William Frey has been a leader among those fighting to affirm historical sexual standards in the Episcopal Church. In this guest editorial, he explains what kind of sex Christians are for, not just what they are against. Bishop Frey is dean and president of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

After all the debate about sex at denominational conventions this summer, it would be tempting to think conservative members of mainline churches are enmeshed in a kind of Victorian prudery. Those who have opposed liberalizing tendencies seem to some always to be telling people “don’t.” It is time for those who hold to historic standards to dispel that mistaken notion. While it comes with clear limits, sex is great. After all, God invented it.

The Bible’s attitude toward sexuality is perhaps nowhere better described than in the Song of Solomon. Admittedly, some Christians have at times been embarrassed, even scandalized, by its graphic depictions. The first editors of the King James Version tried to give it a “G” rating by their chapter headings, which suggested that the book was not about sex at all, but about Christ and the church. But only a healthy appreciation of sex could lead the biblical writer to remark, with evident pride, that when Moses died at the age of 120, both his eyesight and his “natural force” (which some scholars believe refers to sexual potency) were undiminished (Deut. 34:7). And Jesus’ first miracle was performed to enliven a wedding.

Christians, in other words, are not prudes. We like sex. We celebrate sex. We thank God for sex.

But—and here we differ radically with our society—we do not see sex as a right or as an end in ...

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