In part two of Examining the Lines, we looked at how gay-identified Christians view sexuality, gender and marriage. In this post, we look at the traditional Christian view of these subjects.
The traditional Christian sexual ethic sees sexuality, gender and marriage as God’s good gift to humanity. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman. Sexual and physical intimacy is between one man and one woman who are married to each other. When God said that it “is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18) he wasn’t lamenting that Adam didn’t have a buddy or was just lonely. He was saying that the male could not really know himself as male without a human counterpart who is “other than” him. This counterpart was assigned meaning and distinction right down to her DNA. Within the Christian belief, both male and female become fully human in their correspondence to and contrast with one another. This does not happen solely in marriage, but it does happen most profoundly and mysteriously in marriage.
Human sexuality is all about sexual intimacy and pleasure, and a means of procreation. Procreation has been the overwhelming norm and desire in nearly all marital relationships throughout time. To establish a sexual relationship without any interest in or openness to babies is contrary to one of God’s intended purposes for such relationships. The first commandment God ever gave people is to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).
Those who adhere to the Biblical standard for sexual ethics believe that the Bible also offers some cautions and restrictions on sexual behavior. Sexual relationships outside of God’s intended design can lead to false worship of humanity and to desires that can become destructive. The Old Testament shows the first followers of God living alongside other cultures that essentially worshiped sex. For example, folks called the Canaanites celebrated the mating of a sky god with an earth goddess—and sometimes re-enacted it. Later, the followers of Jesus encountered similar sex-worshiping religions throughout the Roman world.
Additionally our world is filled with examples of sexual and relational brokenness that inflict pain on others. The divorce in USA is between 40%-50%. one out of three women and one out of seven men have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner. Every 90 seconds someone in the US is sexually assaulted. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
While the New Testament often prohibits fornication (generally defined as sex outside of marriage), it does so not because sex is a bad thing, but because it is such a good and wonderful thing, knowing that it should not be squandered, that it must be given the full protections of a lifelong commitment. Ultimately, the Bible offers marriage as the sole arena for sexual interaction.
It is clear there are major points of contention in each of the three points of view we have discussed. In my next post, I will share the conclusions I have reached after examining and studying these points for myself.