Sexuality & Holy Longing – 5

Chapter 5 of Lisa McMinn’s book, Sexuality and Holy Longing, is titled “Mysteries of Marriage: Bone of My Bone, Flesh of My Flesh.” A central and expanded section in the chapter is titled “Myths About Marital Sex.” In it she identifies five myths:


1.   Marital sex is boring

2.   Marriage is all about sex

3.   Good women do not enjoy sex

4.   Men are always ready, interested, and capable of sex

5.   Good spouses are not attracted to others once they get married


McMinn then turns to the topic of how marriage and singleness reflect aspects of God’s love, which she views as “one of abundance” (p. 138).


Singles reflect the abundance of God’s love in the inclusive open way they can relate to everyone. To live with a view of scarcity is to focus on a moral restraint or need to sublimate the desire for genital sexual fulfillment rather than finding abundance in the freedome to love intimately and inclusively, recognizing they can give and receive more because of singleness. Married couples reflect God’s faithful covenantal love that puts down roots and grows deeply into multiple dimensions of abudant love with one person. [p. 138]


For reflection: Which myths stood out to you and why? How do you respond to the ways in which both married love and single love reflect dimensions of God’s abundant love?

Sexuality & Holy Longing – 4

Lisa McMinn’s book takes an interesting turn in Chapter 4, which is titled, “Birthing Babies: The Essence of Early Motherhood (and Fatherhood).” It is interesting, in part, because (to me, anyway) it was somewhat unexpected as a chapter topic. The opening quote by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy seems to get at why McMinn includes it: “Sexuality has always been studied separately from maternity, as if sex has nothing to do with maternity or keeping infants alive.”

In any case, McMinn provides a “brief history of birthing babies” in which she concludes that what is quite different about birthing babies today than in other times throughout history is that women used to help women in the process and that women gave birth at home. She recognizes the benefits associated with medicalization of childbirth, but wants to also draw attention to the drawbacks. She then offers a Christian perspective:

The Church expands a vision for an enfleshed, or embodied spiritual life by re-examining patterns and beliefs about childbearing, seeking avenues for fostering connection between a woman’s physical experience as she participates with God in the deeply spiritual task of creating and sustaining life. (p. 104)

There is a lot of other ground covered in the chapter. Lisa McMinn writes about the role of culture on how we view motherhood and fatherhood, issues related to attachment theory, and some of the debates related to family planning and later roles and responsibilities of motherhood, as well as infertility and adoption.

For reflection: (from the end of the chapter) What are your general perspectives and thoughts about pregnancy and childbearing? From where did these ideas come? How important is it to you to have biological children? What do you think about stay-at-home dads? Can you imagine having your church sponsor childbirth classes?

JPT – Spring 2008

The Spring 2008 issue of Journal of Psychology & Theology just arrived. There are several interesting topics, including God image (and diversity considerations), emotions, and gender differences in spirituality. One title in particular caught my eye: “Clinical Practice with Religious/Spiritual Issues: Niche, Proficiency or Specialty?” by Dr. William L. Hathaway. Dr. Hathaway is the Program Director at Regent University’s Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, and I had the opportunity to hear him deliver an earlier version of this paper at a conference. In any case, it’s a thoughtful article, so let me encourage you to pick up your copy today and enjoy some of the leading scholarship on integration of psychology and theology.

Sexuality & Holy Longing – 3

The third chapter in Lisa McMinn’s book, Sexuality and Holy Longing, is titled “Sleeping Alone.” She writes in this chapter about being single and sexual and the challenges facing the church in terms of communicating a theology that “names, validates, and embraces the sexuality of singleness” [p. 69]. She challenges the church in terms of messages communicated to singles that they are incomplete or “less than” those who are married, and she writes openly about the marginalization many singles experience.

For reflection: How do churches today communicate that singles are “less than” or “incomplete”? What constructive, practical suggestions could help local churches communicate a more inclusive message to singles? What would it mean (again, practically) to name, validate, and embrace the “sexuality of singleness”?


The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Peter Chattaway’s review of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian came out today. In short, he gives it a mixed review. He likes the director’s commitment to the essential storyline and the overall entertainment value of the film but notes important departures from C.S. Lewis’s original work, particularly in terms of spiritual themes and the overall impact of Aslan in the story.


From the review:

For all their talk of staying true to the spirit of C. S. Lewis’s novels, the makers of the Narnia films have frequently deviated from the books in ways both big and small, and the liberties they take with Prince Caspian—which echo but go far, far beyond the liberties they took with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe—both help the film and hurt it. They help because you can sense that co-writer and director Andrew Adamson is finally making the big epic fantasy battle movie that he really wanted to make the first time around, and his devotion to that vision holds Prince Caspian together and makes it a more consistent, and consistently entertaining, sort of film than Wardrobe was. But in steering the film closer to his own vision, Adamson steers it away from Lewis’s, and so it loses some of the book’s core spiritual themes.

Sexuality & Holy Longing – 2

Chapter two of Lisa McMinn’s book, Sexuality and Holy Longing, is titled “Adolescence: Awakening and Choices.” In it she discusses our cultural understanding of sex before the 1960s and after the sexual revolution of the 1970s. She discusses “postrevolution morals” in which sex “as biology” and sex “as personal choice” are the primary emphases. McMinn then turns to a Christian perspective and unpacks the consequences of sex and focuses on the tendency today to confuse love and sex and to focus narrowly on the pleasure of sex.


After a discussion of pregnancy, STIs and abstinence, McMinn considers what it means to aspire to more. In the section on abstinence, she shares the following:


We can tell our adolescents that sex outside of marriage is a sin and inside of marriage a gift. We can show them pictures of lesions, boils, and warts. We can give them numbers about infertility and cervical cancer. But unless we help them embrace the beauty and sacredness of the image of God within them, encouraging meaningful engagement with others through bodies that are sensual and sexually alive and awake, we stop short. [pp. 52-53]


For reflection: What are some ways in which the church might help in the area of education and prevention? What challenges exist in implementing the vision McMinn’s articulates? 

Trans-ethnicity – 2

Just a friendly reminder that New Life Providence Church here in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is hosting a conference this weeken on the topic of trans-ethnicity. The title of the conference is Trans-Ethnic Transitions Conference, and it will be held May 15-17.

Trans-ethnicity refers to the idea of recognizing and valuing cultural differences and also transcending cultural differences by emphasizing Kingdom values. Put differently, although cultural differences are celebrated, Christian relationships are based on Kingdom values that transcends sociocultural values.