Mark Clark is a Canadian pastor serving in Surrey, British Columbia. As pastor of a young congregation, he’s encountered the common objections to Christianity. He’s recently written a helpful book called The Problem of God: Answering a Skeptic’s Challenges to Christianity.
I’ve read a number of apologetics books. What interests me with this one is that Clark includes a chapter on sex as an apologetics issue. “Many people reject Christianity because of its teachings on certain ethical issues, especially the Christian teachings on sex and human sexuality,” he writes. It is one of the major issues that we must face today.
I’m guessing that Clark wrote his book before he had a chance to read Trevin Wax’s excellent book This Is Our Time. Nevertheless, he follows Wax’s advice:
Christians who shine the light of the gospel on the myths of our world do not simply say, “This is right and this is wrong,” but “This is better.” The gospel tells a better story. Yes, the gospel exposes the lies we believe and promote in society, but once our eyes adjust to its brightness, we discover how the gospel also answers our deeper longings in ways that surprise us. Evangelism is not just convincing people the gospel is true but also that it is better.
This is no easy task, but Clark does a great job. We can’t just teach biblical commands about sex. We must place these commands within the larger story of a good God and humanity. We must show how the Christian story about sex is a better one.
Clark spends a little time exposing our culture’s view of the autonomous self. He spends most of the chapter, though, telling the story of sex through the Christian story:
The biblical perspective on sex is robust and stands contrary to the three alternative views that have been popular throughout history: sex-is-bad, sex-is-god, and sex-is-appetite. Christianity offers a healthy and balanced alternative to all of these perspectives, an alternative that provides joy and freedom and has the power to transform an entire culture like ours. It teaches that sex is a God-given gift.
Clark deals with the intellectual issues, but he deals with practical ones too: how often sex should happen in marriage, for instance, and, in brief, how to deal with those wrestling with divorce, sexually transmitted infections, rape, unfaithfulness, pornography, and gender confusion. He shows how God’s commands are good and designed to maximize our pleasure.
I love the way that he ends the chapter: by showing that sex is a pointer to heaven. “While we can enjoy these gifts in themselves, they are also pointers to a pleasure that will be experienced only in heaven when sin and its deadening effect on our senses is removed forever,” he writes. “We will experience a joy to which the pleasures of this world are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Where I live, sex isn’t just one apologetics issue. It’s the apologetics issue. I’m grateful that Clark has written this book, and I’m glad that he’s included this chapter. We must become skilled at not only teaching a biblical view of sexuality, but also showing that it’s a better and more attractive story. Clark points the way.
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