Sexuality and the Jesus Tradition

Sexuality and the Jesus Tradition

Sexuality and the Jesus Tradition

Sexuality and the Jesus Tradition


Discourse related to sex excites passion and debate, partly because sexuality is a central aspect of what it means to be human. Following up on his recent book on sexuality in the Septuagint, William Loader here explores what the Christian Gospels and related writings have to say about sexuality, how they reflect the faith and social values of their day, and what impact they've had on our own.

Sexuality and the Jesus Tradition is thorough in its investigation and compelling in its analyses. Loader examines all of the passages that convey views about sexuality in the Gospels and other first-century literature, including the Gospel of Thomas, and the influence in Paul of the Jesus tradition. Among the interesting topics covered are attitudes concerning lust, perspectives on marriage and divorce, and views about celibacy. Loader shows how, despite the passing of two thousand years and massive social change, these ancient texts contain common issues that we still grapple with today.


Why “Sexuality” and the Jesus Tradition?

Why not! We are all sexual beings. Exploring and experiencing our own sexuality is part of being human. Whatever the external restraints, we all have an interest in sex, just as we all have an interest in food. Most of the time when we read a book about food, it is so that we can do something, try out a new recipe. A good deal of the time, when people read about sex, it is with a similar purpose in mind: how to do it, how to make sex a more enjoyable experience.

This is not a recipe book. It is a book about sex, but its focus is on values which people associate with sex and sexual activity. Occasionally we may read books about food and values. Just think of all those books recommending diets and why you should go on one! Or, at a more serious level, we may be reading about food resources and issues of sharing these resources or about not developing them in ways that will be destructive. Matters such as genetically manipulated foods are ultimately linked to issues of how we live together.

People also read and write books about the role of sex and sexual activity in the way we live together. Sex is so much part of us and so central to our experience as human beings, that it is no surprise that there has been a lot of talk about sexual values. Human beings reproduce as a result of sexual activity. Little wonder that people have planned, worried about, managed, and tried to control the means of reproduction. They have been doing so for generations, so that patterns and norms will have been established from earliest times. How we handle our sexuality very often has an impact on other people. It deserves, therefore, to be taken all the more seriously, because it is one of the ways we may enrich others or diminish them. At worst it becomes a vehicle of abuse; at its best, a vehicle of blessing.

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