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Promoting Intimacy and Other-Centered Sexuality
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Biblical Issues Regarding Fornication (Singles Sexuality)
Traditional Church teaching falsely misuses the Bible to judge loving, responsible singles' sexuality. True Biblical theology begins not with Church tradition and dogma but with the biblical texts themselves. Biblical theology seeks to understand how the biblical authors expressed themselves in the Greek language of New Testament times (not expanded by later Greek meanings), in terms of their culture. Only with this understanding is it legitimate to define biblical sexual ethics of the NT and find implications for today.
It should also be pointed out that the Bible (neither the Old or New Testament) is not a text book on sexuality anymore than on science, government or other subjects. In our opinion it is not possible to devise a comprehensive, complete and exclusive sexual ethic from the Bible. The Bible gives us the law of love and some guidelines and examples related to sexual attitudes and behavior. Christians are then expected to depend on these guidelines, prayer and the Holy Spirit to creatively work out their sexual behavior.
If you are happier in your beliefs that sex is wrong outside of marriage that may be what is best for you. But it is not from scripture as you have been taught by the Church. If you understand Church history and its biased translations you soon realize the lies and deceptions the Church is teaching regarding many sexual issues.
I Cor 6:9 badly mistranslate "porneia" as fornication. Corinth was a wide-open port city. People there could get sex any way they wanted it. Where our English translations read 'fornication', Paul's original Greek word was 'porneia' which means to sell and refers to slaves bought and sold for cultic prostitution. What was happening in the Temples of Corinth was farmers were visiting the temple priestesses who represented the fertility Gods. By having sex with these prostitutes they believed their fields would be more furtile. It didn't even have to do with going to prostitutes, but pagan cultic worship.
In Rome, the Latin prostitutes would hang out in small alley's and behind small L shaped walls. In Latin the shape is called FORNIX, hence the place association with acts of prostitution gave "fornicatio" Where Paul was condemning sex goddess, cultic, prostitution or trafficking in slaves for that purpose, the Latin fathers substituted 'fornicatio', which led readers to believe that Paul was condemning all forms of premarital sexual intercourse."
Some modern English Bible versions translate "porneia" as "sexual immorality", a term which is supposed to clarify the somewhat obscure and dated "fornication", but is really a catch-all term that allows interpreters, both professional and lay, to apply this passage to any sexual behavior at all, far beyond the specific practices to which Paul refers.
From "Halley's Bible Handbook" 1 Cor. 6: 9-20; "Venus was the principal Deity of Corinth. Her temple was one of the most magnificent buildings in the city. In it a thousand Priestesses, Public Prostitutes, were kept, at public expense, there always ready for Immoral Indulgence, as worship to their Goddess." The Christians continued to go to the temple for sexual indulgences with the priestesses of Venus. This was all Paul was talking about and he says nothing about loving sexual pleasure-sharing with non-goddesses'!
It does violation to the Biblical text to assume I Cor.6:9 includes pre-marital sex, especially since that is not the context of the discussion, either of that chapter or of the surrounding chapters. The context of I Cor.6 is the problems with the Temple of Aphrodite. Sex with those prostitutes was idolatrous. The argument that Paul condemns singles' sex here or anywhere else in scripture is faulty interpretation. Such a position is illogical because your assumptions are based on emotional constructs rather than on history and on hard evidence.
Nothing in the NT indicates any prohibition of singles' sexuality. It seems that if we apply Jesus' teaching of love over legalism, responsible Christian sexuality is much more an example of Christ's loving desire for us than the traditional biblical values of many wives, concubines as breeders, and capturing women in battle for soldiers' sexual pleasure!
A Prodigy poster said: "..I think that David H's post cannot be so easily dismissed. I am not a theologian-although I did attend a seminary...and I have studied a fair amount of Greek.....While at the seminary, I wrote a paper on the translation of "porneia". As you must know if you have studied the question, "fornication" is a bald mistranslation of "porneia" (even my very conservative Greek professor conceded this point). If one discounts the N.T. passages containing this mistranslation--including the selection from Thessalonians...there is little remaining support for the position that the Bible condemns premarital sexuality....if one takes an objective view of what the Bible has to say on the subject, sexuality outside of marriage seems to be accepted....I would also acknowledge that most people would be happier...if they would simply accept the church's traditional position...But to condemn all sexuality outside of marriage as sin seems to go well beyond what the Bible teaches--and Paul has a good deal to say about that in Galatians."
All of us should search our own spirits. God can lead people differently, resulting in reaching different people in sharing Christ's love. We also must respect others' beliefs but try not to cause another to stumble, since some cannot handle emotionally anything other than the traditional Church view.
Again a Prodigy poster: "Scripture is only one way God speaks to us and has a number of limitations because it was not written with modern conditions in mind. While reading scripture is useful, it is only useful when done in prayer.. and in not relying on the Holy Spirit but relying instead on the Bible as a substitute for His wisdom. In the absence of unambiguous mandate from scripture, it is wrong for me to impose a personal moral code on others who believe differently".
1 Cor 7: 8-9 Better to Marry Than Burn
Paul in 1 Cor 7 makes it clear that his preference for celibacy was as a gift to the Church for those able to devote full time to building the early church without many wives, taking time away from the work to be done in before Christ soon returned. Time was running out! It was a gift (charisma) from God, given only to certain people, and was not a sign of any moral superiority. The reason for celibacy was to give leisure for prayer, and preaching, not a moral issue. He believes celibacy is best with marriage next best.
If a person did not have the gift of celibacy it was better to marry than commit porneia (sex with sex goddess prostitutes which equates to idolatry). Porneia has been improperly translated and expanded to "fornication" but this has no biblical support.
Singles sexuality was not discussed since most women were married or betrothed. A man negotiated with the father and if a financial deal was struck, he took the girl as his wife. Mutual love had nothing to do with it. If the man also liked the girls pretty sister, he may negotiate to take her as another wife. For men, there was little reason for sex with a single girl, since he could have all the wives as sexual partners as he desired - as long as he didn't steal another mans property (adultery).
The legal age to marry was 12.5 yr for girls and 13.5 for boys. Younger children often were "betrothed" - families had contracted with each other for their marriage, but they were not old enough for the marriage to be consummated. There was no teen age sex problem since all were married and men could have all the sexual variety they wanted dependent only on how many wives they could afford.
All Christians, men or women, belonged to Christ, and all other forms of ownership must be made to accommodate this. The family was highly regarded as a social unit for retaining the family heritage (mans side). Sex almost certainly produced children with no birth control. The traditional practices of multiple wives and breeders distracted from the work of building the early Church.
This is similar to the Catholic priests who could have many wives and mistresses until 1022 due to its distractions from the work of the Church. I think it is interesting that Jesus said nothing about male monogamous relationships, only Paul in his building of the early Church for elders since time was so short before the Lord returned.
In today's culture where we don't marry at 13 and die at 30. We have plenty of time to do Gods work. Limiting oneself to small number of sexual relationships may be in order. Marriage is certainly not needed today since birth control is available and many feel they can be more effective without the legal burden of marriage. Marriage had to do with ownership not love. I can't imagine anyone getting married who hasn't first lived together many years!
In Galatians 5:19, porneia means "the love which is bought and sold - which is not love at all. The great and basic error of this is that the person with whom such love is gratified is not really considered as a person at all, but as a thing. He or she is a mere instrument through which the demands of lust and passion are satisfied...Porneia describes the relationship in which one of the parties can be purchased and discarded as a thing is discarded and where there is neither union of, nor respect for, personality." Quotes from William Barclay in Flesh and Spirit: An Examination of Galatians 5:19-23 page 24.
I would argue that even a one-time, for the moment sex can be shared in love...even for example...with a prostitute! A customer could still pay for good sex, but respect the sex worker as a person and spirit. Usually such relationships are simply based on lust and passion, but could also be done in an attitude of love. Traditional Church doctrine expands the meaning of porneia into fornication and even homosexuality which has absolutely no basis in the original text as it would have been understood in the culture in which it was written.
REASONS FOR MARRIAGE IN BIBLICAL TIMES NO LONGER RELEVANT
Not Having Children Was Murderous In Hebrew Culture - This is why sexuality and adultery were viewed far differently than today and why "marriage" was so important. Also, concubines acting as breeders for men were important and accepted.
Near Eastern cultures of biblical days believed that a male achieved immortality through the production of offspring: no children, no immortality. It is possible that popular belief among the Hebrew was similar even though it seems doubtful that God would have endorsed such a belief.
The case of Onan in Genesis provides an interesting though not entirely clear example that may suggest this belief among the Hebrews. Onan practiced coitus interruptus to prevent his deceased brother's wife from conceiving, so the Lord killed him. The apparent sin was not his having sex with the dead brother's wife (required under the law of levirate marriage), but his depriving his brother of immortality by denying him proxy offspring.
It is difficult to say why God exacted such a severe penalty in this case. While it is not likely that God endorsed the concept of prevailing custom, probably as a practical means of maintaining order, cohesion and perpetuity in the lives of his chosen people.
Under the beliefs of the day homosexual acts would have been murderous to all of one's forefathers since they did not pass on children to the next generation and jeopardized the forefathers' afterlife. Adultery was just as bad since it mixed blood lines. Singles' sex was seldom an issue since most people were married at a young age.
One's state in the afterlife, according to other contemporary documents of the time, was determined by the number of living descendants one had. The more children one had, the more wonderful one's position in the afterlife would be. Hence, it was important to have many children. This may have been why men of wealth had so man wives and concubines (women as breeders). Solomon was very wealthy and had 700 wives and 300 concubines which God never spoke against. These ancient beliefs and customs do not apply to Western culture today, so the ethical dictates of an ancient people do not apply either.
It seems that the Church would rather have teenagers be pregnant, than admit sex does and will take place among Christians outside of marriage, helping with real sex education, distribution of condoms etc. Teaching abstinence as the only answer is absurd; it won't work and may be doing more harm than good in teaching sexual maturity - which should be each giving sexual pleasure to the other as God made our bodies to experience.
Maximum sexual pleasuring is a learned skill. Only the very basics come naturally and are not always the most enjoyable. But when we have been taught that sex is so dirty that we must save it for marriage, and then only have one partner, how do we learn maximum pleasure sharing? Sexual pleasure sharing is learned just as walking and talking is learned, by experience and practice. Having our naked bodies caressed all over and warmly held with love and affection is as vital to our emotions as eating and drinking is to our health.
We do not "give ourselves away" by sharing sexually. When we share, we each gain more, the knowledge we share is not reduced but expanded through reaction and sharing with others. Likewise in sexual sharing we don't save it, we share it and grow and find more and more meaningful experiences. If at some point an exclusive relationship is desired, such as in marriage, sexual pleasure in that relationship will be enhanced by previous experimentation and experiences with a selective but wider range of trusted intimate friends.
Sexual repression based on poor biblical translations and traditions, based on control and ignorance clearly hasn't worked. Maybe its time to teach positive, meaningful, enriching, responsible sexuality to teens and adults. Ignorance and repression has resulted in a society full of tease and titillation with lots of abortion and bad experiences.
Result Of Legalistic Sexual Ethics - Neurotic Christians
To squeeze sex into small boxes (such as virginal monogamous marriage) has produced nineteen centuries of neurotic Christians who fear and distrust their own natural sexual natures, fearing almost any sexual expression will anger the God who is suppose to love them.
In summary, if one is happier in their belief that sex is wrong outside of marriage that may be what is best for them. But it is not from scripture as has been falsely taught by the Church.
The Liberated Christian Sexual Ethic
We affirm that our sexuality is a natural gift from God. It should not be artificially restricted by regulation. God honors a free sexual expression that seeks the enjoyment and good of the each person, and the glory to God as He participates with us in this glorious aspect of living and loving others, ourselves and God. In our scriptural understanding, a New Testament biblical argument cannot be made against most cases of consensual sexual pleasure sharing, whether premarital, marital, or postmarital.
Negative cases can be made only if the parties involved are not functioning within Christian love guidelines, but are rather using one another for their own selfish gratification or are doing harm, physical or psychological, to their sexual partners or to other parties who are involved. Among the sexual practices which would be harmful would be the careless disregard for appropriate diseases or contraceptive protection.
JEWISH SINGLES/SEX - Discussing the report from the Rabbinical Assembly's Commission on Human Sexuality presented to the Committee on Jewish Law and Standard April 1994: Essentially the reports says" "Committed, loving relationships between mature people who strive to conduct their sexual lives according to the concepts and values described can embody a measure of holiness, even of not the full portion available in marriage."
The Conservative movement's Rabbinic organization is NOT giving carte blanche to non-marital relationships. The report: upholds the importance of marriage, condemns adultery as a gross violation of Jewish law, condemns casual and promiscuous sex, urges avoidance of coercive sex, encourages adherence to laws forbidding sex during a woman's menstrual period, advocates modesty in speech, dress and sexual activity, advocates honesty and fidelity, urges responsibility to avoid AIDS by disclosing sexual history to one's partner, by undergoing HIV testing, and by abstaining if either partner is infected.
The law committee sets official policy for the Rabbinical Assembly. They are expected to begin deliberations on the recommendations in the fall of 1994. The RA represents 1500 Conservative Rabbis who serve 1.5 million congregational members.
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