The Christian Sexual Animal?

Be afraid.

(This is related to my last post, The Myth of the Christian Eunuch)

Like virtually every human being who’s ever walked the planet, Christians are insane about sex. Some people would even argue that Christians are particularly insane about sex. My friend Dan is one such person.

“Look at the gay issue,” said Dan to me just the other day while I was trying to get him to either change the subject or pick up the check. “You take Christians out of that arena, and you’ve got no fight at all. Christians don’t seem to worry about anything as much as they do who’s having sex with who.”

“Whom,”I said. “Who’s having sex with whom.”

“They worry about gays having sex,” continued Dan obliviously. “They worry about premarital sex. They’ve got this whole Sexual Purity, ‘I’m saving myself for Daddy’ creepiness happening. Christians’ whole thing seems to be about repressing anything having anything to do with sex. Especially in themselves. And then they act all surprised when people like Ted Haggard and Jimmy Swaggart happen. Do you think I don’t see you inching the bill towards me?”

So I think it’s clear: I need to make new, less observant friends.

But let’s think about this idea that Christians have for so long been so intent on repressing their own and everyone else’s sexuality that what they’ve grown to adapt is a profoundly unhealthy orientation toward sex and sexuality generally.

Well, I think Christians do have a very serious problem with sex, and for a very good reason: Nobody can have sex without utterly losing control of themselves.

For most people, that’s a frightening enough prospect: Everyone prides themselves on the degree of control they keep over their lives and themselves. And sex is the one thing that’s 100% guaranteed, every single solitary time, to … well, cause you to at the very least shudder whilst making funny faces. When you have sex, you really do become an animal—and an exceptionally stupid animal, at that. So everyone’s crazy about sex, because everyone knows that sex is always right there, just waiting for the chance to obliterate the control over their mind and body that they like to think they have over themselves. It’s an extremely terrifying force, that way.

And that’s just the normal, everyday reason for which humans obsess on repressing sexuality. Christians have a humongous additional reason for fearing and repressing sex. As one good Christian commenter on my last blog put that reason: “Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.”

And there you have it: the reason behind 2,000 years of Christian sexual repression, boiled down to eight words. Christians equate being filled with the Holy Spirit with being Godly in nature and behavior. And being Godly in nature and behavior is the direct opposite of being the humping, grunting, out-of-control animal that every Christian invariably becomes whenever he or she has sex.

So Christians are stuck with this extremely troubling formulation for their existence:

Being sexual = being an animal = not being filled with the Holy Spirit = betraying God. But:

Being human = being sexual. Therefore:

Being human = betraying God.

Yikes! What Christian wants to actively and purposefully betray God? Not one. So what do each of we Christians do? We try to control our sexuality. We try to be bigger than our sexuality. We try, through the exertion of our sheer will, to dominate our sexuality.

And—the vast and lucrative Christian “You Can Rise Above Your Sexuality” industry notwithstanding—we find, in the privacy of our own mind, that we can no sooner repress our lustful, animalistic sexuality than we can control how often we blink every day.

But, ever “faithful” (not to mention spurred on by the terrible guilt that is such an awful part of the Christian experience) we keep on trying to control our sexuality—and we keep on failing at it. And what do we do then? We hide that failure. We pretend we’ve proven victorious in the war against our sexuality. We pretend we’ve risen above it, that we’re past that, that we’re better than that. We pretend we’re more Christ-like than that.

And then we’re living a lie.

Which means we’re then involved in what we should understand as some serious sinning.

Hmmmm.

Now, what was that one big thing that Christ said, again?

Oh, that’s right: “The truth will set you free.”

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://emphaticasterisk.com Lindsey

    I was sexually abused as a young child, which led to years of me repressing my sexuality in the name of Christianity. It took a very painful walk for me to be able to be sexually open with my husband. I won't go into intense detail as, well, it's obviously incredibly personal. What I will say is that there is something Very Christian (with Capital Letters) about learning to love someone with abandon, to let go of yourself wholly to enjoy them, to trust someone to the point that you would let down every defense and pretense (even if it is self-control and Wholesome Christianity) in order to be united with them. I learned an awful lot about God's heart for me and my marriage through overcoming my massively selfish and self-sabotaging desire to be self-controlled.

    Or, to boil my thoughts down to just two impersonal sentences: God knew what he was doing when he created sexuality. He created it- what business do we have denying it?

    Great post.

  • Richard W. Fitch

    No……..I don't think this is one to try to post to CrossWalk……

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Lindsey: Thank you, very much, for this.

    Richard: You know, honestly, they've let me put up pieces that I certainly thought were a good deal more problematic than this. You wouldn't believe the stuff they've been kind enough to let me publish there.

  • onemansbeliefs

    Being Human = being sexual = being an animal = betraying God.

    Thank God for the blood of Jesus!!!!

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    Animals do the gay thing too, but for some reason my church isn't trying to stop it!

  • James

    Nor will we find a book about this next to Every Man's Battle on the bookshelf in our local Christian bookstore. Speaking of which, I read that book years ago and tried to employ many of the suggestions. Some are good and can be done for awhile. The ones that help keep you from going down the path towards adultery are obviously key. But I stop short of believing that the authors (or any guy for that matter) has really "conquered" this area of their lives. It just seems disingenuous. I've also spoken with other older Christian men who claim they never really had a problem with lust. Hmmm. I don't know what to do with that one. I agree that we focus too much on it, at least as far as trying to control it. I still need to mull some of this over a bit, but thanks for your willingness to put it out there.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    If masturbation was a sin I'm pretty sure God would have made it a point to strike me down by the age of 17. For years there I think I was going for some kind of record, and to this day it's a frequent activity, even with a great wife and an active sex life.

    Counting on wet dreams as as strategy to release pent-up sexual energy would leave me walking around with an on-the-edge and completely sex-crazed body and brain on most days. Supposedly my libido is above-average, but if you ever read a book or two on human sexuality you quickly realize there's no such thing as "normal" in this area!

    John, you closed with the thought that the truth will set us free. Well, truth is that I looooove sex. And I love women. Love looking at them, whether dressed up dressed down or not dressed at all. Love touching them and making love to them, although since my wedding day I've managed thus far to keep that type of action to one woman. After more than a decade of marriage I'd still like to have sex every single day. This doesn't really work for my wife so we've settled on varying frequencies, with the understanding that I'll take care of things for myself on the side to keep the fires burning low, and just because it's something to do when I'm bored, alone or breathing.

    This is only the tip of the iceberg and the rest shall stay submerged from public view. The bottom line is that my wife and I have been truthful about our sexual pasts, our desires, our preferences and our ever-changing journey of sensuality. We've proven to ourselves that the brain is indeed the most powerful sex organ, but that some other organs aren't too shabby either. That's our truth.

  • Robin

    "Being sexual = being an animal = betraying God.

    Being human = being sexual.

    Therefore, being human = betraying God."

    I really hate this, John. I read your post on lust, so I don't think that you're doing this, but it sounds like the good, old Aristotlean dualism that all flesh is bad & spirit is good. I don't even really understand where you got this, and it's entirely possible that I'm taking it entirely too seriously. Perhaps you meant it in an off-handed manner.

    I grow weary of Christians acting like every, single one of our human instincts is sinful & wrong & must be squashed. God made us. Jesus became human. We're made in God's image. All of our human inclinations can't be completely wrong & horrible.

    Bah. I've probably misread you, but there it is.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Robin: Yes, it's weird how utterly out of context you've taken that formulation. But maybe I just wasn't being … obvious enough. I do do that.

  • Shaw

    I think that if we were content, we would feel less lustful. Lust, greed, jealousy all come, essentially, from discontentment. From a need for something.

    I am a passionate person. I have lusted over many women.

    When I find myself content and happy, well, I might want to have sex with my partner, but what’s weird about this? That’s not lust. The motivations are different. I have no motivation to cheat on her.

    Our sexual insanity in our society is a reflection of a great many factors, not just the sexual repression from Christianity. There is an enormous amount of conflict between what wholesome, conservative people try to teach their children and what their children are exposed to every single day of their lives.

    We really should be ourselves, but in being ourselves we have to understand that we aspire to be better people. To be a better person is not to deny our sexuality, but to find fulfillment in lives where we don’t need to use our sexuality past unreasonable limits to try and obtain happiness and comfort.

    If anything, Christians should focus less on sex entirely and more on personal fulfillment. If people were happy, this problem would solve itself.

  • Richard Lubbers

    Some men search for sexual purity with such determination that they completely squash the sexual drive within themselves. They spend their whole lives bouncing their eyes off every woman that crosses their paths, or change the channel every time a commercial has an attractive woman.

    I got half-way through Steve Arterburn’s & Fred Stoeker’s book, Every Man’s Battle, and put it back on the shelf. They contend that a man needs sexual release every so often, and that God provides a release for the single man that is acceptable – nocturnal emission. They continue to say that God gives this because, after all, masturbation is a sin. When I read that, I thought, “They’re telling me it’s okay to have an orgasm, as long as I’m not awake to enjoy it.” What a crock. Done with reading what they have to say about sex.

    Sex Nazis!

    God made us sexual creatures, and that part of us is beautiful. Psalm 139 says, “I give you thanks, for I am reverently and wonderfully made.” We dishonor God when we squash what He gave us as much as we dishonor Him when we misuse those gifts. We also need to remember that Jesus won the battle over sin.

    Don’t get hung up on sexual sin. Most people I encounter who point the finger about it fail to see that they have a log in their own eye. God forgives. If you screw up, confess it and move on.

    • http://lifeafterwcg2.wordpress.com/ Felix T.

      Rock and effing roll Richard! We need more people who have common sense like you do.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Wow. You do know what we do to prophets, right? haha.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Nice stuff, you guys. Wonderful.

    “Every Man’s Battle.” Um. Yeah.

    James: Any man—Christian or not—who says he never had a problem with lust is either lying or a complete moron.

    Shaw: Yeah, cuz “happy” people never lust.

    Rich: Nice!

  • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

    When one looks at the bible It does seems that God is very hung up on sex. Makes one wonder if God is secretly sexually frustrated, especially with the lack of a Lady God present…

    Hm. Come to think of it, this throws a whole different view of the striving to be Christ-like thing; didnt JC die a virgin….?

  • Kara

    Being a crazy liberal Christian like I am, I couldn't agree with this post more. I'm at a loss as to why the church today seems to think that lying about the reality of human sexuality is somehow less sinful than admitting the truth and looking for ways to honor God within that reality.

    My entire philosophy on sin is simple:

    1. Love God with all my heart, strength, and soul.

    2. Love my neighbor as myself.

    Or to use Micah's version, "And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"

    I do think that there are sinful and non-sinful ways to express our natural sexuality. Adultery, the hiring of prostitutes, and the degradation of a partner are all very selfish and unloving expressions of sexuality, and just a few among many. So I certainly don't mean that everything is good or all right.

    I guess I just think it's like anything else. It's an area of life where Christians need to make choices that are loving and respectful. 'Cause you see… God gave us sexuality. I'd figure that He didn't intend us to pretend to repress it then lie to Him and others about it.

    One area where we do disagree is that everyone either admits that they struggle in this issue or they're lying. Your broader point is valid, but there is a small segment of society that doesn't experience sexual attraction to either gender. (I fall into this group.) http://www.asexuality.org is a good resource if you're interested in learning more about it, or you can google "asexuality".

  • dana111

    Yeah, Ric.

    (Sorry, John, but I couldn't resist!) I'm sorry, but I want to be able to lose control sexually with my (future) husband and not feel bad about it. That is why I am in therapy now :) If I have to chose between "yielding" to the "flesh" while making love to my (again, future) husband and being the frigid, sexually repressed woman I am today, I know which one I rather be.

    Thanks for the post, John.

  • Matt

    I think it's important to recognize that sin isn't something we as humans can really avoid. Sure, maybe we can avoid certain sins every once in awhile – I'm not going to go steal stuff, because I have self control. However, sin isn't so much those really bad things we might do every once in awhile, but an integral part of our fallen human nature. This means we're constantly sinning.

    So you're of course totally right when you say guys especially are very sexual animals. In terms of how I look at women, a lot of time I'm going to look at them in a very sexual context. It's just something I'm never going to be able to avoid as much as I'd like. That said, it's important to realize that just because I cannot control something to the degree I'd like, it does not mean it's the right thing to do. If an alcoholic gets to the point where he feels compelled to go the bar every night and get smashed so much so he feels it's out of his control, their is never a point when it's right for him to do so. Or if, for instance, science finds a gene that causes a person to lose control of their anger with ease, just because an out of control anger might be natural for that person, it never means it's right. Lust, like a lot of sins, is both natural for us fallen humans as well as sinful.

    While I think John gets the problem with the general Evangelical response to sin – in this case lust – pretty much right, I wish he would have given the solution I was hoping for.

    Martin Luther said it very well:

    "If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but

    the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the

    true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only

    imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let

    your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the

    victor over sin, death, and the world….It suffices that through God's glory we have recognized the

    Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to

    kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day.

    Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager

    sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner."

    So the solution for sin and lust being so prevelent within our lives isn't to think that we can overcome it if we just become dedicated enough. Because like with sin in general, lust will always be there and a lot of time we're going to lose out to sin. But when we see how great our sin is, we see just how awesome Christ's victory is for us. And that's a truly amazing thing!

  • Christine

    the thing I find interesting about the responses to most of the posts is (and this is a generalisation) that the men all jump in and give a hearty "hear hear, I am a sexual animal let me loose" and the women say "I wish I was but I am not because I am sexually repressed".

    Well let me be the first to chuck up here that women struggle with lust just as much as the men!! It may not be as visual but the need for intimacy (especially in the form of sex) is a strong one and one that now I am divorced I miss. I try to do the 'good christian' thing and leave it all alone but sometimes I do find myself thinking "sex before marriage may be bad, but what about sex after marriage?", there are no guidelines on that one…..

    Any who, I divert. I think we totally downplay the amazingness of sex. In youth groups (the world over I bet) we discuss the evils (STD's, unplanned pregnancy etc..) of sex but are too scared to say "IT'S AWESOME" in case those crazy kids with their hormones take that as permission to try it. Maybe if we told them how fantastic it is, how vunerable it makes you, how much you lose control, they would be more willing to keep it for someone who will respect them….or maybe they wouldn't. And who are we to make that decision for them?

    I dunno, you have opened a can of worms here John, too many questions and not enough good answers

  • brdonaldson

    If sex wasn't more than just animalistic flesh, blood and sweat I'd completely agree with you. But I'm in there 94.7 percent. (94.7 being an arbitrary number to convey "mostly:")

  • paulthinkingoutloud

    Sex is God's way of reminding us that we're "creatures."

  • http://thesecretnarrative.wordpress.com thesecretnarrative

    It's a cool thing to be comfortable in one's sexuality. I spent most of my life trying to suppress sexual feelings/desire/thoughts/etc., because everything I'd heard about sex was from the church and the church told me it was bad (in a nutshell). Nevertheless, I've somehow come to accept and embrace the fact that I'm a sexual being and I'm not a "sinner" for being such. Anyway, I'm just curious, John (or any on else's), your thoughts on how to live as a "Christian sexual animal" who also happens to be unmarried……

  • William

    Nice discussion. I just say let's not forget the motivation and force behind seeking to be godly. If it is that one pursues purity to be accepted or approved by God, this is off base. How easy is it to fall back into this kind of thinking? Only when one is in touch with God's immeasurable, insurmountable love, will the one be able to choose and respond to this love by choosing a way of life that facilitates a deeper relationship with Him. So, then why spend all our time repressing if what we need is to experience the very acceptance that repressing denies in oneself. Help me God!

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Uh, yeah, John.

  • dana111

    I should have checked with you first, Ric! ;)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hah! (On this fun little "Yeah, Ric" bit. I love it.)

    If feels pretentious to even say this, but I hope you guys don't mind that I so rarely in any substantive way chime in on these comment threads. I certainly read them all, but I always feel like if I respond to one of them, but then not to one or more of the others, that's rude. Plus, sometimes people say so MUCH in their comments, that responding to their points in any comprehensive way at all would take a zillion years, AND bore everyone else. So mostly I just read them and basically clam up. But then THAT feels rude, too, because it seems like if people are going to care enough to leave a comment on my blog, then the LEAST I can do is RESPOND to their comment. But then it's kind of pretentious to assume anyone CARES if I respond to their comment or not.

    Anyway … here we are. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENTS. I read them all. You guys seem to me, as a general sort of group, to be pretty extremely in every way accept for Redlefty totally well adjusted and healthy.

  • http://living3dfaith.blogspot.com/ Tim

    Bottom line…Jesus died for all sin. I guess that includes the notion that human sexuality allows all of us to lose control. If self control is the fruit of the Spirit, then any loss of control is due to our choice to yield to our flesh. What too many Christians conveniently forget is that control pertains to “SELF” and not others.

  • Christine

    well John seeing as you WILL be reading this, maybe the next post has to be about how to be a sexual animal and yet unmarried cos that seems to be the natural follow on from this one (in my head at least) and I am dying to hear your thoughts on it :)

  • onemansbeliefs

    And provide any pictures or videos you feel would be necessary to further our education…

  • Christine

    oneman: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA LOVE IT

  • Matt

    I think pretty much all of us were expecting dissertation length answers to all our posts. So ya, you've let everyone down. Half of us our standing on tall buildings while the other half are looking for bears to maul them. Being particularly awesome I am in the later group.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Hey, can she do that?! Where are my blog by-laws…

  • Christine

    John: it's official, I am scarred for life and having waking nightmares about really hairy backs now………I vote you pay for my counselling…..(momentary visual flash….*shudder*)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Christine: Sure, you laugh now. But I have three words for you: Really. Hairy. Back.

    Matt: I liked your comment. Slightly condescending, but … I forgive you–my son. (Especially since you threw in a mighty sweet Luther quote. I’m always very happy to read virtually anything he wrote.)

  • http://living3dfaith.blogspot.com/ Tim

    @dana111— I wondered if your comment was corollary to mine re: "yielding to the flesh".

    My comment was poorly worded and thought through. Of course we "yield to the flesh" all the time and God expects us to. We eat….(yielding)…we sleep…(yielding)….we drink….(yielding)….we eliminate…(yielding)…we see doctors…(yielding)…and God willing, we have a healthy sexual relationship expressing (to our beloved) the symbolic rapture that God contains for each and every one of us.

    Losing control, and losing all "self" are two differences that I believe distinctly separate godlessness from godliness. When we give ourselves to our spouse without reservation or notions of reciprocity, I believe we are unconsciously reflecting the unconditional nature of God's passion for us. Of course we will err in even that attempt. But there again, God expects us to err. He knew that before He brought the whole cosmos into being. We expect our own children to err, and no matter how old or wise we may think we've become, we are always God's children.

  • http://living3dfaith.blogspot.com/ Tim

    @Kara—my thoughts run basically concurrent with most minsters, pastors and counselors of the Christian persuasion.

    Any sexual relations outside the bounds of what our culture deems as "marriage", is fornication. Common-Law Marriage may qualify, however, that "thing" with one or both parties that just won't permit the commitment spells trouble to me. Now maybe in God's eyes, that couple is married enough. But people who don't marry because they want to play the field sexually? Manwhores, sluts, the lot of 'em! Using pre-marital sex as a litmus test of future sexual compatibility isn't a good enough excuse either. BECOMING sexually compatible is all part of the journey that promotes healthy bonding and sexual communication in a marriage. Now if a couple (intending to marry) gets caught up in the moment and passions of being lost in each other's bliss…I still say its "guilty with an explanation". God knows the heart and the intents of that heart. But I agree with Paul that its better to marry than to burn with passion. And like I've said, if a couple qualifies for de facto marriage, I consider them married and I would hope most people in ministry would concur.

    I think the Bible does "speak to it" if you honestly take the whole of Scripture into context. We're all guilty in one point or another. James said whoever stumbles at just one point of the law is as guilty as the one who stumbles at all points. In our modern economy the deed often takes precedence over the thought, but Jesus Himself said the one looking at another lustfully has already committed adultery (Matt.5:28)

  • Kara

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tim! I really appreciate it. In part, here, I'm playing Devil's Advocate, because I haven't made up my mind one way or the other.

    Say, for example, I were to say this: I don't believe that fornication includes premarital sex, as long as it's consensual, loving, and part of a serious relationship with another Christian.

    Pure curiosity, what verse/verses would you point me to?

  • http://living3dfaith.blogspot.com/ Tim

    @Kara

    Justifications for pre-marital sex such as consensual; loving; part of a serious relationship; with another Christian, all sound well and good. And if we take a verse here or another idea there, its not hard to drag such justification into what seems to be the light of God's tentative approval.

    Initially I suppose I would trot out Proverbs 21:2. The New Living Translation puts it, "People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines the heart". Now as dead sure as we are that OUR ways are fine with God, I think He might disagree. Fortunately He is always faithful to eventually speak to our heart and reveal what is what. I believe He does that through the meditation on Scripture and our own honest introspection during prayer time before God.

    My own internal line of inquiry would be, if I and another person…even a Christian person, agrees that pre-marital sex is OK with God…does that make it so? I'd hate to think I worship a "wishy-washy-whatever" God that so easily acquiesces to what I, or my mate, thinks is OK. People "consensually" justify stepping out on their spouses or partners all the time. Doesn't make it OK?

    To borrow from Forrest Gump, "Loving is as loving does". Is it "loving" to put off committing one's life and all to their beloved in the company of family, friends and the world? Even if that decision is supposedly "consensual"…is it really? Does one person want to avoid that level of commitment a little more or less than the other? Similarly, is it a "serious relationship" if there isn't enough desire to make that commitment? As far as I'm concerned, being "Christian" doesn't make having pre-marital sex any prettier either, but that is what I believe.

    Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. Have a great week.

  • Kara

    Not a problem at all, Tim!

    I guess my next comment in this hypothetical would be, "Okay, so it's not just right because I think it is. But where does God say it's wrong? What's ungodly about it, and where does the Bible say that?"

    Sorry if I seem argumentative or badgering, I'm honestly just curious as to what people think on this.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I can ask the question as a whole blog post if you'd like. See what people say.

  • Kara

    I'd love to see that, if you wouldn't mind! Thanks!

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    [i]“You guys seem to me, as a general sort of group, to be pretty extremely in every way accept for Redlefty totally well adjusted and healthy.”[/i]

    OH NO YOU DIDN’T! IT’S ON NOW!

    :)

    I agree that premarital sex is emerging as the next natural topic based on these comments. And it’s a fascinating topic to me because the bible is so overwhelmingly silent on the issue.

    A divorced friend of mine was wrestling with this issue last year and went to multiple pastors to ask for their thoughts. In general they sorta agreed that as a divorced, not-yet-married-again person he shouldn’t be having sex with his girlfriend, but they couldn’t say why.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    My ability to italicize comments is epicly failtastic.

  • onemansbeliefs

    Kara: Take a look at 1 Corinthians chapters 6 & 7. These may give you some insight on why sex outside of marriage is not in our best interest. Our bodies being the Temple of God and all. If you add Matthew 19:9, Matthew 5:32, Mark 10:11-12 into the mix it may show that sexual relations were intended to be between a man and a wife.

    It is also interesting to know that Adam & Eve were considered man and wife in Genesis 2:24-25 and the first reference of Adam knowing :) Eve was in Genesis 4:1.

    Prior to my Christian days, I was a proponent of pre-marital sex.

    Now, as a Christian, I can honestly say I wish I had waited until I had married the Mrs.

  • http://living3dfaith.blogspot.com/ Tim

    @Kara—

    Jesus is recorded in Matthew 19:9 saying that fornication was an exceptional reason to divorce. Because of the context of marriage, fornication is thought by some to mean only adultery in that text. But a more honest appraisal of the text makes a distinction between the Greek "porneia" fornication in the first part, and "moichaō". The latter referring to unlawful sex with another person's spouse and the former referring to illicit sexual intercourse in general which does not exclude adultery, but includes basically all sexual relations outside the lawful estate of marriage.

    What is ungodly about it? I suppose I would point out that because Jesus names what makes us "unclean" in Mark 7:20-23. The list includes sexual immorality, arrogance and folly which, in a conservative estimation would include sexual relations outside marriage, flouting Mosaic Law (arrogance) and thinking you wouldn't get stoned to death (folly).

    Of course the Matt. and Mark texts are predicated on the belief that Jesus is God the Son. There is also back-up in the 10 Commandments. #10 You shall not covet your neighbor's house, wife male or female servant, ox, donkey or ANYTHING that is your neighbor's.

    In Hebrew marriage, the bride is given. As archaic as it seems, a daughter belongs to, or is under the jurisdiction of the parents. To take the woman and sample the goods in advance, was considered defilement of the bride, and tantamount to theft (Commandment #8).

    You don't seem argumentative or badgering at all. Everyone should be this curious and test what they believe or don't believe. Too few bother to question their own faith or philosophy.

    I enjoyed trying to clarify at least why I believe what I do.

  • newposter

    Hi Tim, I'm not Kara, but mind if I jump in? (for reference, I have long held the conservative position but am in the process of re-examining it)

    The main problem I have with your points is that it assumes that "sexual immorality" and "illcit sex" include "all sex outside of marriage." Is there any basis for this?

    The second issue is that we don't consider daughters to be property of their dads anymore. They are quite capable of making their own decisions.

    I'm not trying to change your mind, but I am at least suggesting that there's enough of a case to be made for this position that disagreeing with the mainstream position on premarital sex is not any worse than disagreeing on, for example, whether a husband and wife may use contraception or whethyer or not drinking alcohol is a sin. Many Christians would, I suspect, deny church membership or other church privileges based on differences of opinion in the former one but not the latter two.

  • Kara

    Redfly, I’ve often wondered about that too. The prohibition of premarital sex is almost universally held among major Christian denominations, but the Bible really doesn’t speak to it. I would be interested in hearing other commenters’ thoughts on this, as to why they believe premarital sex is wrong, if they do.

  • Kara

    @Tim-

    Fornication isn't so clearly defined, though, I don't think. You'd probably say homosexuality falls under that. I don't think it does. Ditto masturbation, fantasizing, etc. So, I mean… I guess it really comes down to personal interpretation of what "illicit sexual activity" entails. No one holds to the legal sexual standards of Biblical times. (Polygamy, uncle/niece marriage, etc.) So obviously some of this is culturally relative. That's where I'm at on this, I guess.

    It's like I said upthread. My entire philosophy on sin is simple:

    1. Love God with all my heart, strength, and soul.

    2. Love my neighbor as myself.

    Or to use Micah’s version, “And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

    So… that's how I roll. (I totally respect alternate interpretations, though. Even ones that might think I'm really wrong and bad and stuff. Cause, y'know, I'm used to that. [I'm not putting words in your mouth, just speaking to hypotheticals, as usual.])

  • Kara

    @newposter-

    Hi! I like your post, very much. I didn't see it until after I'd posted. It's better than mine. Thank you for making my point much more eloquently than I could! *high five*

  • Kara

    I totally mistyped your username, Redlefty. My bad, I apologize.

  • newposter

    Hi Kara-

    *high five* I actually really like the second part of your post, since I basically picked at Tim's position rather than saying anything afifrmative. The operative question always being, are we treating people right? I can certainly think of some obviously wrong ways to go about having premarital sex based on that criterion, but I don't think it follows that its always wrong.

  • Kara

    @newposter-

    Precisely! And the other thing is, the whole "look at the heart motive/are we treating people right" thing explains WHY it might have been not-okay then, but okay-in-some-circumstances now. Because maybe, back then, there was no way to do it without having a bad heart motive/being unloving. Under a more-patriarchal-than-now society (which wouldn't have even been questioned at the time), maybe there was no way to do it without fully knowing and just-not-caring that you'd be hurting/offending/disrespecting someone else.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    All right, you two. Get a room.

  • Christine

    @Kara and newposter – would love to pitch in right about here if I may :)

    My disagreement with premarital sex is not based on the actual words "thou shalt not have sex before thou art wed!" because they aren't there. My belief (and I did a lot of searching with this one but am open to other thoughts on it) came from the societal understanding of then and how it translates to now. Lemme explain:

    One of the biggest issues with sex outside of marriage back in the good ole biblical times was the risk of having a child outside of wedlock. If the woman got pregnant she was in for at worst a stoning and at best complete dismissal from her community. The child would have been a bastard and that, in a society that placed all its worth on ancestory and birthright etc, was the worst thing that could happen to a child.

    Based on the fact that it was about the family unit and not so much about the individual's choice, I believe that this can be translated in to today's terms. I know there is contraception (not 100% effective though!!) but there are still children without father's/mother's, children having children (youngest recorded mother gave birth yesterday at 9 years old in China), scared mother's having abortions, STD's making people very sick etc……and there is no failsafe against these. You have sex you take it into your own hands. The family unit as we know it is battered and hurting and I am of the personal opinion that this has a lot to do with it. I think what applied then still applies now.

    So yeah, that's my opinion and why I don't have sex outside marriage (any more) because I am not sure I would want to handle the consequences if it didn't go according to plan. The bible doesn't say it implicitly but, human nature being what it is, things haven't changed that much

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    All right, you three. Get a …. wait. Never mind.

  • http://living3dfaith.blogspot.com/ Tim

    @newposter—

    Maybe I do assume that sexual immorality/illicit sex includes all sex outside of marriage. I believe that its the HEART or spirit of the law that needs more examination rather than the black and white letter of the law. For example, my beliefs about pre-marital sex aren't based on the letter of the law alone, but more importantly the heart of the law. I realize that this sounds Victorian in today's modern society, but I honestly believe that two people rob each other of an intensely richer sexual experience when they don't "save themselves" for their wedding night. Sort of like when kids steal tiny slices from a beautiful cake before the party. How impressive will that cake seem AT the party when everyone sees that its been picked at and half eaten? Maybe that is a poor analogy but in my experiences, the "marital" part of pre-marital often never materializes. If the couple has no REAL intentions of marriage, then calling that sex "pre-marital" is sort of disingenuous IMO.

    NOTE: I don't like calling my position "conservative" because that sounds political. I think political stripes have no deserving association alongside His stripes. God is love…so for me, love is the lens that I look through to find the HEART of the law.

    To be clear, I drew the illustration of Hebrew marriage in Jesus' day when He is recorded as making the Matthew and Mark statements. I realize that today a daughter is not the "property" of her father. But I think up until legal age, she belongs to, or is under the jurisdiction of her parents. So taking her sexually before the parents have given her (I realize such language makes some people cringe) that boyfriend/fiancee is coveting and stealing—which is a clear violation of the eighth and tenth commandments.*

    Regarding your last point, I do think pre-marital sex falls under the Mark 7 categorization of that which defiles from within rather than what goes into your body (contraception; alcohol). The distinction between the ceremonial law (what we put on or in us) and the moral law, what comes from within, clearly gives us direction. Looking at the list I see five things aside from sexual immorality that go hand-in-hand with pre-marital sex.

    1. Theft*. As shown in paragraph 3.

    2. Deceit. Self deception (If I sleep with him/her that will make him/her want to marry me).

    3. Lustful desires. If sex can't wait for marriage…this has already come into play.

    4. Pride. The self assurance that its right. Screw convention!

    5. Foolishness. Statistics bear out that pre-marital sex is linked to much higher divorce rates after marriage and less than 50% having pre-marital sex will ever get married in the first place.

    So on other levels, pre-marital sex comes up as a fail. Most importantly, it betrays a lack of true love, honor and commitment that comes from the heart or spirit of God's love for all of us. I realize I won't change anyone else's position on this subject, but in the most loving way I can, I have to try.

    God bless you, newposter.

  • http://living3dfaith.blogspot.com/ Tim

    @Kara—

    I LOVE the way you roll. That is the Mission statement of the church I work for. If we honestly seek to love God and our neighbor…regardless of any sin or what we classify as sin, we are only in danger of fulfilling all the law and the prophets.

    God luv ya!

  • newposter

    If anyone is still checking this thread, I'll add one more post.

    Christine – I think that's a great point. Everyone needs to think about it and decide how large that 2% (I think thats the perfect use failure rate for a condom) is to them. I've heard people say we do things more dangerous than that all the time, but I haven't looked into that, so I'll take no position. I *do* completely agree, to the nth degree, that you need to know what you're getting into, whatever you choose.

    Tim – thanks for your thoughtful post. If John ever feels the need to make another post on the topic, I will probably get back into the discussion but for now, I'll just take your post under advisement rather than shoot from the hip in response.

  • Kara

    @John-

    Aw, John. This is just good, clean, geeky Christian fellowship! (Or geeky heresy, depending on how you look at it. My first pastor would probably say the latter.)

    @Christine-

    I can’t resist cracking this joke, so know my heart.

    …and there is no failsafe against these.

    Gay sex is a pretty good one. You don’t get much accidental pregnancy there. *grin*

    Joking, joking. You raise a good point. I do know there are measures that can be taken to reduce the risk significantly, although you’re right, it will never be zero percent. That’s one reason why I’m against one night stands/sex for sex’s sake. But inside a relationship with another Christian, I don’t think a risk which can be reduced to as little as a tiny fraction of one percent is necessarily a show-stopper, if there would be a family for the child if birth control were to fail. But this is an area where I think it’d have to be personal conviction, and what each person feels about this.

  • Christine

    @Kara – hahahahahaha brilliant, should have seen that one coming :P

    @Tim – I have never heard it put so well and and cheering you on from the sidelines. I may be using these arguments myself in future and so thank you for putting into words so precisely what so many people think but cannot express.

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  • Nathan W.

    1. 1 Corinthians 7:9 (Whole Chapter)

    But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

  • http://lifeafterwcg2.wordpress.com/ Felix T.

    Time for the Church to grow up and violently eschew this fundagelical nonsense forever! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that sexual repression leads to sexual obsession!

  • Ian

    LOL. If only your claims regarding sex were true. When I have sex, I don’t lose control (and am very upset about my inability to lose control). There’s no loud moans, shuddering or anything else. It’s very quiet, controlled and really rather boring – a purely mechanical exercise, despite reaching orgasm and ejaculation without any problems. I am in good health and have no known physical or psychological problems. I have trouble understanding why people make such a big deal over sex. In my opinion, both Christians AND Hollywood/pornographers get it wrong. Sex for me is a dull routine chore and even when I’m with a gorgeous yong partner, I feel very little. Masturbation is my preferred sexual outlet now. It’s just partnered sex that’s a drag.