Sex and Christianity

I’ve sort of been off the grid for a few weeks to rest my soul and body, but still my spirit is vexed. Radio time has replaced computer time because, well, I’ve always been an AM kind of guy. But Christian radio is not all praise and worship. The people who call in to the talk programs are often spiritually distressed because of health or family issues, or they are struggling with the most basic theological doctrines.

For example, a common question is this:

“I am living with my boyfriend (in a sexual relationship). Do we have to get married?”

Why do Christians have so much difficulty understanding sexual immorality?

I recently visited a Christian forum where the topic was marriage and fornication. The young man who posted the question is from Canada where, he noted later, they observe common law marriage. His position was that people do not need a marriage license, and that long-term couples who are sexually active are not committing fornication which he defined as sex with a prostitute. He also asked if specific sex acts were immoral.

My response:

This needs to be addressed within the context of Romans 13:1. We must obey the civil authority which, in this matter, does require a legal document (marriage license) though I agree with your position that we should not have ceded this authority to the government.

In ancient Judaism, marriage was recognized by contract, an exchange of money, physical relationship (or all three).

Marriage is referred to as kiddushin (from the Hebrew word for holy). Thus, sex outside of marriage was considered to be unholy.

Any practice of sex that was not for the purpose of fulfilling the LORD’s command to be fruitful and multiply was considered unclean.

(Self-gratification, in this context, is also unclean.)

The Bible does not say, for example, that viewing explicit content on the computer is sin nor does it condemn a varied list of behaviors that serve no other purpose than to gratify the lust of the flesh.

But we know that simply looking at a woman with unholy thoughts is sin, and that by walking in the Spirit we will not gratify the desires of our body (Galatians 5:16).

The law requires a marriage license, and the Spirit requires that we be holy.

— End Response —

Ten or so states in the U.S. recognize, to some degree, common law marriage so the license issue became a moot point; but I was raked over the coals for my comment that sex was for the purpose of fulfilling the LORD’s command to be fruitful and multiply.

The forum was quite active as most of the comments defended the traditional church view that fornication is sex outside of marriage, but the original post and comments were deleted as the Canadian man decided to reframe the topic. His second post only received seven replies as the forum readers were not too happy that he deleted their original comments. However, I took heavy flak for upholding the traditional view which was condemned as rather “foolish, ridiculous, and evidence of emotional damage”.

Hereon, I will post the primary objections followed by my response in a question/answer format.

Q: If you take the position that sex is only considered “clean” with the purpose of procreation, what do you do with those who are infertile or unable to conceive for one reason or another?

A: Obviously, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Rachel and Jacob, Hannah and Elkanah, Manoah and his wife, and the Shunammite woman and her husband continued having sex. After the LORD promised Abraham and Sara a son, she remained barren for another 25 years before Isaac was born.

Q: I would also take exception to “any practice of sex that was not for the purpose of [being] fruitful was unclean.” That’s kind of ridiculous. God made sex pleasurable. Did he do that by mistake? What you’ve said makes it wrong for infertile couples to have sex. That’s clearly bogus.

A: Did you not read or understand my response? I presented biblical examples of infertile couples who kept on trying.

Q: I understood. It’s on your side. Why must sex be trying to have children? If a woman has a hysterectomy, she can only have sex if she’s hoping for God to miraculously create a new uterus inside her? When there is zero chance of pregnancy for all practical purposes (it) makes sex immoral even within marriage.

A: Comprehension and context, please. They seem to fall victim in this day and age.

“Any practice of sex that was not for the purpose of fulfilling the LORD’s command to be fruitful and multiply was considered unclean.” [This was in response to the original question about deviant sex practices between married partners.]

Then I presented examples of infertile biblical couples who continued having sex — Sara and Abraham for 25 years before the LORD’s promise of a son was fulfilled.

Where did I say that infertile couples cannot have sex?

Now, you bring up hysterectomies. Is it for the sake of argument, or do you have a salient point?

I stated the ancient Jewish teaching in regards to the original context which is fornication, premarital sex, and a specific sex act.

A total hysterectomy — where both the uterus and cervix are removed — was not even performed until the 20th century. It was something not even considered 2000 years ago.

I am faithfully certain that the LORD will not condemn a woman in that state from having sex with her husband.

Q: So you agree that the morality of sex is not based upon the possibility of procreation What was the point of stating the OT ethos except to suggest that this is how you see it today?

A: Did I say that marital sex was immoral, or is that your preconceived narrative? I understand we live in an age when sex is not sex (Monica and Bill); and several generations have been raised in a culture influenced by the Playboy philosophy, and a mass media that promotes the idolatry of sex.

The world is far distant and disconnected from what the LORD created in the beginning. Mores have devolved with the times as the heart of humanity grows colder towards God.

In the Old Testament, married couples had sex for the purpose of having children. It was a shame in the ancient world to be childless, and infertile couples did not stop trying. There exists today, however, a different moral paradigm — sex as a playground.

Think, just for a moment, is all I ask. Why did God make sex pleasurable? Why did He make women so beautiful? If sex didn’t feel so good why would anyone bother?

Really, I’d rather spend that time in my man cave watching football. If that were the general consensus, humans would be extinct. [Rhetorical]

The OT ethos is my moral compass. This is how I choose to live my life. I don’t see the moral superiority of our age, but you are welcome to live according to your desires.

Q: Now you’re being legalistic. This is exactly what I was trying to call out. And you have some serious disconnects in your words. So God made sex pleasurable so people would want to do it, but, the only moral use of sex is with the express intent of creating children?

There was one lone commenter who was at least gracious towards me.

David’s point about the OT description of sex being for the purposes of procreation wouldn’t preclude sex for pleasure without the possibility or intent of procreation. It does give us a principle to guide us though as it has a higher purpose than just pleasure and gratification, and that it shouldn’t occur in a situation that a pregnancy would not be welcomed. At least that’s how I see it. [This has been the traditional interpretation.]

I am in no way claiming to live the biblical ideals I’m going to state here. However, that doesn’t make them any less true or obvious given the council of the entire scripture. We would do well to hold up the ideal as important, and also extend grace to those who miss the mark (nearly all of us). He never said that sex for any other reason than procreation is wrong. He is merely saying that was the purpose of its creation.

We know it’s more than just for procreation, otherwise we wouldn’t have Song of Solomon. We also wouldn’t have Paul’s command not to deny our spouse.

The discussion with the antagonists continued.

Q: Your moral compass ought to be the NT. But for you to come here and tell us that married couples can’t enjoy sex for any purpose but procreation (except if they, say, lack the parts, then I guess it’s okay-ish) is legalistic, and I sincerely and deeply object to it. How do you reconcile Song of Solomon with your view of sex? Isn’t that book just a tad salacious if procreation is in general the only moral reason to engage in sex? Do you watch football out of duty? What gives you the right to engage in that pleasure when there is no OT model for such things? What OT ethos is there in that? You prefer football to sex — you enjoy it; it gives you pleasure. Yet football can be an idol.

A: I believe God created sex for the purpose of propagation in response to the original context of fornication, marriage and illicit sex acts.

I am not legalistic, but where did Christ abolish the moral law? There is a higher sense of morality and purpose that is not clearly evident in this age.

Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law (Romans 3:31).

Albert Barnes (in his commentary on Romans) wrote that Paul was specifically addressing moral law.

I said that the OT ethos is my moral compass, and suggested that the morality of this age is in no way superior.

In Apostolic times there were Jews who celebrated their freedom in Christ to the extreme not unlike Christians I have known who revel in their sin because they are covered by the blood of Jesus.

This prompted Paul to write later in Romans:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1)

I simply stated how ancient people understood Scripture. Their sense of morality and purpose is not necessarily inferior.

The Song of Solomon was not universally accepted. There were a number of rabbis who rejected it as being too salacious and uninspired reflecting the heart of a man who had walked away from the LORD.

It was only accepted when the rabbis agreed that it be taught as an allegory of the love between YHWH and Israel. According to the Mishna there were many who rejected the compromise. Today, the Song of Solomon is interpreted by some Christians as an allegory of the love of Christ for his church.

Adam Clarke wrote:

“In a word, does Solomon here represent Jesus Christ? And where is the proof?”

Solomon was in a worldly state of mind according to ancient rabbinic writings, and not walking in the Spirit of the LORD. The Song of Songs was neither an allegory nor inspired, but a tome of human lust and desire.

The narrative to this point has been that specific comments I have made are either foolish, or ridiculous.

Did I say that I preferred football over sex? Did I give any indication that it gave me pleasure, or that it might be an idol? Or, even, that I enjoyed it?

This is what I said:

“Really, I’d rather spend that time in my man cave watching football. If that were the general consensus, humans would be extinct.”

It’s a figure of speech, a non-literal (often rhetorical) response. If you offered me a chocolate covered worm I might say, “I’d rather eat tree bark.”

No, I wouldn’t — except to make the point that if sex was not pleasurable who would bother to engage?

I was hesitant to make that comment because I knew someone would misstate what I said.

— End Discussion —

There was one guy, in particular, who misrepresented everything I said. The discussion went on for hours, and ended abruptly when he demanded that I “STOP quoting outside sources” (Barnes, Clarke and the rabbin).

One of the discussion themes — sexual pleasure — prompted the suggestion that I suffered “emotional damage”.

“If it is immoral to not have sex (as this would avoid reproduction), and God was worried people wouldn’t do it so he made us want it, isn’t there something seriously wrong with him being angry when people do it because it’s pleasurable? I for one believe that if duty is the only reason you engage in sex, then it is not improbable that you suffer from emotional damage in this area. That’s okay, but it doesn’t create morality for others.”

If God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit why was it in the Garden? Or, if mom didn’t want her child to get into the cookie jar why did she bake cookies? And where did I say that abstention was immoral?

People took offense at my comment that this generation views sex as a playground. On Christian talk radio I often hear women who are distressed by their husband’s addiction to pornography, and demands that they participate in illicit sex acts.

The worldview — that humans are sexual creatures — rejects the higher sense of morality and purpose. Thus, within the body of Christ there are unmarried Christians who reject the biblical admonition to flee fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18).

We live in an age of narcissism where being a wife and mother is denigrated, children are perceived as a burden and sixty million babies have been murdered. Pleasure is more desirable than responsibility.

The traditional view of sex, however, is that it was created as a procreative act bonding husband and wife with the intent of receiving the blessing of children.

You won’t read that in Cosmo and Playboy, but it is biblical.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ


The End of the Age?

Has the final battle begun in the eternal war of good vs. evil? Sister Lucia of Fatima wrote:

… the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be contended and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue.

This battle rages on two fronts — abortion and homosexuality. A 17th century vision of Our Lady revealed an ominous warning:

Thus I make it known to you that from the end of the 19th century and shortly after the middle of the 20th century … the passions will erupt and there will be a total corruption of morals … As for the Sacrament of Matrimony, which symbolizes the union of Christ with His Church, it will be attacked and deeply profaned.

The revelation noted that laws will be enacted making it easy for everyone to live in sin and encouraging procreation of illegitimate children born without the blessing of the Church.

Marriage is not a sacrament in the Protestant church. There is only one body that faithfully defends the holiness of matrimony, and that is the Catholic church. Protestants do not place marriage in the category of baptism and communion.

Why does this matter?

Catholics recognize that marriage, as a holy institution established by God, symbolizes the relationship between Christ and his church. Protestants share this understanding, but do not elevate the marriage rite to the level of sacrament. Certainly, a case can be made that baptism and communion are uniquely different — that being married (or single) influences not our standing in Christ. And Peter did not command, Arise and be married to wash away your sins. Nor did Paul say, Whenever you get married you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

However, to demote matrimony as simply human tradition is to allow for greater instability evidenced by the ease of divorce and the redefinition of marriage. Jesus had this very same debate with people who had no reverence for the holy bond. In defining marriage (and its sanctity) Christ said that God made them male and female. This is very important to understand, and though it has become a cliché, God created Eve … not Steve.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh (Matthew 19:5).

Ancient pagan cultures perverted this holy sacrament ordained by God. The physical act worshiped the creature in all manner of unholy abominations — fornication, adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, bestiality and pedophilia.

Only the marriage bed is undefiled according to the writer of Hebrews:

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous (Hebrews 13:4).

The gay revolution has so plunged the world into social upheaval that the Protestant church is buckling. Denominations have surrendered Biblical authority. Not so the Catholic church which faithfully defends the sanctity of marriage.

In his Institutes of the Christian Religion John Calvin wrote (regarding the sacraments):

The last of all this is marriage, which, while all admit it to be an institution of God, no man ever saw to be a sacrament, until the time of Gregory. And would it ever have occurred to the mind of any sober man? It is a good and holy ordinance of God. And agriculture, architecture, shoemaking, and shaving, are lawful ordinances of God; but they are not sacraments. For in a sacrament, the thing required is not only that it be a work of God, but that it be an external ceremony appointed by God to confirm a promise. That there is nothing of the kind in marriage, even children can judge.

How wrong is John Calvin? If a sacrament is an external ceremony appointed by God to confirm a promise then how would he define marriage? God performed the first marriage ceremony when He presented Eve to Adam. Jesus confirmed that it was a covenant. What is a covenant if not a promise? The man and woman take a vow to be faithful much like the covenants between man and God; and they are not to be broken.

Divorce and gay marriage are a Satanic assault on the holy sacrament. What does it mean when a man, seeking a divorce, says of his wife, “I don’t love her anymore”?

What? Men, you are commanded to love your wives. This kind of love is not a feeling or emotion, but an action — much like the LORD offering his son upon the cross.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … (Ephesians 5:25).

The world has perverted the meaning of love — like when a woman says, “I made love to my boyfriend last night.” No, you committed fornication. I make no apologies for my pointedness. The Church cannot be afraid to speak the truth.

The attitude of Calvin is prevalent in Protestantism. The analogy would be as when the dollar was divorced from the gold standard. The Catholic church maintains the standard while the Protestant church lets it float. By equating marriage with something as mundane as shaving, Calvin essentially permits society to redefine what is marriage.

So we see Protestant churches flying the rainbow flag. The man who designed the flag said it was his gift to the world. I thought the rainbow was a sign from God — a covenant that He would never again flood the earth. (Next time it will be fire.)

And why did God flood the world? Partly because sexual immorality was so rampant that the earth needed cleansing. The rainbow, associated with God’s judgment, has become the proud symbol of homosexuality.

No, really, can you not see the irony?

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Discipleship 101


What does it mean to make a disciple? You can almost hear the exasperation in the tone of Paul’s admonition to the assembly at Corinth:

I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able (1 Corinthians 3:2).

About 40% of pastors leave the pulpit after five years. The reasons are varied. Depression and discouragement take a heavy toll, and the congregation is partly to blame. Over the years I have referenced the surveys on religion and Christianity as compiled by Barna Group Research. For example, 59% of young adults (18-29) have a Christian background, but what does that mean in practice? Are they “born again” followers of Jesus Christ? Barna asked a similar group: Who are Sodom and Gomorrah?

Answer: They were a married couple.

This is what pastors are facing as confirmed by research. The median profile of the average church-goer is someone who warms a pew, does not read their Bible and believes whatever the pastor says is true.

Barna’s assessment: Two-thirds of the nation’s adult population firmly embraces the idea that their most important purpose is to love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength (Mark 12:30). However, a deeper look at people’s full array of spiritual beliefs and behavior calls into question the sincerity of their commitment. [Source]

In practice, then, people’s social lives are more important than their spiritual lives. Simply examine how tethered (or in bondage) people are to their gadgets. I see them swaying down the street, eyes fixed on their phone, and thumbs going a mile a minute as they furiously send out their 200th text of the day — and it’s not even 11 a.m. Okay, so I exaggerate, but only slightly.

How many hours a day are you connected to your cell phone, television, music and social media? Do you give at least 10% (90 minutes) of your day to the One who gives you breath? For most people the answer is no. Let’s break it down. People spend more time on Facebook than with God’s book.

Now you may be thinking, “That doesn’t describe me.” Let me ask you, what percent of “Christians” do you think are true disciples of Christ? As was noted in the comment board of I am Elijah only 9% of Christians have a Biblical worldview. If there are 100 members in your congregation only 9 have a true Biblical perspective. That’s astounding.

How many in your “church” are still drinking milk? Someone might say, “Well, the Methodist church I attend is really on fire for the Lord.” Ask yourself: ‘What does my “church” believe?’ Presbyterians and Lutherans are split into conservative and liberal camps with regards to Bible truths. This is the fruit of Reformation. But getting back to the Methodists (since I spent my childhood in that congregation) the hot topic of the day — gay marriage — will cause a permanent break in the assembly.

As of this writing, the United Methodist Church upholds the Biblical definition of marriage as opposed to these churches: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). However, liberalism is making inroads and it is only a matter of time before the assembly breaks apart.

I recently engaged in a terse discussion with a UMC pastor who celebrated the redefinition of marriage. He posted this at his website:

According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, clergy are not allowed to conduct same-sex weddings or bless same-sex unions. Since I am not allowed to publicly pray for blessing, I wrote this lament many months ago. I offer it here, because I know some of my UMC clergy colleagues are going to be asked to officiate. Perhaps they will choose to officiate and risk retribution, or perhaps they will make referrals. Or perhaps they will find other creative ways to resist injustice.

My response:

Forgive me, but I am not clear. Is the injustice that your colleagues ‘are not allowed to conduct same-sex weddings’, or is the injustice that they must perform a ceremony that violates their conscience? It seems, to me, the latter would be the greater offense.

His reply:

I agree it would be an offense to be forced to perform a ceremony. But since we have the power to decline officiating for any reason, or no reason, I don’t see the relevance.

I have declined to officiate weddings because couples couldn’t be bothered with premarital counseling, or had no affiliation with a faith community, or because I had a schedule conflict. Imaginary scenarios set in dystopian futures are interesting philosophical questions, but a lament deals with a real situation.

Dystopian? Clever. That suggests I foresee an apocalyptic degradation of society because gays are allowed to marry. Well, yes. Liberalism has perfected the art of immersing controversial issues in a pot of cold water then turning up the heat. Society awakens one day and exclaims, “What happened!?” Except in the proverbial scenario the frog never wakes up. It is only a matter of time before a minister is sued — like the wedding florist — for not participating in a gay ceremony. (The pastor would not allow me to post this because he closed the comment board.)

This man should not be a minister of Jesus Christ, but the governing board has no power to remove him; and his congregants love him as reflected in this reply:

I lament with you that you are not allowed to officiate at the weddings of all who would ask. I rejoice that all who choose to marry their loved ones may now do so. Your reflections are heartwarming and hope-filled. We are blessed beyond measure to have you as our pastor.

Has the great falling away begun (2 Thessalonians 2:3)?

It really is a war of attrition. For every 7,000 churches that close, only 4,000 open. Responding to an altar call and reciting a simple prayer does not a disciple make. To whatever you devote your time and resources becomes your god.

Be a true disciple of Christ. Open your Bible and discover His truth. It will make the pastor’s job easier — he might even stay — or you might discover that it’s time to find another “church”.

Matthew 16:24

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