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Designed for Intimacy

Dennis R. Wiles
FBC Arlington
June 1, 2014

PLANTED. . . In Community to Build Relationships
Spring 2014
Designed for Intimacy
1 Corinthians 6:1-20

This sermon is my attempt to address the topic of human intimacy in particular within the broader context of human relationships in general. It is the final message in a 6-part series entitled, PLANTED . . . in Community to Build Relationships. I’ve given this message the title, Designed for Intimacy and 1 Corinthians 6:1-20 serves as the Biblical text – although I will examine numerous other texts in order to more fully engage this subject.

(NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New International Version, Zondervan, 2011.)

I would like to begin with a brief presentation of the context for this discussion.

CONTEXT
Contemporary American society is characterized by support for individual freedom, individual rights, choices, eclecticism and a consensus-based approach to morality and truth.

We live in America in the 21st century. This is a day where technological advances have pulled the world closer together and leveled the playing field with respect to the availability of knowledge. A few keystrokes on a computer or questions posed to Siri can result in an abundance of information on any subject. It is an amazing time to be alive. Make no mistake. I love being alive in this period in human history.

With that said, it is also a challenging time to be alive. We Americans love our individualism. We particularly love our freedom of expression. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter represent contemporary Americana at is best.

Say what you want! Post what you want! Get it out there! America needs to know what you are wearing, what you are eating, what you are reading and be sure and “check in” so we will know where you are at all times.

#thisismyworldandyouarealllivinginit!

On a more serious level, we Americans enjoy deciding and making up our own minds. We don’t like to be pushed in a corner. We like choices. We also like to suspend judgment about truth until we have had sufficient time to determine who all agrees with any presentation of it.

Morality is often susceptible to public opinion. Surveys and polls have to be conducted before any judgment can be rendered as to what is moral or immoral. And – any judgment about morality is always temporary and subject to further analysis and polling. The only thing that is absolute is that nothing is absolute.

We also love both tolerance and intolerance. It is an amazing cultural paradox. On the one hand, it is fashionable to appear to be tolerant. Especially if toleration means that you are willing to push any envelope and cross any historically identifiable boundary.

However, intolerance is also fashionable if you happen to encounter someone who resists radical reinterpretations of truth or morality. If someone disagrees with you – they can’t be tolerated!

As I said, it is a challenging time to be alive.

With all of that said – let’s get to the topic for the day.

Designed for Intimacy

Our culture is characterized by divergent views on intimacy – particularly sexual intimacy. I want to hone in on one particular manifestation of where this divergence most significantly affects the Body of Christ – the Church.

This message is not an attempt to answer the broad, far-reaching arguments of those who totally reject Scripture as authoritative. With few exceptions, in this message I want to address the movement today that seeks to re-interpret sexual intimacy within the confines of Christian orthodoxy. I also want to attempt to provide a clear interpretation of what the Bible teaches about this important topic.

Let me begin with the arguments presented today by some within the Christian community regarding sexuality.

Before I read them, let me say this message is an attempt to answer each one of these arguments with a Biblical response. With that said, here are the arguments presented today as I understand them:

KEY ARGUMENTS PRESENTED TODAY REGARDING SEXUALITY
1. Your body belongs to you. You can choose to do whatever you wish with your body.

2. Sexual intimacy is available, accessible and encouraged. Considerations about morality or marriage are personal decisions and are not bound by any universally recognized truth or moral code. Even in the Bible there are numerous examples of great men who were polygamous and played by their own rules.

3. People are born with sexual attraction orientations. Gender is principally a psychological phenomenon and is a matter of choice.

4. Homosexuals are born with a same-sex-attraction orientation that cannot be altered.

5. The Bible does not really address “homosexuality” itself. The Bible primarily addresses two phenomena with respect to homosexual activity: heterosexuals committing homosexual acts or cultic practices in idol worship that included homosexual activity. Prohibitions in the Old Testament concerning homosexuality are just for Israel anyway. There is no universal truth in the Law and Christians have been set free from the Law. Further, the Bible never really addresses what we know today as homosexuality. Within the Christian context, the newest voice to seek support for this view is Matthew Vines. In his book, God and the Gay Christian, Vines sets forth a compelling argument that what is meant by “homosexuality” today is foreign to the Biblical text. Vines is a former student at Harvard University and is a bright and winsome young man. His video presentation that pre-dates the publication of his book went viral and put him on the proverbial “map” of this cultural debate. I have read his book and listened to his speech. Though I have never met Matthew, I like him. He is a brother in Christ who seeks to hold the Bible in high regard. For reasons stated later in this message, I disagree with his conclusions and have not found his argument to be convincing.

6. Jesus never addressed homosexuality. If it was such a sinful lifestyle, why did He never discuss it?

7. The “one-flesh” imagery in relation to sexual intimacy in the Bible is merely a reference to “kinship-bonding” and the Biblical references to “male and female” primarily focus on the sameness of human beings, not the complementary differences between genders. The shifting of focus away from the commands given in Genesis 1 by God to humanity to a stronger emphasis on Genesis 2 and the “not good for man to be alone” passage is argued best by James Brownson in his book, Bible, Gender and Sexuality. Brownson is the James and Jean Cook Professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. I have only read excerpts from this book and numerous reviews of it. I appreciate Brownson’s scholarship and the tone of his writing, however, I disagree with the conclusions of his work – at least as I have understood them based on my limited engagement with his material.

8. Anyone opposing gay marriage or “gay rights” is a right-wing, homophobic bigot who needs to be silenced. As I mentioned earlier, I am primarily focusing on the arguments presented by Christians who are attempting to re-interpret sexuality in light of current day discoveries and moods. However, I also mentioned that I would address a few exceptions. This is one of the exceptions. There are many Christians and non-Christians who have argued their case about the re-interpretation of sexuality with kind and gracious voices. However, there are some shrill voices in this debate as well. Some of them are mean-spirited and seem bent on destroying anyone in their path.

Further, there are actual organizations in place that are targeting regions of the country to seek to change the prevailing views of sexuality from the perspective of civil rights.

An article in The New York Times on April 27, 2014, entitled, Gay Rights Push Shifts Its Focus South and West, by Nicholas Confessore and Jeremy W. Peters, reveals the plans of some gay activists:

The country’s leading gay rights groups and donors, after a decade focused on legalizing same-sex marriage, are embarking on a major drive to win more basic civil rights and workplace protections in Southern and Western states where the rapid progress of the movement has largely eluded millions of gay men and lesbians.

The effort will shift tens of millions of dollars in the next few years to what advocates described as the final frontier for gay rights: states like Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas and Texas, where Republicans dominate elected office and traditional cultural views on homosexuality still prevail.

The new strategy reflects the growing worry within the movement that recent legal and political successes have formed two quickly diverging worlds for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Americans: one centered on the coasts and major cities, and another stretching across the South and up through the Rocky Mountains, in states where gays enjoy virtually no legal protections against discrimination.

“We can’t allow two distinct gay Americas to exist,” said Tim Gill, a Colorado philanthropist whose foundation is putting about $25 million into a handful of mostly conservative-leaning states over the next five years. “Everybody should have the same rights and protections regardless of where they were born and where they live.”

In addition to these concerted efforts, there are also examples of Christians who have attempted to share their views on sexuality and have experienced a backlash as a result. We all know the well-publicized frustration some folks have with Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. We can now add David and Jason Benham to the list of those who have been criticized for their traditional views on sexuality.

Unlike Robertson, the Benhams actually were canceled from their proposed new reality show on HGTV. These two brothers are successful real estate entrepreneurs who were chosen to star in Flip it Forward – a new television program on HGTV. However, once their views on sexuality and abortion were revealed, gay activist groups protested and the brothers were removed from consideration as stars of the new show.

I don’t know the Benham’s – but their journey is but one example of the energy exerted by gay activist groups in America that are seeking to shift the cultural trends in their direction.

I could go on and on. I think you get the point. I want to shift my discussion to an analysis of what the Bible teaches about sexuality and intimacy.

In the midst of such confusion both within and beyond the Church in America, I want to seek to provide some clarity based on a Biblical perspective.

CLARITY
Before I begin an examination of the relevant Biblical texts, I want to recommend some resources to you. I have benefitted greatly from the insights gleaned from each of them:

Four Resources
The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, by Robert Gagnon
The Moral Vision of the New Testament, by Richard Hays
Can You Be Gay and Christian? By Michael L. Brown
God and the Gay Christian: A Response to Matthew Vines, Edited by Albert Mohler

Now, let’s look at the Biblical presentation of sexuality and intimacy. We need to start at the very beginning of the story.

Genesis 1:26-31; 2:18-25
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Genesis 2:18-25
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

It was not good for the man to be alone. God decided to create a suitable helper for him. What does this text mean? Is it a reference to the “loneliness” of Adam? Is it a reference to a psychological phenomenon? Or, is it a functional reference. In other words, Adam could not fulfill his role in God’s original design alone. I would read the text to answer both of these in the affirmative. Adam needed a complementary human being in order for him to fulfill God’s command to “be fruitful” – and he needed a partner to experience the beauty of the community God desired for him.

The two original humans were male and female: complementary to each other, different than each other. So – God created the woman. Man and woman – both human beings. Both bearing God’s image. But – they are different from each other. They complement each other – just as God designed.

God’s plan was for these human beings to engage in sexual intimacy in the context of marriage (one-flesh) and procreate. And – He further charged them with the responsibility of exercising dominion over creation. God’s original design for human beings was for them to live in families. A husband and a wife. These two come together to form a family unit. They then engage sexual intimacy and fulfill the original desire of the Creator. Only through the engagement of the male and female can the commands of God be fulfilled.

The seeming focus in Genesis 2 is not on the “sameness” of Adam and Eve – but, rather, their differences. Adam needed someone else. Someone suitable. Someone other than. God answered that need with a woman. A “one-flesh” relationship was now possible and humanity could now be fruitful and fill the earth.

Genesis 2 ends in beauty. Adam and Eve – in the Garden of Eden. Perfect innocence. In harmony with God, with each other and with His creation. Beautiful.

Then -
Genesis 3
The saddest page in the Bible! Separation, shame, blame, sin and death all result from humanity’s willful disobedience to God. The Fall of Humanity changes everything.

The beautiful and innocent presentation of sexuality and intimacy was forever altered by the sinfulness of humanity. Depravity would now have a profound effect on all aspects of human reality. One of the first things we read about after the Fall is the murder of Abel at the hands of his brother, Cain. It didn’t take long for the effects of sin to begin to exact its toll.

In fact, the next few pages of the Bible reveal just how bad it could be. God even despaired of creating human beings in the first place (Genesis 6:6). You know what happened next – He flooded the earth in judgment. After the water receded, the journey began again with Noah’s family as the only human representatives left on earth.

Something interesting happens in Genesis 9 in the Noah narrative that is germane to our conversation about sexuality. Some have argued that there are no universal laws in the Old Testament. There are no morally binding truths found there.

But – let’s consider this text:

Genesis 9:4-7
4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.
7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

After the Flood, God reveals universal truth. Murder will not be allowed in the human family. This is not just for Israel (which does not yet exist).
This directive from God pre-dates Israel and the Ten Commandments. Yet – it seems to indicate the universal regard for human life expected by God. And – notice the command to be fruitful is given again. This “second chance” now is alive through Noah and his descendants.

With regard to the idea of universal morality – let me also point us to the Ten Commandments – particularly to the prohibition to commit adultery.

Exodus 20:14
14 “You shall not commit adultery.

Adultery is specifically forbidden in the Ten Commandments.
Again – here is a moral code from God that has universal application. Jesus will affirm this teaching in His comments on marriage.

Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12
In these texts – Jesus was specifically asked to address marriage and divorce. In His answer to the questions, He reveals truth that is applicable to our topic today.

Jesus directly addressed marriage and sexuality. He referred to God’s original design for sexual expression to be experienced in a marital relationship. In case anyone is wondering about when it is okay to experience sexual intimacy, Jesus affirms sexual intimacy only in a marriage relationship.

Jesus affirmed God’s original design for sexual intimacy to be that of the “one-flesh” relationship described in Genesis 2. This “one-flesh” union is only possible in male-to-female sexual expression. Jesus’ answer hearkens back to Genesis 1-2. He uses the phrase “one-flesh” in His teaching. The depth of this metaphor is enhanced by Jesus’ comment that “God has joined” the husband and wife together. Human beings are not to “undo” what God has joined together. This seems to be deeper than a bond of kinship. It actually connects human beings to the original design in Genesis 1-2.

Now – what about the argument that Jesus never addressed homosexuality?

All reputable scholars agree that homosexuality was universally forbidden in Jewish society. Jesus did not address it specifically because it was a non-issue. He also never addressed bestiality, incest or various other examples of sexual perversion. Jesus did address homosexuality – by not addressing it! In other words, He blessed and affirmed what was already revealed in the Old Testament about marriage and sexuality. The Old Testament has specific prohibitions regarding homosexual behavior. The Old Testament also has specific stipulations regarding marriage. Jesus upheld the teachings on marriage. What makes us think He would disregard the rest of the teachings in the Old Testament concerning sexuality?

So – what does the Old Testament teach about sexuality and intimacy – besides what we have already read in Genesis 1-2 and Exodus 20?

Leviticus 18
This entire page in Scripture is given to the prohibitions regarding sexual intimacy. Leviticus is often referred to as the “holiness code” of the Old Testament. It is filled with admonitions from God that help Israel maintain the holiness God desired.

It is also a book that is easily misunderstood and misinterpreted today. In his book, Can You Be Gay and Christian? – Michael L. Brown cites a sarcastic letter from a certain J. Kent Ashcraft to Dr. Laura Schlessinger that illustrates my point. (Michael L. Brown, Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding With Love & Truth to Questions About Homosexuality, FrontLine, 2014, pp. 107-8).

I can’t take the time here to explain the whole science of Biblical hermeneutics, but suffice it to say there is a legitimate, sensible reading of the Old Testament that takes the authority of Jesus and the establishment of the New Covenant into consideration that clears up the confusion reflected in some immature interpretations of the Old Testament.

With regard to sexual intimacy, Leviticus 18 has much to say. Leviticus 20 also has a relevant connection.

Leviticus 18:22; 20:13
You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. (NASB)

If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them. (NASB)

“Abomination” – this is not just ritual defilement that only occurs when Israel violated one of the numerous dietary or social laws (e.g. eating shellfish, wearing a certain type of garment, etc.) Some of the arguments presented in Matthew Vines’ book on homosexuality center on a limited and inaccurate view of “abomination” in the Old Testament.

An “abomination” is something that is morally detestable to God. The Hebrew word is toevah – and it is found many times in the Old Testament. Interestingly, in the entire book of Leviticus, homosexuality is the only sin mentioned as an “abomination” to God. There are numerous places in the Old Testament where certain things are mentioned as an abomination to God (e.g. Deut. 12:31 (child sacrifice); 7:26 (Idolatry); 25:15-16 (dishonest business practices). These are not simple cultic practices that are merely taboo. These are deeply detestable acts of rebellion. Consequently, the word “abomination.”

However, even if we all agree that homosexuality is condemned in Leviticus, there are those who argue that these prohibitions only are binding for Israel. In other words, all of the perverted sexuality of Leviticus is only wrong for Israel.

Leviticus 18:24-30
24 “‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the foreigners residing among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 28 And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
29 “‘Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. 30 Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the Lord your God.’”

God specifically refers to these sexual immoral acts as being universally immoral. The prohibition of homosexual activity is not just for Israel. God makes it clear that it is sexually immoral for all and subject to His judgment. God never punishes another nation for not keeping Israel’s dietary laws. He does punish them for sexual immorality.
The Old Testament is clear and authoritative. It affirms sexual intimacy among married couples. Sexual activity is allowed only in the marital relationship.

Now – let’s look at what the New Testament has to say about homosexuality in particular.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Verse 9 in the New American Standard Bible (a much more literal translation than the NIV) reads like this:

Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals . . . (NASB)

The key to understanding this verse lies in an evaluation of the Greek text. I’ll get to that in just a second. Before I do, let me point out that if we read the entire text for today’s message – 1 Corinthians 6:1-20, we discover it speaks to sexual immorality in general.

Sexual immorality is specifically condemned in this text.

In fact, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 offers us a powerful theological and spiritual insight:

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Remember the idea that – your body is yours, do what you want???

If you are a believer, you have been charged in Scripture to honor God with your body.

Further, Paul admonishes his readers to simply flee sexual immorality because our sexual sins are actually sins against our own bodies. Listen to 1 Corinthians 6:18:

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

And – in 1 Corinthians 6:13 – Paul reminds us that God has not given us our bodies so that we can abuse them by engaging in sexual immorality:

13 . . . The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

Also, in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17, Paul hearkens back to the “one-flesh” metaphor from Genesis 2 to support his plea for sexual purity. He compares the “one-flesh” dynamic to the union we have with the Holy Spirit as believers. He cautions his readers to be careful about engaging in sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage – because of the significance of that “one-flesh” union that is meant only for a husband and wife.

Now – let’s look at one of the more controversial verses in this discussion. This verse is dissected in any serious treatment of the Christian perspective of sexuality. In most of the literature, 1 Corinthians 6:9 one of the focal points in any conversation about what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. The scholarly discussion focuses on the Greek vocabulary used by Paul in this verse. Let’s look at Paul’s choice of words:

There are two Greek words used here that are very important to the conversation about homosexuality:

-malakoi – “soft” – this is a slang word for the passive partner in homosexual sex. The New American Standard Bible translates this word with the English “effeminate.” Many scholars think it refers to the passive homosexual partner in a sexual relationship. Homosexuality was known in the ancient world to often involve a younger man and an older man. The common term for this arrangement is “pedastry.” However, reading Plato and Homer offers evidence that homosexual behavior in the ancient world was certainly not limited to this practice.

-arsenokoitai – “lying with a male” – this seems to be a word coined by Paul. It is a compound word in Greek and actually is the translation of Leviticus 18:22. When the Old Testament was translated into Greek (The Septuagint), the words used in the translation are actually combined by Paul into this Greek word. This word clearly refers to man who chooses to have sex with another man. It does not limit the prohibition to cultic prostitution, pedastry – or any other setting, whether it is monogamous or not. Paul is simply stating that engaging in homosexual sex is outside the bounds of what is expected of Kingdom citizens. It is on the list with greed, drunkenness, idolatry, slander, swindling, stealing and sexual immorality in generally.

Paul clearly understood the moral and holiness code of Leviticus 18. His particular usage of the actual words in 1 Corinthians 6 indicate his agreement with the prohibitions of Leviticus 18. So, Paul points out that both the active and passive partners in homosexual intimacy are choosing a lifestyle that is inconsistent with the Kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:11
“And that is what some of you were” – Paul reminds his readers that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring redemption and restoration to any sinner! The idea that people cannot change is a refusal to embrace the full redemptive power of the Gospel! This verse is often skipped over in this discussion. I have read numerous sources who argue that homosexuals in particular cannot change. To even suggest that they can – or might need to change – is often met with sharp disagreement and swift condemnation. The State of California is on record opposing the idea that homosexuals can change as it has outlawed any kind of “reparative therapy” being offered to children or teenagers.

I am not a proponent of radical, reparative therapeutic methods being imposed on teenagers or children. Too many mistakes have already been made in this regard. In fact, some people erroneously believe that our ministry, Living Hope is engaged in such therapeutic techniques. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our ministry, capably led by Ricky Chelette, is a Christ-centered, discipleship focused program that seeks to offer healing and hope to broken people. Our desire is to help people learn how to follow Jesus Christ and accept His healing and grace in every aspect of their lives – including their sexuality.

The testimonies from broken people who have found healing are abundant. All of this simply corroborates what the Bible teaches – the Gospel has transformative power! All of us are bent toward sinning and brokenness! Our only hope is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has the power to change and heal anyone who turns to Him!

Now – just a few more thoughts and we will get to our conclusions.

1 Timothy 1:8-11
In 1 Timothy 1:10, Paul mentions homosexuality again as evidence of an ungodly, sinful and unholy lifestyle.

I don’t have time to address Romans 1 fully today. It is a powerful presentation from the Apostle Paul about the condition of humanity as a result of rebellion and sinfulness.

Romans 1:18-32
This text outlines the tragic result of the Fall of Humanity. Human beings have been guilty of rejecting God for centuries. The ramifications of sinful disobedience has been disastrous for creation in general and the human family in particular.

One area where the disastrous results of sin are most apparent is that of sexuality. Human depravity is the explanation for those who reject God’s original design for sexual intimacy in exchange for inadequate, substitutional behavior.

CONCULSIONS

As followers of Jesus, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We are to honor God with our bodies!

Participating in sexual activity results in a union that occurs through no other activity. The Biblical language used to describe sexual union is “one flesh.”

The only sexual union specifically blessed in Scripture is that which occurs between a husband and wife who are married to each other.

There are examples of polygamy in the Old Testament. It is characteristic of the royal and the wealthy. It is never blessed or affirmed. It is never portrayed as being prevalent throughout Jewish society. And – the New Testament clearly teaches monogamy in marital relationships.

There is ample evidence that homosexuality was practiced in the ancient world in the same manner in which some practice it today – in relational contexts, between lovers who chose to live both relationally and sexually as homosexuals. The discussion about “orientation” was not characteristic of that day, but the lifestyle of homosexuality existed.

Homosexuality is addressed in both the Old Testament and New Testament. In every instance, it is clearly and universally treated negatively. It is not restricted to just cultic activity characteristic of idol worship.

In Romans 1:18-32, homosexual activity is portrayed as an example of the Fall of Humanity. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, homosexuality is specifically mentioned as an example of a lifestyle inconsistent with the Kingdom of God. In both Matthew and Mark, Jesus directly affirms the “one-flesh” union between a husband and a wife.

CHOICES

We have the right and the responsibility to choose how we respond to God’s revelation of His will and His desire.

Ultimately, we will decide whether or not we will participate in sexual immorality as we seek the intimacy God has provided.

As we engage others with whom we disagree about these complex issues, here are some simple reminders to guide us in our conversations:

-Learn – We all need to be learners. Take time to study the issues at hand. It is worth the effort. We need to be informed followers of Jesus.

-Look – If you are going to have a conversation about a sensitive topic with someone, take the time to look them in the eyes. So often we look past real people just to make our points in a debate. Each person you meet is a human being, designed by God, made in His image and has the potential to reflect His glory in creation. See them as such – not just as an adversary in a debate.

-Listen – Try listening to people. Much can be learned by listening! Take the time to listen to those with whom you disagree. Truly listen. Don’t use the time they are talking to simply formulate your response. Just listen. It is a humbling practice that is good for all of us!

-Latitude – Always grant latitude to others. Grace is one of the means by which we can do this. It is not condescending or patronizing at all. You and I simply need to learn that we are not going to “argue” people to our side of a debate. Share your opinion – your informed opinion, with grace. Then – let the other person have time to think about it, to reflect upon it and consider it. They may not ever come to agree with you. That is okay. Our role is not to win every argument on any subject!

-Love – Always, always, always love. Jesus taught us to love everyone. Love is the most powerful force on earth. Let the love of God flow through you.

This journey is to be continued. There are multiple issues that we must face as God’s people living in the midst of a free society. We have the opportunity to be the presence of Christ in a fallen world. May we honor God as we seek to . . .

Glorify God by Following The Jesus Way!