Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The Bible View of Sexuality

Bible and Sexuality

We live in a promiscuous society. According to a 2008 survey reported by the Guttmacher Institute, 90% of single women between the ages of 20 and 44 are sexually experienced. 70% identified themselves as currently sexually active. Among teenagers for the past 15 years, the percentage of teenagers (15-19) who have had sex has remained fairly constant (44% of girls, 49% of boys, Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention).

It should not be surprising that some churches are changing their teaching regarding premarital sex. One example of this is a recently published book by Bromleigh McCleneghan, a married mother of three, and “associate pastor for ministry with families” at the Union Church of Hinsdale in Illinois. The title of her book is, “Good Christian Sex”, with the subtitle, “Why Chastity Isn’t the Only Option—And Other Things the Bible Says About Sex.”

Bromleigh is quoted as affirming that it is acceptable for single people to have sex, as long as it is “mutually pleasurable and affirming.” In an op-ed piece for the Washington Post , Bromleigh wrote, “American Christians sometimes conflate celibacy and chastity, too, which is a problem. Chastity is a virtue, related to temperance — it’s about moderating our indulgences and exercising restraint. We’re all called to exercise chastity in a variety of ways, though the details will vary given our individual situations.”

Neither the article from which these quotes are taken, nor the 35 pages available as the book “sample” contain any arguments from scripture regarding the contention that premarital sex in condoned in scripture.

Two observations here. First, regarding the author’s contention that we conflate chastity and celibacy. (The word conflate means to “combine the two into one”). While that may be so — and it may be accurate to describe chastity as a virtue, and celibacy as simply refraining from sexual activity — it is the Bible itself that teaches sex outside of the marriage relationship is unchaste. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). In other words, it is possible for a married woman to be a chaste person (she can have that virtue while being sexually active with her husband). However, it is not possible for an individual who is having sex outside of marriage to rightly be called chaste. One can’t be described as exercising restraint if he or she is engaged in activity that God deems sinful. The self profession that such activity is “mutually pleasurable and affirming” is irrelevant to God’s condemnation of the act.

Second, the definition of the Greek word translated “fornication” in the New Testament is inclusive of all sexual intercourse outside of marriage. The word is porneia, and is defined by Thayer (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament), as “illicit sexual intercourse.” It is a generic term, and as Thayer notes, includes adultery, premarital sex, incest, homosexuality and bestiality. In effect, all sexual activity outside of the marriage relationship, as already noted in Hebrews 13:4.

Using Bromleigh’s argument, the only sexual activity that would be condemned by God would be abusive activity like rape, molestation, and perhaps adultery. Our society says, “If it feels good, do it”, and unfortunately, there will always be false teachers who will tickle the ears of the worldly minded (cf. 2 Timothy 4:3-4). Changing societal mores in no way impact God’s morality. It was a sin, it is a sin, and it will always be a sin to have sex outside of marriage!