This entry is part 13 of 18 in the series: ‘A Better Story’ (Harrison)
- ‘A better story’ – intro
- ‘A better story’ – 1
- ‘A better story’ – 2
- ‘A better story’ – 3
- ‘A better story’ – 4
- ‘A better story’ – 5
- ‘A better story’ – 6
- ‘A better story’ – 7
- ‘A better story’ – 8
- ‘A better story’ – 9
- ‘A better story’ – 10
- ‘A better story’ – 11
- ‘A better story’ – 12
- ‘A better story’ – 13
- ‘A better story’ – 14
- ‘A better story’ – 15
- ‘A better story’ – 16
- ‘A better story’ – 17
Our ‘better story’ for sex and marriage begins as we are welcomed into God’s reality.
Five truths underpin this.
1. God has spoken. We no longer have to strive to construct our our ‘reality’. God has spoken in his Son and in his Scriptures.
2. We are God’s creatures. This is his reality, not ours. Our nature and purpose need to be understood in the light of our creaturely dependence on him.
3. We flourish when we work with the grain of God’s reality. We are made in God’s image, and there is accordingly, a ‘right fit’ between us and him. As creatures made in his image, there is also a ‘right fit’ between us and the rest of the created order. The created order both glorifies God (Psalm 19) and points us to ways of life that please him (Romans 2:14f). Though sin has so damaged the created order that we need (and God has been pleased to give) the revelation of the gospel, along with the first-fruits of a new reality in Christ’s resurrection.
4. God’s revelation tells us who he is; and also who we are. Human identity is not discovered by us: it is revealed by God. Jesus knows his sheep ‘by name’ (John 10:3). Those who receive him are called ‘children of God’ (John 1:12). The whole project of self-construction is, accordingly, weak and emaciated.
What does ‘our identity in Christ’ mean? There is, first of all, our creaturely identity. In every good or useful action – doing chores, chairing a committee, mending a tyre, picking the kids up from school – we are living out God’s image in us. Let us do so with dignity and pride. Let us act, as he does, with compassion and justice. But there is, secondly, our redemptive identity. Although God’s image in us has been disfigured by sin, it is being restored in those who are ‘in Christ’. We bear Christ’s image, and by his indwelling Spirit we are already beginning to experience a transformation of character and temperament (see 1 John 3:2).
The church’s task is ‘to reframe and embody these truths in ways that speak into modern culture, and inspire the hearts and imaginations of its own people as well.’
5. We know that God is good. Our vision of renewal in Christ may seem difficult to sustain in the midst of a fallen and hurting world. ‘So, for example, when confronted with dreadful pain and suffering, we ask how a good God could pile on the agony by denying the right to assisted suicide. Or we find ourselves asking how it can possibly be wrong to support a same-sex sexual relationship that seems so happy and life-giving.’ We can respond by saying that it is precisely human pride and disobedience that has wreaked havoc on the created order. We can say that we only see part of the picture, whereas God sees the whole. But there is mystery in suffering, and our finite minds cannot get to the bottom of it. ‘But the Christian gospel is focused on the cross of Christ: God himself entered into the furthest reaches of human suffering and bled in our place.’ This doesn’t answer all our questions; but it established the basis of our trust.
Harrison, Glynn. A Better Story: God, Sex And Human Flourishing. IVP. Kindle Edition. Chapter 11.