Welcome members to the group.
Introduction to this session
Sex and sexuality were created by God. While scripture contains that which reveals God’s will for human nature, its messages about sexuality, sexual identity and gender are not straightforward. They range from texts teaching us about our basic human identity as male and female created in the image of God, to the beautifully sensuous images of sexual love as a divine gift in the Song of Solomon. They also include texts and images such as incest, polygamy and the marriage of women to their rapists, that when interpreted simply at face value we would find morally repugnant.
The Bible has much to say about sexual love, desire, morality and behaviour. This session offers the opportunity to explore some of these. Consideration is also given to our concepts and understandings of human sexuality, sexual identity, psychosexual development, and cultural worldviews, some of which did not develop until recent history. This makes the reading of scripture for insight on issues of sex and sexuality very difficult. As Christians we can surrender neither the reality of our modern context nor our commitment to the scriptures as the witness to who we are within God’s redeeming and creative purposes, and the starting point for our reflections on who we are called to be.
Remind people of their norms.
Looking at scripture’s messages to us about our sexuality
Discuss the following questions in groups of 2 or 3 people that you are not related to.
- Do you have particular passages or stories that you are drawn to when thinking about sexuality? What are they and why do they speak to you?
Share your responses with the larger group.
- When looking to scripture we expect two different things. We look to learn about God’s intentions for our sexuality: What does it mean to be sexual beings created in the image of God? We also look for guidance for the moral life — what’s right and good versus that which is wrong and sinful.
- Looking at the passages and stories we have chosen, which ones are about God’s intention for our sexuality?
- Which ones are about the rules and cautions for leading a moral Christian life?
- When looking at our lists — are there other passages from scripture that we want to include? What would they be?
- In what ways does scripture inform our personal understandings of God’s will for human sexuality? For sexual morality?
- How does the influence of scripture compare with other sources and authorities such as our families, our culture, science and psychology, and the church’s traditional teachings?
Looking at images and teachings in scripture
Readings (choose a number of readings from list below):
- Genesis 1: 4b–25
- Genesis 3: 1–19
- 2 Samuel 11: 3–5
- 2 Samuel 13:1-17
- Song of Solomon 5: 1–5
- Matthew 1:10-25
- Galatians 5:13–27
- Ephesians 5
- Corinthians 1 6:15–20
Further (possibly preparatory) readings:
In small groups — each with its own passage, or set of passages:
Read the passage aloud twice either as a group or ask one member to read. As a group, retell the passage in your own words. Try not to look at the text if you have copies in front of you.
- What does the passage(s) say to us about sex, sexuality and about the ways we are supposed to relate to each other as sexual beings?
Share responses with the larger group.
Questions for the whole group to reflect on:
- What are some of the images of sexuality found in these readings?
- In what ways are these passages about:
— sexual desire and delight?
— sexual ethics?
— respect and honour of our bodies?
— human relationships and community?
— our relationship with God?
- In what ways are these passages about something other or more than sex?
Ending (see the Basic Programme Outline)