November 22-23, 2019
Seminar: The Beginning and the End of Sex
with Nick Nowalk
“In Lubbock we grew up with two main things. God loves you and he’s gonna send you to hell, and that sex is bad and dirty and nasty and awful and you should save it for the one you love. You wonder why we’re all crazy.”
(Butch Hancock, member of the band The Flatlanders, cited in Rodney Clapp, Tortured Wonders: Christian Spirituality for People, Not Angels)
Humans are indelibly sexual beings. The power and allure of romantic desire towards another person bespeaks an always breathtaking, often disorienting experience of one’s own self and the world around us. Everything changes once love and desire have dawned for us. Things no longer look or smell or taste the same. Yet for all of the stunning beauty and the implicit promises about our flourishing and happiness that such enchanting experiences seem to extend to our hearts, erotic passion finally remains to us a haunting mystery. What is this experience about? What is sex for? And why does it so regularly fail to deliver on what we had hoped it might bring? That sexual attraction demands so much of our time, energy and resources once it has been unleashed in our hearts, and—even more disturbingly—that it so often leads to such profound, catastrophic heartache, suffering and trauma, has led virtually all cultures and societies in human history to put vivid boundaries and fences around its expression in human community. This was certainly true for the early Christians, though both the rationale for and the intended shape of human sexuality was notably distinctive among the first followers of Jesus.
Yet today our culture is marked out by an astonishingly rapid discarding of innumerable sexual mores and practices that would have been taken for granted even in the recent past. Confusion and uncertainty about what constitutes an appropriate channeling and expression of desire and passion abound. Furthermore, few aspects of the Christian faith and the church’s embodied presence in the world are more controversial and despised than its core convictions about the meaning and shape of erotic love. This has led to a number of challenges for faithful discipleship in the contemporary scene: do we understand the moral logic behind our own convictions as followers of Jesus? How do we relate to other believers who come to different conclusions? How do I respond to non-Christian friends and co-workers who are liable to scorn or despise a Christian understanding of sexuality? How can we sustain healthy, faithful practices of singleness, dating, marriage and raising children amidst all the perennial difficulties of living in a fallen world and contending with our own sinful, selfish desires when the society we inhabit provides little support and is increasingly hostile toward our convictions.
During this extended mini-conference we will explore the meaning of human sexuality and the shape of potentially romantic relationships in light of God’s faithful character, His wise purposes in creation, and the story of Jesus in the gospel. Above all else, the Christian faith makes the staggering announcement that sex is good, and that it has been created by God for our delight and pleasure and flourishing. Yet it also makes the challenging (sometimes unbearably so) claim that sex is secondary and not finally at the center of what it means to be a human being created in the image of God. Sex had a beginning. It will one day come to an end. In between those determinative poles of creation and consummation, what should sex look like for us “in the middle” of the story here and now, as we remember God’s original purposes for our sexuality but also look ahead to the final fulfillment and telos of erotic love in the resurrection from the dead and the life of the world to come?
Each session, there will be a mix of teaching, times of extended Q & A and interactive discussion. There will also be opportunities to engage in smaller groups about the content being shared, and to brainstorm about what it might look like for the church at this particular moment and historical context to provide helpful resources and support for Christians as they experience their sexuality as both a beautiful gift and a holy calling from their Creator and Redeemer.
Friday, November 22nd
7pm-9pm (A Biblical Theology of Sexuality)
Saturday, November 23rd
10am-Noon (Marriage & Gender)
1pm-3pm (Singleness & Dating)
The conference is free, but because space is limited we ask that you RSVP to reserve a spot at