Tag Archives: sex

“Totalizing careers” have made hookup-culture advocates out of many young businesswomen


Been thinking a lot lately about the many, many ways faith and work speak to each other–or quite often, do not speak to each other where they should. Now another one comes up, in an article in First Things by Leah Libresco.

For decades, men’s overcommitment in their work lives has alienated them from their children, drained their marriages of life, incubated infidelity. The overworked, intimacy-challenged businessman has become a movie and TV cliche.

Libresco’s article and the Hanna Rosin article she points to shine a bright light on the modern female equivalent to this cliche. It is sobering, and it deserves reflection by Christians who care about faith-and-work issues.

Here’s the beginning of Libresco’s article, titled “Sad Secular Monks”:

In the Atlantic, Hanna Rosin recently defended the hookup culture as essential to female success and equality. Given the pressure of a high-powered career, she claims, “an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future.” In order to carve out time for work, women need the same option men have long enjoyed: “the ability to delay marriage and have temporary relationships that don’t derail education or career.” Continue reading

C. S. Lewis and medieval Christians knew our bodies (and sex!) matter theologically – how ’bout us?


Christ ennobled and raised up all of humanity by becoming one of us. The truest things about ourselves are all areas where we reflect the image of our Creator.

Our embodiedness is important to our life with God both here on earth and at the resurrection (of the body): we receive all we know about God through our bodies, our senses, our experiences. Analogy is more than analogy: it is sacrament; to use a word Lewis used to title a key essay, it is “Transposition.”

To try to abstract mind from body, spirit from matter is to commit the gnostic error and destroy (be false to) what we truly are as human beings.

To speak in quasi-scientific sociological generalities and remove traditional understandings of what human beings are (including our embodied experience), and thereby to destroy traditional morality, is to, in fact, “abolish humanity”–to unmake us as creatures of God, and thus prevent us from reaching God as well (Abolition of Man). Continue reading

The Roots of Pentecostal Scandal—Romanticism Gone to Seed


A wave of criticism quickly followed the first publication–in 2004, on Christianity Today’s history website–of the two-parter that begins with the article below. Along with that wave, however, came another, larger wave of responses from those within the Pentecostal and charismatic movements who affirmed my analysis.

Now, six years later, I still stand by the argument I present here, which first dawned on me as I was at Duke in the late 1990s, studying the “emotional culture” of the 19th-century holiness movement. The holiness movement was the precursor of modern Pentecostalism, and its emotional DNA contained the troubling “anti-domestic” gene that I describe in this pair of articles. The first of the two articles, below, sets up the argument. The second, to be posted here soon, offers further evidence.

To be clear, I owe my faith to this movement, and I affirm the tremendous blessings it has brought. For more on that, see this article.

The Roots of Pentecostal Scandal—Romanticism Gone to Seed
The sexual stumblings of prominent ministers point to a hidden flaw in Pentecostal spirituality.
By Chris Armstrong

The sordid 1980s scandals of Pentecostal ministers Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart will incline some to presume that Paul Crouch, president of Pentecostal-linked television network TBN, did engage in the alleged homosexual liaison.

But whether the allegations in this case are eventually substantiated or not [update, Feb. 2010: Crouch has weathered the scandal and is still atop TBN], the question arises again: why does the Pentecostal ministry seem particularly susceptible to sexual scandal?

It may turn out, in fact, that statistically, Pentecostal ministers fall in this way no more often than do other ministers. I’m sure we make this connection at least partly because of the long cultural shadows of Bakker and Swaggart.

But I don’t think the connection is accidental. Continue reading

No Sex (Before Marriage), Please…We’re Christian


When Miss America “came out” for sexual abstinence, pageant organizers got their undies in a bunch.For the Christian History & Biography e-newsletter, it was another opportunity to shed some Christian-historical perspective on an old, old issue. (As usual, caveat lector: the links in the following are old.)

Christian History Corner: No Sex (Before Marriage), Please…We’re Christian
Miss America preaches a 2000-year-old message
Chris Armstrong

Erika Harold, Miss America 2003, has just emerged victorious from a very public struggle over sex. Erika, a professed Christian, announced after winning the title that she would be using her year in the spotlight to promote sexual abstinence for teenagers. For reasons best known to themselves, the Miss America pageant organizers in Atlantic City ordered her not to do so. Then, in the face of controversy, they reversed their decision but made Erika promise that she would couch her message in the more politically correct theme of “teen violence.”

One look at the multi-billion-dollar television industry upon which the Miss America pageant feeds should make clear the pageant promoters’ difficulty. How many premarital and extramarital sex acts are shown or implied each year on American television programs? How many times does a message of abstinence make it onto the airwaves—outside of Christian stations? Hmmm.

Probably the most obvious and counter-cultural ethical position of Christians today—one shared by the other “peoples of the Book,” Jews and Muslims—is the proscription against premarital sex. Continue reading

Want to do community right? Try getting alone in the desert.


This summer, Leadership Journal editor Marshall Shelley once again allowed me to share with his readers about one of my favorite leaders from Christian history. This one was an unlikely cat, indeed: a shriveled little man who wanted nothing more than to spend his life alone in a remote cave in the Egyptian desert . . . yet who found himself deluged with attention, and who responded with the most amazing wisdom about community and relationships:

How Solitude Builds Community
An ancient monk’s surprising role in bringing justice and healing to his neighbors.
Chris Armstrong

Monday, August 3, 2009

As a history professor, I have asked my students, “What is monasticism?” and I often get suspicious, negative answers: “Monks withdrawing from the world.” Continue reading

Play me that hot Puritan love song


The Puritans had, ahem, robust attitudes toward sexuality (“They were not prudes. . . . They were intense lovers” says historian Harry Stout). The Bible’s R-rated book, the Song of Songs, was a favorite of theirs. I checked into this in a newsletter a while back:

Play Me That Hot Puritan Love Song
A little-read book of the Bible reminds us of the astonishing intimacy we enjoy with Christ
Chris Armstrong

If you grew up Jewish in a certain time, there was a forbidden fruit in your Bible. You knew this book was in there. You whispered about it with your friends. You probably snuck a peek when you were sure dad and Rabbi weren’t looking. It was as canonical as any other book. In fact Rabbi Akiba had said, “If all the sacred writings are holy,” then this one was “the holy of holies” (Mishnah, Yadayim 3:5). But you wouldn’t be allowed to read it out in the open (some sources say) until your thirtieth birthday. Continue reading