In the area of sexuality, specifically, morality too easily becomes an idol, whether it’s premarital virginity, marital chastity or heterosexuality. People follow hard after it, measure their worth by it and are sometimes devastated when they offend it. Moreover, Christians teach others to measure their worth by morality rather than by their belovedness. When sexual morality is elevated to an idolatrous place, it diminishes people’s sense of being loved and being able to love, instead of being put in its place by love.It is hard to think of sexual morality as an idol because the bible so closely associates sexual immorality with idolatry. When Israel worships other gods she is compared to a prostitute or an unfaithful wife. So can worshiping the true God become an idol? Makes no sense. It makes about as much sense as talking about chastity as an idol. Means to the end of holiness can become an idol but holiness itself cannot.
Christians are called to holiness in all areas of life, both personal and corporate. Personal sexual holiness includes how a person cares for his or her sexual feelings, thoughts and actions. My views are conservative—I’m a “sex only within marriage between a man and a woman” kind of Christian—but I am well aware that Christians of good faith disagree about the meaning of personal sexual holiness. Maligning those with whom we disagree, even to the point of questioning the validity of their faith or salvation, is counterproductive and damages the witness of our religion as a whole, which is supposed to be comprised of believers from many times and places united in their devotion to Jesus, not to a set of beliefs about sexuality.This is classic moral relativism. It even has the self contradictory nature of moral relativism. That is her declaration that "maligning those with whom we disagree" is wrong must also be declared to part of the kind of Christian she is and not something all Christians are bound to. So her maligning the maligners is out of place. She should just say you do that and I don't. Different strokes for different folks. Really it undermines all moral teaching. But she does not want to do that. She only wants to undermine sexual moral teaching. That is what sells. Nobody wants to buy a book that makes murder or theft or lying a matter we just can't agree on. A matter where the real issue is allowing everyone to live out their own diverse ideas of what might be moral. We don't want that in any other area but sex. That is where morals must somehow become wishy-washy.
The world in which Christians all agree about sexual issues is an imaginary one. Love of God and neighbor, the heart of holiness, has to be practiced in the real world in the midst of these disagreements.Of course we don't agree. But why should holiness depend on agreement? We have one God who is the fountain of all holiness. The fact that we don't agree means we can and do misunderstand God. So we need a trustworthy source of God's truth. Just accepting that everyone has a different version of that truth and assuming our version is fine won't do. We need to find God's word. We can't find it by just looking at our world.
She has a hint when she says "our religion as a whole, which is supposed to be comprised of believers from many times and places united in their devotion to Jesus." Is there any consensus about sexual morality that emerges when you look at such a body of believers? There is. It is more conservative than her “sex only within marriage between a man and a woman” idea. It also rejects contraception and a few other things most protestants accept. So modern sexual morality, even that described as conservative, is very liberal when looking at all of Christianity. That is what " is counterproductive and damages the witness of our religion as a whole."
When the Holy Spirit (or a particular representation of the Holy Spirit) is emphasized to the exclusion of Christ, sexual holiness can be misconstrued as whatever seems right or feels right to a person. On the other hand, when Jesus (or a particular representation of Jesus) is emphasized over the Holy Spirit, Christians can coerce themselves and others into behavioral compliance with Jesus’ moral teachings to the neglect of cultivating personal spirituality and conscience.I am not sure how she avoids moral excess here. What would moral excess look like? But what I find interesting is that a moral problem immediately becomes a theology problem. She has Jesus and the Holy Spirit working against each other. She has personal spirituality and moral compliance as opposites as well. The essence of heresy is to over-emphasize one truth use it to defeat other truths.
Costly discipleship avoids, on the one hand, cheap grace that permits moral excess and, on the other hand, rigid moralism that occludes mercy and joy.
The “end” of a holy life is to be like Christ. When it comes to sexual holiness, however, the end is often misperceived as a life station (heterosexual marriage) instead of a quality of life (Christlikeness). For some, marriage is not a viable or even a desirable state.She has a point here. Many Christians think sexual morality is about remaining a virgin until your wedding day. There is a lot more to it than that. It is about having a pure heart in a world that worships filth. But how can you tell what is pure if you embrace relativism? If you are going to order your life around purity you need to know for sure what is Godly and what is a distortion. Relativism gives you nothing but questions. It attacks the solid answers you might not like but you end up with nothing solid left. Just warm fuzziness like "follow your heart" or "have a Christ-like quality of life."
I have not read her whole book but she seems to have enough hints here that she is going to cave in on the gay issue. The code words are all there. Even the use of the phrase "heterosexual marriage" like there is another kind of marriage.
The book is published by InterVarsity Press. I thought they were more solid than this. The scary part is that most college students, both protestant and Catholic, are not going to be able to tell this from more traditional Christianity. They are going to be able to tell the final answers are different but many will be unclear on exactly where she went wrong.