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Sexual immorality

William and Kate have cohabited for substantial periods of time prior to marriage.  Let's call the level of evangelical outrage at this "X".

I will admit that for me "X" has been really very low.  And I'd say that, institutionally, the public levels of "X" have also been low.

Now imagine the level of evangelical outrage if Harry started dating Gary.  Let's call that level "Y".

I don't have to wonder whether the public levels of "Y" would be greater than the public levels of "X" - we all know they would be.

But I wonder whether, for you personally, "Y" would be greater than "X" (in spite of all that we say about all sex outside marriage as wrong).

Let's represent the difference between "X" and "Y" by the term "Z" (so that Y-X = Z)

I wonder what proportion of "Z" ought to be labelled "homophobia"?

0 thoughts on “Sexual immorality

  1. Paul Huxley

    It depends how thought through the person involved is.

    For some (many), it would be straight homophobia. You can chalk up lots of Daily Mail readers into this category.

    For others there may be constitutional concerns (what would Gary become if they were civilly partnered, etc.). This group would be small.

    For still others, the homosexuality would theologically be a more significant (though not more serious) sin - just as bestiality or incest might be, in that it not only denies the God-given place for sex (marriage) but redefines the nature of sex. This is reflected in the church's response to cohabiting couples.

    We have a co-habiting couple at church with kids together who've recently become Christians. They are getting married soon but in the meantime we aren't disciplining them for remaining together. However, were they a homosexual couple, the same wouldn't be possible.

  2. Dave K

    Provocative maths. I never thought I'd see the day those words belonged together.

    But I think I'll dodge the question because I got a 3rd in my maths degree so I'm sure I'll get the answer wrong whatever I say.

  3. Brian

    homophobia is an invented word that serves the homosexual community by framing any conflict with the homosexual agenda in a negative manner.

    Using the word in your article shows that you have unwittingly fallen the error of allowing a contrary position to your own to frame the discussion.

    Your question is unanswerable - I don't agree with your terminology.

    It is correct to view homosexual sin as greater than fornicating sin because there is an accompanying program of homosexual approval that is promoted by activists.

    As Paul says above, their is the possibiity of discipline within the church for a couple living without benefit of clergy, while two men together have no such option.

    It is quite appropriate to disapprove of same sex unions etc. without fear of being disapproved of by those who participate in one.

  4. Anonymous

    A non-Christian marriage that refuses to let Christ be at the centre and refuses to submit to Him is far worse than either of these options.

    After all, the non-believer will not be saved by being in a heterosexual monogamous marriage...

  5. David

    I think I agree with ominous Anonymous. I also agree with Brian that homophobia is an invented word (though all words, even 'heterosexuality', are invented), and that in the context of disapproving of homosexual relationships it is incoherent as the Greek suggests an 'irrational fear of the same'. But, the point Glen raises is very important, in that some sexual sins are definitely a lower grade category for the church because they fit quite nicely into our existing culture. Homosexuality appears to be something inherently sinful, whereas fornication just looks like an aberration from marriage. The truth is that homosexuality is sinful for the same reason that heterosexual sins are sinful; because they are a fall from the perfect relationality of Trinitarian love. Marriage is holy because of what it represents, and the perversion of marriage into something unloving is far more heretical and perverse than even promiscuous homosexuality.

  6. Glen

    Very thoughtful comments from Paul. Yes different kinds of perverted sex preach different kinds of perverted gospels and it makes sense - on some levels - to call some perverted gospels as worse than others.

    That same issue also leads into Anonymous's point - the kind of sexual relationship most likely to bring dishonour to the Christ-church model is that which should most properly preach it.

    Brian, I considered having an initial post where I simply asked the question: "Is there such a thing as homophobia?" Perhaps I should have begun there. I think there is - and yes I realise it's a term that's come from the gay community. But I've always thought in every wild criticism which someone levels there's a kernel of truth we need to take on board. For you, would you acknowledge that there might be an inappropriate hatred towards homosexuals that is not to the glory of God?

  7. Tom Lake

    Hey Glen,

    I really appreciate the chance to discuss this. In my context, it is not theology in a vacuum, but a live issue. I guess 30% of people who want a child baptism in our church are unmarried. We also have people in the congregation who compare the treatment of homosexuality versus cohabitation and say the church is being hypocritical.

    But, I think this is a difficult issue. I definitely agree with the comments above that we need to be careful in our use of words. The word 'heterosexual' is very likely unacceptable for us as it almost certainly means a man who has random sexual desires directed at women (or vice versa for women). But Jesus specifically mentions this as being adulterous. Therefore, we can't possibly accept a term that incorporates sinful behaviour within it, and then use it to describe what is "natural". The correct biblical terms are "man" and "woman". You are either one of those and, beyond that, each of us stands responsible for our sexual desires (whether good or bad).

    On the issue of co-habitation, I think this is v. difficult. Helen asked me the other day why in Leviticus 18 it does not just say, "you must marry one human person of the opposite sex who is not a close relative or already married. End of." Why, for example, is polygamy not treated as harshly as adultery etc.? I found this difficult to answer. I definitely think that monogamy is clearly taught in Gen 2. But why is there no penalty for polygamy? Is this a sign of the Law grading sins in some way? If so, does this mean co-habitation is not the ideal (like polygamy), but we should simply encourage them to get married. Whereas, other sexual sins just simply cannot be accepted? Also, what about marrying a non-believer? Is this something we should come down really heavy on, or not?

  8. Si Hollett

    Cohabitation is sort of like a de facto marriage - indeed, various US states have 'common law marriage' where, after a certain time a cohabitation is considered by the law to be equivalent to a marriage when it comes to possessions if the cohabitation breaks down like a divorce - it certainly follows the pattern laid out in Genesis 1. The big problem is a lack of covenant between the bodies. The Law basically has it that they should marry the person for sex before marriage (unless the Father of the Bride refuses, in which case just the bride price is paid by the groom).

    wrt Polygamy, it's interesting that there's no example of a woman with two husbands. Also, where it's mentioned in the law, the first wife cannot have a deterioration in the quality of her marriage to the man.

    Leviticus has excommunication (death) for those who break the covenant via adultery, or have sexual relations with those too similar (same-sex or same-family), or with animals - clearly the gospel preached by these is really stinky.

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