Sexuality (chr.)

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(Turk. Cinsellik)

Part parcel of human nature is gender– an individual’s existence as man or woman. Sexuality is the manner in which this gender manifests itself by making something the specific object of its desire. Under a Biblical understanding, sexuality is a gift of God, a gift given shape through human activity, with a power that is attractive and frightening in equal measure. If unleashed, this power leads to destruction (2 Sam 11); personalised and cultivated, on the other hand, it is a source of vitality and joy (Song of Songs). There are four basic anthropological statements that characterise the Biblical view of human sexuality: man and woman are both made in the image of God and have the same personal dignity (Gen 1.27); as an element of the Divine Order of Creation, the two-gender arrangement is positive and good (Gen 1.27; 2.18); it serves fertility and is endowed with God’s blessing (Gen 1.28); the two-gender arrangement finds its full realisation in the becoming of one flesh of man and wife (Gen 2.24). Initially, however, the history of Christianity was dominated by a fear of sexuality. Influenced by non-Christian, dualist teachings, the Church Fathers were distrustful of sexual desire in particular. They feared that sensual pleasures made the soul a prisoner to the body, preventing the body from rising up to God. Augustine (354–430) provided the theological interpretation for this pessimistic view of the sexual. To him, in principle every sexual activity represents a scourge. This scourge is only excusable if the consummation of sexuality occurs within a marriage, and when it is aimed at procreation. It was only during the course of the 20th century that a positive view of sexuality, one that was more adequate to the Bible itself, prevailed, when, within the scope of further development in the Christian theory of marriage, for the first time the mutual love of the husband or wife was recognised as a meaning of marriage in its own right and the sexual encounter was acknowledged as a form of expression of this love. This ushered in a development in the course of which human sexual behaviour could gradually come to be viewed in terms of its merit for the person. For Christian theologians, there is still widespread agreement that full sexual relations have their only legitimate place in the setting of a marriage, as this setting is best-suited to an expression of the values of gender. In a departure from an interpretation of human sexuality that once emphasised human sexuality one-sidedly in terms of reproduction, however, the emphasis today is that, in the antechamber to full sexual association, is a broad spectrum of sexual relationships exists, relationships of differing intensities and forms of expression.

Hans-Günter Gruber

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