Artwork by Chiara Fedele
Sex, the Church, Religion and God: Who’s Separate?
Before we submerge into this thought provoking topic, we need to make sure we’re on the same page. Let’s first break down the key words in our title with meanings from the dictionary.
Sex means arousing sexual desire; sexual activity, specifically sexual intercourse.
Religion is the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or Gods. A particular system of faith and worship. A pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.
Church is a particular Christian organization. It typically includes its own clergy, buildings and distinctive doctrines.
God is the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority, the Supreme Being.
Who is separate from God? Is it the people, the Church, or its leaders? Or God from them? Maybe, its leaders who are separate from the church and the people. Some might say it’s God from the people as witnessed in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. As the biblical story goes, a group of people are burned down because they committed wicked acts of sinful sexual immorality. In addition, they displayed unnatural lust and performed abominations that included “men lying with men.”
Others might say that separation is rooted in a traditional religious system. Outdated doctrines still connect sin with sex and sexuality. For example, “You must be in a heterosexual monogamous marriage; with the idea to procreate.” Only this makes you right before God. Anything outside procreative sex is an immoral act against God. Adultery, fornication, promiscuity, and gay/lesbian relationships (even if married) fall into that category.
A Different Way of Thinking
But there are others that feel differently about who’s separated. In the church today a good portion of our so called spiritual leaders teach something different. What they practice behind closed doors is different than what they preach. In the pulpit, they convey that’s it’s the people, saved or not, that are in conflict with God.
But I wonder. Are the people really out of touch with God? Are the leaders of the church out of touch with its people? Do they deliver outdated practices that are not reflective of a changing society? Could this possibly mean that some of the leaders are separated from God when it comes to sexual practices?
I offer you an example from my own experience.
I grew up in a Pentecostal and Baptist faith filled home. In my adulthood, I chose to guide my belief under a non-denominational teaching. During my first 10 plus years of service, there were always things that popped up as questionable cultish tendencies. For instance, houses (single family homes) were called missionary training facilities. The same gender lived under the same roof.
The houses shared common rules. They began with a commitment to follow Jesus. A commitment to the church, its leaders and fellow congregational members followed. Behaviors easily influenced by television and music were considered carnal, secular or worldly and were forbidden. Definitely NO SEX!
Towards the end of my tenure, word came out that our Pastor was asking women in the church to be his concubines. Fortunately, I was not one of them. Following the revelations a large portion of the church members disbanded and went separate ways.
I then chose to attend another non-denominational church. After five years, I left because the Pastor at that church was also using his position of power to prey upon the women. Unfortunately, this time I was included. My faith was shaken and my trust in the leaders of the church was tainted.
Since then I’ve not joined nor have I yet made a commitment to another church.
My New Journey
A weight lifted. I was free to live morally upright and not be held down under a church leader’s personal agenda. Once free of those particular religious leaders I grew.
I learned firsthand that the trusted leader was more interested in sleeping with the sheep rather than remaining true to God’s word. Now let me be clear, not all spiritual leaders leading a flock of people are morally bankrupt. Many men and women of God uphold their beliefs and practice what they preach. I bring up this matter to shed necessary light on the religious institution. Sometimes it seems hopelessly lost and divided when it comes to the issue of sex and the church.
So I ask you, when it comes to sex, who is really separated? Have God’s people strayed from a righteous path or has the church and its leaders lost touch with God and His people?
** Special thanks to Chiara Fedele for permission to feature her fabulous artwork. See additional original artwork at www.chiarafedeleillustrator.it