Posted January 23rd, 2014 

I remember when “it” first came up.  We were in the chicken coop collecting eggs. A rooster jumped on the back of a hen, and my tenderhearted first grader whacked him with a stick. “He’s hurting her,” she explained. “Um, not exactly,” I stammered.

Now I had some explaining to do. We talked about sperm and eggs. We talked about genetics and God’s design for living things. A few months later we were reading the Christmas story and she asked what a virgin was. We told her. She took her bits of knowledge and enlightened her Sunday school class by telling them that Jesus didn’t look like Joseph because Mary and Joseph never mated. We changed churches. (Not really, but I wanted to.)

Because my husband is a doctor, we have approached sex in a matter of fact way. Because we home school and threw out the TV years ago, our daughters have had little exposure to our sex-saturated culture. Until the recent Duck Dynasty “food fight.”

This post is not about that. But it did bring to light something we’ve been talking about since our daughters were able to converse.

You, daughter, are an eternal being in whom God dwells and delights.[1]  You are not only a body, but also a spirit and a soul. You have a mind and emotions. You are simple and complex. You will live forever and you have unimaginable valuable. And this applies to every person you will ever meet. There are no throw away people.[2]

Over our eight years of homeschooling when we have talked about war, slavery, child trafficking, or any human atrocity we have cried and lamented: “Human beings are worth so much more.” We have talked about the fashion industry and said we are more than our bodies. Bodies are important for sure and sacred for certain, but they are just a part of the person.

What we spoke about in terms of the “food fight” was the way in which the female body was referenced. It’s a popular reduction and I hear Christian men and women make it all the time. If we, as Christian people, reduce sex to a brief union of body parts, we reduce the people involved. We are spirit, and soul, we are mind and emotion.

Think with me about the process of reduction:

When we reduce something it is our way of saying we we are superior and we control it. Slang terms for race are a reduction – words like this provide the distance required to abuse another person, to think “I’m better than they are”, to control and manipulate others.  Slang terms for sex, or genitals, or people for that matter are often used in an effort to manipulate and control.  Human beings who bear the Imago Dei are too precious to be reduced. In fact we can’t be reduced without causing a break in the soul.

Any time a woman or a man is reduced to their genitals, a little bit of the Imago Dei in them dies. That’s why stereotypes are so dishonoring. It is reducing the image of God placed lovingly into humanity to a thing to be manipulated.  Rape is only possible when one is able to think of another person as a soulless thing – a thing to have, to control, to own.

“Watch out daughter!” I warned. “Watch for the way we use language to reduce people. Catch me when I do it and help me. And remember you, YOU, are an eternal being in whom God dwells and delights.”

Renovaré founder Richard Foster has an excellent discussion on this topic in his book, The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex, and Power. I highly recommend this book.

[1] A major teaching of Dallas Willard and the Bible and Jesus.

[2] CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory, go read it. Now. We’ll wait.

Starting Soon: The 2018-19 Renovaré Book Club

How do we read for transformation, not just information? Choose books that stir the soul and have an enduring quality. Then read with God and others at an unhurried pace, attentive to what the Holy Spirit wants to teach. The Renovaré Book Club is designed for transformative reading. It runs October 2018—May 2019.

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