In his recent lecture, “Wholly Holy: What the Identity of Being LGBT adds to the Identity of Being Christian,” Sam Wells argues that we need to shift the debate of human sexuality away from creation to the new creation; away from something like “pure nature” to the new identity given in baptism. That we tend to begin such debates with a modernist anthropology – beginning with a static account of human nature rather than graced nature – belies that fact that much of our thinking is still colored with Enlightenment presuppositions that stand at odds with orthodox Christianity.

For Wells, the issue hangs on whether one reads the New Testament in a modernist, Kantian framework, or whether one reads the text in a classical vein, as the narrative of God’s involvement with fallen humanity. As Wells goes on to explain:

The key question about New Testament ethics is not ‘What exactly do these instructions require and are exceptions ever legitimate?’ Instead the key question is ‘What kind of a community did the early church need to be to be faithful to Jesus in the light of the world’s challenges, and thus what kind of a community does the church today need to be to do the same? […] 

This is where I think the terms of the debate need to change. If you see heaven as an embodied interaction between God, humanity, and the renewed creation, then embodiment is essential to human identity, because it is part of our eternal nature. The human body is not a ladder we kick away when we enter heaven… It must be that we discover all our desires are a sublimated desire for God, and a poor token of God’s fundamental desire for us, on which the whole five-act play is predicated. What I’m talking about is shifting the conversation from creation, which happened once, to heaven, which last forever.

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