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Why Sex Doesn’t Matter

“What is baffling and sometimes outrageous to the modern reader is just this assumption that, in certain circumstances, sex can’t matter that much. And I want to suggest that the most important contribution the New Testament can make to our present understanding of sexuality may be precisely in this unwelcome and rather chilling message. We come to the New Testament eagerly looking for answers, and we meet a blank or quizzical face: why is that the all-important problem? Not all human goods are possible all the time, and it would be a disaster to think that there was some experience without which nothing else made sense. Only if sexual intimacy is seen as the last hiding-place of real transcendence, to borrow a phrase from the American novelist, Walker Percy, could we assume that it mattered above all else.”

~ Rowan Williams, “Forbidden Fruit”, in Martyn Percy (ed.), Sexuality and Spirituality in Perspective (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1997), pp.25-26.


  1. roger flyer wrote:

    Th title of your post is Exhibit A: Sex sells.

    Friday, June 12, 2009 at 7:06 am | Permalink
  2. roger flyer wrote:

    And “Why sex doesn’t matter’ doesn’t.

    Friday, June 12, 2009 at 7:07 am | Permalink
  3. Ben Myers wrote:

    Yes, this is excellent: and I think this is why Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 1 is so important for Christians. I recently talked about this in one of my classes: sex does not disclose the truth about what it means to be human. (I think this also poses critical questions to Barth’s anthropology in CD III/2, where humanness is defined by sexual differentiation.)

    Friday, June 12, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Permalink
  4. Halden wrote:

    Good point against Barth there. Seems to indicate an Adamic rather than a Christological mode of theologizing to say that sexual differentiation defines our humanness.

    Friday, June 12, 2009 at 6:59 pm | Permalink
  5. kim fabricius wrote:

    Taking Ben and Halden’s points further, to answer the question asked in a recent comment: “What to do with the doctrine of creation?” Answer: read it Christologically; that is to say, apocalyptically. Start not with Genesis 1-2, but with Revelation 21-22.

    Friday, June 12, 2009 at 7:09 pm | Permalink
  6. Halden wrote:

    I got wound up on this. See my latest post, here.

    Friday, June 12, 2009 at 7:20 pm | Permalink
  7. John wrote:

    You may have seen my anonymous posting on Faith & Theology as to why sex, or rather emotional-sexual self understanding is the key to right life altogether.
    Because until then every thing one does, moment to moment, is a dramatization of ones unresolved childhood emotional-sexual patterning.




    Plus you might find this reference of interest. It shows that sexuality cannot be swept under the carpet, and more importantly that it takes much more than mere verbal chit-chat to really deal with this profound matter.

    1. http://www.adidaupclose/Crazy_Wisdom/anthony.html

    Monday, June 15, 2009 at 5:42 am | Permalink

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