Dr. Robert R. Ball
@ M A L E A N D F E M A L E @
Sermon first presented February 7, 1971
With commentary below from Dr. Ball, October 25th, 2010
@ M A L E A N D F E M A L E @
The Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make
him a helper fit for him.” – Genesis 2:18
Sermon by Dr. Robert R. Ball
Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church
Houston, Texas — February 7, 1971
EVEN in this uninhibited age of ours, sex is still a terrifying subject. The
statistics are that sexual problems are the leading cause of divorce in
America, and the major area of conflict even in the marriages that manage
to stay together. Most parents find it to be the most difficult of subjects to
discuss with their children. Sex is so explosive that it is considered bad
manners to talk about it in polite society; and even though it is discussed
often and extensively elsewhere, it is usually done with a smirk and a smile –
all of which is a back-handed tribute to the significant, sensitive place it
occupies in our lives.
NEARLY everyone tries to play down sex. The “purists” try to squelch it by
never mentioning it, and by viewing those who do with shocked indignation for
being so coarse and crude. The “libertines” try to deny the importance of sex
by treating it as if it were nothing but a simple biological urge, something like
eating your lunch. These opposing groups actually have a lot in common. Both
are scared to death of this explosive charge within them, and they don’t really
know what to do with it.
WHAT a contrast this is to the biblical approach. The only difference between
human beings which the creation story thought to be important enough to
mention is that God created only two kinds: boy human beings and girl human
beings. Perhaps the Bible has something to say to us who are so hung-up on
sex that it is the only way we have of classifying our movies.
IN the first place, the Bible wants us to get it straight: We are sexual creatures.
That’s how God made us. Sex is a fundamental part of who we really are.
OUR age has been characterized as one undergoing an “identity crisis.” All of
us are trying to discover “Who am I?” We want to know how we’re doing as
business men and qas housewives and as students and as well adjusted
persons; but before we are ever any of these things, we are either male or
female. That’s who we are. As a result, one of the most critical questions going
inside of all of us is, “How am I doing as a man or as a woman?”
THAT’S the question that the woman is asking when she wears a low-cut gown
to a party. She hopes that the reactions she gets from the males at the party
will confirm to her that as a woman she’s doing O.K. But if she isn’t completely
honest with herself that this is the question she’s asking, when some man
makes it too obvious that he has noticed what she wanted him to notice, she
feels that she must act as if she were humiliated and infuriated by his vulgarity,
Actually the man only wanted her to notice that he was an alive and virile male,
hoping to be assured that he was doing O.K. as a man. Being the president of
a big company has its rewards, but having a thick carpet and five telephones
doesn’t satisfy that deeper need to know that a man is appreciated for who he
really is. A significant part of who he really is, is a sexual being. He needs to
know, “How am I doing as a man?”
THERE are two basic ways of copping out on the fact that God has created
us to be sexual beings, and both ways are equally as destructive to our real
humanity. One way tells us that we should develop our personalities apart from
sex, concentrating on the “higher” things in life. The young bride who has been
taught to regard sex as a base, animal impulse will have apretty difficult time
adjusting to the wild beast she marries. The other cop-out tells us to develop
our sex life apart from the rest of our personality which makes sex an amusing
game to play when we get bored. To treat so meaningless something that is
so fundamentally a part of all that we are ends up by making our whole lives
look silly and meaningless. The Bible says it very clearly: God has created us
to be either male or female human beings. We can never be whole human
beings until we have accepted and come to terms with the fact of our
IN the second place, the Bible says that the reason God created the two
sexes is that a person by himself is incomplete and unfulfilled. We can never
be whole, human beings unto ourselves. We cannot be who we are without
GOD saw that man was lonely, so he filled the whole world around with a wide
array of dazzling delights. You get the feeling that the writer of this story was
looking right at us when he wrote it. When we get discouraged and exhausted
in our efforts to establish satisfying relationships with other people, we very
often look around us and say, “It’s silly for me to be lonely. Look at all this great
big beautiful world filled with fascinating things for me to study and do.”
SO we get ourselves occupied with football and motorcycles, business and
science, ballet and gardening, bridge and tennis, livestock and hunting, and
sometimes we even get ourselves all wrapped up in religion. But no matter
how much effort we put into any of these endeavors, as worthwhile as they
very well may be in themselves, none of them are able to answer our aching
IT was when Adam recognized that nothing else in all the world could make
him feel wanted and necessary and appreciated, that God created a woman
for him. God has given us the things of the world to use and people to love.
When we turn that around, loving things and using people, then all life goes out
of whack. A man needs to know that he is appreciated and valued as a man
by other men – but in a unique way by women. They are necessary to complete
his male humanity. A woman needs to know she is appreciated as a woman
by other women – but in a unique way by men. They are necessary to complete
her female humanity. Sex has been given to us as a means of communication.
It is an irreplaceable way in which we are able to say to another person, “you
are important. I like who you are. I care about you.”
THAT is the word of life, the word without which we cannot live. It is the word
which God sent into the world in Jesus Christ in human form, the word which
we touch and taste in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said, “This is my body which
is broken for you.” A real relationship is one in which we are able to
communicate who we really are to others, and be able to receive their
communication of themselves to us. The man who is confident and pleased
about being a man allows the women with whom he communicates to be
confident and pleased that they are women. The woman who is confident
and pleased about being a woman allows the men with whom she
communicates to be confident and pleased that they are men. God created
the two sexes because a person by himself is unfulfilled and incomplete.
THE final verse in this passage tells us that the marriage relationship is a very
special kind of thing, the fullest relationship possible among human beings.
“The man and his wife were both naked,
and were not ashamed.”
HOW many of us are willing for the naked truth about ourselves to be known?
Who is willing to reveal how he hurts and what he hopes in the depth of his
being? It is a frightening prospect, being completely known; and that’s why
we spend a great deal of our time and effort trying to make sure that we will
not be. We cover ourselves with cheerfulness or sullenness, with fine
clothing or with rags, with education or with ignorance, with religion or with
unbelief – anything to keep from being exposed. But sometimes, often by
accident, when our guard is down, it happens that someone does see us
and know us and approve of us. That glorious delight is how the lost sheep
felt when he was found.
WHEN someone knows us and accepts us and values us, we are no longer
stuck with those frightening and inaccurate images we have of ourselves –
the ones that make us ashamed, force us to cover up, and leave us feeling
awkward and ill at ease in the presence of others. It’s something like
becoming a brand new person.
BUT there is no possibility of our being fully known to everyone. We will dare
to reveal our deepest selves only to a person in whom we have absolute trust
and confidence that he will not make fun of us to run away from us. It takes a
lot of time and effort, a lot of hurting and forgiving, to develop the trust and
commitment to each other in which that miracle can happen.
THAT’S why the sex act itself cannot be shared frivolously or thoughtlessly. It
is an honest communication only when two people are willing to make a
continuing commitment to each other and to accept continuing responsibility
for each other.
“The man and his wife were both naked,
and were not ashamed.”
I HAVE a minister friend back in Oklahoma who’s been married for some
thirty years now, a perfectly delightful person. One night he and I were driving
back from a meeting in another city. He kept urging me to drive faster. I
asked him why. When he told me, I said something like, “You old codger!
You mean you are excited to get home to your woman after all these years?”
HE told me that they had never enjoyed each other so much ever before. They
had been through a lot together and not all of it good. One time she actually
left him. But through it all they had come to an honest, open, sharing kind of
relationship that had him on fire to get home that night. I think that’s what God
intended sex to be.
THE gospel of Jesus Christ says that we are accepted. That acceptance
certainly includes our sexuality, for it is a basic ingredient of who we are. God
isn’t deceived in his acceptance. He knows that we have sometimes brought
great pain to others and to ourselves – and that is very painful to him. But God
doesn’t destroy us when we are wrong. He forgives us in order that we might
start anew, using our lives to be a blessing to others. Don’t be afraid of
yourself or your sexuality. God had good things in mind when he created you.
God wants to use all that you are as a means of communicating his love to his
people. The most important decision a person ever makes is to accept God’s
acceptance. Then that person is able to accept himself, to come alive as a
real human being.
THE more men who are really men, with nothing to prove but love to give; and
the more women who are really women, with nothing to prove but love to give;
the more whole and human this world will be, something like the kingdom of
Email from Bob Ball, Monday, October 25, 2010 9:32 AM
We’re just back from a week-long cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale.
I guess it was good to get away for a few days, but I certainly am glad
to be home.
Again, I have no memory of having preached this sermon (after all,
it was almost 40 years ago); and yet, if I were to do it again, I think that
scripture would be a good one with which to start. If I were brave enough
(who knows?), I would certainly like to include some comments about those
human beings, beloved children of God, who got put together with a set of
genes that causes them to be gay or lesbian, people who, like their “straight
brothers and sisters” will find their fulfillment in being who they are and
sharing who they are in responsible, appropriate, and loving ways
with other human beings. As we listen to Jesus, in the end, that’s all
that really matters, isn’t it? Being loving, merciful, caring human beings!
Thank you for being one of those.