Newsweek ran a story this week concerning the Bible and Sex. It was sent to me by a good friend. So I took a few minute to read over the article. As has become common place when the Bible is discussed in popular media, it is shown to teach something other than the “traditional” understanding. Now, I am not for believing an interpretation because it is traditional, but I also do not think we should believe an interpretation because it is not traditional.
As I read through the article it was clear that the scholars who were being interviewed in the article had a far different view of Scripture than I. Scripture is not the inspired, authoritative word of God to these scholars, but rather, it is simply an ancient text. This view of Scripture, as well as very suspect exegesis, leads them to conclude that there is no clear Bible teaching on sex. Therefore, they reject the traditional teaching that sex is limited to a man and a woman in a God sanctioned marriage. (I use the world traditional, but it is more than tradition, I am convinced that the Bible teaches this!).
Several arguments are used to defend this position. I want to take them one-by-one and show were they are lacking
- We should only deal with the overall themes like love, compassion, and forgivenesss, and not worry about the specifics. Thus the specifics on sex should not be viewed as being applicable to modern man. This is expected in a postmodern world. If you do not have to deal with the specifics then you can make love, compassion, and forgiveness mean anything you want them to. You also can choose to ignore the other big themes in Scripture, such as, God’s wrath, holiness, hell, and anything else you believe is not suitable for today’s world. The Bible, then, is no longer the authority, but rather man is, as we decide what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in the Bible.
- The Bible makes many allusions to sex, which the untrained cannot see. What was interesting is no clear example was given to defend this claim. While, it is true that hand and feet are used in the Scriptures as euphemisms, it does not mean that every time they are used it is in a sexual context. It seems the point of this claim is to basically tell the average person that you cannot understand the Scripture’s teaching on sex, therefore you need us to teach you. So go buy our books! However, I think we all can understand when the Hebrew writer states, “Fornicators and Adulteries will be judged.” We can understand when Paul states that these folks, as well as homosexuals, will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. We do not have to look for “hidden” sexual encounters to understand these simple truths!
- The Bible contradicts itself. It condemns a practice, then shows people engaged in the practice. I know these individuals have earned the write to be considered scholars. They have the degrees to make that claim. However, this argument is just lazy reasoning. Just because the Scriptures tell us stories of individuals engaged in sinful practices, does not mean it condones those practices. These examples illustrate the sinfulness of men, and even the sinfulness of leaders of God’s people. God is not condoning these practices, instead, the Scriptures are just being honest concerning historical figures.
- Examples of non-traditional love in the Scriptures. Again just because the Scriptures give an example does not mean that the example is teaching God’s plan for sexuality. However, I want to deal more with one example given here, David and Jonathan, The argument is that David speaking of Jonathan’s love as more pleasing than a woman is referring to a homosexual relationship. However, this is not the teaching of the text, but rather a reading into the text by our modern hyper-sexualized culture. David and Jonathan were close friends. The were closer than brothers. It is a story of a deep friendship between two men. Sadly, our world is quick to turn an innocent godly friendship into an example of sexual depravity, with the goal of justifying their actions.
Many attempt to call themselves Christians without the desire to follow God’s teachings. There will always be scholars available to promote a new way of understanding. They will promote their books through provocative means. They will claim they have the right reading. However, no matter the level of someones education the standard is God’s Word, and in this case these authors are found wanting. The Scripture clearly teach the exclusivity of sexual relations in marriage, no matter how badly we want to change it.