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Thursday, August 11, 2011  

The Law and Gospel of Adultery

My article on Dan Savage, sex, and the uses of the Law is up at the Christian Century:

Such legal and commercial metaphors are defining more and more of our lives, public and private alike. To engage with these ideas theologically, we need to return to the distinction between law and gospel. The contemporary sexual ethics that Savage represents give some degree of order to intimate life; they help manage the human disaster. But such a goal is not enough for a Christian community called to explore the depths of God's love as reflected and refracted through shared life. We also need sexual ethics to reveal our deeper needs and failings, to create space for the forgiveness of sins and to shape lives redeemed by grace.

As an instrument of familial and civil peace, the commandment against adultery needs a bottom line—something for which Savage has a sharp instinct. Counselors and pastors should expect temptation and infidelity to happen; lingering itches are likely to be scratched. Sex tends to be cloaked in superstition, and stripping this away allows us to regard sexual lapses as no less inevitable than any other sin. We tend to forgive serial monogamy more readily than deviations from stable monogamy. Perhaps this norm should be reconsidered.


posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 10:49 AM
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