Tuininga and Wolterstorff on human sexuality

While the Tuininga-Wolterstorff debate over at Perspectives Journal will likely never make as much noise on the issue of human sexuality as BuzzFeed, Chip and Joanna Gaines, or Jen Hatmaker, it is significantly more important, and I encourage you to check it out.

Back in October, Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff spoke at an event sponsored by All One Body, an organization that promotes “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members in their Christian Reformed Church homes.” In his address, Wolterstorff announced that he had come to the conclusion that Scripture does not teach that homosexuality is always and everywhere wrong. Therefore, Wolterstorff concluded that it would be unjust to deprive homosexual couples the “great goods of marriage.”

It was this October address that spurred Dr. Matthew Tuininga, Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, to write a response for the Perspectives Journal. Dr. Wolterstorff added a rebuttal.

It is practically impossible to discuss the issue of human sexuality without a shared framework or foundation. In this case, both Tuininga and Wolterstorff draw from the same biblical texts and from the same theological tradition. The common ground makes this discussion fruitful and interesting.

It’s important to remember that first century Christians set themselves apart from culture with a robust sexual ethic. In Christianity, human sexuality has a specific telos. It points us to the eternal relationship of Christ and his church. Is there value in preserving this distinctiveness? I think that there is, which is why I’m excited about Tuininga’s contribution to the debate.

As Tuininga states, “[human sexuality] is not a peripheral issue nor is it a secondary issue over which good Christians might disagree. As a church we must stay united and we must get this issue right.”

A robust Christian sexual ethic can be placed in stark opposition to the view that human sexuality is just another battleground in the ongoing war for disembodied subjective expression. In our culture, the human body is just a medium to be cut, poked, mutilated, and discarded. The objective reality of the body is bent to the will and pleasure of the subjective self. Nothing is real except that which I will to be real.

Submission is a dirty word to the world. On the other hand, submission is at the heart of Christianity. We pray: thy will be done, Lord. What if Christians can be lights to the world by submitting (1) to a robust Christian sexual ethic and (2) to the objective realities of our bodies?

Yeah, I know. This is difficult work, but it is eminently more fruitful than arguing over at BuzzFeed.


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