Thursday, February 14, 2013

What Does the New Testament Say About Sexuality?

I have recently finished reading the New Testament and I am collecting my thoughts about what I read in this series of posts. Today I am writing about what the New Testament says about Sexuality. I was going to post this one yesterday, but realized today is valentines day and thought I should push it back one day. Other entries in this series:
  1. Slavery
  2. The Apocalypse
  3. Women
  4. Violence
Is it more or less difficult to write a post about a topic that has a wealth of verses? I guess I'm about to find out, because there are a freaking ton of verses about sex, all somewhat related but with a few similar but different themes. Let's start with the poorly defined phrase "sexual immorality", which seems to be the go to phrase to vaguely call something bad. 1 Corinthians 6:18Hebrews 12:16, and Revelation 14:8 simply mention sexual immorality without really giving a bigger sense what what they mean. A first thought might be that they are cleverly leaving out the details. However, I think if we look at other verses, we can get a pretty good idea what the bible has in mind when it says "sexual immorality".

Let's start by looking at homosexuality. At least here in America, homosexuality is becoming more and more accepted as time goes on. I have even see a couple of Christians here and there try to make arguments that the bible is not actually against homosexuality. While I appreciate the effort and am happy that they are trying to end the bigotry against the LGBT community, they are flat wrong when it comes to the bible. Unless I missed something (and I don't think I did), there is not a single verse in the new testament that says homosexuality is okay. On the contrary, Romans 1:271 Timothy 1:9-10, and Jude 8 all seem to place being homosexuality among the worst crimes possible. If we are being honest with ourselves, we have to admit that biblically, the Westboro Baptist Church is correct, God does indeed hate fags. 

Another example of sexual immorality is adultery, having sex with someone else's spouse (although I'm sure the bible would say "with someone else's wife"). Hebrews 13:4James 4:4, and Revelation 2:14,20-22 all warn directly of adultery. It's hard to argue with that, don't screw around with married people. Moving on.

A big theme is purity, the bible has a fair bit to say about abstinence before marriage. Ephesians 5:3-5Philippians 4:8Colossians 3:5, and Revelation 14:4 all reference purity or virginity. There is an angle from which this could have a reasonable basis, and that is from the perspective of a parent. When you have sex you up the ante emotionally quite a bit, and if things fall apart it's that much worse. It makes sense for a parent to want to prevent such a thing in their children. Furthermore, before the age of birth control, you are talking about the likelihoods of your kids having kids before they are ready. You certainly don't want that. However, by eliminating sex before marriage, you are probably going to encourage people to get married before they are really ready for such a commitment. Well, this could easily be a whole blog post on its own, I'm going to move on.

The biggest problem I have with the bible in regards to it's position on sexuality, is all of the verses against passion and lust. These feelings are quite natural, and telling people they are bad for having them can really screw them up. I think telling a teenage boy that he is evil for getting a boner is fucking abuse. It's absolutely ridiculous. Verses against passion or lust: Colossians 3:51 Thessalonians 4:4-52 Timothy 2:221 Peter 4:32 Peter 2:9-10, and 1 John 2:16. What could the consequences of passion or lust be? 2 Peter 2:2 suggests that following your sensuality will lead you to blaspheme, and we know from before that blasphemy is the one unforgivable sin. It might not be clear exactly how sensuality and blasphemy are connected, but 2 Peter 2:18 expands on the idea and explains that the unrighteous will use their sensuality to entice people away from God. 

One final verse I will leave you with, Matthew 5:28 which says that if you simply have lust, you have already committed adultery in your heart. Good ol' thought crimes. These ideas were definitely among the most damaging to me when I was growing up, to think that an errant thought is just as bad as the actual act, how can you control something like that? Telling a teenage boy that he is bad for getting aroused when he sees an attractive woman walk down the street in a low cut dress? Now that is fucking evil!


  1. "If we are being honest with ourselves, we have to admit that biblically, the Westboro Baptist Church is correct, God does indeed hate fags."

    The Westboro Baptist Church in Houston Texas also goes to the funerals of soldiers that have died in combat with signs saying they are all going to hell for protecting our freedom and beliefs. So I wouldn't give much credit to what those zealous "biblical" fools are promoting.

  2. I agree that the Bible is NOT gay-friendly, but I want to play devil's advocate for a moment. Some commentators argue that the passages in the New Testament condemning homosexuality are too vague in the original Greek, and that they might not be referring to homosexuality at all. The correct definition of Greek word that pops up in these passages, "arsenokoi", is contentious. To play devil's advocate, can we say with certainty that the NT is anti-gay if we don't fully understand the vocabulary being used?

    Regarding the Old Testament, I always found it interesting that it bans same-sex relations between males but not females. I wonder why lesbian and bisexual women weren't on the radar?

  3. Anna Maria: Oh I absolutely agree with you, the westboro people are basically scum of the earth as far as I am concerned. Their picketing of funerals in particular is absolutely disgusting. But what they say about God's position on homosexuality certainly seems to be correct.

    Ahab: That of course leaves your Devil's advocate argument [although in these situations I like to say God's advocate:)] I completely agree with you that it is hard to be completely sure about what the original text meant. Especially given that I don't speak greek, it is hard to verify, especially since the argument that those people seems to be giving does involve some subtlety.

    But I think I will take a stab at it. I went ahead and looked up the first verse I mentioned, Romans 1:27. It reads

    "and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error."

    Given that we are coupling the ideas of giving up relations with women and having passion for one another, it is hard to imagine what else it was supposed to be. Sometimes I also like to look at alternate translations alternate translations because you never know if the one we are looking at is poor. They all seem to say roughly the same thing. Further, we can look at the bible lexicon to see if we can get a hint at the greek words. What I see there seems to support the idea that the verse is indeed anti-gay. It's not perfect, but it seems to be the best we can do without learning greek. I would be interested to see if they can explain any of this, but I imagine it would be a hard position to defend at this point. But who knows.

    I really love living in the information age :) Can you imagine how much of a pain it would be to look all that stuff up even like 20 years ago.

  4. I just wrote about how the bible's stance on "though crime" is contrary to Christians who say only the act of gay sex is bad and not being/thinking gay. It's amazing how they only get what they want out of the bible...and what they want can later change to something else.

    1. Yeah, that doesn't seem too consistent. Is that an argument you see a lot? I don't often participate in those conversations, but my impression is that they usually say that being gay is a choice and you shouldn't do it. Under this idea, being gay isn't a thing, and thinking gay would be bad.


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