This was one of my my controversial (and popular) articles to date. In honor of the Beliefnet post on “Who said it: Jesus or Paul” (and the challenge of Christianity vs Paulianity) I am reposting it here:
Question submitted via Formspring.me:
“I feel guilty for not being a virgin and sometimes having gay feelings (because I was raised with the belief that both are wrong). I feel like less of a spiritual person because I had pre-marital sex and I feel lesbian sometimes. What’s a girl to do???”
The first thing to do, is split this question into two parts: 1, is it necessary to wait until marriage to have sex, and 2. is it ‘wrong’ to be a lesbian.
Let’s look at the first part, first.
While Christians are not the only ones who hold these beliefs, they certainly are the most common in the United States at least; so let us look at a passage from the Bible that is most often used as ‘proof’ that pre-marital sex is wrong.
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (New International Version)
12″Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13″Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[a] 17But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Seems pretty straight forward, right?
Or is it?
First thing, who wrote this, and who was it intended for?
Paul wrote this somewhere around the year 55 AD; DECADES after Jesus Christ was already crucified. Add to that, Paul never even knew the man, ‘being struck blind on the road to Damascus’ notwithstanding.
And just in case you take Paul’s word as Gospel (pun intended), remember Peter was the rock that Jesus said his church would be built on. And Peter and Paul became *bitter rivals * while they were both still alive.
In these verses, Paul is advising against sexual immorality…what is that?
What does morality or immorality even mean?
I’ll tell you: it’s *totally relative *.
There is no universal definition of morality; it varies from place to place, time to time, situation to situation, and person to person.
I’ll give you an example: most people would agree murder is wrong, yet soldiers win medals for killing large numbers of people.
Or we agree stealing is wrong, but what about police raiding a drug dealers warehouse and stealing their drugs? That’s a ‘good’ thing, even though they are still breaking, entering, and stealing from those people.
So is the point that you shouldn’t listen to Paul?
Not necessarily, the point is you should decide how much weight you should put into a letter written 2,000 years ago to a group of people you’ve probably never heard of!
Another point that was made in our previous talk about sex is that in the past, land and title were passed along by bloodline; so being ABSOLUTELY SURE a child was yours was top priority. In that case, making sure your wife was a virgin on your wedding night was the best way to make sure the child was yours.
In the year 2011, however, we have a little thing called a DNA test. It’s no mystery who the father is anymore, so that reason for waiting for marriage is out.
And for the arguments that it is ‘better’ to wait: no one knows if it’s better to wait or not.
Why? Since the people who waited, waited; they don’t know what it is like to have pre-marital sex with someone. And the ones who didn’t wait, didn’t wait; they don’t know if it would have been better on their wedding night or not.
So what’s the answer to the first part of the question?
Sex is only a ‘sin’ if you think it is.
There is no logical reason to believe it; biological drives are biological drives. If two consenting adults decide to SAFELY lay with one another, who are we to judge?
Just be sure not to mistake sex for love; the two quite often have nothing to do with each other, especially for men!
Now to the second part.
Whether or not it is a ‘sin’ to be gay is a HUGE can of worms that I couldn’t do justice if I wrote 100 more pages, so I will try to be brief.
A lot of the Bible based arguments against it were written by our good friend Paul.
Recognize also, he was actively trying to preach to the Greeks, where homosexuality was VERY common. The Greek solution to the problem of keeping women virgins (an idea they came up with quite independently of Christianity…see? Culture.) was for men to have sex with men.
Sex was also a big part of the Greek Mystery Religions, which were the popular faiths of the time. What’s the best way to get people to stop doing something? Convince them God hates them for it.
What’s the best way to get new converts? Promise them you’ll tell them how to make God stop hating them.
Here’s the challenge, though.
Most of the anti-gay passages in the Bible are aimed at specific individuals, like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who were terrible for MANY reasons. Look up the Book of Jasher and see what it says about them in there! None of these verses exist in a vacuum; they were written by someone, for someone, at a certain period in time; it’s a mistake to look at them like absolute statements that apply at all times to all people.
The Bible, and any other ‘Holy Book’ only has what power and authority that you give it. If you’ve ever wondered why you quote Bible verses to people and they don’t care, this is why. Same as if someone comes at you with verses from the Koran, Torah, or Rig Veda it may not have too much of an impact on you, either; if you haven’t decided to ‘believe’ in the authority of those books.
But let’s say it is a ‘sin’ (which I don’t personally believe): then
“23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Romans 3:23 (New International Version).
And add to that
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
John 8:7 (New International Version).
The bottom line is this:
there is NO absolute benchmark of right and wrong in this world; almost any situation you can think of either has situations where it is accepted, or at least was accepted at some point in the past.
And if there is no absolute benchmark of universal morality, then right and wrong is how you define it. If you choose to define it in a Christian framework, that’s fine; but you can do it in a Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or even Atheist framework just as easily.
Remember, the person you need to be concerned about is not your family, friends, and church members. You should *only * concern yourself with He who hung the stars and put the planets in motion.
And I can tell you, that God doesn’t think like we do.
God knows everything, who you are, who you came into this world to be; your mind, your heart, your impulse, and what is ‘right and wrong’ for YOU.
If you are curious about girls, mess around with one, and see if you like it.
If you decide you are a lesbian, or bisexual, then be the best one you can be.
Turn within, talk to God, figure out what’s right for you and do it.
The world would be MUCH better off if more people followed their own bliss and served God in their own way to the best of their own ability, rather than trying to dictate to OTHER people how *they * should live.
What do you think? Feel free to comment down below!
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B. Dave Walters
Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host
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