Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thought For The Day


On matters affecting human sexuality, Christians feel free to pick and choose the bits that suit them.
Rev. John Bell

'Night after night on my bed, I have sought my true love.'

This is not so much a personal testimony as a quotation from the Bible. It came to mind a few years ago when I was visiting a church in New Zealand where the congregation was exercised because a sex shop had opened up across the street. It had a large notice board which advertised items you wouldn't normally find at a Tupperware Party.

In discussing this predicament with the minister, I suggested that as the church also had a large notice board, it might offer alternative inducements. Hence I proposed :

NIGHT AFTER NIGHT ON MY BED, I HAVE SOUGHT MY TRUE LOVE
WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?
COME TO ST.JOHN'S AT 6.30 ON SUNDAY.

The Song of Songs, from which that quotation comes is not a book frequently read, though it says a lot about healthy erotic sex. It's attributed to King Solomon, who certainly knew quite a bit about the subject having 700 wives and 300 concubines. Curiously he -though a direct ancestor of Jesus - is never taken as a model of good practice. Nor is Isaac: he's the son of Abraham, who is one of a number of biblical patriarchs with unusual dating practices. It's his father, who sends a servant to find a wife for the boy. Subsequently, the servant brings back homea girl called Rebecca to meet a man whom she has never seen, and who no sooner meets her than he takes her into his tent and beds her in consolation for the death of his mother.

I don't think I've been at a wedding ceremony yet where the vicar asks the groom: 'Do you come here earnestly seeking marriage to this woman because you are missing your mum?'

Nor, come to think of it, have I ever heard a minister ask a couple, 'Do you come here, seeking holy matrimony because that is preferable to burning with desire?'. Yet that perspective on marriage is offered by St Paul.

It's interesting how, on matters affecting human sexuality, Christians-feel free to pick and choose the bits that suit them. We elevate to the status of a litmus test of piety one aspect of sexuality about which the Bible is comparatively silent. (I'm sure you'll know the issue to which I'm alluding without me having to be explicit.) And yet more positive expressions we leave alone - like seeking my true love on my bed night after night

..or like the Ethiopian eunuch. )I wonder whether he's avoided because it's only Scots who can pronounce the word.) At any rate his is one of the first recorded baptisms in the New Testament. Even though as a eunuch he would have been spurned and victimised by some communities because of his "irregular sexuality", he was embraced and totally accepted by the fragile fledgling church.

I wonder if that story has any bearing on the current divisive issue, the name of which I will not mention?

If you want to hear this, go to Here and click on Friday 18th July.