Giving sex for money

Posted: February 29, 2012 by deadfliesmike in General

Any Christian critique of peoples ‘private’ sexual practices, must recognise that they are attacking one of the few ‘freedoms’ people feel they have left.
Contemporary freedom is this:
‘We won’t question what you do in the bedroom,
You don’t question what we do in the boardroom’

Christians have to recognise just how much public space (both physical and metaphorical) has been handed over to the marketplace. Money has grabbed such a hegemony on public moral discourse, and has taken over every consideration of how we might live together, that there are few if any ways of speaking and acting against it. Our public arena is in neither sense ‘free’.
If the church attacks the privatised sins of sexuality, without a full and thorough attack on the morality of gain, it is simply seen to be part of this removal of freedom (indeed, it takes the blame while the marketplace gets off scott free).
However, if the church lives in proligate freedom from the hegemony of money, we can perhaps also call people out of enslaving sexual patterns too (not least the ones propogated by the market).

What might this look like?

Well, in the current climate, we ask say, homosexuals, to imagine a different vision of human flourishing, one that isn’t (simply) about desire and fulfillment, but is shaped by God and his kingdom and may well mean the painful curbing of desire.

Why then do we find it so hard to turn to (well just about anything in our society) and command them to find a new vision of human flourishing that isn’t based on gain, but is shaped by God and his kingdom and may well mean the painful curbing of gain? Why is it we can apply eschatology to the bedroom, but not the boardroom, snce Jesus said, invite the poor and lame and crippled and you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. Could we with a straight face say to a multinational corporation, “Forget about your quarterly earnings, invest in the poor so that you would be repaid at the resurrection”? And if not, why not?

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Comments
  1. Jonathan says:

    Sounds more like ‘giving up sex for money’ i.e. moving on from our favourite whipping boy, sexual practices (hmm, perhaps that’s an unfortunate metaphor..) to face the entrenched wickedness in our society and call people to be saved out of it. That’s a dangerous suggestion, Mike. Much safer and easier to keep riding our hobbyhorses.

    Individuals’ sexual practice, being individual, is so much simpler to comment on. And easier to distinguish ourselves from. Corporate behaviours are so much more difficult – more complex and harder to separate ourselves from.

    Sometimes people think we evangelicals are sex-obsessed or have hangups because we focus on it so much. but I tend to think it’s ‘private morality’ in general that is our focus, and public ethics that we shy away from.

    I’m all for having a voice in the community, but I lean towards demonstrating the freedom there is in Christ (eg re money) rather than telling the wider society what they should do. I think it’s going to be a lot more convincing if we first deal with our own greed, and then turn our attention to the corporate culture.

    Or is that just a cop-out…?

  2. Mike W says:

    I reckon we need to speak to the world and ourselves at the same time.
    That said, we need to speak as though the resurrection and the way of Jesus are real and true, whether people beleive them or not. And therefore that investing money for gain is a poor investment, compared to making friends in the kingdom (which I take as befriending (in the full, patronage system, benefaction sense) the poor and outcast). Now, we are in a different situation to 1st Century palestine, but not that different. It is still those who are too busy with some property, or a new business, or relationships who miss and refuse the kingdom invitation of Jesus (and this whether they are attenders of churches or not)

    • Jonathan says:

      Was there anything in particular that sparked off this post about sex and money, brother? Just interested.

      Also I’d like to think more about your point that people don’t feel they have many freedoms, and sexual behaviour is one they do have. There’s a lot of rhetoric about the freeness of Australian life. Do you think many people notice how little freedom they have?

  3. Yeah, reading Charles Taylors ‘A secular Age’ where he analyzes freedom. Freedom in our society is negative and private.
    Rather than positive (freedom toward something) and public.

  4. Byron Smith says:

    “Freedom” of the bedroom can destroy a whole family.
    “Freedom” of the boardroom can destroy a whole biosphere.

    Both are bad (and not really freedom, of course), but there are reasons why one is talked about far more than the other in some Christian circles.

    As for telling the wider society what to do, is this any different from inviting them to repent for the kingdom of God is at hand? That is, Christian ethics must be proclaimed as good news, in the same tone and joy as it too is part of the proclamation of the kingdom. Not a new code, but an invitation into (true) freedom, love and joy via the way of the cross.

    • Jonathan says:

      As for telling the wider society what to do, is this any different from inviting them to repent for the kingdom of God is at hand?

      Well, the difference is that the one has gospel context, and the other generally doesn’t. Telling corporations just what to do about, say, fair wages, is not going to be heard as ‘good news’, unless it comes along with the message of the kingdom. But in our society ethics discussions generally go on in terms of ‘issues’, and are often debated in isolation. When the church weighs in, it’s often heard to be asserting or imposing ‘absolute’ moral standards: an act of power rather than an invitation. Public ethical debate is not generally a good forum for telling people your back-story.

      Surely the best people to tell company boards what to do are Christian board-members and Christian shareholders?

      • Byron Smith says:

        You’re right that “ethics” is all too often treated as a subject in isolation, and within that, as isolated topics, both stripped of narrative/dramatic contexts in which our moral deliberations and resolutions gain their meaning. What I meant was proclaiming the gospel will include warnings against the love of money, an invitation to a life of joyful service and is done in hope of (amongst other things) an awakening of the moral self to the goodness and brokenness of the world. So “telling the world what to do” consists first and foremost of the joyful proclamation (and lived witness) of the love of God for a world of disordered loves.

        Where the issues are raised topically, they can be addressed topically from within the horizon afforded by the gospel. Even those who haven’t yet discovered the liberation to be found in Christ can (sometimes) acknowledge the bondage of greed. This can be one starting point for a shared journey of reflection and discovery of an alternative mode of being human.

        In short, if we think that Christian discipleship is to walk a true and living way (which is also the way of the cross, of course, since the only way to life is through death), then to speak of “ethics” in the context of broader society means (amongst other things), a warm commendation of Jesus as model and author of a life that is truly human.

      • Jonathan says:

        A warm commendation of Jesus as model and author of a life that is truly human.

        – I like that.

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