CHRISTIAN SEXUAL ETHICS - What's Right? What's Wrong? And Why?

Christians Talking About: Polyamory, Swinging, Polygamy, Nudism, Adam and Eve... Join the discussion!


HOME PAGE

Thanks for visiting my site. Here's why I developed this site and why it is important for Christians to start talking about Christian sexual ethics:

The focus of this site is Christian sexual ethics from a biblical perspective. What's Right? What's Wrong? And Why?

Some Christians are probably scratching their heads. "What's there to talk about? When it comes to Christian sexual ethics, every Christian already knows what's right and what's wrong. Sex belongs in marriage between one husband and one wife; everything else is simply wrong."

The average Christian thinks of Christian sexual ethics and Christian morals in the following terms:

Fornication is a biblical term referring to premarital sex. Adultery is a biblical term referring to extramarital sex. The Bible defines thinking about having either extramarital or premarital sex as lust, which was strictly prohibited by Jesus. Once we get to Heaven, both sex and marriage will come to a grinding halt. But not to worry because once we get beyond the Pearly Gates, we'll be so enamoured by the Beatific Vision, we won't even think about having sex.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm certain that the Beatific Vision will be spectacular, beyond anything we can possibly imagine. Neither am I implying that there is no such thing as sexual sin or that sexual sin is not a serious matter. What I am saying is, Christians - both now and throughout history - have disagreed on precisely what sexual sin is and why it is wrong. There are varying opinions on exactly what is the Bible's teaching on sex. Understanding sex in the Bible can be a daunting undertaking. Furthermore, not all Christians believe there is no sex in Heaven. A prime example is Billy Graham, who had this to say on Larry King Live:

"If sex is necessary for our happiness and fulfillment, it'll be there." (December 25, 1998)

Although many other Christians agree with Dr. Graham on this matter, the vast majority believe Heaven is a sex-free environment.

By challenging the status quo, I don't mean to suggest that Christians should be cavalier about sexual matters. But neither should we be legalistic or lean too far to the right. The key concern should be: "What is the truth?" Perhaps the church has stumbled in the fog regarding sexual ethics for so long because, as Jack Nicholson so aptly put it in the movie A Few Good Men, we "can't handle the truth!" (If you're not familiar with that famous scene, see the VIDEO clip in right side panel.)

There are many complex questions about right and wrong and Christian sexual ethics that sincere Christians with differing views have grappled with for centuries.

ChristiansTalkingAboutSex.com is a site dedicated to helping Christians discover the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth regarding Christian sexual ethics and Christian morals... regardless of what that truth happens to be. Or, as the TV crime drama CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) puts it, "going wherever the evidence leads us."

ChristiansTalkingAboutSex.com hopes to accomplish this through an exchange of meaningful dialogue, plus an appeal to both common sense and reason, with an appeal to Scripture as the final court of arbitration.

Philip Yancey is a Christian author who has sold over fourteen million books worldwide, making him one of the best-selling Christian authors of all time. Yancey was an editor for Christianity Today for many years. According to Yancey:

"I know of no greater failure among Christians than in presenting a persuasive approach to sexuality. Outside the church, people think of God as the great spoilsport of human sexuality, not its inventor." (Holy Sex: How it ravishes our souls, article from Christianity Today, posted 10/01/2003 12:00 am)

Yancy points out that authorities in the early church issued edicts forbidding married couples to have sex on certain days of the week. Sex was banned on Thursdays because it was the day of Christ's arrest. Sex was forbidden on Fridays, the day of his death; on Saturdays, in honor of the Blessed Virgin; and on Sundays in honor of the departed saints. Wednesdays sometimes made the list too, as did the 40-day fast periods before Easter, Christmas, and Pentecost, and also feast days and days of the Apostles, as well as the days of female impurity. The list escalated until, as John Boswell has estimated, only 44 days of the year remained available for marital sex (Ibid.). Most modern Christians would recoil at such tyrannical legalism. Imagine having church authorities forbidding married couples to have sex every day of the year except for 44. According to Dr. Allan C. Carlson, Ph. D. :

"In the early years of sixteenth-century Europe, the Church claimed about twenty-five percent of the adult population in celibate orders. One of every four adults served as a priest or resided in a convent or monastery, complete with vows of chastity." (A Revolutionary Theology of Sex: Martin Luther on Sex, Marriage and Family - July 2, 2004)

Luther harshly criticised the church's stance against married couples enjoying sex. And as a result of the Protestant Reformation, husbands and wives were no longer regarded as second-class citizens, inferior to monks and nuns. Attitudes toward sex began to shift. Later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, secular revolutions swept across Europe. The church was no longer regarded as the guardian of sexual ethics. Nevertheless, in England and America, Victorians brought back an ethic of repression, to the extent where the legs of furniture were covered in order to prevent the arousal of impure thoughts. These lessons from history should remind us that our church leaders are not always right regarding sex; especially regarding sex. Yet many modern church leaders have told me that Christians should not be allowed to discuss such matters because it's too dangerous. I disagree.

We Welcome Your Comments!

Each web page includes a chat room near the bottom. There is also a comment button at the end of every post. This site is meant to be interactive. I encourage your comments and feedback, as long as those comments represent a Christian perspective. I welcome both compliments and criticism, as long as that criticism is meant to be constructive. If your comments are good enough, I may even dedicate an entire web page to your comments. Make sure that all comments are thoughtful and respectful of others. Please stay on topic. And absolutely no profanity.

Please Take Our Surveys

Some pages include surveys. Please participate in our surveys. Your opinion counts!

About Me

Hi. My name is Tom Gruber. (To read more about me, CLICK HERE.) I make no claims to infallibility. But as a student of the Bible and someone who has been searching scrupulously for sound answers for a long, long time, I recognize numerous problems and inconsistencies with many of the church's current positions on Christian sexual ethics.

The Ethics of Polygamy: Why The Polygamy Issue Is Important

This site is NOT primarily about the ethics of polygamy. But the polygamy issue is critically important for a number of reasons.

For those involved in missions, how we view the ethics of polygamy effects how we do missions. What does a missionary tell a new convert who also happens to be a polygamist? Must he divorce all his wives but one?

Though I am concerned with missions, my primary concern is how this issue spills over into other areas of Christian sexual ethics. In my judgment, the Achilles heel of the "sex only within marriage" position is that many godly men in the Bible had numerous wives and concubines. Some claim that men like Abraham and David were either stupid, rebellious, or ignorant. I disagree. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no explicit indication in Scripture that God ever disapproved of polygamy. If polygamy really is a sin, as many claim, it certainly seems peculiar that God didn't simply get straight to the point and tell those polygamists, "Hey guys, c'mon - get with the program. Polygamy is a sin!"

Although the majority of Christians throughout history have taken the position that polygamy is a sin, many giants of the faith, like Luther, Augustine, and Aquinas, have stated that nothing in the Bible forbids it. Christians are still divided on the issue of polygamy today. According to one survey on the ethics of polygamy created on 8/20/2006 by sermonaudio.com, a reformed website, as of July 27, 2007, out of 973 total votes, though 37% believed that polygamy has always been sinful, 20% believed polygamy was permitted in the Old Testament but is now sinful under the new covenant. Furthermore, 10% believed polygamy is not sinful, but is unwise as it is not God's ideal of one man and one woman for life. Another 21% believed polygamy has always been allowed by God, just like celibacy and monogamy. And 7% believed polygamy is the Bible's preferred form of marriage. The rest had no opinion. So even though 37% believed that polygamy has always been sinful, which is probably the majority opinion held by Christianity at large, 58% disagreed with that statement in one form or another. This survey illustrates the diversity of opinions held even among conservative reformed Christians.

While doing my research on the ethics of polygamy, I've probably heard most if not all the arguments on all sides of this controversial and complex issue. I've come to the conclusion that it can be demonstrated, beyond a reasonable doubt, that polygamy is not necessarily a sin. But only to those who have eyes to see and ears to listen. Nevertheless, there needs to be much more interaction and dialogue from all sides of this complex, controversial issue.

So if it is true that "Polygamy is not a sin," then the statement "All sexual intercourse outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage is a sin" must be false. Common sense and logic dictates that both statements cannot be true at the same time in the same sense. Furthermore, if polygamy really is an ethical option for Christians, a torrential floodgate is now opened wide, allowing numerous other complex and thorny questions to crash through. Such questions include:

Precisely when is sex a sin? How do we define sexual sin?
Precisely what is sex?


For example, was President Clinton "really" having sex with Monica Lewinsky? How far is too far?

Precisely what is marriage? Are couples living together without a legal document "really married" in the eyes of God?
When and why was marriage instituted? Was marriage instituted before or after the Fall?

What does it mean to be married to Christ? Is our marriage to Christ figurative, literal, or both? Why does it matter?

Are there other moral options besides marital monogamy and single celibacy?

The Ethics of Swinging & The Ethics of Polyamory

Are alternative lifestyles, such as swinging and polyamory, reconcilable with Christianity? Precisely what is the Bible teaching on sex?

The ethics of swinging and the ethics of polyamory are just a few of the many ethical conundrums we'll be grappling with. One thing I've learned, from years of research, is simply this: sex is complex.

Because the ethics of polygamy strikes squarely at the root of the tree, I've devoted a considerable amount of space on this site grappling with this issue, analyzing in depth all the various pros and cons in light of the Bible teaching on sex. It will be up to my visitors to determine for themselves which position is correct.

Two Other Major Issues Dealt With Here

In addition to the ethics of polygamy, there are two other questions that I've devote much space to. They are:

1. Original Sin and the Forbidden Fruit: What Was the Sin of Adam and Eve?
2. The Ethics of Nudism: Does the Bible condone nudism?


Original Sin and the Forbiden Fruit: What Was The Sin Of Adam And Eve?

You may be wondering, "What does original sin, the forbidden fruit, and the sin of Adam and Eve have to do with Christian sexual ethics?" The answer is, what Adam and Eve did way back in Eden affects everything we do today, both sexually and otherwise. I make the case that not only are we to recapture Paradise by the way we live, but that sex would have been a whole lot better, both quantitatively and qualitatively, if Adam and Eve hadn't misbehaved.

The Ethics of Nudism: Does The Bible Condone Nudism?

I've also spent a considerable amount of space on the ethics of nudism. Although this subject does not directly relate to Christian sexual ethics, it does relate indirectly.

Other Relevant Topics

Other relevant topics that will be upcoming include:

How serious is the threat of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases?

Is it okay to be gay? Since I myself am neither gay nor bi-sexual, this subject does not pertain to me personally. Therefore, I have no ax to grind. But I am familiar with the pros and cons. It is important to be familiar with all the arguments on both sides, regardless of one's position.

Why were the Church Fathers so negative about sex?

Are humans naturally monogamous?

Why So Much Confusion Over Sex?


Ask a dozen people what they believe is acceptable sexual behavior, and you just might get a dozen different answers. Even in Christian circles, where the Bible teaching on sex is accepted, there is a widespread diversity of opinion.

Perhaps this is to be expected. After all, there are many questions about human sexuality that the Bible simply doesn't answer, at least not explicitly. Furthermore, the Bible was written thousands of years ago in a culture radically different from ours. Lastly, there are numerous ways for sincere Christians to interpret the Bible's teaching on sex.

How Do Christian Sexual Rules Apply Today?

So how should modern-day Bible-believers apply the moral principles found in Holy Writ to today's ever-changing cultural climate? This site is dedicated to allowing various views to be heard, while maintaining that there there is a such thing as ultimate truth. For Christians, the Bible is a trustworthy foundation of all truth; but the Bible teaching of sex must be interpreted and applied properly. Only then can a book written thousand of years ago have relevance to our world today.

Why My Opinions Matter

This site obviously reflects my own opinions, though I try to be fair to those who disagree with me. Although I certainly make no claims to infallibility, I also want the reader to know that my opinions are the result of much study, prayer, and reflection. Therefore, I believe my opinions have value, if for no other reason than to challenge the thinking of others. To be sure, some of my opinions are very controversial. My purpose, however, is not to stir up controversy but to cause people to think and hopefully engage in meaningful dialogue.

I've often been told I need to recant my opinions. In fact, as recently as December 15, 2007, I was told by the pastor of a church I used to attend that I am not welcome in their fellowship unless I remove my website from the Internet. I assure you, I will not be bullied by such tyrants, although I do respect the pastor's concern to protect his flock. There are several other churches that also do not want me to darken their corridors. God forbid, we don't want people to think, now do we?

In response to such strong-arm tactics, consider the life and words of Martin Luther, the great Protestant reformer. Luther's views were condemned as heresy by Pope Leo III in the bull Exsurge Domine in 1520. Luther was then summoned to either renounce or reaffirm his views at the Diet of Worms on April 17, 1521. When Luther appeared before the assembly, Johann von Eck, the assistant to the Archbishop of Trier, acted as spokesman for Emperor Charles the Fifth. He presented Luther copies of his writings. He asked Luther if he still believed what these works taught. Luther requested time to think about his answer and he was granted an extension. After praying and consulting with friends and mediators, Luther appeared before the Diet the following day.

The counselor put the same question to Luther. Luther apologized for the harsh tone of many of his writings. Nevertheless, Luther said he would not reject the majority of his writings. Luther respectfully but boldly stated:

"Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I cannot and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."

In 2001, I published a book through Trafford Publishing entitled: What the Bible "REALLY" says about... SEX: A New Look at Sexual Ethics from a Biblical Perspective. Here are a few of the key points:

Marriage, as we know it, was instituted after the Fall as a result of the Fall.

There are two kinds of sex: responsible sex and irresponsible sex. Sex outside of marriage can be and usually is irresponsible... but not necessarily.

I believe that alternative lifestyles, such as swinging and polyamory, are neither moral nor immoral; they are amoral. I believe they can be practiced responsibly and therefore, they are not sinful per se. I also believe that there is sex in Heaven. In fact, I believe there is polyamorous sex in Heaven.

These ideas have been met with great resistance in the Christian community. I still believe much, if not most, of what I believed back in 2001. Like Luther, I confess that some of my writings in the past contained a "harsh, in your face, I know I'm right and anybody who disagrees with me is a total moron" tone. Like Luther, I apologize to anyone who may have been offended by my writings. I'm trying to improve by being more respectful of those who disagree with me. I'm trying to be more diplomatic. Nevertheless, like Luther, I cannot reject the majority of my writings. Like Luther, I respectfully but boldly declare:

"Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I cannot and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."

I am constantly refining my beliefs and subjecting them to rigid scrutiny. Again, I make no claims to infallibility. I'm simply a sinner saved by grace seeking answers to questions that most Christians are afraid to ask and unwilling to grapple with. If that is a sin, then I am guilty as charged. Ultimately, I believe the Bible is the final court of arbitration for all Christians. For this reason, ChristiansTalkingAboutSex.com is a Christian site dedicated to seeking the truth regarding sexual ethics.

I Respect Those Who Disagree With Me

Also, it should be noted that sometimes I will quote a theologian to support my opinions and sometimes I will quote the same theologian in order to refute his position. Sometimes I will quote the same theologian to show points of agreement, as well as points of disagreement. I mean no disrespect, either to theologians of the past or theologians of the present. As an example, I have enormous respect for the following modern theologians: R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Hank Hanegraaff, Randy Alcorn, and Billy Graham. I have learned a great deal from these men and I owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. Usually I agree with them. But sometimes I don't, and I'm not afraid to say so. I doubt if there is anyone on planet earth that I agree with on everything. Nevertheless, I believe the issues I'll be tackling are important. Hopefully, you feel the same way.

A Few Famous Quotes

Let me conclude this introductory portion by quoting Martin Luther and Bobby Kennedy.

Martin Luther said:

"Peace if possible, truth at all costs."

Robert F. Kennedy said:

"Some men see things as they are and ask 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask 'Why not?' "

ChristiansTalkingAboutSex.com is a Christian site dedicated to seeking the truth regarding Christian sexual ethics, while creating a passionate vision of the way things ought to be. Hopefully, you'll share this vision and the passion will be contagious.

Let the conversation begin!


ALL COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!

All comments are welcomed and appreciated, as long as those comments are thoughtful, constructive, and reflect a Christian perspective. Please, no profanity. And be respectful of others. Also, please stay on the topic. Chatrooms and comment buttons are located after each post. Enjoy!

Just One Question


If you could ask Jesus just one question, what would that question be? There is no doubt in my mind what that question would be for me because it is a question that has bothered me for thirty some years. In fact, to me, this question was so important that I recently published a book with that one question as the title. The one question I would ask Jesus, and in fact, have been asking Jesus for over thirty years now, is simply this: "Is there sex in Heaven?"

Although it is true that the majority of Christians dogmatically assert that Heaven is a sex-free zone reserved exclusively for celestial monks and nuns, there is, nevertheless, a sizable minority that believe there IS... or at least might be... lovemaking in the afterlife. For example, I personally have spoken with at least three different pastors right here in Columbus, Ohio who have informed me that they believe, like me, that there will be sex in the afterlife. Two of them are reformed pastors.

Consider what Billy Graham had to say on Larry King Live:



"If sex [in Heaven] is necessary for our fulfillment, it'll be there."


In my book, I devote a chapter to each of the top reasons why most people claim that there is no sexual intercourse beyond the grave, giving the pros and cons. Those reasons include:

1. This question is unknowable
2. This question is unimportant; we'll see when we get there
2. We won't have physical bodies in Heaven
3. We won't be male or female in the afterlife
4. The Beatific Vision will be so spectacular that sex will no longer be important
5. Since there won't be any breeding in Heaven, there will be no need for sex
6. Since we'll be married to Jesus, sex would be sinful
7. Sex is too earthly to be heavenly
8. Jesus said there is no sex in Heaven. And since sex outside of marriage is always a sin, then there cannot possibly be sex in Heaven.

My position is that each of these assertions can easily be refuted. I will not take the time to do that here, but I have dealt with all of these claims extensively in my new book. For now, let me deal briefly with the claim that Jesus said there is no sex in Heaven.


So did Jesus really rule out the possibility of lovemaking in the afterlife? The verse commonly quoted to support this claim is found in all three of the synoptic gospels. In Luke's gospel, Luke 20 verses 34 and 35, Jesus said:


“The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage."


So the logic seems as simple as ABC. A: There will be no marriage in the resurrection. B: Sex outside of marriage is a sin. Therefore C: There will not be sex in Heaven.

But notice closely; Jesus said nothing whatsoever about either sex or Heaven. The words "sex" and "Heaven" are not even used. Furthermore, the Sadducees who asked him the question which prompted his response were not even interested in whether or not there would be sex in Heaven. In fact, their main objective was to make Jesus look like a total dunce in front of the crowds because they did not believe that there was a such thing as a resurrection. They thought the scenario they cooked up about a woman with seven consecutive husbands would prove that only a fool could believe in a resurrection. Just imagine: a woman is resurrected along with her seven ex-husbands. Whose wife would she be? This question probably stumped the Pharisees and they thought they now had Jesus between a rock and a hard place.


No such luck. Jesus used the story of Moses and the burning bush to make a case for the resurrection from the dead because the Sadducees only considered the first five books of the Bible authoritative.

Quoting Exodus, Jesus referred to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to make his case for a resurrection. Jesus said that God was not the God of the dead but the God of the living. "But how," you may ask, "did this story prove anything about a resurrection from the dead? Sure, Abraham is in Heaven, but he certainly isn't resurrected. Or is he? Furthermore, doesn't this contradict the biblical teaching that the resurrection from the dead is a future event that will not take place until the Second Coming when Christ returns?"

This is a difficult puzzle. But I like puzzles. I guess that's why I like chess. I believe that all the pieces of this complex jigsaw puzzle fit together logically and biblically. Hopefully, I have succeeded in the task of solving this puzzle during the course of writing my book. When understood properly, I do not believe there is any logical or biblical reason to rule out sex in Heaven. I do NOT believe Heaven is a sex-free monastery or a celibate convent reserved exclusively for celestial monks and nuns.


Preview new book Is There Sex In Heaven? for FREE. CLICK HERE.

1 comment:

JaredMithrandir said...

I don't see anything here about the debate over Homosexuality.

On my forum I have written an in depth dissertation on why I do not view Homosexuality to be a Sin, I address all the major clobber texts.
http://z13.invisionfree.com/BlogMithrandirOlorin/index.php?showforum=5