Saturday, January 21, 2012

An interesting - is that a weasel word in this context? - post about the Apostle Paul and sex with Scot McNight. Not the Apostle Paul having "sex with" Scot McNight, mind you, as that would be impossible, but Scot McNight discussing the topic of sex within Paul's letters, which basically amounts to a discussion of 1 Corinthians 7. Scot McKnight is the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University (Chicago, Illinois) and a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity and the historical Jesus, a fine scholar indeed. In this post McNight is responding to Rodney Reeves' book Rediscovering Paul. It is not precisely a review of Reeves' book, or a critique of Reeves' book; it might simply be a basic agreement with Reeves' book, in which McNight concludes:
"For Paul sex had two orientations: the present order is crumbling so marriage and family are second compared to devotion to Christ; sexual disorder is an ecclesial problem more than simply a personal problem."
The post does not deal with anything substantial on the topic of marriage in the ancient world, apart from mentioning it, or why what Paul said about the conditions and reasons for sex and marriage and singleness (and celibacy) ought to have ramifications for the present day, given the much different standard for marriage in the 1st century A.D./C.E. and the fact that we have not taken Paul's teaching on marriage in 1 Corinthians 7 all that seriously for centuries. So that is a topic for another post.

The other topic for a subsequent post is how in a wordlwide Church, made up of millions and millions of people - is it billions? billion? - we are to make sexual practices a corporate sin. By this I do not mean to imply that the Church does not have teachings regarding sexual practice, but as McNight states,
I have wondered about this for a long time in the context of Paul's teaching, and not just regarding sex: in large Churches, from large Catholic parishes to large evangelical mega churches, who knows each other well enough to know what peoples' problems are or  to correct one another? Paul speaks of the Church as a family, dysfunctional, but loving, but the Church for many is experienced as corporation, not in corporate terms as"the body of Christ," but "the place I go to worship on Sunday." Do we know people well enough in Church to speak to them about sexual issues? Do they even want to hear about them? I am not speaking about the practice of confession either, a formal sacrament for Catholics, but simply the other members of the family? What does this say about how what Paul teaches us about the corporate nature of sin? Is the Church simply too big to practice what Paul preaches?

John W. Martens

Follow me on Twitter @johnwmartens.


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