The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Fornication


#1

Ha! Now I’ve made you all look, this topic came up in another thread. Namely: is it always impermissible for Christians to have pre marital sex? Is the church causing more harm than good by promoting this? Is it skewed to unfairly effect women more than men? Is the bible sufficient grounds for such a position, given the diverse nature of marriage within it? Were some of the prohibitions necessary due to the time, ie no contraception, needing to know a child’s father so that children could be cared for etc, much like we interpret slavery laws as cultural necessities rather than cultural perfection. Does pre marital sex cause damage? Are some non married sexual relationships more Christlike than some married relationships? What about those that cannot marry or usually cannot, such as gay or transgendered people?

All thoughts, experiences, opinions and theologies gratefully received.

Come on johnny! You know you wanna :mrgreen:


#2

Predicting this thread will be a hopping one :wink:

This particular issue really hits close to home for me, having been ‘a fornicator’ in virtually all the relationships I was in before meeting my fiancee, and now with my fiancee waiting till marriage for sex, and it’s been a long wait, going on six years now, and it will probably be a least another year or two before we tie the knot…

So there is both the shame that I still sometimes feel about my past (though I know that God forgives me for all of it, whatever wrong there was in it, which I’m thankful for) and also the difficulty of waiting in the present, that I have to contend with. :neutral_face:

For a long time, up until recently, I assumed that sex before marriage was always wrong, and you had to wait… but nowadays I’m not so sure.

And my reasons for waiting now with my fiancee Kaylyn have less to do with religious convictions then they do with Kaylyn’s wishes. On the one hand she promised her maternal grandma (whom she was very close to, and who passed away only a year or so before I met Kaylyn) that she would keep her virginity till she married.
She also promised God at some point that she would.

Along with this, she’s a little scared about it. Not that she doesn’t ever want to do it, she knows that when we’re married that will come with the territory… but I think she’s kind of gotten used to the way things are (she’s even confessed as much to me) and is a little afraid of the change in our relationship that sex may bring (though she agrees that we’ll work it out somehow and adapt to the change when the time comes :slight_smile:).

That, and she’s a little afraid of having her ‘cherry popped’, of the pain of that, though I’ve assured her that it’ll be fine, cuz we can take it slow… though I can’t make any promises about the pains of childbirth, though I’ve given her permission to beat me up in retaliation for impregnating her when the time comes for that, if that makes her feel any better. :laughing:

And along with all of this, on my end, I know that I would feel better about it if I waited, knowing me, and I figure I’ve waited this long, so I mi’aswell tough it out till the end, otherwise all the waiting will have been for nothing, if you know what I mean. :wink:

But despite my more complicated situation, I don’t necessarily believe that sex before marriage is always wrong, or at least I’m not so sure about the traditional take on it as I once was. Perhaps in God’s eyes marriage has less to do with signing papers and holding a ceremony then it does with the depth of connection two people have, and if their relationship, and their commitment to one another, has progressed to a certain level, then maybe sex isn’t a bad idea, whether they’ve signed papers and held a ceremony or not.

But, to balance this out, I don’t think jumping in the sack right away is a good idea… and I know this from experience. :neutral_face:
Sex is a powerful act, and it can gather all the focus of one or both members in the relationship, to the exclusion of other aspects of the relationship, which doesn’t give the whole relationship, in all of its aspects, a chance to really blossom…
I learned this the hard way… in every relationship I was in before I met Kaylyn, it was all about the sex, at least for me.
I focused on it so much that I neglected all the other aspects of those relationships I was in, so things fell apart pretty fast… :neutral_face:
For example, one of the women I was with before I met Kaylyn even said that though I was good in the bedroom, I wasn’t good outside of it. :neutral_face:

But I think (or I hope anyway) that if you wait awhile, and focus on all other aspects of the relationship for a good amount of time, then it gives that relationship some time to blossom, so then you have a solid foundation, and then when you add sex to the mix, instead of damaging the relationship overall, it only makes it stronger…

Or at least that’s what I’m betting on. :laughing:

Of course, this may not be the case with everyone… perhaps some can include sex in their relationship from the get go without depriving or hurting other aspects of their relationship, but then again, I still think it’s best that people at least wait until they’ve gotten to know each other fairly well, and have given some time to see how strong and deep their relationship is, or to see where it is going, if anywhere… I think there should be strong commitment and real love and lots of trust in the relationship, at the very least, before you start getting naked together…

Sex is something good, by nature, I know, because God created it, but like any other good thing it can messed with or approached wrong or twisted into something bad…

To illustrate, this great quote from Frederick Buechner:

‘Contrary to what some believe, sex is not a sin.
Contrary to Hugh Hefner, sex isn’t salvation either.
Like nitroglycerin, it can be used either to blow up bridges or to heal hearts.’

Sadly, I’ve most often, well, always, experienced it as something bad, something to be ashamed of (even though, granted, it *felt * immensely good, to be sure, in the moment), as something that blows up bridges, and not as something good, or to be unashamed of, though I do hope in marriage that I can experience it in a new way, as something that God has blessed, as something good, which I need not feel any shame about, as something that heals hearts…

With all that said, to give my two cents on your questions, or those I haven’t covered in what I’ve already said…

I do feel that certain segments of the church are just too legalistic, not to mention nosy, about all of this… ultimately what two consenting adults do (who aren’t attached to anyone else but each other… adultery is another issue entirely, and should be addressed by the church, I believe, albeit in a loving yet firm way) behind closed doors is between them and God, I should think, and it’s none of the church’s business, at least in my opinion…

And sadly yes, I think women are more effected by this, because when men sleep around, people will say ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘they’re just sowing their wild oats’, but when women sleep around, they get called names, like ‘slut’ or ‘whore’. :frowning:
The unspoken rule in many corners of society is that women are expected to hold to a higher standard of ‘purity’ than men, which is unfair if you ask me. :neutral_face: After all, as I’m sure you’ll agree Jael, women have sex drives too. :wink:

And I do think that culture may play a part in all of this. Perhaps in some cultures it is best to wait, in others, it is okay if you don’t. Not sure on that one though. :wink:

And as far as causing damage, I think it all depends on the situation, and on the people and on the relationship… in some cases it may do more harm than good, as it did in my case, but in others, it may not.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were non-married sexual relationships that were more Christlike than some married relationships, as Christ is often found in the most unlikely of places. :wink:

And as far who can’t marry, for whatever reason?
I’d say if they really love each other and are committed to each other, they should just go for it, without shame, because marriage probably has less to do with signing papers or with traditional ceremonies than it does with the quality and depth of the relationship itself anyway.
For instance, Adam and Eve signed no papers, nor did they hold any ceremony… they had God’s blessing, and that was enough for them to be naked and unashamed. :wink:

It may be interesting to take a look at what the Bible says about this, but like others here, I don’t believe the Bible is inerrant, and I believe some of what’s in there may only be people’s opinions or only applied at the time it was written, so… but it may be interesting. :wink:

And perhaps a couple more things worth throwing in the mix and discussing: masturbation and pornography.

Personally I’ve come to believe that masturbation by nature is okay. It’s not the ideal, but I don’t think it’s wrong in general.
Though I think we shouldn’t fantasize about anyone we have no business fantasizing about…
For instance, Kaylyn tells me she’s okay with it as long as I only fantasize about her, and no one else. Fair enough :wink:

As far as pornography, I still believe it’s not a good thing. I’ve wrestled with it for much of my life, and it’s never done me any good. :neutral_face: It can be very addictive and can consume your life and your mind, so I think all in all it’s not okay, and should be avoided as much as possible…

Anyways, I think that’s my two cents on the matter for the time being.

And I’m guessing Johnny and others will throw in their two cents as well. :wink:

Thanks for bringing this up, Jael, and blessings to you :slight_smile:

Matt


#3

personally what i think matters is responsibility.
if two people have a one night stand, they have a responsibility to manage the risks to both parties. they have to ensure that contraception is used (sorry Catholics!). they have a responsibility not to create unwanted babies as well!
they also have a responsibility to each other to manage emotional attachment. that is the tricky bit.
honestly, these responsibilities don’t change if the duration of the relationship is longer than one night (or 9 1/2 weeks…gah sorry, what a boring film).

people really make sex far too big a deal.

personally i’d say, given emotional risks etc, it is better generally to be in a committed, loving relationship…but if both people act honourably, it doesn’t have to be what society (especially white, middle class, conservative types) think it should be.

to me fornication (the sin) happens when people treat each other like things, and not like someone created in the image of God.


#4

Heh heh JaelSis, you little minx :smiley:

The words ‘can’, ‘giant’, ‘worms’ and ‘of’ spring to mind. :laughing:

Seriously - if we can ever be truly serious about such a hilarious subject as sex – this is a very important subject. Really glad you’ve raised it properly here. And really hope we can all do it the justice it deserves.

I have loads to say on this subject, but I won’t bombard the thread with all of it in one big lump.

Firstly, I have to thank Matt and James for their honest and insightful comments in kicking things off. I agree with everything you say, James, except for your inexplicable denigration of a cinematic masterpiece. Kim Basinger has never been better. Still, I guess that’s not saying much … :laughing:

And Matt, I am consistently amazed by the bravery and honesty of your posts. You go to places I wouldn’t even dream of going (but of course, I am an uptight Brit :smiley:), and I thank you and bless you for it. You speak wisdom way beyond your tender years.

I guess I’d want to answer JS’s question from three angles:

  1. What does the Bible say about sex before marriage?
  2. Does sex before marriage constitute ‘fornication’?
  3. Given, or despite, what the Bible does or doesn’t say, what should we do as Christians (for like Matt I am not a Biblical inerrantist)?

Number 1 is actually pretty easy, I reckon. Because – and I’m sure one of our Biblical scholars will correct me if I’m wrong – what the Bible says about sex before marriage could be written on the back of a matchbox and still leave room for the Gettysburg Address.

In other words, practically nothing.

Matt’s right, there ain’t nothing in Genesis about ‘marriage’. And there’s next to nothing about sex-before-the-institution-we-have-come-up-with-called-‘marriage’ anywhere else in the Good Book.

Now adultery, that’s another thing entirely. The Bible – and more importantly Jesus Himself – are quite clear that bonking another man’s wife (and I’m afraid, given the patriarchal societies of which the Bible is a product, it is always that way around) is wrong. In fact, it’s so wrong anybody indulging in it should, strictly speaking, be executed. That’s what the Bible says. Deuteronomy 22:22: “If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die.” Harsh. Very harsh. Especially on somebody like, say, King David. Although somehow or however he seems to have escaped unscathed from his duplicitous, not to mention murderous, tete-a-tete with Bathsheba.

But sex before marriage? Nada. Rien. Zilch. Unless, that is, you – or more accurately the Bible - classify sex before marriage as‘fornication’. Which is, at the very least, highly debatable.

Now I’m no Greek scholar, but a quick search on Google tells me that the word our Bibles have traditionally translated as ‘fornication’ is the Greek word πορνεία (porneia). And – as the most modern Bibles have recognised – there is little or no real evidence to support the view that ‘porneia’ was intended by the authors of the NT to denote sex before marriage. Modern Bibles translate ‘porneia’ simply as ‘sexual immorality’.

And as you don’t need me to point out, one man’s sexual immorality is another woman’s idea of a good time, or vice versa, if you get my drift. Because who decides what is sexually immoral? The Pope? Billy Graham? David Cameron (or Barack Obama if you reside on the other side of the pond)? Me? You?

Now personally I would include such practices as knocking up another chap’s good lady (ie adultery) in my definition of sexual immorality, and I’d also throw in quite a few of the obvious things that most of us would, I suppose – group sex, irresponsible casual sex, rape. Buying Madonna records.

Ok, not that last one. But you get the point, I trust. What constitutes ‘sexual immorality’ is a moot point, in different cultures, different times.

But as Matt has said, masturbation isn’t ‘sexual immorality’, despite what some people, many of whom read the Daily Mail, and, I daresay, probably haven’t had sex with their husband or wife for about twenty years, would tell you. I know there was that messy business with Onan in Genesis. But Onan – despite lending his name as a euphemism for what CS Lewis called, with truly Victorian prudishness ‘solitary vice’ – was punished by God for withdrawing the old chap too soon during rumpy pumpy with his dead brother’s wife, and hence spilling his seed on the ground. I don’t really understand why this was such a big deal, but apparently it was. So, whatever incurred Jehovah’s wrath on Onan, it certainly wasn’t bashing the bishop. (And as every student of 70s cinema knows, thanks to Woody Allen, masturbation is simply sex with someone you love. :smiley: )

The serious point of all this is that the Bible really doesn’t have much to say about sex before marriage. So I guess we really need to look elsewhere – although not necessarily outside the Bible – to answer JS’s original question. I’d say we need to be governed in our behaviour by the teachings of Jesus, and by the conscience God gave us.

Of which more v. soon. Tired Johnny. Bedways is rightways now.

Peace and love to all

Johnny


#5

Just a couple of things: (I really enjoyed your post by the way :laughing: ).

This is not my view, but I know some conservative Christians would argue that sex outside of marriage is bonking another man’s wife (even if she’s not married to him yet). The logic there goes something like; she will eventually be another man’s wife. There are obvious problems with this, however.

Secondly; If by “unscathed”, you mean that David wasn’t put to death, then yeah. But in general, I wouldn’t call what did happen to him, “unscathed”. :wink:


#6

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#7

For the record . . . I don’t really have an opinion on this, so will be perusing what you all have to say . . .

But for the record, Onan’s sin was refusing to raise up an heir for his brother, to carry on his dead brother’s name. It was his duty to marry the wife (Tamar) of his deceased brother and to provide her (if possible) with a child to carry on her husband’s legacy. Why Onan had a problem with this, I do not know. Obviously he didn’t have a problem with having sexual relations with her.

Tamar’s first husband (whose name presently escapes me – see? Onan was successful!) was so wicked that God killed him. Onan followed suit in his show of duplicity toward his dead brother (and toward Tamar). Judah (the father of these two) didn’t want to give his youngest son to what he saw as the “black widow,” and so Tamar conspired to become pregnant by Judah, and she succeeded. Judah was about to have her put to death for “playing the whore” when she produced evidence that Judah was the father of her (as it turned out) twins. And Tamar is in the ancestral line of Jesus. Interesting story.

The bible lesson (such as it is) for the day. :wink:

Love, Cindy


#8

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#9

well said, Johnny!
not sure i agree on casual/group sex, though! but that’s because i’m a damned liberal!
might take a while to explain on here, but hopefully suffice it to say that i’m friends with some people who are polyamourous. these people aren’t “casual” at all, so this is less contraversial in THAT sense, they simply have more than one relationship. they do all the responsible things and love each other…but i have no idea how they schedule things!
the link to group sex is that once in a while a few of them will get together!
is that wrong? many would just have the kneejerk reaction to say YES!
but i’m not so sure. the concept of ownership implicit in “normal” relationships to me can also be an extreme, but one society is comfortable with. polyamourous people don’t own each other, but they choose to be responsible towards each other. there is alot of honesty in their relationships. it does go wrong sometimes, sure! but not always.
but i guess we could call it “casual” if people are literally just treating each other as things and not doing any of the legwork to ensure each person is looked after. hell, even a marriage could involve “casual” sex in this sense!!!

Melchi, i’ve heard that logic, and that to me is SOOO twisted. i don’t know how these people make such an idol of sex and “the nuclear family”, etc. all that promise ring nonsense, etc. granted…teenagers just getting drunk and shagging each other is not good, either…but extremes are bad. there must be a more balanced approach…and i’m not talking about rebranding an extreme viewpoint (ONE MAN, ONE WOMAN, WRITTEN IN STONE BY GOD HIMSELF SO DON’T YOU DARE QUESTION IT) as they have done is no better an alternative.
my vicar Dave Tomlinson on his website (cunningly hidden on the interwebs as davetomlinson.co.uk) says some good stuff about sex. he even interviews the then editor of the Erotic Review, with some interesting points to make. i refer you to that for interesting stuff.
even CS Lewis thought sex was a bit silly, and that joking about it should be allowed, for one thing.
we make too much a deal over it.

EDIT: i can’t find the stuff on Dave Tomlinson’s site now…it’s likely still there, but buried somewhere.


#10

…dang, everything seems Freudian once the topic comes up!

(Sometimes worms in a can are just worms in a can… sometimes worms in a can are just worms in a can…)

:mrgreen:


#11

:laughing: :laughing: :laughing:


#12

Hi Melchie

Like James says, that idea is, to coin a phrase, bonkers. :smiley:

Quite right, of course. But surely a bit of a spanner in the works of the Biblical literalists, eh? :smiley:

Cheers

Johnny


#13

Hi James

Look mate, I’m just as much a damned liberal as you are. But I think people who engage in sexual activity with more than one partner, either simultaneously (which must be tricky) or in an alternating sequence, ought to have their knees stapled together, their bottoms smacked and a big red S (for swinger) scrawled on their foreheads in crayon. On second thoughts, ditch the spanking, they might like it! :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Seriously, my friend, your post - as no doubt you intended - illustrates my point perfectly. What one person considers ‘sexually immoral’ or ‘impure’, another may find perfectly acceptable, loving and even - perhaps - godly. If you remember (you’re probably too young :smiley: ), that self-appointed guardian of Britain’s morals, Mary Whitehouse, started getting hot under the collar the moment TV showed two unmarried people smiling at each other vaguely suggestively from opposite sides of a large room.

Mind you, she had a point. Thin end of the wedge and all that.

:wink:

More soon

J


#14

Hi Cindy

Thanks for filling in the proper Biblical background to the Onan story. (They should make a movie about him; they could call it Onan the Barbarian. :smiley: )

My Dad was preaching about Judah and Tamar in our church a few months ago. I don’t recall the exact details now, but one of the things he said was about how amazing it was that God used such obviously flawed people as part of the lineage of Jesus, as you say. Personally I find it very encouraging that God didn’t just choose saintly people, as indeed He doesn’t (often) in many other things - it gives us all hope! :smiley:

Cheers

Johnny


#15

No, actually, it’s the other way around, too, or the penalty wouldn’t have been enforced for both the man and the woman. And the one place Jesus talks most about the issue, He points out it goes the other way, too: a woman marrying a previously divorced man is committing adultery precisely because the man ought to still be regarded as the husband of the previous wife.

Granted, there was an androcentric attitude and application to all this–which Jesus in that Synoptic passage was directly challenging since the Mosaic law of divorce, given only because of the hardness of people’s hearts, had come to be interpreted that a man could divorce his wife for practically anything and with minimal legal bother, while the wife had almost no similar legal/cultural rights.

But as Christian universalists we ought to be especially attentive to Jesus’ insistence about one man, one woman, in a devotional unity that ideally should only result in temporary separation without remarriage (with the man effectively forcing the woman into prostitution and thus into adultery if he divorces her and marries someone else leading her to marry someone else: i.e. it’s the man’s fault primarily):

because that’s emblematic of the hope we have in God for ourselves!–and for everyone else! That as sinners and (figuratively speaking) adulteresses against God, God won’t permanently turn away but will always self-sacrificially keep alive the hope for our reconciliation to Him. (This has huge relevance to OT prophecies and promises, too, regarding God and Israel, which we routinely appeal to as principle applications of God’s persistence in saving sinners from sin.)

That’s why Jesus said men aren’t supposed to ever divorce a woman (or vice versa) except for the treachery of adultery, and why even then the men aren’t supposed to remarry (or vice versa). Divorcing except in a case of treachery is itself treachery against the other person; and marrying someone else after treachery means writing off ever reconciling the treacherous one (man or woman) to the marriage communion again.

To a merely patriarchical society of male privilege, of course, such statements would have been radically shocking in several ways. And indeed right after saying this, Jesus’ own disciples start complaining that if this is how things are to be between a man and a woman, it would be better not to marry at all! Which in context would have to mean simply sleeping with her rather than making a marriage commitment.

To which Jesus sarcastically replies (and the sarcasm has been generally missed by interpreters) with a typically rabbinic twist to their complaint, taking it more hyperliterally than they intended: that only those people who can accept it can accept it, and that if they want to make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God (rather than be that devoted to a woman) they can just go right ahead and do so.

(So naturally the church came to regard this as Jesus not only permitting but outright recommending that men leave women and become figurative although not literal eunuchs for the kingdom of God! http://www.wargamer.com/forums/smiley/picard-facepalm.jpg Which God managed to bring several real goods out of anyway, despite the major disruptions that caused, but still… http://www.wargamer.com/forums/smiley/ummno.gif not by context what He meant.)

Now, other parts of scripture would suggest that unless a man is sacrificing himself in service to the woman, the way God does for us, then he is NOT REALLY HER HUSBAND (but is only an adulterer so far usurping the place of the caring husband she ought to have) and so it would only be legal divorce not spiritual divorce for her to leave him. She has the right and obligation to not settle for less than a real husband (or even for the real husband), just as we all have both the right and the obligation not to settle for less than the real God and the real Christ, and indeed even to leave false Messiahs and false gods (or false Gods) to join in most intimate and loyal cooperation with the true One.

On the other hand, there is also an argument by the same token (and I have read that this concept was promoted by at least some Christians up through the second century at least) that even though God permits a man to divorce in cases of adultery, in principle not only should he not remarry but sacrifice himself as a martyr-testimony of God’s devotion to everyone, but should not even divorce her (even if he must separate for a while–not quite the same thing). Not even if her treachery involves betraying him to torture and death. BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT GOD HAS DONE AND DOES DO IN DEVOTION FOR ALL OF US!

(And yes I know that’s an idealization of a principle and that men can and do divorce bad women and remarry good ones clearly provided to them by God. My best friend from grade school is an example of this. Even so, to ignore or discount the principle is unwise, especially as Christian universalists.)

the spirit of the Law, when the Law became ethically inconvenient, while insisting the Law be perfectly kept in its details.]

Now He answers them and says, “What does Moses command you?”

And they said, “Moses permits ‘to write a scroll of divorce and send her away’.” (quoting Deuteronomy)

Yet Jesus said to them, "Have you not read, that He the Maker from the beginning, ‘made them male and female’? And said ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and join toward his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

"Consequently, they are no longer two, but one flesh.

“What God, then, yokes together, let no one separate!”

They said to Him, “Why did Moses command, to give her a scroll of divorce and send her away?!”

He said to them: "He wrote this in reference to the hardness of your hearts!–permitting (not ‘commanding’) you to send away your wives. But from the beginning it has not been this way!

“Now I am telling you: whoever sends away his wife, except for prostitution, and marries another woman, makes her commit adultery!” (And, in early copies of the Follower’s account, “And he who marries a woman thus sent away commits adultery (himself).”)

The disciples are saying to Him: “If the cause of a man with a woman is thus, it is better not to (legally) marry!”

But He said to them, "Not everyone can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from the womb; and there are eunuchs made no longer men by men; and eunuchs who emasculate themselves for the sake of the kingdom of the heavens.

“The one who can accept this, let him accept it.” (Otherwise, by implication, if a man cannot hold to this level of relationship between man and woman, let the man make himself eunuch for the kingdom of God!)

Now in the house (afterward) the disciples questioned Him again about this.

And He said to them: “Whoever sends away his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself sends away her husband and marries another, she is committing adultery.”

(from chapter 32 of the King of Stories harmonization project. Plug, plug. :mrgreen: )


#16

I’ll also mention in passing, since there’s a laudable tendency to treat Bathsheba as the innocent victim: she went out during a time of day when David was known to walk about on a porch of his roof, and took a bath on her roof where he alone could see her.

(I’ll add incidentally that taking a bath has nothing to do with her being called “Bathsheba”, which simply means “daughter of Sheba”, or a woman from Sheba/Saba, a more-or-less pagan country east of the Jordan in the Arabian peninsula. Her name, and the fact she bears Solomon later, does have a lot to do with the Queen (or rather the princess) of Sheba coming as an ambassador to visit Solomon as an adult, however–as well as with the subsequent claim of a surviving bedouin tribe in the area, even down to today, that they are not only related to Jesus by means of Bathsheba (and by the princess of Sheba via Solomon by the way) but that it was from their tribe that the magoi came to find Jesus at the Nativity. The items brought by the magoi/wise men are certainly specially indicative of that particular area of the world!–gold, frankencense and myrrh are or were major exports from Saba/Sheba. The story of Job is set in the same region, apparently prior to the institution of Israel, by the way. :slight_smile: )

David was certainly still being selfish (and flattering to God, trying to connive Him out of the punishment) about saying that he had sinned against God alone–obviously he had sinned hugely against Uriah, too, and could still be said to have sinned against Bathsheba by bringing her in to adulterate with her (even if she had been trolling for him specifically!) An unborn child died as a result of that, and a bunch of really horrible things happened to a bunch of people (including David’s other wives being eventually raped)–which God specifically took authoritative responsibility for ahead of time as punishment to David. :frowning:

Part of the point was that since David treated his own repentance so selfishly, instead of seriously saying something like, “Yes, I agree, I sinned, do with me as You will, but make restitution to my victims as much as possible”, his punishment ended up being spread out to people who, regardless of what they themselves may have sinned against God, didn’t deserve to suffer for David’s sins. One would hope David would eventually get the point that he ought to have taken it all upon himself, but he never seems to have done so.

I wrote a long account of the fallout from the Bathseba incident several years ago (just after Easter 2007) for the Cadre, which can be found here: Trees and Spears: a post-Easter remembrance and prayer for hope. For a preliminary discussion of some of the principles involved read my comments to an earlier Cadre post here. My side of the discussion points strongly to Christian universalism, even in the horrific tragedies of the Bathsheba incident fallout, by the way.


#17

James and Johnny; Well, quite… :mrgreen:


#18

Earlier this year I had an incredibly open and fair discussion at a retreat with some Christian anarchists as to whether polyamory was actually a legitimate and effective way of undermining power imbalances (the “archy” bit) within relationships (like James kind of suggested). We came to a general consensus against it (with some more explicitly opposed to it than others). Although I can’t remember the exact reasons why, I think it concerned the likelihood of jealousy to arise (as it seemed to do in (patriarchal) polygamous relationships in the Hebrew scriptures). I don’t actually find that a particularly compelling argument, but I think the major problem with polyamory (and indeed with casual sex) is that sexual union is the union of matrimony. Whenever we have sex with another person, we are no longer two people, but one flesh in a lifelong covenant (Ephesians 5:31). And what God has personally recreated as one person, none should dare separate (Matthew 19:5-6). That’s one of the explicit reasons Paul gives against having sex with sex workers in 1 Corinthians 6:16. Not because it has to do with any lack of niceness (humility, even), or because it’s bonking another’s future wife, but because sex is a sacred and creative marital union between two people. And if Christians aren’t to engage in polygamy, (and the Christian scriptures certainly speak nothing of that, but rather counsels bishops and deacons to be of “one wife”) then I think we aren’t to engage in any other sort of “pre-”/extra-marital sexing either.

But can Christians have sex before they are legally married? Absolutely. I don’t see why one would be under any compulsion to wait for the sanction of the State. In fact, I’d encourage you (if led, of course) to actively reject that marriage. But whomever we do have sex with, I think, becomes a new creation with us for life.

But I’m a totally hypocritical recovering-fundie, so take it with a grain (of edifying) salt.


#19

excellent post, mate.
yeah the polyamory thing is one most people usually just sweep aside with contempt.
what you say about it being anti-archy is true. it becomes less about proprietary “ownership” and more about love. not that all monogamous couples think they own one another! but the language is there.
i can’t speak for the people i know…they believe they are doing what’s right for them, and i’m not qualified to judge. i can just try and see the good in it, and i believe there is some good.
the issues of sex being a uniting thing that you and Jason have mentioned is quite compelling, however.
more to do with Jason’s post then yours, i’d caution that using archetypes which are used to illustrate in an analogous way God’s relationship with us as black and white definitions of the Norm, or the Ideal. i think alot of people have been damaged with that…the whole “one man, one woman” thing, or more offensively “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”.
the fact is, we are faced with a rainbow of sexualities. do deny that is to judge people’s hearts, something we are forbidden to do. so i accept it as a fact.
how it fits in with Scripture? still a question i am wrestling with, if i’m honest.

WAAB, i agree about the state marriage. i am mostly anti-state myself, though probably have not investigated the ins and outs as much as you have. i just rankle at control, at some human “authority” telling me how to live. however, i can appreciate there are some benefits to a state, though i think if we were less lazy and greedy, we could do those things ourselves.
i am undecided yet about state marriage…a blessing in the woods or a cave could do just as well. the state one has the benefit of tax breaks or something i think, however…might be worth milking that seeing as i’ve got to put up with it :laughing:


#20

Sure. But I think if a polyamorous Christian can insist that monogamy itself is predisposed to rousing “ownership”, then I think I can maintain that polyamory is predisposed to rouse envy! But I don’t think that the language of ownership is ever used with regards to marriage in the Christian scriptures (in fact, as early as its Genesis use, it is the man who uproots from his family and goes to join the woman. This is actually a very progressive and useful way of regulating human relationships as it entirely undermines patriarchy). I think mutual subjection, not ownership (nor even mutual ownership), is the only valid biblical ethos for all Christian relationships.

I agree. Human sexuality is diverse and a very difficult area to wrestle with. I know I came across a bit strong on my previous post (hence my attempt at a final caveat). But there are certainly countless points I don’t know how to yet resolve, such as the marital union of multiple previous partners, my own “union” with fantasy women (Matthew 5:28; though I think there is some difference between the acts of the flesh and the acts of the heart, even if the depravity and wages are ultimately identical. I don’t think “polishing the rocket” is particularly wrong in and of itself because you can’t be joined in union with yourself), how our sexual union could work post-resurrection, and so forth, and so forth. I am presently gay- and transgender-affirming, even though I haven’t worked out the nitty-gritty of revelation. Though I do think the Bible is wholly reliable (and infallible in that sense), I can’t and won’t interpret the Bible in a social vacuum. My interpretative lens (for better or worse) is Yeshua, the archetype of those who suffer and are “the least”. And I simply can’t just be gay- or transgender-tolerant either (which is a particularly safe position, but I don’t think it’s particularly helpful position to those brothers and sisters. I think Yeshua tended to lean towards dangerous inclusivism, at the cost of religious properness. Man, I’m sounding like a total liberal!).

Oh definitely. I think a legal contract might be very helpful in keeping some people together. And for that reason, whether it’s ideal or not, it should be considered. (Incidentally, I think its interesting that the State is an authority on marriage and essentially forms the re-creation of both partners, even if only in a diminished legal sense. Only carelessly throwing that out there as a loose thought.) And any tax-break would be helpful too (and I’m all for legally and graciously minimizing one’s taxes)! If I am ever betrothed, I doubt I’d be allowed to avoid the legal contract bit. I’m not sure I could ever find a bride as peculiarly convicted as I! Although I do have two married Christian anarchist friends (who are Quakers) that rejected such a marriage together, so clearly such women exist!