4586104Last Friday our cell group discussed sex. And I wondered how often does this happen in conservative evangelical churches in Asia.

A lot of the credit must go to our pastor, Rev. Wong Fong Yang. He is running a pulpit series on Money, Sex and Power. He is a believer as I am that the Word of God must be allowed to speak into the real situations we face as Christians and as human beings. And what can be more human than our sexuality.

We were made male and female from the word go (Genesis 1:27). And then there is the Song of Songs. The imagery may be metaphorical but the sexual allusions are clear.

Indeed this made some of the early church fathers blush leading them to see the book as a description of the relationship between Christ and his church. This may be true in some secondary sense but the natural reading of the book is to see it as a celebration of romantic and sexual love.

That such a celebration is to be within the boundaries of covenant love is also clear from the book and from the rest of Scripture. We may laugh at the quaint language of the Old Testament for sex. We ask if people “know” each other in a biblical sense with a nod and a wink.

Yet the fact that the word “know” is used of sexual relationships is a powerful reminder that the bible sees sex as part of a deeper and more complex relationship.

Unfortunately one of the results of sin is the detachment of sex from this rooting in covenant. And now this powerful drive is a “loose cannon” shanghaied by Satan and the world.

Today Christians are considered quaint and old fashioned for sticking to the conviction that sex is a language of love reserved for those in the covenant of marriage. Everyday, we are reminded by the entertainment media that there is absolutely no linkage between sex and marriage.

At worst, sex is seen primarily as recreational. At best sex is portrayed as a short form for love. When was the last time you saw sex in the movies between a loving married couple? (Malcolm’s parents from Malcolm in the Middle doesn’t count. Hey, the series is a comedy anyway so can’t be taken seriously. And that is precisely the problem.)

And of course sex sells. Because of the Islamic flavour of Malaysian society, our censors are quite strict about sex in the media. But the most powerful images are not digital or celluloid. They are in our minds. So sex is used in ads all the time.

I know this because when I go away on a retreat or to take a camp I find that my level of sexual arousal lowers considerably. The main reason for this? No TV, no movies, no newspapers, no magazines. When I come back from the “mountain” the assault begins again. Admittedly this may be a “male” thing since we are more visual beings. But there is no denying that we live in a sex-saturated world.

In a world drowning with ungodly understandings of sex how can we help Christians keep to a biblically healthy view of sex? Not by ignoring the subject.

The irony is that the world is talking about sex ad nauseam but the church hardly talks about sex at all. This silence about sex in the church is probably compounded by Asian modesty.

Or it could be that we have been bombarded by perverted ideas about sex for so long that we have begun to associate sex with its perverted manifestations. So we don’t talk about it and Satan wins by default.

Sex has to be returned to the teaching curriculum of our churches. We need to help our people have a positive biblical understanding of sex. We need to stare down the myth of the happy fornicator and model and teach true biblical sexuality.

Which is why I am delighted that sex is being taught from the pulpit at our church. And that it is being discussed in our cell groups.

Our cell group has members who are single, married, widowed, divorced, young, old, new in the faith, oldies in the faith, and of course members of both sexes.

Last Friday, guided by Pastor Wong’s teaching we discussed sex in marriage, singleness, masturbation, how one can be a sexual being yet single, among other things. I am sure the discussion was a little embarrassing for some. Yet I am glad we made a start in reclaiming this topic from the darkness of sin and ignorance.

I believe anthropology in general and sexuality in particular will be the major battlegrounds for the gospel in the 21st century. We cannot, we must not, avoid these subjects. But neither must we forget that our weapons remain truth, love, prayer, community, and the gospel.

Your brother, Soo-Inn Tan