In this postmodern age, is there support that Scripture provides for reconsideration of traditional understandings of sexuality and sexual expression in faith traditions? If so, what constitutes healthy sexual expression? In a reconsideration of human sexuality, how does one’s doctrine comes into play?

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In this postmodern age, there is indeed support that Scripture provides for reconsideration of traditional understandings of sexuality and sexual expression. Several notable writers and academics have published readings of the Bible that are aligned with many current beliefs about sex. In her 1994 essay “A Lot of Exploding Heads,”...

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In this postmodern age, there is indeed support that Scripture provides for reconsideration of traditional understandings of sexuality and sexual expression. Several notable writers and academics have published readings of the Bible that are aligned with many current beliefs about sex. In her 1994 essay “A Lot of Exploding Heads,” Mary Gaitskill discusses her evolving interpretation of the word fornication. When she comes across the word in the Bible, she doesn’t read it as a “description of sex outside legal marriage.” Instead, she defines fornication as “sex done in a state of psychic denigration, with no awareness of one’s self or one’s partner.”

Gaitskill arguably casts the Bible’s approach to sexuality in a different light. For Gaitskill, the emphasis should be on conscientiousness and mental well-being, not on technicalities like the legality of the marriage. Such a view doesn’t discriminate against anyone’s sexuality or sexual expression, because that’s not the issue. It doesn’t matter if one is gay, straight, bi, married, single, or so on—what’s important is that one approaches sex mindfully.

Another text that reevaluates traditional Christian notions of sex and sexuality is M. Shawn Copeland’s Enfleshing Freedom. In her academic study, Copeland presents Christ as an ally of people with diverse sexual identities. As Christ cared for the marginalized and died for all of humanity—not just humans with a specific sexual expression—Copeland contends that Christ would not endorse repressive attitudes about sexuality.

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