CP: One of our readers had this response to your views on single Christians having sex: "2 Timothy 4:3, for a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear." How do you respond?
McCleneghan: There is always a danger that people will hear what they want to hear, and will believe things that are convenient for them to believe. Witness all sorts of lies from political leaders about how the problem of our economy is "lazy poor people." There's a false, unbiblical, teaching for you.
CP: Another reader had this to say: "How empty does she think people will feel after giving away sex to partners who didn't stay?" How would you respond to this?
McCleneghan: I take very seriously my responsibilities as pastor and writer; it is part of my vocation to walk with people when they are hurting, and to be as wise as I possibly can in offering counsel. I don't think I'm encouraging people to "give away sex."
I have received feedback from countless folks who were taught that if they reserved sex for marriage, they would avoid hurt, and their relationships would be immediately holy and wonderful and satisfying. And that has not proven true. I also know many who had sexual relationships outside of marriage that did not leave them hurting or empty, but were loving and supportive.
CP: How do you respond to 1 Corinthians 7 and Christians who think you should step down from your position as pastor for writing your book?
McCleneghan: There is a process for removing clergy from their positions in both the denomination in which I was ordained and the one in which I serve. But my book, which has been widely praised by lay and clergy leaders as wise and faithful, doesn¹t meet the criteria for being removed or otherwise censured.
CP: Another CP reader, Christina Kinzer, said: "I know from experience that having sex before marriage, and with more than one partner, only brings heartache and physical consequences. It'll be a part of you for the rest of your life. This is part of what is prophecy. False prophets. She needs to self-evaluate." How do you respond?
McCleneghan: I think it's interesting the way that readers such as Ms. Kinzer share their experiences of heartache following unmarried sex, and cite their experiences as authoritative, because, indeed, one of the things the book does is take the experiences of a number of people (350!) who completed a survey I sent out, as well as friends and my own, and offer them as sources of reflection.
But not all people have had the same experience as Ms. Kinzer. One of the things Christians are called to do is to reflect on Scripture, the wisdom of the Church, and the urging of the Holy Spirit, alongside their experiences, to make a faithful life. But suggesting that one person's experience will be true, or authoritative, for all people seems problematic.
You can read an excerpt from McCleneghan's book by clicking here.