the people around me who are hurting. I think everybody in Christian leadership has become that person at one point or another including myself. So really getting on our knees as Christian leaders and asking the Lord to confront us, because that's what Jesus kept confronting was you guys represent me in name but not in heart. Jesus would be with that woman grieving with her.
Vince Vitale: Yeah.
Juli Slattery: Providing for her physically in terms of the provision she needs. Helping her children. Being a father to the fatherless. That's what we need to be.
Michael Davis: Well guys we are out of time. Vince, sum it up for us.
Vince Vitale: Juli I might just through it over to you if you don't mind would you share what you shared at lunch about when you understood that sexual brokenness was relevant to you.
You know because part of the problem is that when we talk about this topic we think oh right sexual brokenness that's relevant to that sort of person of the person whose been through this or this person with this desire which is not the standard desire and really one of the key things of the church is relevan strongly to every single one of us. And you had a great story about how you realized on your own life.
Juli Slattery: Yeah. And so I kinda lived according to the churches narrative on sexuality. Grew up in the church and was blessed by a lot of what I learned and understood how to steward my sexuality through high school and college experience sex for the first time on my honeymoon. So from the outside I could say I did it right ...
Vince Vitale: Right. Right.
Juli Slattery: …you know I'm not the broken person. You add onto that becoming a clinical psychologist you kind of get in the seat of the expert who's helping the other person all the time and when I say you find yourself in the role of the pharisee ... I mean I was there. If you read the prayer of the pharisee that Jesus told, it's Lord thank you that I'm not like these other people. ...
Juli Slattery: And in my heart I was probably Lord thank you that you saved me from this and I didn't experience that and I'm doing it right and what Jesus is saying is there's a lot of pride there (laugh) and you're not seeing who you really are.
Vince Vitale: Right.
Juli Slattery: And so really a marriage on sexuality in my marriage was really pretty awful. It was physically painful. We didn't know what to do with that. There was some other sexual issues that my husband was struggling with. Just things that normal couples are walking through that the church doesn't address honestly.
And so we're trying to just figure out all this on our own and I'd say 10, 15 years in our marriage for me sexuality represented the worse part of our marriage. At the same time I'm teaching on counseling people and it wasn't really until I really got called into this ministry of dealing with sexual issues that I recognize there is a lot sexual brokenness in my life and in my marriage that I've never been honest about. There's a lot of lies I believe about sexuality that I just assume are true and I've never asked God to heal and to bring me into truth and I think the thing that really struck me was recognizing that the way I can change the world is by starting with my own heart.
I can remember being ... I'm the mom of three boys being in this grocery store and my three boys were with me and there was a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition on eye level for my kids. And I was so mad. Ya know I took it to the check out. I'm like why do you have this at the grocery store and my boys can see it. She's like I don't know you have to talk to the manager. I fought with the manager. He's like sorry we're not moving it. I was so mad. I went home and was praying about it. The Lord just started to reveal to me how much of your own life and your own brokenness do you just ignore? If you really want to change things and this is scriptural. It always starts with God take the log out of my eye first and humble me first. God keeps us humble that way. We've always got stuff that we need to confess before we ever try to help another person.
Vince Vitale: That's great. Well it's been wonderful speaking with you and you and your ministry will be in our prayers and I know many listing will take this as an invitation to be honest about these things to be honest in the context of community and to ask God to reveal those logs in our own eyes and to ask him to heal as well that healing that everyone of us needs.
Michael Davis: Juli thank you so much. Jo thank you for joining me. Thank you all for listening and we will catch you next week.
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