I had planned to leave this topic alone for awhile, but I made the mistake of picking up today’s Des Moines Register and saw this article about the debate that is going on in Iowa churches on whether or not to allow same-sex weddings when it becomes the law of the land in Iowa next week.

What is there to debate?  The Bible is very clear on this subject.  There’s nothing to debate.  One Des Moines area pastor was quoted as saying:

"Some of us are in a difficult situation. I’ve been supportive of same-sex unions and marriage and am unable to perform any … without consequences to our call," said the Rev. Susan Guy (of Walnut Hills United Methodist Church in Urbandale).

For her it’s an issue of her faith – that if church members follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who was eating with tax collectors and sinners, then one shouldn’t make distinctions.

"Some of us choose to remain where we are but we hope to help change happen within our church," Guy said.

Pastor Guy is responding to the desire of parents of homosexual children in her church to see their children married at Walnut Hills.  I first want to be clear that I’m only referring to her in this post since she made this public statement.  I have had the opportunity to meet Pastor Guy, and have worked with her locally promoting the ONE campaign with area youth workers.  I appreciate the difficult position that she is in.  We, as pastors, do not have the luxury of interpreting scripture in light of what is culturally acceptable however.

I believe that her analogy with Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners is flawed however.  Did He spend time with those people, absolutely.  So should we.  Did He condone and excuse sin?  No he did not.  Numerous times he said to those with whom he is speaking – “go and sin no more.”   Jesus Himself defines marriage in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19 as between a man and a woman.  He also spoke out against sexual immorality (Greek – pornea) which covers all sex outside marriage between a man and a woman.

I agree with Monsignor Frank Bognanno, the pastor at Christ the King Catholic Parish on Des Moines’ south side.

Monsignor Frank Bognanno said he has heard no debate at his Christ the King parish. Twenty centuries of Catholic teaching won’t change, he said.

"I’m just telling them what the natural law is. It is prima facie – self evident," he said.

Marriage between one man and one woman is best for society and raising of children and not simply a religious argument, he continued.

"Even atheistic cultures hold to one man, one woman. The next logical thing is you are going to have polygamy. I would predict someone is going to file a lawsuit and say I have fallen in love with three women and we all want to get married. Since there is no law, why discriminate against me?" (emphasis mine)

So those who are having this debate are also part of a larger debate – where is our source of truth?  Does the Bible impact our view of culture, or does our culture impact our view of the Bible?  Has the Bible’s position on marriage changed?  No.  Has our cultural acceptance?  Yes.  Churches in Iowa will have a choice to make, either influence culture or let the culture influence and define them.


  1. Choices will have to be made. To follow a biblical worldview or not. Sometimes the bible is tough to follow; but it is truth and we choose to ignore God at our own peril, as the bible itself has shown time and time again.

  2. Amen to that. It is just frustrating to see churches ignore God's Word in order to appease the world. We can love homosexuals, but to affirm their sin and embrace homosexual marriage is denying the truth.

  3. I agree that it's pretty sketchy biblically speaking to actively participate in same-sex marriage.

    From a civil and social standpoint, I am in favor of allowing same-sex marriages, because the Bible shouldn't dictate law. And the notion that two consenting adults of different genders can marry but those of the same gender cannot doesn't make any sense. Aside from gender, all other things are equivalent. The arguments against are pretty weak. From a civil standpoint.

    From a biblical standpoint, there are too many indications that homosexuality is a sin. I've seen and heard arguments that what was prohibited in the Bible was something very specific, not homosexuality in general, but that argument is too thin for me to be able to say, “Hey, go for it” from a biblical standpoint. So, I think any church claiming to preach the Word as it appears in the Bible should abstain from doing same-sex marriages.

    I mean, I don't understand why God has a thing against homosexuality, but then again it isn't up to me to understand all that God does and decrees.

    However, I think the notion that polygamy is the next logical step is a flawed and inproper argument against same-sex marriage. For one thing, there is more historical precedent for polyamory than for gay marriage, including Biblical support for it (at least in the OT). But more importantly, polygamy and polyandry involved multiple people, not two people, and thus there isn't a direct correlation. Same-sex marriage differs practically from traditional marraige ONLY in terms of gender. I think there are many logical reasons to disallow polygamy and polyandry from a civil standpoint because of the huge complications it would pose to things like divorce laws, inheritance laws, custody laws, and more. It really creates a kind of confusion that would be maddening. Same-sex marriage doesn't have a comparable ripple effect on the social order.

    Again, mind you, I'm arguing from the civil standpoint and from the notion of separation of church and state…not from biblical standpoint.

  4. I see your point regarding polygamy, polyandry, etc.

    The point in this post, as you noted in your comment, is how the church handles it, and I think you and I are in agreement.

    There is much I don't understand either, but God's ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts. :).

  5. Shane, yes Churches have to influence culture. We need to pray not only for the pastors in the states where Gay Marriage has become a reality, we need to pray for denomonations that are leaning leftward on this issue. This August the ELCA is having it's annual meeting in Minneapolis to vote on the resolution to affirm Gay Pastors. I would be encouraged if other leaders of other denominations i.e. Southern Baptists, E. Free ect would sit down with the ELCA and show them the error of thier view biblically

  6. Polygamy may not follow immediately, but incest will. Incest has already been legalized in several European countries. France is one of them, if I am not mistaken.

  7. Now Shane, I'm a bit surprised at you. Did you just have a big discussion about this in the post about living the Gospel?

    You know very well that it is impossible to “sin no more.” Never sinning is an unachievable goal for men and claiming to do so would be hypocritical, as you have rightly pointed out elsewhere.

    So what did Jesus mean when he issued that injunction to those sinners? Not to literally “sin no more” but rather that through Him sin was no longer shackling them. That applies to all sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, even your run of the mill Christian. All sin is equal, and it burdens all humanity equally. So this idea that there are certain sins that Jesus spoke out against more than others is absurd.

  8. Did I say there are certain sins that Jesus spoke out against more? Please point out where I said that in this post.

    My point is that He didn't give a wink and a nod to the behavior. In John 8 for instance with the woman caught in adultery, he said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more,” (John 8:11). That can also be translated “go now and leave your life of sin.” He was calling her to repentance, to making a break from that lifestyle. It isn't saying you'll never sin… actually John later on says that those who say they are without sin are deceived and the truth is not in them, (1 John 1:8).

    It is one thing to sin, which we all do, and quite another to live an unrepentant lifestyle – which is what unbelievers (and some believers) do.

    My point is that accepting gay marriage in the Church is not loving homosexuals. It is actually hatred, as we are condoning and affirming sin. I could say the same thing about numerous other sins as well, but that isn't the subject of this particular post.

  9. I agree, the crux of the matter is really what you said: you can say the same thing about others sins, literally thousands of other sins. Compared to Jesus we all live unrepentant lifestyles! So why get so worked up about one type of sinful lifestyle when all the other sinful lifestyles carry the same weight? The real sin is taking the high and mighty attitude that somebody else's lifestyle is per se an unrepentant one. That is between each person and God and for nobody else but Him to judge.

  10. Well the thrust of my post is whether or not the church should perform gay marriages.

    If so then we should also have: extramarital affair matchmaking, tax cheat support, internet porn clubs, teach how to lie better, and support gluttony (oh I guess we already do that – potlucks). Sounds ridiculous right?

    I'm ok with churches ministering to homosexuals – we should, but that doesn't mean affirming their sin.

  11. I support gay marriage. I don't think the church – or any religion – has the right to force its views on society. Freedom of religion, and all that.

    But that said, I don't think churches can be compelled to act against their beliefs. Just as the church has no right to dictate to society, neither does society have the right to dictate to the church.

  12. Brett,

    Are GLBT views being forced upon the rest of society? Kids in public schools are already being taught that this lifestyle is acceptable against parents' wishes, that's ok?

  13. Shane, the Church affirms sins all the time, and I'm not just talking about potlucks, bingo, etc.

    Even in a heterosexual marriage sex is a sin when it is not exclusively for procreative purposes. Heterosexuals who have sex with the spouses for pleasure are every bit as sinful as homosexuals in the eyes of the Lord.

    The reason sex is sinful in the first place is that it is essentially a form of idolatry, placing lust ahead of God on your list of priorities.

    All people live sinful lifestyles! So by your own definition every marriage performed by the Church is an affirmation of a sinful lifestyle.

  14. Not talking in terms of following all of the OT law, but we do get a better picture of Christ's atonement from Leviticus for instance. Christ fulfills the Law.

  15. First it is perverting an institution that God ordained.

    Secondly I didn't absorb your last comment fully – where from scripture do you see sex being sinful within homosexual marriage if it isn't intended to procreate? I don't see that. I do believe people need to be led by the Lord regarding how many kids they have though.

    Because what you are saying then is after a woman has menopause, or if a man becomes sterile that sex is sinful, etc.

  16. I think the burden of proof is on you to show me where in the scriptures that non-procreative sex within marriage, or indeed of any kind is condoned by Jesus.

    According to St. Augustine:
    “Marital intercourse for the sake of procreation has no fault attached to it, but for the satisfying of lust, even with one's husband or wife, for the faith of the bed, is venially sinful; but adultery or fornication is mortally sinful. Moreover, continence from all intercourse is even better than marital intercourse itself, even if it takes place for the sake of procreation. But even though continence is better, to pay the dues of marriage is no crime, but to demand it beyond the necessity of procreation is a venial sin, although fornication and adultery are mortally sinful.”

  17. I agree that a church should remain consistent within their beliefs. If the church's position doesn't condone gay marriage then members should either follow the dogma or split with the faith, possibly joining or forming another church (Unitarian seems to be a popular option).

    Aside: I'm not sure quite where holding 'blessing ceremonies' should fall in this.

  18. Christ taught compassion for all people (read: all sinners), homosexuals included.

    A slight change since the time of Leviticus, maybe?

  19. Is there any such thing actually going on? Teaching tolerance of GBLT is somehow tantamount to teaching a lifestyle.

    Tolerance is a Christian virtue.

  20. Compassion doesn't mean condoning sin, and I don't think I've advocated stoning homosexuals have I? Blessing homosexual marriage isn't compassion, it's compromise.

  21. They aren't teaching tolerance, they are teaching acceptance/agreement as “ok and not sinful” and that you aren't tolerant if you believe it's sinful. Doesn't tolerance mean you actually have something to tolerate?

    Now they'll teach children that gay marriage is normal – just like they are doing in Massachusetts in the public schools.

  22. Being a Christian is always going to be at odds with what is “normal” in society. Nobody is saying that you can't be tolerant if you think nonprocreative sex is a sin. But being tolerant means tolerating even behavior that is sinful.

    You tolerate so many other sinful behaviors every day, including fornicators and those who indulge in non-procreative sex within marriage. There are sinful lifestyles all around in society at large and in your own life and your own church. Why get your cackles up about one particular type of sinful lifestyle?

    As Christians we need to tolerate everybody, just like Jesus did.

  23. Haha, no I certainly wasn't trying to imply that. Maybe it's just semantics, but I think it's an important distinction that we as Christians follow *Christ* not *the Bible*.

    The OT says a lot of crazy stuff, stuff that most Christians are prepared to accept nor should they be. And it's not just the OT. Is Revelations somehow supposed to guide our behavior? And some of the more apoplectic portions of the epistles can be more than a bit counter intuitive. When it comes to guiding principles for behavior I think we do well to stick with only the example of Christ rather than the example of the fallible and often criminal men that populate the Bible.

  24. Teaching tolerance, as in we don't attach social stigma to children with gay parents or we act politely with others who have different views, is great . I'm not sure if they're saying anything about sin in public schools: That religious distinction exceeds public school mandates. It's like teaching that divorce isn't sinful.

    As for 'normal', that's a loaded word. Normal in the sense that it's not uncommon, far out of the ordinary, or scary. For example it's also 'normal' that many kids today have one, two or multiple parental figures in their lives.

  25. Well, for starters – Augustine, while I agree with some of his positions, is not the authority on the matter.

    Genesis 2:24 – “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” That act of becoming “one flesh” is a spiritual and sexual union, and is not tied to procreation.

    Proverbs 5:18-19 – “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.”

    1 Corinthians 7:1-6 – “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: 'It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.' But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

    Do not deprive… the context of 1 Corinthians 6-7 does not lend itself to sex just for the purpose of pro-creating.

    Then sex, along with everything else in Genesis 1-2, is created by God and he called it good.

    Even the Hebrew word – yada – “to know” indicates intimacy, and it isn't connected to procreation.

    Now I'll give you some people do not follow God's plan for procreation and don't have families based on purely selfish reasons, but that is different argument. There is nothing in scripture that indicates that sex within heterosexual marriage outside the purpose of procreation is sinful.

  26. Of course they aren't teaching about sin… I'd prefer they not teach on family systems period. Public schools have a hard enough time teaching the subjects they need to teach (math, science, reading, writing, etc.).

    Do you see my point – in what they are teaching they are contradicting what many parents are teaching their kids? Now if there is teasing or bullying going on – then address that. Nobody should be teased or bullied regardless of the reason.

  27. I can see your point. I think it's a tough call. One person's acknowledgment appears as advocacy to another. Schools tread a thin line but I don't think they should necessarily turn away the world as it is (as opposed to how one's religion makes claims to how the world should be).

    There are other areas of contention with many parents' views like sex ed and the biology of human reproduction. For some these areas of contention even extend to the mundane like reading Harry Potter (promoting witchcraft) or teaching biological evolution (promoting secular humanism).

  28. Hope you don't mind , it was getting a little skinny so here is my reply in the debate about nonprocreative sex within marriage:
    First of all, I find the OT citations above to be thoroughly unconvincing. Christ obviated the OT, particularly with regards to sexual morality, so the OT cannot be seen as authoritative in this matter. The song of Solomon is full of sex (between an unmarried couple no less!), but that doesn't make it a guidebook for morality. Christ is sufficient and definitive on these issues.

    I have no idea where you are getting the idea that 1 Corinthians 7:1-6 is talking about non-procreative sex. I don't read “non-procreative” anywhere! For people living in Paul's time there were no contraceptives, all sex was procreative all the time. the Corinthians were asking him if it's best for men to avoid sex with women altogether, as in complete celibacy within marriage. He says yes it is best, but if you are too weak for the austerity of celibacy, then sex (presumably procreative) is permissible it is better to “pay the marital debt”as a more precise translation of “conjugal rights” in line 3. Paul is not condoning nonprocreative sex he is condoning procreative sex within marriage. So I still see no evidence that the NT says explicitly anywhere that nonprocreative sex within marriage is not somehow not a sin.

    Sin is rejecting God and putting something else as first in heart and mind. Sex itself is not sinful, sex becomes sinful because it is an act of worship the flesh. There is literally no way to avoid this when having nonprocreative sex. Even in procreative sex, pleasure is only an oblique intention, the primary purpose must always be on doing God's will or else even procreative sex in marriage is a sin. God's commandment was for men to be fruitful and multiply, and when there is no chance of this happening then the sex is only for the purpose of carnal gratification. How can you possibly not be sinning against God when you are committing an act that is explicitly contrary to His stated will?

    But so nonprocreative sex within marriage is a sin, so what? We sin all the time. You every get angry when somebody cuts you of while you're driving? Well guess what, buddy, you just sinned. We sin constantly, but it's ok because God forgives us! So why get so obsessed with trying to avoid certain sins? Just live your life and try to keep God at the center of it as much as possible. Sure people are selfish sometimes, but God forgive them, why can't you Shane?

  29. No problem.

    You and I are talking past each other. Still don't see where you are getting your position from. It isn't scripture.

    Yes, we all sin. I'm not the person they need forgiveness from. You are presuming much when you say God forgives those who engage in homosexual relationships (or other sinful lifestyles) when they don't repent. God forgives those who repent and come to Jesus on the basis of His work on the cross.

    Paul said himself should we sin more that grace may abound? Absolutely not.

    Are their sinful people in the church, yes. Should that mean it should be celebrated – no.

    I don't think you and I are going to see eye to eye on this.

  30. How are we talking past each other? I couldn't agree with you more that repentance is necessary to experience God's full forgiveness, but repentance doesn't mean that one is never going to sin again.

    You still haven't answered my question about 1 Corinthians– where are you getting non-procreative sex out of that?

    Of course we shouldn't celebrate sin (it seems that we are seeing eye to eye on more things than you think). And I'm not trying to say homosexual sex isn't a sin, since it is nonprocreative it is inherently a sin. But it is no more or less sinful than nonprocreative heterosexual sex, even within marriage.

    Sex without procreative purpose is a sin, this is what the scripture says! 1 Corinthians 6:9 says that the sexually immoral shall not inherit the kingdom, and Shane you just haven't made the case that non-procreate sex within marriage is not sexually immoral.

    I truly don't think you'll find any scriptural backing for that position. In order to do it you will need more than a few lascivious passages from the OT and an out of context passage from Corinthians.

    We may be talking past each other, but if so I don't see how. As far as I can see scripture is very clear on this subject. It seems more like you are taking the outcome you want (namely that non-procreative marital sex is morally permissible) and arguing from there, instead of reading the scriptures for what they plainly say. If I am wrong would you be so good as to explain why? I am particularly curious about you opinion as to my contention that 1 Corinthians 7 referring only to procreative sex. If you are right that Paul is referring to non-procreative (ie recreational) sex, then I will happily concede the argument!

  31. We're talking past each other in that it is one thing to sin. It's quite another thing to celebrate it.

    Regarding 1 Corinthians 7 – “deprive” – could literally be stated “stop depriving one another” – deprive from what? Sexual relations. Why? Having sexual relations with a spouse is God's way of helping us avoid sexual immorality at least what we see in the context of this passage and Paul plainly states. It isn't tied to procreation. He didn’t say, but not if you, the man are sterile or if you the woman can no longer bear children. So exactly how am I taking this passage out of context?

    I've provided some verses that leave you unconvinced. Can you build your case from scripture? Not from Augustine, but from scripture. You say Scripture is clear on this, but I don't see anything that states that either.

  32. First, Paul didn't talk about about infertility because that is such a rare exception. This was written in the first century, it would have been rare for people to even know such a thing as sterility was possible. Sex was simply understood to be procreative. At this time in history, there was, in effect, no such thing as non-procreative sex. So really you are making the mistake of applying modern day attitudes where they don't belong.

    Second, Shane, you said “Are their sinful people in the church, yes. Should that mean it should be celebrated – no.”

    Sin should not be celebrated but it must be tolerated. Anything less is to meet sin with sin.

    But when you start making declarations that certain behaviors are sins and they shouldn't be celebrated, you are acting as judge, and only God can decide what is a sin. We humans we can only guess as to whether or not a sin has even been committed.

    It isn't our job to call somebody out on being unrepentant, for all we know maybe they are repentant even if they don't seem like it. For all we know there may have been extenuating circumstances, even in the most obvious case of sin this is God's call, not ours. Our job is to accept and love all our fellow sinners.

    So why go out of your way to single out certain sinners for your ire? Why not go on and on about the way road rage is undermining our society? Or fret about the agenda of people who don't call their mother often enough?

    Do you think God finds some sins less forgivable than others?

  33. Sorry, back to 1 Corinthians again, to put my point a little more clearly:
    There was no such thing an nonprocreative sex in Paul's time, since nonprocreative sex was a practical impossibility and all sex was seen as a procreative act. Therefore Paul could only have been referring to procreative sex.

    In the context of 1 Corinthians 6-7, complete celibacy is seen as ideal, and even the idea of procreative sex within marriage is barely permissible.

  34. So having gay marriage is an act of tolerance? No it's approval.

    Sex was not simply understood as procreative – again show me your argument from scripture. If that were the case their wouldn't be sexual immorality would there?

    Romans were well known for orgies and the like. I don't think they had those just to have children do you?

    I'd say somebody is unrepentant when they say – I will not accept God's design for marriage, and I am going to marry my partner even though this is not how God defines marriage.

    If that isn't unrepentance I don't know what is. Also numerous places, Jesus included, told us to be discerning – to look at fruit.

    I'm focusing on gay marriage right now because that is an issue in my state. If you look at the entire history of my blog that isn't the case.

  35. It was ideal to Paul for those to remain single, not just celibate, so they could focus on serving Christ. To not be celibate and single would be partaking in sexual immorality.

  36. Yeah but Shane, the point is that it isn't for YOU to say what is and is not unrepentant. That is for God alone to say, is it not?

    Also, I haven't forgotten your point about the scripture regarding all sex as procreative, that is forthcoming shortly below.

  37. Ok, Shane, you asked for my scriptural basis for the sinful nature of nonprocreative sex and here it is:

    Paul wrote to the Hebrews (13:4) urging them “Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.” Here the implication is clearly that the marriage bed can be defiled from outside the marriage, by adulterer and from inside the marriage by immoral sex.

    In Galatians 5:16-17 Paul says “Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh.”

    Now a few words about 1 Corinthians 7. In the time of Paul there were no contraceptives, and, except in rare cases of sterility, sex was always procreative by definition. This is not to say it was always done with procreation as the primary intention, but that sex was inseparable from procreation in antiquity. This is not the case today, when effective contraception allows for nonprocreative sex. Paul could never have dreamed that a fertile couple could have sex without even the possibility of having a child. So to say that Paul could be talking about sex where there is no possibility of procreation is quite absurd.

    Thus when the Corinthians ask Paul if they should refrain from touching women, it is a choice between one of two options: complete celibacy or procreative sex within marriage. conceding to the Corinthians that sex for procreative purposes within marriage is morally preferable to adultery, it seems that Paul concludes procreative sex is the lesser of two evils (see 1 Cor. 7:5-6, “Do not deprive one another so that Satan may not tempt you, This I say by way of concession not command” and 1 Cor. 7:9 “…For it is better to marry than be aflame with passion.”). He goes on to state that that he wishes all people were celibate(1 Cor 7:7). Furthermore, Paul goes on to say that “from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none.” (1 Cor 7:29)

    Another point, if sex within marriage is not sinful, then why would Mary need to be a virgin in order to give birth to Jesus. In order to be the mother of God, Mary needed to be sinless, that much is obvious. So if sex within marriage is not a sin, why could she not have sex before giving birth to Christ? The implication is clearly that sex, even within marriage (apparently even for procreative purposes), would have defiled Mary with sin and thus rendered her incapable of bearing the Son of God.

    That is all I have right now, but I will continue my study of the Bible on this fascinating issue tomorrow morning.

  38. All right…

    Hebrews 13:4 – you drawing a conclusion that isn't evident. That word “sexually immoral” pornea in the Greek is a broad word that includes a whole scope of things. That could be even looking lustfully at a woman. It also includes homosexuality, etc. It isn't obvious that it is referring to marital, for the lack of a better term, recreational sex. Also, a side note, the consensus among most scholars is that we don't know who wrote Hebrews for certain – it could be Paul, but I know I can't say that for certain.

    Galatians 5:16-17 – This follows up Paul saying that “For freedom Christ has set up free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery,” (Galatians 5:1). There were those among the Galatian church who were imposing circumcision on the gentile believers as a requirement for being a Christian. Paul was saying don't go there… “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law, you have fallen away from grace,” (Galatians 5:4).

    Then he warns not to use you freedom “as an opportunity for the flesh,” (Galatians 5:14). He gives a laundry list of things in v.19 that are “works of the flesh” you see pornea (sexual immorality) in there again, but you also see impurity… which can also mean a whole host of things, and sensuality along with orgies. He also lists a number of things that have no sexual connotations.

    Again with this passage you are making an assumption. My contention is that God created sex, and it is good within the context of traditional marriage. By it a couple becomes “one flesh” which is not just a physical union, but a spiritual one. So to label it a “work of the flesh” I just don't see it.

    1 Corinthians 7 – that would contradict what he previously said in verses 1-5. Look at the immediate context, verse 32-34, “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife (my note – that doesn't mean sexual, otherwise you'd have to apply that to pleasing the Lord which I think you and I can agree on that isn't the case) and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.”

    Verse 36, now talking about sex again – “If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his bethrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let them marry – it is no sin.” It is no sin. Why are they getting married, because his passions are strong.

    What was Paul saying here – basically keep Jesus first, even if you are married. Seek to please Him, even if you are married.

    Regarding the virgin birth – first it fulfills prophecy. Also people had to be very clear on who the Father is, and it isn't Joseph. If they had sex while she was carrying Joseph that would have taken away the virgin birth claim. There would have been doubt. Also, I'll have to check, but I don't think in Jewish tradition they were fully married at that point. I could be wrong about that though.

  39. I would not have anything to do with a church that allowed same sex marriage. The bible is clear on this issue.

    Romans 1: 24-27 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

  40. That would be my advice as well. I'd say if you church even has to have a “panel discussion” on this topic and is unsure – it's time to leave and find one that faithfully proclaims the Word of God.

  41. First of all I feel silly, I ought to have known that the Hebrews is unknown for certain.

    Second you are absolutely right that I am making certain assumptions. Words like pornea confuse me to no end. I usually see it translated as “fornication” but then again that translation doesn't work in the context of Hebrews since sex cannot be fornication if it is within a marriage? In this passage I read it as a contrast to adultery (sex outside the marriage) to imply that there is a type of “pornea” that can occur within marriage. Of course I might be reading it wrong, but if we take pornea a to be referring to something other than sex within marriage is it not redundant? Considering the many different shades of meaning for “pronea” maybe “recreational sex” might be a good translation.

    The way I see it is from a more gestalt view of the Epistles as a whole, there seems to be a recurring theme that sex generally seen as something that is sinful and distracting from God. Take 1 Cornithians, it really seems like he is trying to have it both ways, like he is saying “It's morally superior not to be even be married, let alone have sex. But if you need to out of human weakness then go ahead and have sex within marriage.” It seems that any kind of sexual lifestyle is second best, falling short of God's actual Will. I also think that this is the way the primitive Church generally saw it, ie St. Augustine. Anyway, though I still disagree with you I am beginning to see your point better and it really is a matter of interpretation.

    By the way, just so I am able to get your point more precisely, are you arguing that sex is permissible without any procreative intent, or are you going further to say that it is permissible to render procreation impossible? I wonder what is your opinion about condom usage and contraception?

    Also, good point about the Virgin birth, I forgot about the prophecy. I still think I recall something about Mary needing to be a virgin in order to be sinless, though. I think you might be mistaken about them not being married. Since Joseph was considering a divorce when he found about the pregnancy, it would seem to me that he would have to be married to her before he could divorce her. But I could be wrong about that also because I really have no idea how a Jewish marriage worked back then.

  42. Hey I got your email, but thought I'd reply here for the sake of others who may be reading our discussion.

    Don't sweat it with authorship of Hebrews.

    Regarding pronevia (I was spelling it wrong). I did a word study on it awhile back.

    Greek – pornevia (fornication, immorality, sexual immorality)

    1. illicit sexual intercourse
    a. adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
    b. sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
    c. sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,
    2. metaph. the worship of idols
    a. of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols

    Used 24 times in the New Testament
    (Matthew 5:32; 15:19; 19:9; Mark 7:21; John 8:41; Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 7:2; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Revelation 2:21; 9:21; 14:8; 17:2,4; 18:3; 19:2)

    It goes beyond recreational sex.

    I guess I have a hard time looking at sex between a man and his wife as “recreational,” The Hebrew word “to know” really describes intimacy. It is both a physical and spiritual union. It is one way that married couples express love for one another.

    Regarding procreation – I think I've said that some have not had children for the most selfish of reasons. To clarify my position, yes I do think it is ok to have sex without intending to procreate. Regarding birth control – I have issues with the pill, IUD, etc because of the abortificiant qualities they have. Condoms… I'd say that is up for debate. That's my personal position.

    Regarding rendering procreation impossible – some women have had to have hysterectomies. I know a guy who have had to have a vasecetomy because his wife has rheumatoid arthritis and she needed to go on medication where her rhumetologist said you can't have kids and be on this.

    I don't think that is sinful, and I don't see those couples in situations like that stop having sex, because again it is a way to express love and be intimate.

    Regarding Joseph – Jewish marriage, at that time, was done in stages. They weren't actually married at that point – she was bethrothed. They were not permitted to have sex, until after a certain period of time. Then they had a wedding ceremony and they would consummate the marriage.

  43. I trend toward Strabo and Deacon Blue on this issue. Furthermore, as a Protestant, our overwhelming religious tradition has been to view marriage as a civil issue, and not a sacrament, from Luther on down.

    As to what parts of the Bible to give more weight to (v. swallowing hook, line and sinker) I have always approached it on a ‘tiers of scrutiny’ basis – I would re-pose the (very good) blog question raised regarding the Supreme Court to read thus: “Is it proper for the Christian to have different levels of scrutiny for different Books of the Bible?” – i.e., strict, rational, intermediate, etc. I don’t read the OT and NT with the same level of discernment. Personally, I put Christ’s actual teaching at the top, the evangelism of the apostles in the middle, and the OT at the bottom. “At the bottom” doesn’t quite convey. . .I hope you know what I mean, a tertiary position, as it were.


    I am imagining Shane’s response to be something along the line of discouraging a ‘cafeteria-style’ approach – which I get – but really, what is one to do with the massive amount of (marvelous and God-given) contradiction in the Bible? How is one to parse Christ’s message to not necessarily throw out all of the Old Testament, yet embrace the New Word? How do we reconcile Christ’s direction as to how to respond to our enemies with Love, with the overwhelming “snuff ‘em out” scriptures in the Old Testament? There is a lot of violence in the OT that is entirely obviated by the transformation Christ gifted us.

    In regard to the gay marriage issue, I find the usual ‘shellfish’ argument, well, a rather limp-wristed (pun intended) defense. There is a strong spiritual argument in all of Christ’s teaching about sex that can be boiled down to one thing – just like sap in the Spring – to avoidance of ‘selfishness’ and ‘self-centeredness’ and ‘self-righteousness.’ Just as with alcohol, money and other idolatries and temptations that are not evil in and of themselves, but overly indulged in can separate us from God, it is the selfishness in sexuality that threatens our relationship with God and our brothers and sisters, however and by whomever applied – heterosexuals and homosexuals alike.

    I find this centrality in most of His teaching, including how to respond to one’s enemy.

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