Theology

Divorcing Tradition.

You probably think I’m going to spend this whole post talking about how it’s wrong to have sex outside of marriage, like any other Christian (hopefully) would. But I’m only going to spend part of it doing that. The other part will talk about how it’s wrong to automatically assume you’re going to get married, or that God wants this for you.

Firstly, let’s establish that sex is very enjoyable because God made it that way. Second, let’s also establish that God doesn’t see it simply as a way to “make babies”; it is the best present He can give to a married couple who wish to show their love for each other in a greater way than they’ve been able to do before. Thirdly: God intends a husband and wife to enjoy this gift very regularly – this is actually one of His conditions for marriage. It’s clear that sex within marriage is very spiritual: it certainly appears positively in the Bible enough times to justify it. If you’re in any doubt, check out the whole of The Song of Solomon, which reaffirms these points – be warned, though; it can be rather explicit.

Outside of marriage, sexual acts become something very different. Many parts of the Bible identify it as ‘fornication’, literally defined as to “have sex with someone you are not married to” in the Oxford dictionary. While it’s true that we all sin daily, God views this particular sin somewhat more harshly, as we can see in 1 Corinthians 6: 18-20: “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body… (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” God created your body in His image. You can imagine how He would feel about sinning against it, and about mistreating a very great gift that He intended only to be enjoyed by married couples (“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled” – Hebrews 13: 4).

However… Does God bless everyone with the same gifts? This should be the key question in relation to a Christian’s thoughts on marriage, especially when children are taught from a young age that their main aims in life should be to focus on a good career and starting a family. These things represent society’s plans for you. It may not necessarily be what God has planned for you.

Genesis 2: 18 is very literal when it says “it is not good for man to be alone”. Man is susceptible to loneliness. Rather than immediately creating woman, though, God creates the animals, and it isn’t until three verses later that we see Eve being created from Adam’s rib; another human. At that time, there were two of them; Adam and Eve were the only people, a man and a woman. God made it very clear beforehand that His plan for their lives was to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1: 28).

Nowadays, times are different to how they were in the Garden of Eden. In modern times, we don’t necessarily need marriage to fight loneliness: our Christian friends in the church help us do that. Finding time to be alone, away from the hustle and bustle of society, actually takes quite a concerted effort. We’re constantly surrounded by other people. The world’s population is ever increasing and everyone, including those in the Christian community, states their hope for life as “to get married and have a family”. True, God fully endorses this, but he does not, in fact, say that it is a path meant for everyone. 1 Peter 4: 1-2 challenges us; “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased sin: That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” Should God not have marriage in mind, it’s not because He wants you to be unhappy. He just has other, perhaps even better, gifts in store for you.

Of course, getting married isn’t the only dream that the contemporary Christian has. Everyone seems to have a desire for God to ‘send them out’ into the world, showing impressively blind faith that God will provide for them, without giving proper thought to what this could mean. Should God ask you to travel from place to place, city to city, then it’s extremely unlikely he would ask you to do it with a family that you don’t yet have. It may involve constantly moving, spreading the word of God as His servant Paul did. In this case, celibacy would be the appropriate stance for a Christian to take. I wonder how many Christians would still pledge unconditional obedience and belief in God to provide for them, knowing this. Should God proclaim that His wishes are for you to remain celibate and never to have sex in your whole entire life, would you still be as enthusiastic? Many Christians assume that God’s ‘plans to prosper them’ mean having a beautiful man/ woman, a family and a career, when in reality God could have something much different in mind for you.

This is where I have a problem with the phrase “no sex before marriage” in modern Christianity. Somewhere along the line, it changed from “no sex outside of marriage” – and I’m guessing this has something to do with the promiscuity and sexual freedom of the 1960s, which no doubt led church leaders to justify their standing on the issue. One could understand why a compromise had to be reached – thus, the promise that sex is indeed for everyone, but God just wants you to wait, leaving out the tiny detail that the waiting God asks you to do could last your entire lifetime.

God’s servant Paul was a wonderful example of this type of obedience. Paul was faithful enough to acknowledge that marriage was indeed the correct path for most Christians who struggle to contain themselves, while also being aware of the spiritual advantages of singleness. In his letter in Corinthians 7, Paul states a personal preference that all men were to be as he was: celibate, so that they could focus on the work that God had for them without distraction (verse 35). However, it’s worth noting that Paul sees this for exactly what it is: his own opinion, rather than God’s (“…I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful” – verse 25). In actual fact, God would not like every man to be single (if He did, He surely wouldn’t have intended the human race to survive for as long as it has).

So, let’s say you’re sure that God has led you to marry another person. This isn’t a signal that you will suddenly be free from the lust of the past – even though now, of course, you are free to enjoy the gift of sex that God always intended to be shared in marriage. Shared is the key word here. Marriage is not about finding pleasure for yourself. God is very clear that your role in marriage is simply to please your partner in any way you can, and this in turn will bring its own enjoyment to you, as it does when we know we’ve pleased God by doing something he enjoys. Marriage is not something to be sought after because you wish to satisfy your own lustful desires and prevent yourself from sinning, but rather, it’s something to be sought after because you wish to satisfy the desires of someone you love very much; above everything else, you want them to enjoy married life. You want to make them happy. Marriage should be viewed like this: God is handing you the responsibility to take care of one of His beloved children, and trust me, He is more protective than any parent you’ve ever known. How’s that for motivation to treat your spouse well?

Whether you marry or not, the Bible’s message is simple: living a life of selflessness, putting others before yourself, is the part of God’s plan for you that does not change no matter the person or situation. There is no greater argument against sex outside of marriage than that, even if it does go against worldly tradition.

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3 thoughts on “Divorcing Tradition.

  1. (^^) I agree with everything that you’ve wrote here. If only more people knew about the power of living a life of selflessness.
    Great blog by the way! (…I think it’s a blog anyways)
    Take care, and God bless~

  2. Greetings, friend,

    For the most part, I think you’re in the right, but one thing that you said jumped out at me as potentially false.

    Above, you wrote, “Even God is susceptible to loneliness; this was one of the motivating factors for our creation.”.

    I wonder what makes you think that. Is there a place in the Bible that leads you to believe that?

    Teachings that I have heard would say that the communion that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have enjoyed in eternity represents the perfect community and diversity in unity that mankind is so hungry to find. God make it clear multiple places in scripture that He needs nothing from anyone else. Rather it is He that is the source of all goodness and gifts.

    I’ve heard it taught that creation is borne of the excess of God’s goodness and joy and is exists primarily as a way for God to demonstrate His goodness and character in a way that wouldn’t have been manifest had he not spoken the universe into existence and given us the capacity to choose between loving or rejecting Him.

    I’ve heard it said that when we reject God, He hurts, but it is not the same as when someone rejects us and we hurt. We hurt, most often, because when someone rejects us, we have lost something. When someone rejects God, God hurts because that person has lost something – namely the blessing of knowing Him.

    Even your own words above point toward a life that is correctly reflecting Yeshua being selfless and centers itself on giving of itself to others – in the context of marriage faithfully giving of ourself to our one spouse. If this is so, then it would seem to reinforce that God loves us, not because He is in need of our love or because we were worthy of His (in fact He loved us while we were still His enemies), but because He is good and we were lost without His love.

    In other words, if God hadn’t promised Adam and Eve a redeemer and simply ended the human race then and there, He would have not been in any way deficient or lacking or lonely. His promises and mercy and grace to us are simply undeserved goodness on His part to glorify His great name and word which cost Him the highest price to give us while satisfying His justice.

    Anyway, think it over for a while and let me know if you think I’m off base here.

    Grace and peace in Yeshua our Messiah,
    .nl

    1. Well, here’s a fine example of two things. First, how posting in quick succession (like, say, six posts in a week) can mean that something which should have been edited out can fall through the net. Secondly, that just a few short months ago I was still somewhat naive when it came to theological writing. As you say, it’s important that I now clarify my thoughts on this.

      Do I feel that God created us because he was lonely? No, absolutely not, and you’re right, to boldly proclaim that would be quite unbiblical. The trinity does indeed provide Him with the most perfect sense of relationship (Sonship, friendship, etc.) that one would ever need. However, do I think he understands loneliness as an emotion? Yes, very much so; he displays this when he says “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2: 18). Now, let’s say for a moment that God the Father and Son and Holy Spirit were separated and the trinity ceased to exist. Your initial reaction may be to say this is impossible, but is it? I would argue that there is one moment (that we know of) in God’s existence when he did experience loneliness. It was when Jesus was hanging on the cross; the Bible says that the spirit left Him as God the Father turned away from His Son in what was an unprecedented act of self-sacrifice.

      I do think our understanding that God knows exactly how it feels to be lonely is fundamental to our salvation. We need to believe that God has felt each emotion we feel, each attack we have come under from the enemy, if we are to look to Him in all situations as our Father. Jesus experienced these things during His time on earth, and that moment on the cross when he experienced total separation would have given him a greater feeling of loneliness than any of us could possibly hope to bear.

      So if the question is whether or not God can feel lonely, the answer would have to be yes; He can choose to be lonely, for our sake, because nothing is beyond His reach. He proved this fact by becoming man and dying on the cross, by sacrificing His relationship with His Son, which is enough to make even our all-powerful God feel a sense of loss. We may say that was only a moment, but a moment to us is something that God feels across all eternity, just as Christ’s sacrifice is something that resonates across all eternity. When we learn to see Jesus’ death in this way, the true meaning of it hits us. The everlasting God made that everlasting change for us. In this sense, you could say that it was creation that made God lonely.

      Nonetheless I can’t shake the feeling that us talking about the trinity in this way, as if we fully understand it, is almost laughable. God is far, far above our understanding. I must assume that He didn’t create us because He was lonely, because the Bible does not say that it is so and that is all I have to go on. I know what I am supposed to know thanks to the information and resources that God in His wisdom has seen fit to bless me with; I can’t presume to have the answers to those questions which are far above my status in this universe. Therefore, even if loneliness (in our limited sense of the word) was a motivating factor in our creation, it has no more to do with me than the buying or selling of a house has to do with its resident fly. So, on that fact alone, I do indeed retract my previous statement.

      Please stick around my blog, my friend. There will be more posts like this to come.

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