Whatever the Kinsey Institute says, understanding the true purpose of sexuality requires far more than lessons in biology.

If ignorance is bliss, when it comes to sex we must be absolutely ecstatic. At least that is what one recent poll might suggest.

Nearly 2,000 persons participated in a survey conducted by the Roper Organization, which sought to ascertain what we know about sex. The results are included in the Kinsey Institute’s New Report on Sex: What You Must Know to be Sexually Literate (St. Martin’s Press). The findings surprised us. No one answered all 18 questions correctly. Less than half (45%) of the respondents could answer correctly even as many as half of the questions.

The survey included topics such as the frequency of some kinds of sexual behaviors, the average size of sex organs, and inquiries related to conception and contraception. The respondents were not asked about their own practices or experience but rather what they believed was true of people in general. The researchers asked interviewees what they knew, not what they did. The results pointed to widespread ignorance and misinformation.

The Kinsey Institute staff, after calling attention to this dismal sexual illiteracy revealed by the Roper study, devote the majority of their 540-page New Report to telling us more than most anyone could want or need to know about matters of sexuality.

On the one hand, we find it ironic that a society so “sexually active” could be so uninformed. With the sensuous and sexual so prominent in our cultural life, including the advertising we heed and the entertainments we increasingly choose, how can it be that Americans don’t “know the score”?

Part of the explanation could be the type of knowledge the survey tested. Do we really need to know the size of an average penis or whether couples engage in sex daily, weekly, or semiannually? Genuine knowledge has intrinsic and extrinsic value, of course, but is this kind of information necessary for a healthy understanding of sex? The fact that some aspects of sex are still a mystery for many is even somewhat heartening.

The Kinsey report authors disavow any intention of giving guidance for how we ought to behave. At most, they suggest, the report provides individuals with information they need to make responsible decisions about their sex lives. But to make such a suggestion may at best be naive and is probably irresponsible. It ignores or denies the empirical evidence that knowledge does not insure wise or morally appropriate behavior. Teenage pregnancy is rampant, even among the well-informed. And, despite the rigorous AIDS information campaign, a persistent promiscuity has resumed among the high-risk homosexual and bisexual population. To know right is not necessarily to do right.

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The Kinsey authors do recognize the important role that parents and the church must play in transmitting the essential values related to sexual behavior. It is both the duty and the privilege of the Christian family, in partnership with the church, to combat sexual illiteracy. We need to engage in sex education that is knowledgeable and candid. Used with discernment, the Kinsey New Report can be a helpful resource. But our children, young people, and we ourselves will remain sexual illiterates unless we know and tell the whole story. That means beginning with what God has revealed about human sexuality in the Scriptures. It also means acknowledging our fallen sinfulness and our need for the redemptive power of divine grace.

Sexual promiscuity is still a moral problem, not a knowledge problem, and the antidote to sin is not education but reconciliation.

By George K. Brushaber.

Scottish scholar Frederick Fyvie Bruce (1910–90) not only led the way for the renewal of evangelical biblical scholarship in our time but towered over it as a giant among ordinary men.

When his first major commentary was published in 1951, it was rare to find any book by an evangelical scholar listed on a course bibliography in a mainline seminary or university. Prior to Bruce, the twentieth century had produced two outstanding evangelical biblical scholars, J. Gresham Machen and E. J. Young; but their writings were often so polemical it was hard for anyone unsympathetic to their perspective to give their arguments the care they deserved.

Bruce represented a new approach. Rather than rail against “the unbelieving critics,” he offered careful scholarship wedded to a confidence in the God who reveals himself in Scripture and in Christ. He was never ideological. He was delighted to be called an “evangelical,” but not if that meant a party within the larger community of faith. To be evangelical was, for him, to be committed to the gospel of God’s grace revealed in his Son. He eschewed the label “conservative evangelical.” “If many of my critical conclusions … are described as being conservative,” he once commented, “they are so not because … I am conservative, but because I believe them to be the conclusions to which the evidence points.” He was concerned for truth alone, not truth in the service of a cause.

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In the 1940s, he inaugurated a new era in scholarship by helping to establish the Theological Students’ Fellowship to encourage students to take the academic side of theology seriously and to remain faithful to the Lord who had called them, and also the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical Research, which was to produce important Bible study aids, such as the New Bible Commentary, the New Bible Dictionary, and the Tyndale Commentaries, and thus prepare the way for the fine evangelical reference works available today.

The Bruce Prescription

The state of academic biblical studies is totally changed from the day of Bruce’s youth. The work of evangelical Bible scholars is of a higher quality than any time prior to the end of the last century. In this remarkable change, no one has been more influential than the late F. F. Bruce. Still, there are weaknesses.

First, biblical scholars tend to become experts in the secondary literature rather than the primary texts. Bible courses in conservative seminaries and colleges often degenerate into discussions of what various scholars have written about the Bible. Bruce’s application of the method he learned as a classicist, listening to the words of the original authors before turning an ear to their later interpreters, has much to teach us.

Second, biblical languages are undervalued. Bruce found it hard to understand how anyone who had a sense of call to “the ministry of the Word” would be unwilling to learn Hebrew and Greek. He not only knew those languages, but the whole Bible by heart in the original tongue. At a time when many pastors undervalue their biblical languages, it is urgent to remind church leaders that an understanding of the original is fundamental to the interpretation and application of Scripture.

Third, the Testaments are too often divided. Having separate departments of New Testament and Old Testament, each with its experts who have little dialogue with the other, reflects the secular fragmentation of knowledge. Bruce believed a thorough knowledge of the Hebrew Bible was a prerequisite for understanding the New Testament. Perhaps it is time to stop appointing professors of New Testament or Old Testament in favor of professors of biblical studies.

Fourth, Bruce’s positive defense of the faith provides a model for contemporary evangelical scholars. All too often the work of evangelical scholars has consisted of pointing out the errors of liberal theologians. But if Bruce’s work had an apologetic tenor, it was simply because he let truth speak for itself.

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The Christian community has lost a great leader. But he has left a great legacy. There is every reason to hope his work will be continued by the host of younger scholars who have answered the call of the same Lord.

Guest editorial by W. Ward Gasque, Eastern College.

Back when televangelism’s two Jimmies were still smiling, the buzzword was accountability. As in, besides God, to whom is any ministry accountable?

Fortunately, only Paul Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network has had the audacity to name publicly the Almighty as his only watchdog. Though we would never doubt our Heavenly Father’s vigilance, we recall how often he has given greater leaders ample rope on which to hang. Eventually we all get what is coming to us; but in the meantime, it helps to have structures that encourage us to behave.

The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability is one of those structures, but some have worried that it is more a rubber stamp than a seal of quality. Stop worrying. Last month, the ECFA released its new membership list, along with a list of ministries that either were kicked out or departed on their own because they could not live within ECFA’s minimal standards (CT, Oct. 8, p. 59).

A pat on the back goes to ECFA director Art Borden, who has patiently spearheaded efforts to help evangelical ministries follow acceptable accounting procedures, provide donors with approved financial reports, and form boards not dominated by relatives.

We hope those former ECFA members will take the necessary steps to return to the ECFA fold. And we must congratulate one ministry—the Bible Memory Association—for its refreshing candor. Instead of the usual denials and rationalizations, a spokesperson simply admitted the ministry had made mistakes. We are used to hearing that after someone gets caught.

If you are looking for evangelical organizations to support, we suggest you send your checks to those bearing the ECFA logo.

By Lyn Cryderman.

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