God’s covenant offers the model for how to love

Q:Do your religious beliefs exalt or stigmatize sex (or both)? Is religion a useful tool for helping young people navigate … Continued

Q:Do your religious beliefs exalt or stigmatize sex (or both)? Is religion a useful tool for helping young people navigate the treacherous world of sex, love and relationships? Does religion present an alternative view of sex and sexual relationships to the culture at large? Should it?

Could any pastor or parent feel good about the state of affairs regarding sex in our America, 2010? I certainly can’t.

From the divorce rate to hook-ups to Internet porn and unwed pregnancy, our culture presents a sordid mix of messages about sex, love and relationships that the church could help heal if it weren’t so often adding to the problem.

The Christian tradition has been conflicted about sex and relationships since Paul — a single man living in a culture founded on the Roman patriarchal family — advised the Corinthians on marriage. Ever since those early days, the Church’s attempt to stand for some kind of purity — presumed to have been true for people in the past, but never true, not in the 50’s, not in the Victorian Era, not now — has only served to remove the Church from the real conversations going on in our hearts and communities as we make choices about our lives every day.

My advice to my own sons has been this: have sexual intimacy arise out of other kinds of personal intimacy like enjoyment of one another’s company and shared interests, and give priority to love, mutual respect and safety. My sons know that this counsel grows from my Christian faith where the heart of the matter is love.

And the central model in Scripture and Christian tradition for God’s love is “covenant,” first between God and creation, second with Israel and finally with the church. In each instance, God’s invitation to relationship stems from God’s yearning for intimacy with another. In all three cases, love, respect and safety play a part: safety from destruction in the covenant of the rainbow (Genesis 8:20-9:17), respect for the harlot in the prophet Hosea (Hosea 1:2-2:20), and love, above all else, in Jesus (1 John 4:7-21).

To truly help young people navigate the world of sex, love and relationships in the 21st century, the Church must set aside its single-minded focus on purity and take up this central tenant of faith: God’s love as a model for our own relationships. As attested to in Scripture and experienced daily by the faithful, covenant is the concept the Church can offer to us all as a way to place sex in its true perspective of faithful, joyful and profound connection with another person.

Janet Edwards
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  • PSolus

    “God’s covenant offers the model for how to love”Are you sure?From what I here, he impregnated another man’s wife, after she took a vow of chastity.Even I have never done that.

  • cassie123

    I agree that romantic love is to emulate God’s covenant with the church but I strongly disagree with the notion to dismiss purity. That is the point of the covenant. A man and woman’s relationship should mimick God’s relationship with the church…a relationship that requires purity! God is to be our only God. Just a man or woman should be your only one. This model is not only important in our individual relationships with God and as a witness to others but also as a way of promoting a truly fulfilling relationship with one’s spouse.

  • jimjazz2010

    “the Church must set aside its single-minded focus on purity and take up this central tenant of faith: God’s love as a model for our own relationships.”That itself is a single-minded focus on purity.Religion is a rationalization of one’s prudishness.Edwards’ demonization of porn is more about her own attitude towards her own sexual idenity that it is about any actuality. Show me the g-d already!

  • elizdelphi

    “And the central model in Scripture and Christian tradition for God’s love is “covenant,””YES!! The covenantal context for “becoming one flesh” by sexual intercourse and parenthood is called marriage, and this is a calling to be together an image of the love of God. Chastity/purity is a radically positive value, chastity is loving, a gift of self, an undivided heart. Like another commenter said, it’s really not possible to believe in covenantal (married) love according to God’s plan, but discard this virtue. Chastity is the way to be faithful to the covenant. Living together and fornicating is not covenantal love, regardless of whether you enjoy each other’s company and have shared interests, respect etc, and I say this from the perspective of somebody who made that mistake myself with what I thought were the best of intentions and now I am so sorry about it because I’ve learned that real love is way more than that. A lot of people’s freedom to fully give of themself and fully commit in marriage is damaged by their having experienced one or several of these premarital sexual relationships, not to mention they’ve betrayed their future spouse. Ersatz unions are not a strong context for raising children, and sadly many women choose to abort a child rather than accept parenthood in those circumstances, and this is a tragedy for the women as well as for the lives lost. The marriage covenant protects women and children and is a context where all the members of the family grow together in love, through life.In no way is the epidemic of “living together” a good trend for love.

  • PSolus

    “Are *you* sure?”Well, now that you mention it…

  • howtotownight

    tonight and this morning, i watched DMC Channel Morning Meditation from Thailand, Tele Radio PAdre Pio Morning Ceremony and Arte Channel Hip Hop DAncers, EMTV PApal Audience on 21 April in St Peter Square.the announcing priest in german introduced the universities and groups in the field, and He didnt interrupt a group sing to greet and they enjoyed. this touched me!

  • DouginMoz

    JIMJAZZ2010 wrote:For just one example, your pornography has created an environment of sexual desire that has then created a market to fulfuill those desires. To meet the heightened demand, a sex slave trade has developed that entraps young girls and boys into forced prostitution. The numbers of people sucked into this trap are beginning to rival the African slave trade of the 18th century. The brothel has replaced the plantation; but on the whole, modern man really has not come all that far. One final thing that you might consider is this – that your slander towards Edwards might be more about your own attitudes and proclivity for pornography and sexual fantasy than it is about any actuality – especially the reality of sex being the intimate bond between husband and wife, wholly and completely devoted to each other.

  • JanetEdwards1

    Dear YEAL9, Thank you for sharing these statistics, which are so important to highlight the tragedy that can take place when our moral leaders have not provided young people realistic guidance in the world of sex, love and relationships. When the Church insists that marriage vows are the exclusive doorway into moral sex, it removes itself from real and crucial discussions about the morality of sex – in part because a lot of immoral sex, like spouse battering and promiscuity, goes on within marriage, as well. The reality is, our young people face complex decisions about sex, love and relationship every day – whether they are married or not. To help them navigate these decisions, we must instill the values of fidelity, safety and respect. And we must remind them, always, that the heart of the covenant is love.Peace, Janet Edwards

  • howtotownight

    (a mobile phone is not a mirror, it is a parallel or a serial, but not a mirror).

  • howtotownight

    what i say is “be doctor, then you shall be an ordinarius person”or, what i say is “learn to cook and healing, then you shall eat.”so, what You shall do is not sex, just because it is not sex.

  • howtotownight

    shaking the medicine well before taking is just another chapter. sometimes captains pour seal fat to soothe the waves in the storm but generally women are the keptains, where “ain” is “advanced intelligent network” also.

  • howtotownight

    well, i think i should go to Professor Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, sorry if i have bothered Dr. Janet Edwards.

  • YEAL9

    Hopefully Rev. Edwards also promulgated the following information to her sons and parishoners:Although most religions warn us about the dangers of pre/extra-marital sex, it is obvious we are not paying attention as pre/extra-marital intercourse and other pre/extra-marital sexual activities are out of control with over one million abortions and 19 million cases of STDs per year in the USA alone. from the CDC-2006″Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain STDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psychological consequences of STDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs associated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars.”How in the world do we get this situation under control? A pill to temporarily eliminate the sex drive would be a good start. (Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes calls it an anti-desire pill – 4/18/2010). And teenagers and young adults must be constantly reminded of the dangers of sexual activity and that oral sex, birth control pills, condoms and chastity belts are no protection against STDs. Might a list of those having an STD posted on the Internet help? Said names would remain until the STD has been eliminated with verification by a doctor. Lists of sexual predators are on-line. Is there a difference between these individuals and those having a STD having sexual relations while infected???And the following data need to promulgated so everyone is aware that today’s contraceptives don’t always work to the degree advertised:(from the Guttmacher Institute)Percentage of women (men) experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)Method Typical Pill (combined) 8.7 Periodic abstinence 25.3 No method 85.0″(Abstinence) 0(Masturbation) 0

  • YEAL9

    Hopefully Rev. Edwards also promulgated the following information to her sons and parishioners:

  • d_pgh

    Dear PSOLUS: Are *you* sure?Dear Janet: I think if the church focused more on love, and what exactly that means, and less on sex, and what that means, there would be more love and less hate in the world. Thank you for preaching about love.

  • tossnokia

    I met a stunning young model. She was looking for a number. I was counting the ways and could not find the means to help her. I was at the point where I couldn’t help myself. That quickly passed and I got on with the business of the day.