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Knowledge & News
Thought provoking topics and series, necessary news and information.
During our Lenten self-examination we will be discussing the underlying themes to the aspects of our own lives that distress us, and seeking answers to whether our habits are virtuous and life-giving or vices that rob us of life.
To us, our community functions in a way similar to a twelve step group. We meet with unconditional hospitality in a safe space in which we are free to admit our flaws, rather than hide them. We seek not to treat sin as a disease that we must cure and avoid, but rather as an extension of the underlying desire that motivates us. It is a lifestyle that affirms shortcoming so that we can grow by owning our vices, and finding out why we have them.
We began the series with an examination of lust, the pursuit of personal sexual gratification. Admitting that the Church has historically done a poor job with its teaching on sexuality, probably due to the presumption by many theologians that any sex is sinful, we wish to join the conversation.
Classically, spirituality is separated from the body, but we are whole beings. Theology having to do with the imminent return of Christ led to the desert fathers renouncing marriage and society and the idea of “purity through separation.” In this line of thinking the body becomes an enemy that cannot be trusted. The theologian, Augustine thought that sexual desires were connected to the introduction of sin, the ontological fall of humanity.
The sexual ethic of traditional Christianity is tainted by the fundamentalist assumption that one’s purity and salvation lies in one’s virginity. Despite ironically being obsessed with sex, this line of thinking teaches many impressionable people that they are pure until they effectively ruin themselves with sex. Unfortunately, many of the people that hear this message are already “tainted.” The message then becomes not one of love, but that one is worthless because of their actions. We must do better.
Love is a multi-dimensional aspect of human life, a part of which is sex. The word “sex” calls to mind a feeling of separation, rooting sexuality in a lack of wholeness that we seek to overcome. Perhaps then, lust is an overwhelming separation that highlights the selfish aspects of sex rather than fulfilling both people involved. To Paul it involves taking advantage of the other person. As a vice, it is selfish. But what causes this? What is the desire behind lust? The virtue is the desire for connection and oneness with another person, but it is not only about sexual gratification.
The meaningless sex that people so often experience cannot be the only dimension of the erotic if one is to be fulfilled. The longing for connection must involve trust and vulnerability to put us back together. The desire of connection leads us to the vice of lust, but with healthy expression it can lead us to the virtuous, empowered relationship that needs no magic words to make official and pure, no hellfire to stop it from happening. It is not the Church’s responsibility to decide who or what is pure or sinful, but to unconditionally welcome.
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.
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