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SEBTS journal notes spiritual consequences of sexual sins

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–The greatest danger of sexual sin is not the physical or emotional consequences, but the spiritual ones, a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary ethicist writes in the latest issue of the seminary’s academic journal, Faith & Mission.

“Sexual sin is a manifestation of rebellion against God and will have a negative impact on the relationship between believer and God,” writes David Jones, assistant professor of Christian Ethics in his article “The Asperity of Sexual Sin.”

“Therefore,” he continues, “believers must be vigilant in personally avoiding sexual sins and in both confronting and ministering to those among whom they minister who have fallen into sexual transgressions.”

Jones’ article is one of several in the Faith & Mission edition focusing on tough questions about sexual sin, just war and theological feminism.

David Lanier, the journal’s editor, said the articles for the issue have a “practicality and relevance to the average church member and leader.”

“It is hoped that these [articles] will be genuinely helpful to each of our readers and that the Lord will use them for His glory,” said Lanier, professor of New Testament at Southeastern’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus.

Jones, in his article, argues that numerous passages of Scripture, as well as a theological understanding of the nature of man as a physical and spiritual creature, point the way toward a “sexual-spiritual nexus,” or close connection between sexuality and spirituality.

Also, Romans 1:21-28, among many other passages of Scripture, teach clearly that God’s passive judgment falls on those engaged in sexual sins.

“The connection between sexuality and spirituality presented in this passage is self-evident; when men and women deny God and fail to worship Him, He passes judgment by allowing them to gratify their own corrupt sexual desires,” Jones said. “The equation, then, is clear: spiritual sin results in sexual perversion.”

Jones ultimately argues that there are two clear biblical paradigms that point the way toward understanding this sexual-spiritual bond. The first is that since sexual sin is committed using one’s body, it inevitably affects one’s relationship with God because the believer’s body is a temple of the Spirit. The second paradigm is the analogy made in Scripture between sex in marriage -– in other words, the “one-flesh union” -– and the relationship of Christ and His bride, the church.

“Sexual intercourse, when engaged in according to God’s plan, is spiritual in that it pictures, by way of analogy, the Christ/church relationship,” Jones said.

Jones concludes his article by noting that since there is such a close connection between sexuality and spirituality, the spiritual consequences of sin, like alienation from God, outweigh even the physical consequences like disease and the emotional consequences of damaged human relationships.

Peter Schemm, recently named dean of Southeastern College at Wake Forest, wrote a Faith & Mission article titled “Taxis or Praxis? Why Trinitarians Don’t Make Good Feminists.” In it, he argues that an orthodox understanding of the nature of the triune God calls for believers to submit to the biblical pattern of relating to God as Father, rather than substituting gender-neutral language for the sake of appeasing cultural radicals.

“‘I believe in God the Father Almighty’ begins a robust confessional patrology,” Schemm writes. “This statement is a clear and necessary profession of faith. It is a nonnegotiable in guarding “the good deposit” that has been entrusted to the church (2 Tim. 1:14).”

Associate professor of Christian ethics Mark Liederbach, meanwhile, teaches believers how to understand what it means to fight a just war in his article, “The Gospel and War.” He shows that a Christian’s thinking on issues like war should be driven by their concern for others and for fulfilling the Great Commission.

Liederbach argues that “a proper understanding of the gospel will, at times, rightly compel a Christian to consider, and if necessary employ, the use of force on behalf of those who are unjustly treated.”

While Liederbach examines the commonly understood criteria for just war in relation to the Gospel, he goes further to clearly state the connection between just war theory and spiritual warfare.

“While flesh and blood conflicts are important, and while a gospel-driven neighbor love at times compels a just war,” he points out that “there is something even more important at stake: the unseen battle that rages for the soul of every human being.”

Other articles include “Recovering the Biblical Effectiveness of the Deacon Ministry” by Raymond D. Elder, president and founder of CPR Ministries, Inc., and “N.T. Wright and the Works of the Law” by J.V. Fesko, pastor of Geneva Orthodox Presbyterian Church and adjunct professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary.
Individual copies of Faith & Mission can be purchased, or subscriptions also may be purchased for $15 a year, via the journal’s website, www.sebts.edu/visitors/news_events/faithandmission.cfm. Two of this edition’s articles also can be downloaded for free at the website.

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