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Sexual Morality (Adults Only)

Jay Tea wrote a very good article this week about his stand on Abortion. In the course of that discussion and the debate in the comments following the article, opinions regarding sexual behavior and orientation were naturally expressed. That got me to thinking about sexuality and the moral imperatives we follow regarding them. From what I learned in various biology classes, the sexual imperative is arguably the strongest after self-preservation, and so a person's sexual choices and behavior can be said in many ways to mirror the character of the person at their heart. The next obvious question, then, is the moral value of a person's sexuality, and it is there that the discussion so often devolves into bitter attacks and accusations. Given how close to our heart our own preferences sit, it is not surprising that a practice which we find strange would also be seen as "wrong" and offensive. What further complicates the matter is the fact that some behaviors go well outside acceptable boundaries of even the most tolerant consideration, particularly those which involve harm to other persons and deliberate assaults on the general sense of propriety. In between those extreme practices and what we might call "normal" sexual behavior, however, is a range of practices which may be strange to us, but which may reasonably be considered the private business of those who practice it, while in some other cases the behavior may cross the line into moral offense.

I am a practicing Christian, but I understand that to a non-believer my Scripture will have no weight, so for this article I will try to consider the matter using reason and - hopefully - a common set of moral standards. I mention my faith here, for the reason that I wish to be clear about my own moral position, and while I may not understand every point as fully as I wish, I accept the Lord's word as true. I would mention, however, that I do not always agree with those who quote a snip or scrap of the Bible in one place or another to support their argument, while ignoring the broader context of Scripture. What I mean can be seen by briefly considering the 'Bible' argument against homosexuality. The verses in Leviticus which condemn homosexuality, for example, are not far removed from verses condemning wearing garments made of mixed fibers, eating pigs or certain other 'unclean' foods. You see, the Hebrew people in that time were in the wilderness, where any communicable disease could literally wipe out the nation. I am not trying to use that as proof that the Bible was tolerant of homosexuality, but those verses need to be seen in the context in which they were written and originally taught. Further in the Bible, other verses come up, including 1st Corinthians and 1st Timothy, but again there is reason to be careful about overstating God's law regarding homosexuality. For example, even though I am sure that my Lord encountered homosexuals in various places during His ministry on Earth, there is no verse quoting Jesus condemning homosexuality. The case of the Roman Centurion whose faith Jesus commended (Matthew 8:4-6) is worth consideration in this respect, but I leave it at that. Speaking just for myself, I think the Bible warns us that what makes the sin in sexuality is the lust. It should certainly be obvious that lust has brought many a man to his ruin, and adultery is a grievous sin in the eyes of the Lord. There are verses in Proverbs, for example, which warn against treating a person as a thing, against thinking of a human being only as an object for serving a sexual desire.

I don't know about you, but I worry a bit about my struggles to think of every person I meet in the right way. It's easy to fall into stereotypes, to take a superficial image and assume that's all there is to that person, but such thinking is an offense to the greater, unseen, person. We've come far enough in our cultural mores, to understand that a person's race, gender, and age are not valid indicators of capability or character. Even so, what we see on the surface still affects our judgment and influences our actions, and when a sexual orientation is clear, that reaction might be strong. Also, we wrestle - or at least I do - with a variety of impulses in response to situations. I try not to judge other people for things they screw up, because my own record is not particularly impressive.

Some time back, I had what I think is a revelation for my faith - that the reason God makes us consider our sin and repent, is so we are not weighed down by that sin, that we are enabled to move ahead and grow into the person we are meant to be. With regard to sexuality, we must learn to govern strong desire and focus our actions to an appropriate goal. Not only that, but we must be careful to avoid that subtle temptation to believe that we can act without consequence. Adultery is wrong, divorce is wrong, and lust is wrong, because such things diminish the person and lead to destruction and suffering. Sexual sin is among the worst, precisely because it cuts deep into its victim.


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Comments (11)

I've always considered ther... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

I've always considered there to be two basic categories of sex. Selfish sex is generally sinful, while selfless sex almost never is.

I don't think God cares what you do, how you do it, or with whom it's done. It's the "why" that can be a problem.

-IMHO

There is a fundemental prin... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

There is a fundemental principle in regards to creation. He and she of each species for the purpose of multiphying. Homosexuality is a deviancy that I have on par with pedophiles and people who practice beastiality. I do not want any harm to come to them through violence. I pray for them. But there lifestyle is repulsive. ww

It is easy to fall into tha... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

It is easy to fall into that trap of stereotypes rather than seeing people as individuals. Thank you again, for a thoughtful piece, D.J.

The verses in Levi... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
The verses in Leviticus which condemn homosexuality, for example, are not far removed from verses condemning wearing garments made of mixed fibers, eating pigs or certain other 'unclean' foods. You see, the Hebrew people in that time were in the wilderness, where any communicable disease could literally wipe out the nation.

I understand your point, but murder, thievery, false witness, and adultery were also condemned while the Hebrew people were in this same environment. I see you found 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10, but there is also Romans 1:26-32, which adds that applauding those who do such things is also sin. Like all sins, except the unforgivable sin, the practice of homosexuality is forgivable once a person repents of it.

For example, even though I am sure that my Lord encountered homosexuals in various places during His ministry on Earth, there is no verse quoting Jesus condemning homosexuality.

It wasn't Jesus purpose to give an exhaustive list of all possible sins. He did not come to condemn the world, but to save it. He made it clear that everyone sins, not only by their actions, but by their thoughts, yet in doing so it was to show how powerless people are to be right with God on their own merit. His mission was to destroy the works of the devil and pay the price for sin so that we can freely receive His right standing before God.

Also, John 16:12-13 shows that Jesus did not reveal everything, but left that up to His Apostles and Paul includes homosexuality in his lists of sins.

I don't know about you, but I worry a bit about my struggles to think of every person I meet in the right way.

How about the ones you share the road with? Seems like people are quick to curse other drives with no means of knowing anything about them other than how and what they drive.

Thanks for sharing your fai... (Below threshold)
Studley:

Thanks for sharing your faith and biblical interpretations. I found it a very thoughtful entry. It surely appears you spent time in prayer before writing.

...divorce is wrong...</... (Below threshold)
Bullwinkle:

...divorce is wrong...


You never met any of my ex-wivers, did you?

DJI read all of yo... (Below threshold)

DJ

I read all of your comments on spiritual matters and often do not comment, but always enjoy reading them. However in this instance, I'm going to disagree and want to encourage you that scripture never will have no weight.

The power of the Word is supernatural (now that is a comment that may not carry much weight with commenters here, but it is nonetheless true) and has the power to transform lives.

On your topic of sexual morality I'll suggest that we live in a broken (fallen) world and sin is sin and sexual immorality is sin. Trying to define the level of sin and evil is problematic.

I would like to suggest a book that is making the rounds now that is truly extraordinary and has been described as the "Pilgrim's Progress" of our generation: The Shack , by William P. Young. I think you will find that it is a good read.


"The power of the Word i... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"The power of the Word is supernatural"

You may not agree with this Hugh, but I think you have to believe in that power for it to have power. I read an comment posted by an agnostic recently that when something like this: tried it, didn't work... Well I believe if he would have believed it would have worked.

Taken further, if fewer and fewer people in this country believe, that power is diminished. But I could be totally wrong and mean no offence, just my 2 cents.

On that same line of thought, I wonder if the more and more we acquiesce to the thought process which accepts that Christian and Thiest arguments have no weight (as I do) do we contribute to that diminishment?

If sexuality reveals the pe... (Below threshold)
Imhotep:

If sexuality reveals the person at the heart, then we should support those who have accepted their sexuality as homosexual and are "out of the closet". The real sin is not being out of the closet, if you are homosexual...because of the self-hatred.

Heterosexuals should not condemn it, but respect the person for their own self-awareness.

And if they sicken you, wild willie, then maybe you should look into yourself to see why you are so bothered by other peoples sexual struggles.

Good job with the Post DJ.

And Crickmore once again pr... (Below threshold)
PBunyan:

And Crickmore once again proves the timeless words of Ronald Reagan: "Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so."

D'oh, posted #10 on the wro... (Below threshold)
PBunyan:

D'oh, posted #10 on the wrong thread.




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