The Bible, on any fair reading, has what would be called today a rather strict sexual ethic. The basic position is no sexual activity outside the context of marriage, and marriage is defined, going all the way back to Gen. 1-2, and reiterated by Jesus (see Mark 10/Matt. 19) as involving one man and one woman. No, polygamy is not endorsed in the Bible, though it is described in places as an existing condition. And no, same sex sexual activity is not endorsed in any form in the Bible. But furthermore neither does the Bible take a pass on pre-marital sex by heterosexuals. It falls clearly under the category of porneia as do these other forms of non-marital sex. One of the things often forgotten in all these discussions is that Hebrew, early Jewish, and early Christians cultures were honor and shame cultures, and sex outside of marriage was seen as not only shameful, but sinful. So, abortion after having illicit sex is, from a Biblical point of view, adding one serious sin to another. The most important back story to the abortion disaster in America is the ever growing problem of sexual immorality in our culture.
It can be argued that one of the reasons why the ancients arranged marriages for their children not long after puberty was because they wanted to avoid the problems caused by raging hormones in teenagers and prevent shame from coming not just on the individual or couple, but on the whole family. And this brings up another major point. In the world of the Bible, group identity was primary, and individual identity entirely secondary. Did you ever wonder why people in the Gospels have no last names– for example Simon bar-Jonah involves a patronymic? It doesn’t tell you who he is in isolation, it tells you who he is in relationship to his father.One of the big problems with post-Enlightenment societies including our own, is that they have emphasized to the point of extreme narcissism individual identity and the rights of the individual at the expense of group identity and the responsibility of the individual to the group– be it their immediate family, or larger kin group, or ethnic group, or religious group. There is plenty of talk about ethical responsibilities in the Bible, but hardly anything about individual rights. At a minimum, the Biblical view would be that responsibilities to others regularly should over rule individual rights or privileges. The Bible calls us to be self-sacrificial to the core, not self-centered, not self-indulgent, not insisting on our own rights or ways. Perhaps here, a quoting of a famous poem by a famous minister, John Donne will be appropriate…. This comes from his Devotions upon Emergent Occasions.
‘No Man is an Island’
No man is an island entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were,
as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;
any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.