So, what about that TGC article on sex?

“In the end, Butler resigned as a fellow, he was removed from speaking at TGC’s national conference…. TGC pulled the article and the chapter off the website and issued an apology, asking for forgiveness and expressing a desire to listen and learn from its critics.” - World

Discussion

....is the comment from World and TGC about editors should have seen it and acted. There are many times when I read a book and wonder "is this guy too big for his britches to the point that editors won't tell him things?"

It also strikes me that the trap Butler fell into--oversexualizing Christ and the church--is about the same objection many have to "Jesus is my boyfriend" music; men are forced to sing about/to Christ in ways that are too consistent with a love note, and it produces some cognitive dissonance there.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry wrote: It also strikes me that the trap Butler fell into—oversexualizing Christ and the church—is about the same objection many have to “Jesus is my boyfriend” music; men are forced to sing about/to Christ in ways that are too consistent with a love note, and it produces some cognitive dissonance there.

Very good points indeed, esp. the above. Some things are not meant to be pressed. Sexual activity in marriage is not meant to be parsed and spiritualized like the Old Testament Tabernacle.

"The Midrash Detective"

One of the major concerns is the fact that the article confuses the gospel itself. Although Butler states that salvation should not be found through sex, he also suggests that sex should be viewed as an icon of Christ. An icon is a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration. Evangelicals are rightly concerned when Catholics venerate Mary. We ought to be just as concerned when the very sexual act is venerated in a similar manner. It is ironic that this article makes sex into a symbol of Christ and yet Christ never even had sexual relations. He did however wash feet.

Butler suggests that by giving sperm, the man is giving an offering. Washing feet would be a much better picture of giving an offering. No doubt God can use offerings that are given for selfish purposes. An example would be a financial contribution in order to receive a tax deduction and a name on a plaque. Yet, Butler frames the male giving sperm as if it were some sort of sacrificial ordinance. It would be akin to suggesting that a person were giving an offering for having allowed someone to scratch an itch in the middle of their back.

The word pictures that Butler uses are quite descriptive and quite risque. They clearly fall into the category of coarse speech and should be labeled as word pornography. For many who are already struggling in the area of sexual purity those words pose a grave danger to the mind and heart.

As offensive as the double entendres are, the suggestion that sex has to be a vital part of the gospel is offensive to any unmarried individual. As Christians, we understand that sex should be reserved for marriage. Butler presents his pre-marriage sexual experiences as a normal part of life rather than as something to be repented of, while turning sex into a representation of Christ and the gospel. Historically pagans have made sex into a religious ritual, not Christians.

No doubt, sex should be self giving rather than selfish, yet Butler suggests that the transfer of semen is the most giving part of the sexual act. Remember that Jesus taught us about love by washing feet. Although Butler has had more sexual partners than many of his critics, some of them still understand the importance of I Peter 3:7. That passage says, “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” It is the husband's job to find out what gives his wife the most pleasure and sacrificially work on that during their time in the marriage bed. That is part of fulfilling the command of husbands to love their wives. Perhaps Butler's multiple sexual partners all found the most pleasure from the male orgasm, but based on the many responses from female readers, this is not the case for a large segment of the female population. Regardless, it is not important for a man to know what provides pleasure for another man's wife. Each person needs to understand their own spouse and focus on that. In order to find out those answers, married couples need to be communicating with one another, not reading pornography.

As troubling as Butler's writings are, it is not surprising that perverted minds would put words on paper and share those words with others. It is, however, truly disheartening to know that The Gospel Coalition would promote those words and then continue to defend them.

It seems to me that in the analogy to marriage, Christ is the husband, not the wife, and if we're going to do an analogy for the "seed", it would be representative of the grace of God, not an offering, no? And granted, we can take an analogy too far, and I may have just done so, but if we're going to try and do a parallel, let's do it right.

By the way, thanks for finding the original article/chapter and taking a look for us, JD. There is a difference between noting how profound it is that being in Christ can be compared with engagement/marriage, and dwelling on the physical details.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

I am not sure where to link to the original article now that it has been taken down, but I read it last week and immediately wrote up the response above the next day because I was so bothered by it. I am most bothered by the fact that TGC actually printed it and then continued to defend it for a while. I usually look over their articles about once a week and although it is normal to not agree with every writer on every detail, I typically am not highly bothered like I was with this one. This was the first time I was bothered enough to write up a response the next day. I am not as bothered by the fact that Pastor Butler has some holes in his theology as I am by the fact that his peers promoted those holes rather than coming along side him and helping him correct them.