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Pages 1 to 65

Divine Sex

Liberating Sex from Religious Tradition

Philo Thelos

© Copyright 2002 Philo Thelos. All rights reserved.

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,

or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written prior permission

of the author.

Printed in Victoria, Canada

National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Thelos, Philo

Divine sex : liberating sex from religious tradition /

Philo Thelos.

Includes bibliographical references.

ISBN 1-55395-400-9

 

I. Title.

BS680.S5T48 2002 241'.66

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A

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Foreword page i

Introduction page xi

Chapter One, What Makes A Thing “Sinful?” page 1

Sin defined by Scripture page 3

Missing the mark page 6

Principles that control personal liberty page 9

How can this be right if everyone thinks it is wrong? page 18

The nature and purpose of law page 19

Chapter Two, Naked and Unashamed page 22

Comments from other authors page 22

Observations and conclusions page 36

Women and “modest apparel” page 51

Chapter Three, Polygamy, Monogamy, Concubinage page 54

Polygamy in Scripture page 54

Monogamy page 64

Concubinage page 77

Chapter Four, God’s Erotic Poetry –

The Song Of Solomon page 81

Chapter Five, Adultery page 92

Scripture references to adultery page 94

Comments and observations page 99

Notes on Romans 7:1-4 relating to “adultery” page 116

The “Open Marriage” page 119

Chapter Six, Lust of the Eyes page 124

Scripture references page 126

What exactly is “pornography?” page 134

Chapter Seven, Fornication page 149

Sex and single people page 155

Multiple Sex Partners page 163

Can one person love more than one other person? page 169

Is sexual enjoyment adverse to holiness? page 171

Chapter Eight, Fornication part 2 page 178

Scripture references page 178

Comments and observations page 183

Chapter Nine, Prostitution page 191

Definitions page 191

Scripture references page 192

Comments from other authors page 200

Chapter Ten, Forbidden Sex Practices page 205

Incest page 205

Rape page 207

Bestiality page 207

Certain forms of homosexuality page 208

Chapter Eleven, The Unchanging Nature of God page 216

A crucial principle page 221

Sex and Christian liberty page 225

Liberty is not license page 228

Liberty operates in love page 229

The necessity of experiencing freedom page 230

Chapter Twelve, Sex and Holiness page 238

Definitions page 240

Scripture references page 242

Comments from other authors page 244

The issue of purity page 246

What “defiles” a person? page 247

The ultimate deciding factor page 250

Everything God created is inherently good page 251

Nothing is inherently unclean page 255

Are sex and holiness incompatible? page 264

Chapter Thirteen, The Law of Love and Sex Issues page 275

Sex and vulnerability page 282

Appendix:

The Non-Negotiables of Bible Study/Research page 283

What are the authors against; what are they for? page 291

What is the true meaning of the original words? page 293

What is the literary context of those words? page 296

What is the cultural/historical context? page 298

What geographical elements might be important in

understanding the text? page 300

What social customs are important in understanding

this text? page 301

Does the passage truly speak to our present situation? page 301

Finding The Historical Context page 303

Do I have the courage to stand alone if necessary? page 304

Other Books By This Author page 306

A Selected Bibliography page 307

 

i

FOREWORD

We want to ask some pointed questions about sex. These

questions address practical issues of living on earth in the flesh,

surrounded by men and women who are all sexual creatures and

all of whom have a multitude of questions about their sexuality for

which no one either has answers, or even dares to ask the

questions.

 

 Most people will never ask these questions of another

person simply because to ask them would raise doubt in the other

person’s mind about the querist’s spirituality. These questions

relate directly to issues of what is holy and what is not; what is

acceptable and what is not. Some of these questions are asked

because conventional sexual attitudes just don’t make sense when

applied to some real life situations.

 

Especially when we compare

contemporary sexual ethics with what is written very plainly on the

pages of the Bible our reaction is “How can that be true?” Biblical

sexual morality does not even resemble modern “Christian” sexual

morality.

 

We began asking a few of these questions years ago because

counseling sessions with people who were struggling with sexual

issues usually ended with frustration on the part of everyone

involved. Some of the counselee’s questions we could not answer

with strict Biblical integrity. What we had been trained to say

simply did not match what we found in Scripture and we knew it.

 

But we didn’t have a better answer than the ones we had heard.

Finding ministerial peers with whom to discuss these questions is

almost impossible because we all know that we don’t have real

answers to some very crucial questions. Not many ministers will

risk asking really difficult sexual questions of a peer because of the

suspicion it raises about one’s personal sexual practices or desires.

 

But eventually the questions were too numerous to simply

disregard any longer so we set out on a quest to find real Biblical

answers. We think we have found them. Our questions may not be

exactly the same as yours but these are important questions and we

will risk asking them and risk even more in giving our own

answers.

 

• Why is the OT filled with examples of men practicing

polygamy and having sex with concubines and slaves? Why don’t

we ever read even one line of correction from God about this

 

ii

 

practice? If this practice is so bad how could God bless such men as

Abraham, Jacob, David and others and use them mightily for His

purposes, and develop special relationships with them? These men

loved God and would have done anything He told them. Why

didn’t God tell them He didn’t like their multiple sexual

relationships?

 

 If David could have sex with a hundred wives,

concubines and slaves and still go to Heaven, why do you and I go

to Hell if we have sex with even one other woman than our wife?

 

• How could God simply turn His head and appear to not

know that some of His servants, like Jacob and Samson, consorted

with prostitutes?

 

 God never hesitated to punish or at least to

rebuke the evil behavior of His servants. Why not once does he

indicate that He is even slightly concerned about prostitution?

 

Why

is there no Biblical law against prostitution per se? Why didn’t

Solomon punish the two prostitutes who fought over one baby?

 

• Can’t a man even look at a beautiful woman and be aware

that she is sexually desirable without committing “adultery in his

heart?”

If not, is sexual attraction not a legitimate part of the

dating/mating process?

• When does nudity become sinful? We laugh at small

children running naked and even comment on how “cute” they are.

When does it stop being “cute” and become “shameful?” And

exactly why does this change occur? And how do we prove it by the

Bible?

 

• What is the great difference between sex as animals practice

it and sex as humans practice it? God is not concerned – to any

degree – about how animals practice sex. Why is He concerned

about how humans do it?

 

Specifically, what is there about the

function of a human penis or a vagina that concerns God more than

the animal equivalents?

What is there about human sexual climax

that makes more difference to God than animal climax? Neither of

these is an issue at all in the animal realm. Animal sex organs

function exactly as humans do and animals climax the same as

humans do. Why do we suppose there is a difference with God?

 

Does the difference exists only in our imagination? Have humans

somehow contrived the idea that God has placed human sexuality

in a totally different realm than animal sexuality, and has created

special rules to govern it that have no counterpart in the animal

“instinct?” What we know of animal sexual practices we attribute

to animal “instinct” which we believe was created by God. But

 

iii

 

some sexual practices that are “normal” in the animal realm are

Divinely forbidden to humans. So we believe that God created

animals with a “natural instinct” to copulate with many different

mates, for example, but forbids humans to do the same thing. What

sense does that make?

 

Does the Bible really teach this to be true? In

the animal kingdom it is universally common that one male

services an unlimited number of females. That “instinct” came from

God, Who did not change that instinct when He created humans,

for polygamy was natural to humanity from the earliest time and

God never corrected it.

 

What Divine law establishes that God

frowns upon the human practice of what He created as a natural

instinct within all segments of the animal kingdom?

 

What is there about the physical act of sex, for either animals or

humans, that causes God to have any concern about how, or with

whom (and how many) it is performed?

 

If we tried to parallel in the

human realm what we observe in the animal realm what

conclusions might we reach in light of what Scripture actually does

say and what it does not say?

 

 For example, seeing that animal

“polygamy” parallels human polygamy as revealed in Scripture,

and finding no Divine correction of that practice for humans, what

can we conclude except that God approved of polygamy in both

realms?

 

 Sin does not account for polygamy in animals because

animals cannot sin. They do what they do because they are created

that way. If the instinct for polygamy is in animals it is there because

GOD PUT IT THERE! We must draw the same conclusion about

polygamous instincts in humans. God placed that instinct in man

just as He did in animals and when it appears on the human scene

in Gen. 4:23, it appears naturally, without a fuss made about it. It is

probable that other examples of polygamy existed at that time.

Lamech’s polygamy is introduced as nothing unusual.

 

 

It appears obvious to us after looking at all the Scriptures that

reference human sexuality that with God the issue has nothing to do

with biological function of human sex organs and climaxes, but with

human relationships of faithfulness, responsibility, etc.

 

What distinguishes animal sex from human sex in God’s eyes, is not who

is having sex with whom, how often, and what do they do.

God is ultimately concerned that people honor the rights and needs of

other people in the sexual area as in all other areas. The regulations

God placed upon sex are not just plucked from thin air. Each serves

to protect people from abusing others and being abused in sexual

 

iv

 

activities.

 

 There is nothing inherently dirty or sinful about any sex

practice whether done by animal or human. What makes any sex act sinful is the evil effect it has upon other people.

 

• What is there about the physical act of sex that makes it a

spiritual or moral issue for humans?

 

 Animals do the act with no moral implication. So it is not the act that is immoral but something else. What is that?

 

 At what point does the physical act of sex take on

spiritual dimensions for the human?

 

It seems obvious to us that Biblically, the crucial issue with God is the manner in which we relate to the person we have sex with.

 

God’s law restricts the physical act for humans so that we do

not trespass on other people’s private, exclusive property, i.e. their

control of their own person.

 

God requires that we do not take

forcibly what others either cannot or will not voluntarily give, as in

child abuse and rape. It is a sin to take from someone’s person such

an intimate gift without giving something in return.

 

God’s sex laws

all relate to the issue of treating other people with absolute fairness,

consideration and concern for their well being. There is nothing

inherent in the sex act for either animals or humans that makes it a

moral issue. It is a moral issue for humans because we are spiritual

beings, and how we treat others is a spiritual matter.

 

• If it is a moral issue, what makes any sex act a “sin?” Since

the Bible itself says “where there is no law there is no sin” and “sin is

transgression of the law” then nothing can legitimately define any sex

act as sin except God’s law!

 

If no law exists concerning masturbation can that act be sinful?

The answer is “NO!”

 

If no law exists concerning oral sex can that act be sinful? The

answer is “NO!”

 

Must we “let every man be convinced in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5)

in aspects of sexuality where God has not legislated? And must we

also “not judge one another any more” in those areas (Rom. 14:13)?

 

Must we not also allow each person to “have their own conviction

before God” and live by the rule that “happy is the man who does not

condemn himself in what he approves,” (Rom. 14:22)? The answer in

every case is “YES!”

 

Nothing is sinful because “it just seems to be wrong.” Subjective

opinions, even if followed by the masses, can never establish a

thing as sinful, otherwise sin becomes whatever people think sin to

be. Sin is only what God says it is. If God does not prohibit it, it isn’t sin.

 

V

 

Most of us rightfully reject the opinions of those who have moral

convictions about such things as the “sinfulness” of Christmas,

playing cards, movies, makeup, jewelry, women cutting their hair,

or wearing head coverings, etc. Why then do we submit to human

opinion about sexual matters concerning which God has made no

law?

 

 Can we be free to practice those things if it can be done in a

way that will not affect others in a harmful way?

Yes we can!

 

• Why is it unthinkable to watch humans copulate? God sees

animals have sex every day and pays no attention to it. God also

sees humans having sex everyday and pays no attention to it except

for those situations in which humans do it in disregard of the

welfare of others. Humans can watch the sex act between animals,

show it on nature programs on TV, etc. with no second thoughts

about watching it. How did we derive the conclusion that it is

sinful to watch humans enjoy sex but not sinful to watch animals

do exactly the same thing?

 

 What makes the difference?

 

• We make much of masturbation in these studies, because it is

the sexual practice people most often ask us about. In fact it is

almost the only practice people will risk asking about.

 

If masturbation is sinful where is the Biblical law that says so. How

can a sexual practice that involves no one but the practitioner, be

evil?

 

And when does that evil begin? Has the small child sinned

when (s)he discovers that touching the genitals feels good?

 

When they discover that playing with their sex organs produces sexual

climax, have they sinned?

 

Is the “sinfulness” of masturbation determined by one’s age? by how often one touches one’s genitals?

 

how much pleasure one derives from the practice?

 

 If it is sinful how do we actually know that, and what exactly is it that makes it a

sin?

 

When children discover the differences between male and

female anatomy and naturally touch the parts of another person’s

body that are different from their own, is it sin?

 

If that is not “lust”

at what point does it become “lust?” If they continue to

“experiment” this way and a boy has an erection while touching a

girls breast or vagina, has he sinned? Has the girl sinned? If the girl

is fascinated with the boy’s erection and touches it, has she sinned?

 

If she strokes it and the boy climaxes, is it sin? If the boy touches

her clitoris and she allows him to do so until she has a climax, have

they both sinned? If any of these experiences are sin, how exactly

 

vi

 

do we prove that? If one or more of them is sin but the others are

not, how do we know the difference?

 

At what point do we conclude that “natural curiosity” becomes

sinful, or that experiencing sexual pleasure is sinful?

 

 Why do we

think it becomes sinful? What Bible teaching – that is God’s Law –

makes it sinful? Most parents accept that in children, sexual

curiosity and experimentation is normal. If so, at what point does it

become abnormal? Is it an age thing? Is it the point at which it causes

arousal?

 

If we teach little Johnny that it is wrong for him to look at

neighbor Suzie’s crotch and he must never again let her see his

penis, what Bible verses do we use?

 

It is our parental right to tell them

we do not want them to do such things and forbid them to do so.

But if it is only a parental preference, do we dare teach them that God

disapproves, or shame them or create fear in them regarding a

natural physical act?

 

• How do we come to Bible/God honoring conclusions on

issues like these:

 

A woman displays her body for the admiration and even sexual

excitement of a man. What is her moral and spiritual condition? Is

she a sinner because of that act?

 

If a man looks at a beautiful woman, is sexually aroused and is

moved to ask the woman for a date, has he sinned?

 

 Is a man’s delight in a woman’s sexuality legitimate as part of his desire to

marry her?

 

 Is sexual stimulation a natural part of the courting process?

 

A man is aroused by the physical/sexual beauty of a married

woman. Is this arousal sin?

 

That is, if a man is sexually excited by

the beauty of a married woman, yet has no desire and forms no

intention to take her away from her husband, has he sinned?

 

 Where is the sin – in the look? in the sexual excitement? What Biblical word

or phrase describes this act as sin?

 

Is being sexually aroused the same

as desiring to possess a person? Isn’t there a difference between

looking with delight at a thing versus “lusting” after it? “Lusting”

is the desire to possess for oneself what belongs to another.

 

 If the looking does not have that “lust” quality then it is not sinful. So if a

man looks at a woman, married or unmarried, or if a woman looks

at a man, married or unmarried, and delight in the sight, is it sin?

 

If a man is sexually aroused by a picture of a naked woman is it

sin? If so, based on what Scripture?

 

Is it possible for a woman to admire a sexually attractive man

without wanting to go to bed with

 

vii

 

him?

 

 Is it possible for a woman to look at a man in a swimsuit and

be sexually aroused by his body, without sinning?

 

If she accidentally observed a naked man and enjoyed the sight did she sin?

 

 If she looked at a photograph of a nude man and was aroused did she

sin?

 

 

• What if King David stood on his balcony, saw Bathsheba

bathing naked, became sexually aroused, but did not ask her to

come to his bed?

 

Would he be guilty of sin? If so, what was the sin;

seeing her naked body? sexual arousal? Suppose he stood and

watched until she finished bathing. Knowing she was married, he

had no desire to have sex with her and no intention of ever making

physical contact with her. Did he sin by watching her and admiring

her sexual beauty?

 

What if Bathsheba knew he was watching and deliberately let

him watch. Did she sin? Did she commit adultery even though she

did not have sex with him nor even desire to do so?

 

What if her husband went up on the roof, found Bathsheba

bathing, bathed with her, then had sex with her on the roof and

David watched the whole thing. Did David sin?

 

Did they sin because someone saw them? If they were aware that David was

watching, did they sin?

 

Suppose the table was turned on David, and he was bathing on

his roof, and Bathsheba happened to walk out on her roof, saw him,

and watched him. Did she sin?

 

What if David knew she was there

and did not cover himself. Did he sin?

 

What if either or both of

them was aroused sexually such that they masturbated. Did they

sin?

 

The issue is actually very simple. The Bible specifically says

that to look with the desire to possess what belongs to another is sin. But

to simply look with sexual arousal is in no way condemned in the

Scriptures. God specifies one as sin. Why did He not specify the

other as sin? The obvious answer is that it is not sin to look where

there is no intention to steal a mate from a spouse.

 

• The related question: is sexual arousal inherently sinful if it is

experienced in any context other than that of sexual activity

between a married couple? May a person intentionally arouse

oneself and enjoy sexual orgasm via masturbation as long as that

person does not entertain adultery in his/her mind?

 

• Suppose a woman likes working around the house naked.

She is naked while vacuuming the living room and her male

neighbor walks across the front of the house to ask for a cup of

 

viii

 

flour. As he approaches the window he glances in and sees her

naked back to him. He stops and backs up a bit to hide himself

around the corner but watches as long as she vacuums the living

room. Has he sinned in watching her?

 

 If he had an erection was

that sin? If he was so stimulated that he went back into his house

and masturbated, was that sin? At what point was there sin, if at any

point, and what Biblically establishes it as sin?

 

Consider a real life, personal situation. Years ago, while living

in another city, we had a group of young men to the house for

some reason. It was evening and while we men were visiting in the

den my wife walked in wearing her nightgown and asked if we

wanted anything. We said no and she left. Later, one of the men, a

friend, commented on how beautiful she looked and said seeing

her in her nightgown began to arouse him sexually and he said “I

had to shift my legs around and ‘fix myself’,” that is, he had to hide

a growing erection.

 

Did he sin because he had a natural sexual reaction to the sight

of a beautiful woman? Did she sin because she was beautiful and

appeared before those men dressed such (in an opaque gown, very

discreet as I recall) that at least one of them was sexually aroused

and perhaps the others too?

 

Was there sin in the natural, God-created biological stimulation

that happens when a man looks at a woman? Since the man did not

want to take her away from me and have her for himself he did not

“lust after her in his heart.”

 

 There was no “adultery” involved in

his looking and sexual arousal. If sin was involved, who sinned and

exactly what act constituted that sin according to the Bible?

 

Multitudes of questions could be asked covering many

imaginary scenarios. One reason for asking such pointed questions

is to demonstrate that we respond automatically to answer most, if

not all the above questions by saying such things are “sinful.” But

why do we react that way.

 

Do we react on the basis of God’s laws or

on the basis of preconceptions that arise from cultural standards

and church traditions? If the basis of our response is not Scripture

we have no legitimate basis at all. If Scripture does not make a thing

sin then we need not have any guilt about admitting the

acceptability of a thing and we must not condemn one who approves

it.

 

Ix

 

Some of these questions and certainly the answers we have

given, will disturb some readers. We believe that the reason for this

disturbance is that after looking at the full Biblical picture of sex we

cannot find the answers we once thought were unquestionable. The

fact we must deal with is that such sexual situations and many

others are a part of every day life, all around us, either in people’s

minds or in actuality.

 

Even saved people need answers to many of

these questions. How can we relate Biblically to these things if we

are afraid to raise the questions? What right do we have to advise

people about these things if we cannot give them an honest Biblical

response?

 

If we find that our opinions are not based on Gods laws

but on man made rules, how dare we continue to tell people they

are sinning in any of these things about which God has not spoken?

The bottom line is that only Scripture establishes “truth…that makes

us free.”

 

It does not matter what we have “heard said by them of old

time.”

 

It does not matter what social standard exists at any time.

It does not matter what conventional church dogma says.

It matters only that we discover what God actually said, and avoid

putting words in His mouth.

 

If God said something is sin then there is no room for argument.

 

If God did not forbid it then it does not need to be forbidden.

 

Humans cannot improve on God’s moral standards.

 

If God has not said a thing is sin it is not sin regardless of what

anyone thinks about it. If a thing is not sin we still must avoid

doing it under circumstances where it harms someone else.

 

 Yet we may still exercise our liberty in ways that others will not be

affected. Knowing that others believe what we do is sin should

have no effect upon our liberty to do it without personal guilt.

 

Examples of some things that fall in this category:

 

Eating meat offered to idols. (1st century example)

Drinking wine.

Being naked.

Masturbating.

Oral sex.

Vibrators/sex toys.

 

X

 

Looking at and being excited by the body of the opposite sex.

Enjoying writings, photos, films of explicit sexual nature.

 

The reasons all of these activities are considered by this author

to be within the parameters of what is allowable because not

condemned by God, are detailed in the various individual sections

of this study. Please read it all before settling upon any conclusions

that may be stirring within your heart.

 

Xi

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Before reading this book please read this introduction.

 

Contemporary attitudes on the subject of humans and sex are easily

learned via a plethora of books, articles and movies dealing with

the subject. Many careful studies exist on the subject of human

sexuality and some of them deal with this subject from a “Biblical”

perspective.

 

The Christian church is especially outspoken about

what it views as the sole, universally applicable divinely acceptable

sexual standard, claiming that this standard come directly from the

Christian/Hebrew Bible.

 

Even the secular Western world, with its claims to moral enlightenment and transcendent civilization, claims to be the moral leader of planet Earth.

 

The West’s sexual standard

occupies large place in its claim also to cultural superiority. While

not purposely and knowingly basing its standards on Biblical

revelation

 

Western civilization nonetheless agrees in some

important areas with the church in contrast to many “third world”

cultures in such areas, for example, as polygamy, concubinage,

prostitution, public nudity, homosexuality, “perversion” and any

sort of sex outside of marriage.

 

The reason for this agreement is that from the beginning of America’s founding, Western civilization has been thoroughly permeated with the concepts of the church.

 

The views of “Christianity” underlie the standards of Western morality.

 

This would be good if it were true that contemporary Christian/Church views were all valid.

 

However the studies in this volume will demonstrate that the contemporary view of the Church toward sexuality is far from being truly and consistently “Biblical.”

 

During the 2,000 years of its existence every

aspect of Christianity has suffered severe declension and the

modern church is not at all like the original church. Its views of all

things, including sex, can not legitimately be called “Biblical”

because the church’s modern view of all things is the result of the

development of human tradition and interpretation that has taken

it far afield from the original Biblical truth.

 

 Just as did the Pharisees

of the first century, the church now accepts as normative, the

“tradition of the elders,” truly believing this tradition to be no less

than the exact representation of pure Biblical truth.

 

But, as Jesus

said to those Pharisees, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold

to the tradition of menyou set aside the commandment of God in order

to honor your traditions” (Mk. 7:8, 9).

 

Human nature has not changed. Religious leaders still feel that God has not done an

 

Xii

 

adequate job of establishing morals, leaving many crucial “gaps”

which must be filled in by the church, i.e. church leaders. Religious

“doctors” and “elders” have labored long in the development of

their additions to what the Bible says about sex.

 

Over time these additions become traditions,

 

which eventually become church dogma,

 

which finally becomes church law.

 

 The preachers proclaim these human laws saying, “Thus saith the Lord,” and evidently the people love to have it so.

 

Nowadays, no church member suspects

that what passes to them from the pulpit as “Divine Law on sexual

morality” is nothing better than the well refined reasoning of men

exactly like themselves.

 

 The change from what the Bible actually says,

to what men say the Bible means, has been so gradual, and is

presented with such “spit and polish” that the persons packing the pews have no inkling that their entire sexual standard is built upon purely human authority.

 

But church leaders are just as clueless.

 

Preachers, pastors, church leaders in general,

 

learn their concepts from their peers just like all men do.

 

 Few of them are willing to expend the time and energy required examining, for themselves, every line of Biblical text.

 

It is just too easy to take for granted what passes muster in the

majority of churches, as being the “biblical norm.” As an ex-pastor I

can say from experience that it is unusual to find preachers who do

their own study.

 

Most of them are pressed for time and know too

little about using Bible study tools.

 

 Copying their messages from

another’s material is a standard solution for many Christian

teachers.

 

Thus in many areas, what is preached is merely what has

been preached, and only occasionally does it meet the test of true

biblical scholarship.

 

What rules the day as “Biblical morality” is not

truly Biblical at all. It is religious morality, but most of it is not true

to the Bible.

 

Modern religious sexual standards have been

developed over time by the human penchant for filling in the gaps

left by God’s silence on most sexual topics. That these human

standards have become almost universally accepted in the church

does not make them other than human standards. They still lack

God’s authority.

 

The Bible still does not teach them despite the

many who believe otherwise. The purpose of this present volume is

to demonstrate the truth of that statement.

 

So the sexual standards of the Western world, while purporting

to be the very best because based on Scripture, are no more than the

corrupted views of generally honest and sincere people whose

 

xiii

 

efforts to understand and apply Bible truth have suffered from the

common human infirmities of fallibility, subjectivism and poor

study habits.

 

 The modern Christian church is a self-appointed,

worldwide enforcer of a multitude of heavy sexual burdens that it has “laid upon men’s shoulders (Matt. 23:4),

threatening people everywhere with eternity in Hell if they do not accept and live under these burdens.

 

Millions of people are afraid of sex,  confused about sex, and guilty about sex all because of the faulty standards set by an apostate church.

 

Sex has become the unmentionable subject, and a “nasty” practice because of the church’s ignorance.

 

We were raised in that church environment from infancy. As

small children we experienced the hand-slapping, finger-shaking,

frowning face and reproachful “No, no, no, you mustn’t!” that

taught us that virtually everything sexual was taboo. That concept of

sexuality was reinforced through the years by the preachers and

teachers we listened to. When we began preaching we knew

nothing else to preach on sexual matters except what we had

always heard. Yet some things we read in Scripture conflicted

severely with our “borrowed theology.” Things like polygamy,

practiced by the very heroes of faith with God’s obvious approval.

 

Things like the “Levirate marriage law” that required a man to

impregnate his brother’s widow if he had died childless. “If,” we

thought, “God truly loathes any practice of sex except

monogamous intercourse, what sense can I make of all these

contrary examples?”

 

 But in the last few years it has become truly

apparent that many of the things taken for granted in the area of

human sexuality are not merely difficult but actually impossible to

defend by a pure reading of Scripture.

 

Years of thinking and

praying about these issues, along with short spates of low-intensity

study, produced nothing but a growing sense that we must

discover for ourselves what the Bible actually says about these

matters.

 

We could see that what the church says does not harmonize

with actual human experience even in the Western world and the

church. If the environment in which a thesis is most thoroughly

embraced, fails to demonstrate the validity of that thesis in actual

human experience, then we must conclude that the thesis is wrong.

 

It seemed clear that what the church teaches about sexuality does not

square with Scripture, and that applying current religious sexual

standards brought no enhancement to people’s sexual experience

and no relief to those experiencing “sex problems.” In fact, attempts

 

xiv

 

to counsel people with sex problems, using prevailing notions of

“biblical morality” brought only greater confusion,

discouragement, guilt and bondage.

 

 It was easy to see that from

both negative and positive vantage points the standards failed. As a

pastor we could no longer, with good conscience, just give our

counselees the same “tried but found untrue” advice.

 

 We finally

decided to examine with care and detail what the Bible actually says

and what it does not say about sex. We wanted to know what is

wrong with the “thesis on human sexuality” as embraced by the

church.

 

Many other works purporting to examine sex as it is revealed in

the Bible are written by those who deny the inspiration of the Bible

and who reject the Bible as a reliable foundation for morality,

religion and ethics.

 

Such authors ridicule the idea that a holy and

righteous God could either condone or allow such things as we find

recorded in the Bible.

 

They decide, independently of a truly

objective moral standard, what is and is not acceptable in the sexual

arena then impose their strictly human standards upon the reading

of the Bible.

 

As a result they conclude that the Bible cannot be

reliable because it seems to disallow some things they accept and

seems to allow some things they reject.

 

 In doing so, they show

themselves to be as bad at establishing moral standards as are the

“Christian fundamentalists” they ridicule. Still others write from a

viewpoint that takes the Bible as merely one of many guidelines by

which to establish morality and ethics.

 

To such authors the exact

words of the Bible do not particularly matter. They believe the Bible

must be interpreted in light of historical development: that each

generation and each culture will find its individual truth from the

Bible even though each may come to different, even opposite,

conclusions.

 

We cannot believe that a Bible that can be understood

in antithetical ways can possibly be reliable in any sense.

 

 If what the Bible actually does and does not say cannot be firmly established then

the Bible is virtually useless as a moral guide.

 

If Biblical ethics can change with generational and cultural changes then Biblical ethics

are not genuine ethics after all.

 

The objective of this study is to find what God really says about

sex. The nature of this study is unusual because of its perspective.

 

The author has been a Christian all his life, a Pastor for 36 years,

and is absolutely committed to the authority of the Bible in moral

and spiritual matters. He accepts the principle of verbal, plenary

 

xv

 

inspiration and authority. He believes that the God of the Bible is

perfectly Holy, Righteous and Pure. He also believes that humans

must conform their sexual practices to the standards God has

revealed in the Bible.

 

Therefore this study is a defense of truly Biblical sex rather than a

caricature of it. However, we have expressed our view that over

many generations human concepts of sexuality have digressed from

 the Biblical pattern.

 

 What humanity as a whole accepts or rejects is meaningless.

 

What the church accepts or rejects is likewise meaningless.

 

The church is no longer a

reliable guide in sexual matters for the same reason the ruling

religious parties of Jesus’ day – the Scribes and Pharisees – were not

dependable guides in Jewish religion.

 

 Religious leaders in both

Jesus’ day and ours have not been able to avoid the spiritual trap of

making laws where God made none.

 

The penchant of human

beings for trying to “help” God is universal and timeless. Religious

leaders especially are unable as a class, to stop where God stops.

 

Where God has granted liberty the church has denied it.

 

 What God has not seen fit to even comment on, the church has boldly and adamantly legislated on.

 

 Our effort here is to disregard all humanly originated standards and laws and to do our best to simply understand what God Himself says about sex.

 

Then we intend to accept it as good even if it conflicts with majority opinion.

 

 We are reminded that it is “truth” that “sets free.”

 

 No one can have freedom in sex or any other area unless they know, embrace and practice what God’s truth reveals.

 

 We hope this study helps some along the path to sexual freedom.

 

 

Not many people desire to discuss issues like masturbation, oral

sex, bestiality, incest, polygamy, etc. But human experience requires

us to deal with them.

 

Many, if not most religious teachers categorize masturbation and

 oral sex as sinful. Some take absurd  positions such as: that husband

 and wife cannot copulate except in darkness, should not bathe together,

 should never observe their mate while “using the restroom,” etc.

 

Some believe that in

copulation anything other than the “missionary position” is sinful

and unnatural; as we heard one teacher state to her class, “humans

are created to have sex face to face, and that is the only acceptable

way.”

 

It is obviously irrelative to her that no Scripture says any

such thing, nor even hints at it. Another said to us, “My husband

and I used to do it in a position we liked, but God spoke to me and

said ‘That’s the way dogs do it.’ So we don’t do it like that

 

xvi

 

anymore.” We replied to her that it was most unlikely that God was

the author of such a statement. But such silliness and dogmatism

illustrates what passes today for “Biblical” teaching and concepts of

acceptable sexual practice.

 

There is a prevailing attitude both inside and outside the

church, that there is something inherently nasty, unholy and

unspiritual about the sex act. It is hard for many adults in our

culture to imagine a holy person, especially a church leader,

participating in the sex act with any enjoyment.

 

To many minds sexuality and spirituality are antithetical: one surely cannot be both

sexual and spiritual. Yet even a cursory reading of Scripture reveals

that God’s choicest servants – men like Abraham, Jacob, David,

Gideon and many others – enjoyed sex enough that they were

motivated to marry many wives and obtain many concubines.

 

 Is sexual activity inconsistent with spirituality?

 

 Can a person be “holy” and totally committed to God and a productive servant in

His kingdom while at the same time enjoying the sexual experience

in as many forms as Scripture warrants?

 

 Does sexual activity diminish spirituality?

 

 This is one focus of this study.

 

The other focus of this study is the simple question: “What does

the Bible actually say about sex?” We will look at every sexual

subject with which the Bible deals and attempt to draw some

conclusions based on what we actually find rather than what we wish

was there, or what we heard was there.

 

 In the process we will ask some

very pointed questions and imagine some real-life scenarios for

purposes of coming to specific conclusions about situations people

deal with in daily life.

 

The method we used in pursuing this study was to read the

entire Bible, noting every verse that had anything to do with sex. We

then grouped and studied these verses by topic. We examined

original Hebrew and Greek words to determine, as far as possible,

precise meanings.

 

We consulted recognized scholars for their

comments on the various subjects. Then we drew our own

conclusions based on what we believe Scripture requires. We spent

much time reading, re-reading, discussing and revising each topic

touched on in this study.

 

The results you read here are those of one

whose desire is to know what truth is on this subject, firstly for our

personal understanding and practice, and then wherever possible

to help others who are struggling with issues they ought not be

 

xvii

 

struggling with. We hope to give some Biblical answers to difficult

sexual questions that plague many sincere Christians.

 

Our introductory chapter is crucial to this study. Please read

carefully and intently, the first chapter, “What makes a thing

sinful?” and be sure you understand it before you proceed.

 

 The answer to that question is absolutely crucial to a study like this because so much of sexual activity is considered to be “sinful.”

 

 If there is no objective standard by which to decide what makes an act

sinful, nothing productive will be gained from this study. Thus no

genuine spiritual benefit can be gained by this study nor will there

be any true spiritual, emotional or sexual freedom gained without

understanding the first chapter.

 

 Please read, re-read if necessary

and think until the principles of this chapter are fully grasped. Read

carefully and open-mindedly. It may be that some things you have

taken for granted, should be discarded.

 

We encourage you to also read the appendix. In the quest for

truth on any Bible subject, correct study methods are absolutely

essential. There are several non-negotiable requirements for

objective Bible study.

 

Most Christians, including many professional

ministers, simply do not know how to study the Bible.

 

 Too many people simply take it for granted that what appears to them to lie

on the surface of the text after a quick reading, must be the text’s

true meaning.

 

Consequently the Christian church is full of church

members who bite and devour each other as they wage war over

their different conclusions about what the Bible teaches.

 

 Each one will quote a text and say, “That is what the Bible says. I believe it.

That settles it.” Few can admit that their individual perception of

what is intended by their English translation is fallible. Few

understand the dynamics involved in attempting to translate

ancient, original documents into modern language while retaining

the original meaning of the original authors. Few have even an

inkling of what tools are available for objective Bible study. And

few of those who are aware of such tools have the ability to use

them. One of the strangest phenomena in all Christendom, is the

fact that millions of people willingly entrust their whole spiritual

destiny to the truth of the Bible, yet they are unwilling to do the

hard work necessary to ensure that they truly understand what the

Bible actually says. What sort of insanity causes people to fight for

a Bible whose every word has been “God-breathed” into the

 

xviii

 

original author, but who never learn how to determine the original

meaning of those “inspired” words?

 

The appendix provides some guidelines for effective Bible study

that are recognized by scholars world-wide. Examples of how to

use these guidelines are given to illustrate how using the proper

study methods can clear up confusion over disputed texts.

 

The Bible text has suffered at the hands of translators in many areas.

But their treatment of the text relative to sexual matters is

inexcusable. In many crucial texts dealing with sexual matters,

what lies on the surface of many modern translations is not at all

consonant with the original meaning of the authors of those texts.

One can easily discover this by using some of the basic tools of

scholarship.

 

We have provided abundant evidence of this in the

body of this volume. The appendix provides the basic methodology

for such study, and if one will practice the guidelines discussed

there, one will be able to study the Bible independently, objectively

and effectively.

 

Until one learns to do this, one will never escape

the bondage of having to trust the word of a “professional” who is

not likely to have done his homework. Jesus said “the truth will

make you free.” Reader, what is it worth to you to be confident that

you really know the truth?

 

1

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

WHAT MAKES A THING SINFUL?

 

Our first concern in this study is to clearly answer the question,

“What is sin according to the Bible?” It matters not what any human

thinks is sin. What matters is how the Bible defines sin. For Bible

believers, sin cannot be defined by humanity, the church, social

customs, community standards or personal conscience.

 

 The world

and the church have suffered far too long at the hands of those who

have sought to establish a thing as sinful, therefore forbidden, on

such bases as personal conclusion, personal preference, and

personal revulsion, rather than on the sole foundation of what God

forbids as revealed in the Bible.

 

God has protected us from the

vagaries of human law-makers. Moral law, by definition, must be

established by the Author of morality. Humans cannot know

innately what is or is not acceptable in the moral or spiritual realm.

Bible believers accept the fact that for the entire universe of men

and angels, there is only One Lawgiver. We call Him God. At no

point does He authorize humans or angels to codify behavior or

attitudes.

 

Jesus fought spiritually with the first century Pharisees

on exactly this basis. His scathing denunciation of them was that

they worshipped

 

God in vain because they replaced divine

doctrine with human commandment (Matt. 15:8, 9; Mk. 7:7). He

cursed them for establishing human rules and customs as

authoritative in the spiritual realm, many times even above God’s

law (Matt. 15:1-14; 23:4, 13, 16-22, 23, 25, 32-33).

 

When humans take

the seat of divine authority by presuming to make laws where God

has not made them they take the supremely arrogant position that

God has not adequately done his job.

 

 Human lawmakers thereby

suggest that we humans know better how to regulate behavior or

teaching that we find offensive, and so we must help God.

 

Because

such folly and pride is bound up in the hearts of man God has been

careful to inform us of two fundamental issues:

 

[1 His written law is the only acceptable legal code for human

behavior. Human input is neither needed nor desirable. Indeed

every human attempt to “clarify” or “supplement“ God’s laws

is a contemptibly arrogant accusation against God’s adequacy

as Law-giver.

 

[2 If His law has not codified a thing as sin, then it is not sin unless it

violates Christ’s “Law of Love.” There are two considerations here:

 

2

 

• Whatever humans may or may not think about it, nothing is

sinful unless God Himself declares it to be so. This eliminates the

use of faulty human reasoning, inadequate knowledge,

prejudice, personal injury, upbringing, former teaching, and a

host of other considerations, as acceptable means of

determining whether something is forbidden or permitted,

moral or immoral.

 

God has not left us to try to decide on our

own if a thing is sin. Spiritual destiny depends on our knowing for

sure what is sin. God has therefore not left us to our own best

efforts at making the right deductions or inferences from

imprecise revelation. In His mercy God has given us clear

guidelines for what we cannot do.

 

Outside that realm of

Divinely excluded behavior we are free to be and to do as we

choose. Two biblical principles cover the morality/immorality

of all possible human behaviors. The first principle is simple:

 

• God forbids a few specific actions as examples of what breaches the

law of love. These practices remain condemned for all time.

Freedom is granted to humans to pursue and enjoy what life

has to offer as long as God does not forbid a practice. Rather

than attempt to tell us everything that is permissible, God chose

only to tell us what is forbidden.

 

This makes it so much easier to

ferret our way through the many possibilities offered by life on

a fallen earth. Learning God’s law makes it possible for us to

enjoy life without falling prey either to what truly condemns us,

or to the merely human rules that serve only to enslave us. The

second principle is likewise simple to understand and apply.

 

• Through the Law of Love God forbids all actions that harm

other people or dishonors Himself. The ramifications of this

principle are covered thoroughly in our book, The Royal Law of

Liberty. The gist of the matter is this: We must examine all

behaviors that God has not forbidden, to decide if that action

harms another person or dishonors God.

 

 If our honest

conclusion is that such action is not thus harmful, then it is

permissible. We may enjoy that action if we choose without self condemnation

(Rom. 14:22).

 

 In the category of things not

specifically forbidden by Scripture each individual is

responsible for reaching his/her own personal conclusions

(Rom. 14:5).

 

And we are commanded to allow all people to draw

their own conclusions without judging and condemning or even

“regarding with contempt” those whose conclusions are different

 

3

 

from our own (Rom. 14:3-12). So, stated concisely, the general

rule for establishing Biblical morality is:

 

We must not do what God specifically condemns.

 

We must not do what harms other people or dishonors God.

 

Everything else is a matter of personal choice.

 

Our concern in these studies is not to defend either public

conceptions of morality or the church’s understanding of propriety.

We desire to know what God’s Word says about moral/sexual

issues.

 

 Our study and our conclusions about all things sexual will

move strictly along Divinely approved lines as revealed in the

Bible.

 

No human can be absolutely objective in a study like this. But

we will try our best to avoid making conclusions that are not

warranted by clearly defined principles. The following principles

are transparently clear as to what constitutes “sin.”

Sin Defined By Scripture

 

[1] “Through law comes the knowledge of sin,” Rom. 3:20.

This is Paul’s statement that the only way man can know of

the existence of sin, and what constitutes sin, is to learn it through

God’s law. God is the sole moral governor of the universe. Sin is

what God says it is.

 

 He must reveal to us the nature of sin or we

cannot know it. If we learn to think of something as “sin” apart

from Biblical revelation then our understanding of “sin” is

illegitimate. Social standards do not teach us about sin. Church

dogma, church councils, church leaders or church creeds do not

teach us about sin. God’s law, and that alone, teaches us about

sin. Knowledge of sin does not come from our experience

whether good or bad. Only as God’s law defines sin, can any

human know what is sin.

 

For purposes of this study then, we affirm that, “through

God’s law comes the knowledge of all sexual activity that God

considers to be sinful.” Nothing else will settle this issue. If a

sexual matter is not specifically addressed in Scripture then it

cannot be made “sinful” unless it can be proved to violate love

for God or neighbor.

 

[2]“Where there is no law, there is no transgression,” Rom. 4:15.

This statement forthrightly declares that if God did not make

a law against a thing, then doing that thing cannot possibly

 

4

 

violate God’s law. Therefore doing that thing is not sinful

regardless of what even the whole world thinks of it. An act is

sin only if God makes a law against it.

 

 He thereby makes that act a

spiritual crime. If an act is not in His statute book as a criminal

offense then it is not sin. Accepting this one principle will

eliminate most of our problems with understanding what is

sinful.

 

Those who believe the Bible to be inspired by the Holy

Spirit simply cannot reject what the Holy Spirit says here.

However repugnant to our senses or how hated an act may be

to us personally, if God did not give a law prohibiting that act

then doing it does not transgress God’s law. Therefore it cannot

be sin.

 

For purposes of this study then, we affirm that, “If there is

no law in God’s book against a specific sex act then that act is

not forbidden and is not sinful.”

 

A practice may violate all

social standards, all church tradition, etc. but if God did not

“outlaw” a thing then no one else in the universe has the power

or authority to do so. If an act is not specifically outlawed and

does not breach the Law of Love for God and man, it is a matter

of human choice.

 

[3]“I would not have come to know sin except through the law;

for I would not have known about coveting, if the law had not

said, “You shall not covet,” Rom. 7:7.

 

Again Paul says the only way we can know anything is sinful

is if God says so in His law. In Paul’s example, if God’s Law did

not specifically say “you shall not covet” then no one can know

that coveting is sin.

 

For purposes of this study then, we affirm that, “We cannot

know that any specific sex act is sinful unless God in His law

says that act is sinful.” If God does not, in His law, say certain

acts are sinful then no one can say that they are. We are free to

choose, governed only by the principle of love for God and love

for man.

 

[4]“Sin is lawlessness,” 1 Jn. 3:4.

 

This verse states positively that the nature of sin is that it is

something that breaks God’s law. If there is no law to be broken

then there can be no sin. One cannot possibly break a rule that

does not exist!

 

5

 

For purposes of this study then we affirm that, “If there is no

law in God’s law book against a specific sex act then to practice

that sex act is not lawlessness and is not sin.” Again, Christ’s

Law of Love becomes our sole guide as to the propriety of

practicing that act.

 

 

[5]“All unrighteousness is sin,” 1 Jn. 5:17.

 

“Unrighteousness” is anything that is not right in God’s

sight. Previous Scriptures prove that God alone can tell us what

is right or wrong in His sight. No human, nor group of humans,

has the capacity to figure out what God deems righteous or

unrighteous. If God does not condemn a thing in His law, then

it is not unrighteous.

 

For purposes of this study then we affirm that, “If there is no

law in God’s law book against a specific sex act, then that act is

not opposed to what God declares is right and so it is not

unrighteous.” Such an act becomes purely a matter of choice,

governed solely by its affect upon God and other people.

 

 

[6] “Whatever is not of faith is sin,” Rom. 14:23.

 

The context of this statement shows that Paul is dealing with

those who do things they actually believe to be wrong. Because

this violates one’s personal conscience about morals God

forbids it even if the act is inherently innocent. The meaning of the

above phrase is, “whatever one does, believing it to be wrong, is

sin.”

 

Thus sin can be committed even when doing something

not forbidden by God’s law, if one does what violates his

conscience. And we must observe that this is true only because

God says so in His Word. If God did not make violation of

conscience a sin, then it would not be sin.

 

We must be content to

be guided only by what His Word teaches us relative to sin.

For purposes of our study then we affirm that, “If one is

personally convinced that a specific sex act is sinful then one

must not practice that act.” However, if that act is not defined as

sin in God’s word, then for anyone else to practice that same act

with a clear conscience is not sin.

 

[7] “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is

sin,” Jas. 4:17.

 

The context of this statement relates to considering God’s

sovereignty above our own. We are required to pursue life with

 

6

 

God’s will for us uppermost in our minds. We must make our

plans contingent upon God’s sovereignty. To do otherwise is “sin.”

If we reach beyond the specific context of James 4, we must

consider Paul’s statement that “All Scripture is inspired…that the man

of God might be equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Thus

“good” is defined by God’s revelation in the Bible. James’ statement

then would include the idea that whatever God has defined for

man as “good” is necessary for man to do as opportunity exists. To

refuse to do what God recommends is “sin.”

 

For purposes of our study then we affirm that, “Whatever may

be defined by God as ‘good’ with reference to any specific sex act,

must be honored. To engage in a sex act in such a way that it

violates the good of another, is sin.”

 

The manner in which this

might be done is to engage in sex so as to disregard the welfare,

rights, person-hood, etc. of another person. This violates the

principle of “love your neighbor as you love yourself” that is

fundamental to all moral issues.

 

On the basis of the above Biblically defined principles of what

constitutes sin, we affirm that:

 

Any sex act that is not specifically forbidden by God’s law, does

not violates one’s personal conscience and does not violate the good

of others, is innocent, moral and permissible.

 

Missing the Mark

 

A more general definition of sin is contained within the

meaning of the original word used by Bible writers. The Greek

word translated as “sin” is hamartia, and is simply defined, “to miss

the mark.” (Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, one

vol. Edition, p. 48).

 

To use this definition as a way to learn what is

“sin” we must ask the obvious questions:

 

What is the “mark” that is missed, and whose “mark” is missed?”

 

The foregoing Scriptures

make it unmistakable that God’s law is the mark that establishes

anything as right or wrong. And sin is committed only when God’s

“mark” is missed. Man’s “marks” – and there are hundreds of them

– are of no moral consequence.

 

If we fail to hit God’s mark it is sin.

If we fail to hit anyone else’s mark it is not sin because no human has

authority to establish “marks” for morality.

 

7

 

The Jews in Jesus’ day set their own religious “marks” and

made things “sinful” by their traditions, and Jesus pronounced a

curse upon them for it. They had handed down centuries of

religious tradition that everyone accepted as God’s law but Jesus

corrected their traditions with, “but I say unto you...” (Matt. 5:21ff,

27ff, 33ff, 38ff, 43ff).

 

This process is not a whit improved upon in

our day by the fact that “them of old time” to whom we have

listened have been our own highly esteemed preachers, elders,

pastors, etc.

 

 At no time does God allow even the most venerable of

saints to occupy the place of lawgiver. Our modern teachers,

interpreters, translators and such, are not immune to error.

 

 We must not place the traditions and rules received from them on the

plane of equality with Divine authority. And we may exercise the

greatest liberty in choosing to ignore their spiritual prescriptions at

any place where we find them to be at variance with, or

unsubstantiated by God’s plainly revealed word.

 

 Even if the most

saintly men or women of the past have decried a practice, it is not

sin unless God decried that practice. If an act works no harm to our

neighbor and is not forbidden by God’s law, then we can safely

disregard godly saints wherever their opinions disagree with or are not

confirmed by Scripture.

 

Paul made some recommendations, while under the inspiration of

the Holy Spirit, but said they were not commands from God, (1

Cor. 7:25.) His was inspired advise yet it was not binding on those to

whom he wrote. The mass of what comes down to us from our

teachers and Bible expositors is in the same category though it is

uninspired.

 

And how much of God’s own directions might be in that

same category? God often states His preferences then allows us to

make our own choices in those areas in which He does not

definitely state that a thing is sin. It is not Biblical to take the

position that God has an absolute will concerning every act that

one can possibly perform.

 

God may indeed have a preference in all

things. But God allows His children to make choices for what is less

than perfect without condemning them. We are not robots. And

there is no liberty where there is no choice. Freedom requires

options.

 

God does not constrict us so that we have no real freedom.

He desires that we always choose the best, holiest and highest. But

He also “knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust,” (Ps. 103:14).

He allows us the same freedom we allow our own children.

 

God gives us the freedom to choose in matters where His law has not

 

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restricted us. Many of our choices will be for that which is less than

perfect.

 

But God is not a despot, waiting with whip in hand to beat

us because we make human errors. No human parent of sound

mind will disown or even discipline their children for making less

than perfect choices.

 

If we specifically forbid a thing, discipline and

punishment is appropriate where those orders are disobeyed. But

godly parents do not strip their children of all rights to make

personal choices outside the parameters of specific prohibitions. So

it is with God.

 

God allows us to be humans and to learn to live life

according to what is beneficial, enjoyable and good for self and

others. To make this possible, He grants freedom of choice in most

matters of human action.

 

 To guide us into His preferred path, He

gave some specific laws in the Old Testament to teach us what it

means to violate the Higher Law of Love.

 

Then Jesus replaced those

original moral laws with His personal Law of Love (Jn. 13:34; 15:12,

17; 1 Jn. 2:7f; 3:11, 23; 2 Jn. 5). Jesus abolished law as a ruling

principle, (Rom. 10:4) and placed us “under grace” (Rom. 6:14) to

govern ourselves by the principle of love.

 

 If we do our best to

decide behavior according to this Law of Love then we can live in

freedom, sexually and otherwise, without fearing God’s wrath

because we make some wrong choices.

 

And mark this well: Sexual

sin is in no sense “worse” than other kinds of sin. God does not

grant grace and mercy for our mistakes in all other areas, only to

wield an iron fist against any sexual mistake. It is man who has

demonized sex, not God.

 

Is everything God disagrees with or disapproves of, a sin? Is

there any leeway for us as we try to find and practice truth? If we

are honestly wrong, is there grace for our mistake? Can we go to

Heaven if we are not perfect in knowledge or obedience?

 

 Is there such a thing as making a choice for something less than God’s

perfect will, and still going to heaven? We believe it is so, and that

the Scripture contains many examples of men and women making

such choices.

 

Every human, regardless of spiritual experience, is in

the growth process. Not one of us has reached perfection. God

allows for the inevitability of mistakes, as we grow toward His

ideal. Our salvation does not hang on knowing everything

perfectly, and doing it all perfectly. Rebellion is not tolerated.

Intentional disregard for God’s explicit law will be punished. But

personal choices outside the scope of specific law are allowed, even

if those choices are not what God desires. This is what makes

 

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“grace” so wonderful. Grace makes it possible for sincere and

loving but imperfect people to serve God acceptably though not

perfectly. This principle works in all matters, including sexual

things. Sex activities are not in a singular category. Sex is simply

one aspect of human behavior, no more or less important than any

other.

 

Can a person be a true worshipper, anointed, faithful servant of

God and fulfill his/her spiritual destiny, even though that person

does not measure up to all God’s personal desires?

 

Can David,

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Gideon, etc., practice polygamy and

concubinage their whole adult lives, and still fulfill their destiny?

 

Can a Samson consort with harlots, marry multiple women, take personal vengeance on his enemies, and still fulfill his destiny?

 

Can one be “godly” in all that word implies, and masturbate or have

oral sex with one’s partner, and even engage in sex before

marriage, and still have a spiritual future?

 

Is there anything

inherently “unholy” or “nasty” in the human sex act? Is there any

lee-way in sexual conduct that allows for some freedoms we never

thought we had?

 

Answering such questions is the point of these studies.

 

Truth is valuable for truth’s sake.

Only truth makes us free (Jn. 8:32) from

human strictures, personal bondage, guilt and shame.

 

The world and the church suffer a multitude of bondage to guilt and shame related to sexual practices. Most of this bondage comes not from

God’s word, but from church tradition, misinformed counselors,

“puritan” (not necessarily Biblical) ethics, cultural rules,

“community standards” and so forth.

 

 If God’s word does not support the rules and traditions that bring such bondage then learning truth will bring freedom and legitimate pleasure to those who have the courage to embrace the truth.

 

Principles That Control Personal Liberty To Do What Others

Object To

 

We feel it is beneficial to address this subject here because there

are many innocent things that conscientious people may choose to

practice, that are nevertheless condemned by well-meaning but

misguided people.

 

If, for example, I like to smoke an occasional

cigar, and a fellow Christian becomes aware of that, what is my

proper response to this fellow saint if (s)he should say to me, “How

10

can you smoke cigars? Don’t you know that smoking is harmful to

your body, and therefore sinful?” So the question is: If my brother

or sister believes a thing to be sin, yet I believe it to be innocent,

may I choose that thing in spite of their objections? The Apostle

Paul gives us much specific instruction on this very issue. Here are

his basic principles.

 

Are You Weak or Are You Strong?

God is much concerned that those of His children who are

“strong” in understanding, in faith and in confidence in their

standing with Him, do not hinder those who are “weak” in those

areas. So He provided us with two extended discussions about our

responsibilities in this area (Rom. 14—15:6; 1 Cor. 8 — 10).

 

The fundamental teaching from these Scriptures is this: Stronger saints

are not required to totally avoid activities that might hinder other

saints; they merely need to modify their behavior in any situation

which might cause weak saints to stumble and sin. Interestingly the

“strong” referred to in these verses are those who do not see

“uncleanness” as an issue in what they choose to do.

 

Note this: “I

know and am persuaded in myself that nothing is unclean of itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean,” (Rom.14:14).

 

 That an apostle of Jesus Christ could say such a thing about

“cleanness” must be compelling for all who take the inspiration of

Scripture seriously. If this is what the Holy Spirit led Paul to write

then we must accept that nothing is inherently unclean – including sex.

Meditate on that fact until it gets into your spirit.

 

 No sex act is

inherently unclean. Any forbidden sex act is forbidden for reasons

other than inherent uncleanness. All regulations of sexual activity

have to do with honoring the rights, property and welfare of

others. “Cleanness” has nothing at all to do with it. Necessarily

then the Scriptures that control a Christian’s freedom to do what is

inherently innocent, apply not to the behavior itself, but to the effect of

their behavior upon other Christians.

 

Paul’s argument of this principle from 1Cor. 8 and 10:

The controlling factor in our behavior is not “I am right,” but “I

love my brothers and sisters,” (1 Cor. 8:1-3). Some saints lack

sufficient knowledge to be able to do things more mature saints can

do.

 

The strong must then be careful to not use their “liberty” to

become a stumbling block to the weak (1 Cor. 8:5-9). A weak saint

 

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might be encouraged by a stronger saint’s actions to do something

they are convinced is wrong. This would cause offense to their

conscience and would be a sin against both them and Christ (1 Cor.

8: 10-13). Paul’s conclusion is that he would not do anything to

cause his brother to stumble.

 

Strong saints must ask whether the action they are considering,

or its effect upon others, will be “beneficial.” Even though an action

may be inherently innocent its effect on others may be harmful.

 

Therefore the strong must decide in favor of “benefit” to the

weaker saint (1 Cor. 10:23, 24). However if a thing is innocent and

the strong saint desires to participate in it he may do so without

guilty conscience and he need not stop to inquire about it for fear of

hindering others.

 

A strong saint can legitimately enjoy all the good

that God has created (1 Cor. 10:25-27). But if someone shows a

weak conscience about what you are doing then stop doing it in

their presence lest they be hindered (1 Cor. 10:28).

 

Another’s weak

conscience does not make the behavior of the strong wrong (1 Cor.

10:29-30); it merely defines some circumstance in which the strong

must be careful about exercising his freedom. The strong may “eat

or drink or whatever” and glorify God for His blessings (1 Cor. 10:31-

32). But he must be careful not to offend the consciences of the

weak (1 Cor. 10:32-33).

 

When in the company either of believers or unbelievers, a saint

is not obligated to try to figure out in advance what they might

think of his behavior. If what saints do is inherently innocent then

they may do it without concern about the potential reaction of

unbelievers. Note especially “Eat anything sold in the market place

without asking questions, for conscience sake, for the earth is the Lord’s

and everything in it” (1 Cor. 10:25, 26). Let us imagine that we find

dancing to be Biblically acceptable. We might then paraphrase the

preceding verses to say: “therefore be free to dance in the presence

of unbelievers without wondering what they think of it, for

conscience sake, for dancing is a harmless blessing from the Lord.”

 

And note: “If an unbeliever invites you and you wish to go, eat anything

that is set before you without asking questions for conscience sake. But if

anyone should say to you, ‘This is meat sacrificed to idols,’ then do not eat

it, for the sake of the one who informed you and for conscience’ sake.” (1

Cor. 10:27,28). Again we might paraphrase this: “If you have

opportunity to go dancing among unbelievers, feel free to do so,

without asking what their reaction may be. But if one of them says,

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‘I didn’t think a Christian could dance,’ then do not do it, for the

sake of the one who questioned you, and for conscience sake.”

 

Further, Paul makes it plain that if a Christian’s own informed

conscience is clear about what he allows, (1 Cor. 10:29), then he

may “partake with thankfulness,” (1 Cor. 10:30). In Rom. 14:5, 10, 22

he argues that each saint is free to form personal convictions about

behavior and that we are not to judge one another concerning these

matters.

 

 God grants to each of us the right to decide for ourselves

and to exercise our “faith” in good conscience before God with

thankfulness. One can live a “happy” life free from “condemnation,”

(Rom. 14:22) as he pursues those pleasures he does not find

condemned by God’s word. Mature saints will accept these truths

and will both form their own personal conviction about moral

issues, and will allow all others to do the same without

condemning, reproaching or judging them.

 

Paul’s argument from Romans 14:

 

In Rom. 14, Paul balances what we have seen in the previous

Scriptures by forbidding the “weak” to judge the “strong” and vice

versa. Each must form their own convictions about what is

acceptable and then live by those conviction without pointing

fingers at those who disagree. We must accept the reality that our

fellow saints are not our judges and we are not theirs. Only God has the

right to judge our behavior and we are commanded to honor that

(Rom. 14:1-5).

 

If my brother feels convicted about a particular action such as

observing a specific “holy day,” and my own conviction is

different, then we are both commanded to honor the other’s

convictions.

 

I must allow him the liberty to do as he feels he should

and he must allow me liberty to do the same. Whether we do or

don’t do, is not the fundamental issue. The fundamental issue is that

what we do, we do with praise and thanksgiving to God (Rom. 14:5-9),

and that we love and respect our brothers with whom we disagree.

The reason for this is that no person will ultimately judge another

person for his or her behavior.

 

Only God is Judge and He

commands us to leave all judgment in His own hands (Rom. 14:10-

12).

 

The only prohibition God sets against our freedom is that we

must be careful that we do not put a stumbling block in the way of

a fellow saint, (Rom. 14:13). The context of this verse, accompanied

 

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by 1 Cor. 8 — 10, makes it clear that Paul is restricting the strong

saint’s behavior only to the extent it actually causes another saint to

stumble into doing something that their conscience condemns them

for. Paul is not saying that we cannot do anything that another

saint objects to or says they are “offended” by.

 

 That would make us

virtual prisoners to pettiness and ignorance of others, would destroy

all liberty, and would eliminate virtually all behavior, for people

will be offended by almost anything we might do. “Offense” in

these Scriptures, has to do with influencing someone to do what they

believe is wrong. If my action “offends” them but does not motivate

them to violate their own conscience, then I am not required to

avoid what I desire to do. My liberty is restricted only to the extent that

it might influence another saint to do something that violates their

conscience.

 

“I know and am convinced in myself, that nothing is unclean in itself;

but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean,”

(Rom. 14:14). This is such an incredible Scripture that every

Christian should memorize it. The idea of sexual “uncleanness”

pervades Western society and the church especially. Children’s

hands are slapped and they hear the word “naughty” when they

innocently touch their sexual organs.

 

 Thus they are taught from

infancy that “sex is dirty.” And sex remains “dirty” even for adults

to talk about. Yet this apostle, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit,

and knowing God’s law better than most in his day and definitely

better than any of us, declares that nothing is inherently unclean or

unholy. If we are required to avoid an activity, then avoidance must

be based on something other than “uncleanness.”

 

This Scripture makes it clear: sex is not dirty. Sex in all its forms

is inherently clean, wonderful, pure. Sex is not unholy. For any sex

act to become unclean or unholy, something must be added to it.

Specifically, masturbation, oral sex and anal sex, for example, are

not unclean sex acts.

 

Any of them may become unclean as a result of

adding something illegitimate to the act. If one forces one’s objecting

partner to perform oral sex, then sin is committed because of the

breach of love for the other person. The mere act of oral sex is

neither clean nor unclean. It is simply one of many possible sex

acts. It may be enjoyed by those who choose to do so, as long as it is

not done in a way that harms other people.

 

If God has specifically forbidden a sex act – such as bestiality,

rape, incest – man must avoid it. If a sex act violates love for other

 

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people, it must be avoided.

 

 What God does not forbid by either of

these principles may be enjoyed as a blessing from God. If it is not

forbidden, it is allowed. And it is clean. We need so desperately to

grow up in our attitude toward sex and see it as a clean,

wholesome, God-ordained activity.

 

Our understanding of the inherent cleanness of various sexual

activities and our liberty to enjoy them must be controlled only to

the extent that such actions harm another person (Rom. 14:15-16).

 

The purpose of our salvation and life in God’s kingdom is not to

simply enjoy our freedoms, but rather to promote “righteousness,

peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” So we behave ourselves around

others so as to build them up (Rom. 14:17-19).

 

All things are good in and of themselves, but even a good thing

becomes evil if it is done in a way that harms another person (Rom.

14:20). It is good to do nothing, however innocent an act may be, if

it causes another saint to stumble (Rom. 14:21). Yet this prohibition

is not absolute. One cannot literally do nothing that might possibly

cause another person to stumble. That is the ideal. But reality is that

we can only exercise caution about any action that we know might

be objectionable to some, and try not to cause others to stumble. If

we exercise our liberty with such caution, we can exercise our

liberty without guilt.

 

Another incredible statement follows in Rom. 14:22. “The faith

that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who

does not condemn himself in what he approves.” This verse grants

outright liberty for God’s children to exercise their own best

judgment about all things that God has not specifically prohibited.

 

If one desires to engage in any sexual practice that God does not

prohibit, one is free to do so if that act does not harm another

person. If one’s personal conviction will allow one to masturbate or

enjoy oral sex, then one is free to do so.

 

God’s law, having nothing

to say about such practices, leaves all men free to form their own

convictions about them. If one finds an act repulsive one is free to

avoid that act. But if another person desires to enjoy that same act

then he is free to enjoy it and we are commanded to not judge him

for it.

 

We must add here that even when one’s personal conscience

disallows an otherwise innocent activity one can study God’s word,

educate the conscience more thoroughly, and get rid of invalid

conscientious scruples. Most conscientious scruples in the area of

sex come, not from the Bible, but from a church and society that has

 

15

 

set purely human standards for sexual morality. As we said above,

all humans are free to simply ignore all such human standards.

 

 If God’s law does not classify an act as sin then one should not have a

guilty conscience in enjoying that act. And any person, whose

conscience presently forbids those activities, can gain freedom from

that guilt by going solely to God’s law for the basis of his morality.

One is not hopelessly bound to an invalid conscience. One can

grow into full liberty in Christ if one will commit to the necessary

study.

 

To many people the concept of sexual freedom is radical. Many

cannot believe that humans have any sexual freedom at all. The

concept prevails in the minds of most people that if a thing is

sexual then it is inherently nasty or dirty and that we can’t do it

unless God specifically says so.

 

To think that some sexual practices

are left up to the like or dislike of individuals is unthinkable,

especially to church leaders. Most of the rules that circumscribe

sexual activity do not come from God.

 

 They come from church

leaders who do not believe any sexual activity can be a matter of

choice. They are compelled to help God by filling in the gaps left

where God did not legislate about such things as masturbation, oral

sex and other equally innocent practices.

 

 Like the Pharisees in

Jesus’ day they pile their own regulations atop God’s law and give

their own laws pre-eminence. We have absolutely no responsibility

to be regulated by any rule that cannot be read from Scripture. If

God did not prohibit a practice we are free to decide for ourselves

about it. And we are obligated to allow everyone else the same

privilege.

 

Paul’s clear statement is that in the realm of those things

God does not prohibit, I can be “happy” in the practices of which my

conscience approves. And he says that this is “faith” that I can

exercise “before God.” That is, I can be sure that God allows my

behavior as long as I do not offend another’s conscience, or my

own.

 

The “faith” in this verse is “faith” that comes as a result of my

own reasoning and decision. It is not “faith” in the sense of

believing what the Bible says, because the whole argument of

Romans 14 has to do with things about which Scripture is silent.

 

So we are dealing specifically with sexual issues about which the Bible

has said nothing in the way either of condemnation or approval.

Regarding such sexual practices, after I have considered all the

evidence available to me I have God’s authority to form my

 

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personal opinion and then act on that opinion with “faith.” I need

feel no constraint because of the objections of others.

 

This does not mean that I must settle every possible question

that might arise about a practice. Paul writes, “He who doubts is

condemned if he eats, because his eating is nor from faith; and whatever is

not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). The “doubt” that makes a thing

“sin” in this verse is an actual believing that there is something wrong

with the activity.

 

Such is the case with one who believes it is wrong

to eat meat sacrificed to idols yet does it anyway because he sees

another brother doing so. He eats with an offended conscience and

therefore sins. It is not possible for humans to answer all questions

and quell all possible fears about all possible activities. And God

does not require us to eliminate from our lives all activities about

which we are not omniscient. A man who wants to eat meat that

has been sacrificed to idols may do so even if he is not absolutely

sure about it.

 

As long as his heart does not tell him “this is sin,” he

has not offended his conscience. In the same way a man or woman

may yield to the sexual urge to masturbate even though they might

confess to themselves, “I am not absolutely sure about this. But I

know God’s word says nothing about it, therefore it is probably

okay.

 

Even though I know many church leaders condemn

masturbation, I don’t find their arguments convincing. It may be

wrong, but I don’t believe that it is. It seems more like a blessing of

personal pleasure that I am free to choose. So I am going to do it.”

So may the reasoning process go with many things about which

God has not spoken.

 

A good rule of thumb here is this: If God has not specifically

prohibited an action then I can safely think it through, pray it

through and come to the best decision I can about it. Even though I

may not have an answer to every question, yet because I know God

has not made it a sin then it is not a sin unless it harms another

person and I am safe in doing it since I know God has not legislated

against it.

 

There is no other way people can live with any peace in their

hearts. If we are compelled to be sure that we do not offend anyone,

in any way, with anything we do regardless of the circumstances,

then we will all quickly become basket cases. We cannot possibly

figure out in advance what others will think about every action that

we want to take.

 

We simply cannot live with the obligation to do

nothing that will in any way offend others. God frees us to come to

 

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our personal conclusions about our desires and conduct, then freely

act on those convictions unless we have reason to believe that doing so

will bring spiritual harm to another saint. We are not required to

investigate in advance what others may think of our actions.

 

 We are simply required to operate with due respect to our spiritual

family and not intentionally do things that circumstances suggest

might cause them to violate their own consciences.

 

A final word on this specific issue. The prohibition here relates

only to avoiding what will cause our brother to sin. It has nothing to

do with what the unbeliever thinks about our behavior. Since

unbelievers are unable to do anything that threatens their salvation

Paul’s instructions do not apply.

 

 This does not mean that we need

not have any concern about how our behavior affects unbelievers.

It simply means that a Christian’s liberty to do what is innocent is

not restricted by the spiritual blindness and deadness that

characterizes unbelievers.

 

Christ truly makes His people free. Since

unbelievers have no capacity to understand and appropriately

judge spiritual things, the saint does not need to be concerned

about being judged by unbelievers, (1 Cor. 2:14,15). In this regard,

the frequently repeated maxim, “You must be careful to protect

your Christian witness,” is merely a human maxim.

 

Most Christians receive it as a virtual spiritual law but it is not from God.

It may indeed be a wise principle. But it is an invention of men.

This statement is used often as a weapon against people who do

things some Christians do not like. For example, one might hear

this: “You should not smoke. That will harm your Christian

witness.” Or “You should not wear shorts in public, because it will

weaken your Christian witness.” And on and on we go.

 

 We simply say here that our freedom to enjoy what God has made is not

restricted by what unbelievers think about it. If an act is innocent

we may do it regardless of the attitude of unbelievers.

 

Our “Christian witness” will only be harmed if we engage in actual sin.

Society’s standards or the church’s traditions cannot make a

thing sinful to any degree. If God’s law does not forbid an act and

one does it without guilt, he is free regardless of what others think.

If society and the church frowns on an act a Christian who knows

better may still enjoy that act as long as he or she tries to do it in

circumstances where others will not be led to offend their weak

consciences. If this is not true, how do we apply these Scriptures

that teach it is okay to eat meat if we do not harm another’s

 

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conscience by doing so? Paul could and probably did eat meat

sacrificed to idols in privacy, even though some of the Corinthians

would have thought him a sinner if they knew he did it. His liberty

is not eliminated by the weak consciences of others. He simply

controls his use of liberty.

 

It is important that we grasp this principle. If we do not live this

way then we become virtually imprisoned by the conscientious

scruples of others. For example, because some Christians object,

we could not attend movies, rent videos, or own a TV or a

computer,

 

women couldn’t wear makeup or jewelry, cut their hair, wear

shorts, bathing suits or pants,

we could not celebrate Christmas, Easter or any other religious

holiday,

 

we could not play cards, or roll dice,

we could not have sex in any position other than the

missionary position,

 

we could not look at the naked body of our mate,

and on and on it goes.

 

None of the above is sinful except for those whose uninformed

consciences tell them so. If at any point they learn better and

understand that “nothing is unclean of itself,” and that God has not

condemned these things and that they are therefore free to do

them, then they can do so without scruples and without sin. In

other words, what would have been sin at one time because of

ignorance, no longer is sin because their conscience is enlightened.

 

How Can This Be Right If Everyone Thinks It Is Wrong?

How can any view be right if the church and “civilized society”

says otherwise? We realize that any position that contradicts

prevailing opinion should, for that reason, be examined very

carefully and embraced only when the evidence truly supports it.

But we must remind ourselves that the church and society at large

are frequently wrong about a host of things.

 

When Luther and the other Reformers attacked the doctrine of

salvation by works they went to battle against the entire body of

“Christianity.” No one in their day believed in salvation by grace.

 

But their position proved to be true according to Scripture and we

reap the blessing today of their willingness to embrace and defend

against fierce odds, the Biblical doctrine of salvation by grace

 

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through faith. These same leaders won victories for humanity in

other areas where heresies were universally believed.

 

Where would we be today if such men as William Seymour had

refused to teach and practice the Biblical truth about Holy Spirit

baptism? Where would the church be without the Azusa Street

revival? Yet in the day of the greatest modern outbreak of the Holy

Spirit upon the church, Seymour and others like him had to stand

against the entire organized church. Today we reap the benefit of

their courage and conviction.

 

Other instances could be given. The point is that truth is not

determined by how many people accept or reject an idea, how long

it has been believed, how many scholars believe it, etc. Jesus says

“Thy word is truth,” (Jn. 17:17). Truth is determined only by what the

Scripture says. The church does not speak authoritatively for God on

subjects of morality and sin.

 

God has spoken for Himself. As long

as we adhere to His word we are safe. We must learn what God has

prohibited, and then avoid those prohibited things. Otherwise we

are not bound by church dogma or social standards. And once we

discover what Scripture says we must resist the effort to augment it

at those points where it does not condemn things we find offensive,

or where we think God should have been more careful to explain

Himself.

 

All lawful things can be practiced in situations where doing so

will not harm another person. Our motive must always be to seek

the good of others rather than our personal, selfish desires. This

principle allows us to enjoy all sexual practices that God has not

forbidden.

 

The Nature And Purpose Of Law

A final word might be in order as to the nature of “law.”

Sometimes we hear, “But the Bible does not say we CAN do that.”

This indicates a need to understand the nature and purpose of law.

Law is not normally written to permit anything. Whether we

consider civil law or Divine law, we do not look to law for

permission to do anything. Law is written either to require necessary

positive behavior or to prohibit negative behavior.

 

Examples of positive mandates in the Decalogue, (Ex. 20)

 

“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy,” (vs. 8).

 

“Honor your father and mother,” (vs. 12).

 

Examples of negative mandates in the Decalogue, (Ex. 20)

 

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“You shall have no other gods before Me,” (vs. 3).

 

“You shall not make for yourself an idol…you shall not worship

them…” (vs. 4, 5).

 

“You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain,” (vs. 7).

 

“You shall not murder,” (vs. 13).

 

“You shall not commit adultery,” (vs.14).

 

“You shall not steal,” (vs. 15).

 

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” (vs. 16).

 

“You shall not covet…anything that belongs to your neighbor,”

(vs. 17).

 

It is noticeable that 80% of the Ten Commandments, are negative

prohibitions. This illustrates the basic fact that law is written

primarily to prohibit wrong behavior. As a rule people do not have to

be required to do what is good so there is no reason to write laws

demanding they do so in most cases. But people do have a

tendency to do wrong. Therefore it is necessary to establish limits

to their behavior in order to protect other people. All law is written

this way.

 

This is easily illustrated by traffic laws. No state, city or

municipality writes traffic laws that tell an automobile driver what

he is permitted to do. Traffic law is written to forbid driving in a way

that endangers others. Thus we have speed limits, stop signs, etc.

Outside the parameters of these prohibitions a driver is free to

drive as he/she will. If a traffic law does not exist it cannot be

broken. No traffic cop would think of ticketing a driver for driving

with his window down.

 

No law exists giving permission to drive

with windows down. It is permissible simply because there is no

law prohibiting driving with a window down. No qualified police

officer would say, “our traffic laws do not say you can drive with

your window down.” To ticket a driver for such an action would

subject the officer to ridicule and censure from his or her superiors.

 

Such a ticket would be summarily dismissed in traffic court.

The same is true relative to moral or spiritual behavior that God

regulates by His law. God wrote His law to make it clear what our

moral limits are. This is the whole purpose of the Ten

Commandments. Especially in the sexual area, God dealt more

specifically and in detail than with any other area of human life.

This is doubtless due to the power of human sex drive and the

tendency of fallen humanity to fall easily and quickly into sexual

 

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sin.

 

In order that humans might know exactly what our sexual

boundaries are God specified what He prohibits. He did not command

any positive sex act. Humans are not required to engage in sexual

conduct. God’s mandates tell us what sexual behavior we must

avoid. In no other area of human life did God go into such minute

detail as to restrictions and prohibitions. Once we have learned

what God prohibits sexually we can then confidently enjoy

whatever sexual activity is possible outside those prohibitions.

 

If God’s law does not forbid a particular sex act, then it is

impossible for a human to violate God’s law by enjoying that sex act.

If there is no law against an act it is permitted. One cannot possibly

violate a law that does not exist.

 

 Thus humans are free to do

sexually whatever God has not prohibited. We are free to do even

those things that society frowns upon and which the church

condemns if God has not made it unlawful. Only God establishes

the morality of any act. Neither society nor the church has been

granted the privilege of mandating morality. If God’s law does not

prohibit it, humans may do it even if the majority of people in a

culture think it is immoral.

 

 Granted, it may be necessary for such

frowned upon acts to be performed in privacy, but if it is not made

sin by God no human law can make it so.

 

This study is an attempt to learn what God said about sex. We

need to know exactly what sexual activity God forbids. If we can

learn that, then we can know for certain what sexual activity is

permitted: it will be whatever is not on the forbidden list. And then we

may be free to enjoy, with God’s approval, everything that is not

forbidden.

 

We do not need a list of “You may do this” from God.

All we need is His list of “You may not do this.” Everything else is

a matter of individual choice, restricted only by loving

consideration for other people.

 

What does the Bible say? This is our only quest.

 

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CHAPTER TWO

 

NAKED AND UNASHAMED

 

Comments about nakedness from other authors:

 

As expected, we find that contemporary religious writers and

church leaders declare human nakedness to be doubtlessly sinful

unless it is done in total privacy. As example of some of their

comments, consider these quotes.

 

“A term indicating various stages of undress, from being

inappropriately clad, to being totally nude. The naked body was

taboo in Hebrew society … in part because bodily fluids were

“unclean”…Clothing confined the fluids and prevented them from

contaminating public areas.

 

“In Heb. usage “nakedness” is often a euphemism for sexual

relations (cf. Lev. 18). This usage helps explain the incident as Gen.

9:20-27, where Ham apparently took advantage of his father’s

drunken state and had sexual relations with him.

 

“Public nakedness was normally considered an occasion for

shame, a characteristic of the prostitute or the adulteress (1 Sam.

20:30; Rev. 17:16). The prophets often spoke of the lascivious, naked

prostitute as a visual symbol of Israel’s apostasy (Ezek. 16:15-43; ch.

23; Hos. 2:1-13).

 

But nakedness might also be a result of extreme

poverty (Dt. 28:48; Rev. 3:17-18 (figuratively) and therefore an

opportunity for good works (Mt. 25:36-44).

 

“Nakedness was forbidden in Israelite religious ceremonies,

largely because of its association with Canaanite rites (Lev. 20:23).

 

The priests wore linen garments to cover themselves (Ex. 28:42) and

altars were built without steps lest the priest’s nakedness be

exposed to the crowd below (Ex. 20:26).

 

Aaron, under the people’s

influence, made a calf before which the people danced naked (Ex.

31:25).

 

Saul lay naked all night and prophesied (1 Sam. 19:24).

 

Isaiah walked naked and barefoot 3 years as a prophecy of doom

against Egypt, Is. 20:2-4).

 

 David, wearing a linen ephod, danced so

enthusiastically before the returning ark, that he became

“uncovered” (2Sam.6:20).”

 

– Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary, pg. 746. –

“Occasionally “nakedness” is a euphemism for sexual organs.

Thus the laws of Ex. 20:26 and 28:42 prohibit the exposure of

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priest’s “nakedness” because it would be cultically defiling.

“Uncover the nakedness” in Lev. 18 and 20 refers to incest.

 

 It also

refers to the results of incest, i.e. bringing shame upon the

aggrieved party.

 

“Shame is also associated with nakedness and is seen as

originating in the garden of Eden. When man and woman became

aware that they were naked, they were ashamed.

 

 Prior to the

disobedience, nakedness was natural as it continued to be for

animals.

 

“The practice of sleeping unclothed is attested in Rev. 16:15

 

where being awake and clothed is contrasted with being asleep and

naked.”

 

– International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) vol. 3, pg. 480)

Scripture References:

 

Adam and Eve were created by God as naked and unashamed.

Man’s normal, original and Divinely intended condition was

nakedness, (Gen.2:25).

 

 Adam and Eve’s children and the human

race would still be naked if not for the fall. When God looked at His

creation and pronounced it “very good,” he was looking at naked

humanity, Gen. 1:26-31.

 

Nakedness itself is not shameful. The very

beginnings of humanity demonstrate that God’s preference for man

and woman, is that they be naked exactly as all other living

creatures are.

 

The guilt of sin causes Adam and Eve to be ashamed at their

nakedness, (Gen. 3:7,10). Sin brings shame, but it is not necessary to

think that Adam and Eve’s shame was due specifically to the physical

nakedness of their sexual organs.

 

Why were they ashamed: because

their physical bodies were unclothed, or because suddenly they

have become self-consciously guilty of sin, and realize that each

other and God know of the guilt?

 

 From the beginning, all they had

known was physical nakedness, so how does their sin cause them

to find something wrong with nakedness as such?

 

It is more likely

to think that their physical nakedness represents to their mind that

they are now open to the spiritual gaze of each other and of God.

Their motivation is to hide from God, not to cover their sex organs.

 

Their shame at being uncovered is in the same category as that of

the criminal who hides his face from the TV camera as he is being

led away in handcuffs. It is similar to the sheepishness of a child

caught with a hand in the cookie jar? Since their sin had nothing to

 

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do with their physical nakedness, and did not involve their sex

organs, why do we jump to the conclusion that their attempt at

clothing, was to hide their body? More on this later.

 

 

Ham “sees” Noah naked. Noah curses him, not for seeing him

naked, but for what Ham “did, ” (Gen. 9:21ff.). What did he “do?”

 

It was not seeing his father naked that was sinful, but something

more drastic. As suggested in the above quote from Eerdman’s

Bible Dictionary, Ham must have committed sexual offense against

his father, committing an act of incest. For this he is cursed.

 

If seeing his father naked and remarking about it to his brothers was

his offense, then any condemnation of nakedness based on this

incident must conclude that it is shameful and worthy of cursing a

child if (s)he should see a parent naked and say anything about it.

 

Israel was required to build her altars without steps lest the

priest’s nakedness be exposed to the crowd below, (Ex. 20:26).

 

 The priests wore linen garments to cover themselves, (Ex. 28:42).

 

Nakedness was forbidden in Israelite religious ceremonies,

(Lev. 20:23), as the above quote from Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary

indicates, “largely because of its association with Canaanite rites.”

 

These Scriptures are set in the culture of a people surrounded by

nations that customarily made sex a part of their religious exercise.

 

To protect against all such corruption of their religious ritual, as

well as to remove anything that would surely distract from

worship as would be the case with a priest’s sexual exposure, God

ordained this precaution. It is interesting to observe that no such

precaution is made for other situations.

 

For example, Moses

climbed Sinai twice to obtain God’s law. If going up in the presence

of Israel would expose a man’s genitals, why not the same

prohibition here, if God’s interest is solely to keep genitalia from

public gaze?

 

When God commanded Israelites to go outside the

camp to have a bowel movement, and to bury the results with a

shovel, why did He not also precaution them to be sure they hid so

no one saw their genitals?

 

 Why did God never make such a

requirement in any other circumstance than this one that related to

a priest’s ministry in Israel’s presence?

 

 It was because of the pagan

use of sexual practice in their worship. God was very careful to

eliminate any practice that might lead Israel to consider including

sex as apart of worship to Him. This was an unusual request for

 

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God to make of the priests. That they had to be specifically

instructed to wear “underwear” means that they would not

ordinarily wear such garments.

 

Wearing panties and briefs was not

a common thing in Israel’s culture, nor was it common in the

nations around them. If carefully covering one’s genitals is

important to God, we should expect to read a command like this

addressed to all men and all women applicable to all

circumstances. But, of course, such is not the case.

 

We who attach

shame to sex organs, make such undergarments “necessary.” To

some in our society it is “shocking” to think a man or woman

would choose to not wear underwear under their clothes. Many

think it is shameful for a “godly” woman to go “bare legged.”

 

Many think it is tasteless and even vulgar for women to go bra-less.

Yet there is nothing inherently negative, unclean or tasteless about

not wearing underwear.

 

Public opinion must be considered before

going bra-less in public, but otherwise, nothing negative can

legitimately be said about it.

 

Ruth, seeking to offer herself to Boaz as his wife, is told by

Naomi to go to his bed while he sleeps and “uncover his feet” and lie

down until he awakes and tells her what to do, (Ruth. 3:7).

 

 The action Ruth is to take here is not merely to simply lay down at the

foot of his bed and put the end of the blanket over herself.

 

“Uncover the feet” was a well known euphemism in that culture for “expose the genitals.”

 

Moffatt translates the Hebrew words this

way: “uncovered his waist and lay down there.” She was advised

to uncover Boaz’s genitals and lay down beside him.

 

When he awoke with his genitals uncovered and Ruth lying beside him, he did not have to guess what she wanted!

 

She was offering herself to him sexually, and he was willing! When she asked him to “spread your covering over me” she used a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

 

 This phrase arose because in sexual intercourse, a

woman lying on her back lays open her robe to the man. The man

spreads his robe apart as he lies on top of her.

 

 Thus the phrase “cover with my robe (or skirt, or covering)” also came to refer to sexual intercourse.

 

Today if a man asks a woman, “will you go to bed with me” we know he is not asking for a place to sleep! In the same way, in that Israelite culture when a man asked a woman if he could “cover you with my robe” he was asking for sex. So Ruth is unabashedly asking Boaz to copulate with her. He says “I will do

 

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whatever you desire,” (vs. 11), which probably means that he had

intercourse with her that night, for they indeed spent the night

together, (vs. 13, 14).

 

There is no need to be offended by such suggestions.

 

Firstly, the Biblical words themselves warrant such an explanation of the

scene.

 

Secondly, these people were not living under the heap of

purely human traditions and religious regulations that have been

handed down to us. Thirdly, the action achieved its result;

 

Boaz accepted her sexual proposal, and they were married and became

the parents from whom eventually David and Solomon descended.

 

It is worthy of note that these two doubtless had sexual intercourse

before they were officially married. At any rate, there was nothing

shameful to these people about “naked” sex organs.

 

Such an approach by a woman to a man, while considering both

of them to be righteous people, is almost sacrilegious to most

religious people today. Yet to Ruth, Boaz and Naomi, it was an

expression of a freedom and naturalness about sex that found

nothing dirty or unholy about it. Our struggles arise from the

mistaken notion that our attitudes toward sex must necessarily be

the same as God’s attitudes. In a culture where most of us are

reluctant to even talk about sex we cannot imagine that the godly

men and women of Scripture could be so free, unashamed and

natural about sex, regarding both its functions and its pleasures, as

the Bible shows them to be.

 

Sexual freedom and openness about it all was a hallmark of

these people. They shared none of our hang-ups and consequently

none of our false guilt. To neither Naomi, Ruth nor Boaz would

Ruth’s behavior be “brazen” or offensive. Men and women have

sex. And men’s and women’s genitals are neither “holy” nor

“horrid.”

 

Even in an age when we consider God’s Levitical Law to

be totally controlling of Israel’s behavior, such scenes as these are

played out time and again in Scripture with never a solitary hint

that God is displeased. Given God’s demand for holiness, His care

to inform His people of all offenses against holiness and His primafacie

acceptance of nakedness; and given the Biblical depiction of

overt sexual advances of men and women toward each other with

never a correction from God, our conclusion can only be that God

did not view exposure of one’s genitals to be either a spiritual crime

or “uncleanness.” Though one could not expose another’s

nakedness against their will, for purely personal satisfaction, (Hab.

 

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2:15) one could do so in a situation like this, where the intent and

method honored the dignity and rights of the other person.

 

 Boaz actually thanked Ruth for showing such interest in his sexuality,

(Ruth 3:10).

 

In a more famous incident God’s demonstrates His acceptance

of human nakedness even when displayed before members of the

opposite sex.

 

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced so

enthusiastically before the returning ark of the covenant that he

became “uncovered,” exposing himself to the “maidens,” (2Sam.6:20).

 

It is apparent that during his vigorous dancing movement his

genitals were visible to the men and women who thronged the

streets to watch the parade. Five Hebrew words describe David’s

actions as he danced “with all his might.” David “danced,” “rotated,”

“jumped,” “whirled,” and “skipped.”

 

 There is no indication if his “uncovering” resulted from David’s “ephod” (vs. 14) flapping loosely  as he gyrated, or if he took it off. An ephod was no more than a

long cloth with a hole in the center through which one put his head.

 

It fell down the front and down the back, sometimes with ties to

hold the sides together. From verse 14 it appears that this is all

David wore and its specific mention seems to be given to explain

how he could have been “uncovered.”

 

Wearing undergarments is a modern invention.

 

 David was not wearing his “fruit of the looms.”

As he danced he either intentionally threw off his ephod and

danced naked, or it flapped open exposing his genitals.

 

 If one is repulsed at the suggestion that David might have intentionally

danced naked, we remark that nude dancing was well established

in virtually all cultures of that day. Women and young girls

especially, danced naked in public parades and celebrations.

 

Israelites stripped and danced naked around the golden calf (Ex.

32:6, 25).

 

God’s displeasure with them on this occasion related not

to their nakedness per se, nor even to sexual activity, but to their

worship of an idol, Aaron’s golden calf.

 

Isaiah was commanded by

God to walk naked and barefoot through Jerusalem for three years,

(Isa. 20:1-4). Nakedness in general was not as evil to Israel and

surrounding nations as it is to us. And it is apparent that God by no

means thinks of nakedness as vile and shameful. Man put the

stigma of shame and sin on nakedness.

 

God did not.

David was sufficiently exposed to invoke his wife’s anger and

contempt. The words “uncovered” and “shamelessly” are translated

from a Hebrew word meaning to “denude” (Strong’s # 1540). It is

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used of Noah when he was uncovered in his tent, (Gen. 9:21).

 

 In

Lev. 18:6-19 it is used repeatedly in reference to uncovering one’s

sexual organs. Consider these translations:

 

“… exposed himself to the girls along the street like a common

pervert!”

 

(The Living Bible)

“…exposing himself before women…as any loose fellow would

expose himself indecently.” (Moffatt)

 

“...as he stripped himself in the sight of the maid servants…as a

common rake exposes himself! (Goodspeed)

 

“…uncovering himself this day to be ogled by the female

servants…as some worthless fellow would strip himself.” (Modern

Language Version)

 

So David was not just dancing “shirtless.” His sexuality was

exposed, and this “strip tease” was reprehensible to Michal. She

did not object to his exuberant dancing.

 

She objected in jealousy to

the fact that the women in the street had seen his genitals!

 

 Rather than being shamed by her jealous anger, David replied, “It was an

act of celebration and worship to God and I am willing to go even further than this. When I do I may humble myself, but the maidens of whom you are so jealous, will hold me in high esteem.” (2 Sam. 6:21, 22)

 

The only explanation for Michal’s anger, seems to be jealousy. The fact is that

men, women and children in Israel did not “look at” sexual organs

the same way we do. It was not all that unusual for men to see

women’s genitalia, and vice versa.

 

If God was repelled by this public, uninhibited display of

David’s genitals, and that women along the road had seen them,

why do we have no word that even hints at such Divine

displeasure?

 

Why did God not correct David for his “vulgarity and

excess?” Now that we know “the rest of the story” about David’s

actual nakedness in this dance, it astounds us that God accepted his

abandoned, uninhibited worship!

 

 The fact that God blessed David

and cursed Michal because of her reproach of David’s “exposed”

dancing, proves God did not find David’s exposure either sinful or

distasteful. Human nakedness does not bother God any more than

does the nakedness of animals.

 

Nakedness bothers humans who

have been brow-beaten by decades of false teaching and who do

not know how to deal with their internal guilt and shame. Clothes

are nothing more than an artificial cover-up for what is wrong

inside us. The invention of clothing didn’t work for Adam and Eve,

as we shall show, and it will not work for us.

 

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“Uncover the nakedness” in Lev. 18 and 20 refers to incest. It

also refers to the results of incest, i.e. bringing shame upon the

aggrieved party. “Uncover the nakedness” is a euphemism for

sexual intercourse.

Public nakedness was a characteristic of the adulterous

prostitute and considered an occasion for shame, (1 Sam. 20:30;

Rev. 17:16). The prophets often spoke of the lascivious, naked

prostitute as a visual symbol of Israel’s adultery, (Ezek. 16:15-43;

ch. 23; Hos. 2:1-13). These verses do not make nakedness, as such,

shameful. It is the relationship of nakedness to sexual sin that is

shameful. It is nakedness used for enticement to adultery, that is

shameful.

 

Saul lay naked all night and prophesied, (1 Sam. 19:24). Was this

a shameful act? No hint of such is found here.

 

Isaiah walked naked and barefoot 3 years as a prophecy of

doom against Egypt, (Is. 20:2-4). Did God command Isaiah to

commit what is “normally”(?) a sin, in order to make His point

with Israel? While public nudity may not have been normal in

Israelite society, there is no proof from Scripture that they

considered nudity a sin. There certainly is no Divine law that

makes it so.

Babylon’s “nakedness” will be exposed & her shame

“uncovered” as God’s judgment, (Isa. 47:1-3).

 

Nineveh is cursed because of “wanton lust of a harlot…who

enslaves nations by prostitution and witchcraft,” so God will “expose her

nakedness,” (Nahum 3:4-8). In all such cases, “exposing nakedness”

is to force sexual exposure upon one.

 

This has nothing to do with

any supposed inherent shamefulness of physical nakedness. As

indicated by the Word Biblical Commentary on Isa. 47:3, stripping

one of clothing was an act of humiliation, involuntarily exposing

one to public taunting, ridicule and vulgar treatment that was used

against slaves especially.

 

To “expose one’s nakedness” is to leave

one without any covering or defense.

“Woe to him who makes his neighbors drunk so he can gaze at their

naked bodies,” (Hab. 2:15). It “is your turn to be so exposed,” (vs. 16).

This is taking from someone what they are unwilling to give. To

 

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expose anyone against their will for sexual exploitation, is sinful.

There is no word here to indicates that voluntary nakedness is

wrong.

 

The Christians in Laodicea must get white garments “that the

shame of their nakedness may not be revealed,” (Rev. 3:18). This is a

reproach of their thinking they are independent of a need for God.

 

King Ahasuerus, during a large feast with many guests, sent

servants to call his queen, Vashti, to appear before the guests in

order that they might admire her great beauty. (Esther 1:11)

 

She was an uncommonly beautiful woman, and this verse suggests that

the king wanted her to appear naked so as to display her total glory

to all admirers.

 

The Jewish Targum says she was commanded to

appear naked, as do Josephus and a Midrashic passage (Megillah

12b), (Kevin Aaron, Journey From Eden, p.47) There is good reason

to accept this as the real situation.

 

The circumstance that she

refused to appear before the king’s guests has been used as an

indication of her great virtue, and her “example” has been used in

many sermons designed to instill in women a sense of shame at

being unclothed in the presence of other people. This incident is

also touted as an example of the crudity and sinfulness of a man

desiring to display his wife’s beauty to others.

 

 However, neither

conclusion can be legitimately drawn from the Biblical text. Both

are examples of imposing present concepts upon the text, based

upon our cultural setting and paradigms, rather than deriving the

meaning from the text in a way that is consistent with what we

know about the culture in which it was written.

 

Is it necessary or even possible to conjecture that Vashti was a

“morally virtuous” woman who was “repelled” at the idea of

appearing naked before the king’s guests?

 

Not one word in the text

gives any basis for such a conjecture. Any conclusion about Vashti’s

motives can never be more than opinion. So since we are

considering opinions, let us offer one of our own, based on what

we can learn about that culture.

 

In that pagan society, known for

sexual liberty of every kind by both sexes, it is more likely that

Vashti would have been naturally eager to show off her physical

beauty, especially knowing it would bring special favor from the

king. That the moral standards of such a pagan woman would have

been too high to allow her to appear naked in such a situation, is

disproved by well documented practices of all human history,

 

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including our own day. History demonstrates the willingness and

even eagerness of women to strip before men specifically to display

their body, and especially for payment of money or for other

favors. Where would Vashti have gotten such a boldly different

moral view of this since it was then, and still is, common practice

among “unbelievers?”

 

Interestingly, no one comments on the contrast between “pagan

Vashti’s” supposed moral virtue and “Israelite Esther’s”

 

participation in a sexual relay with this same king. Vashti is

heralded as pure and righteous for refusing to appear naked for the

king’s guests, then Esther is also heralded as the righteous, faithful

servant of God whose faith and courage save the nation of Israel.

 

Yet Esther, with her uncle Mordecai’s knowledge and consent,

willingly participated in the nightly “sex-capades” by which the

king chose his new bride.

 

 Now, on the one hand, we applaud

Vashti for refusing to appear naked before the king’s guests. On the

other hand, we say nothing about the fact that Esther did not refuse

to participate in the king’s sexual merry-go-round. Do we think it

was worse for Vashti to appear naked, than for Esther to simply join

the line-up of sexual playthings for the king? Why is Esther not

castigated for not refusing to participate in such a “degenerate”

act?

 

As long as we must conjecture, it is more probable that Vashti’s

refusal had selfish reasons, calculated to gain some special favor,

perhaps thinking that the king might offer extra favors for her

appearance before his guests. Or she may have been angry with the

king, or ill, in her menstrual period, or perhaps a number of

reasons could explain her refusal of the king’s command, none of

which have anything to do with a sense of moral impropriety.

 

Esther knew what she was getting into and acted voluntarily at

the advice of her uncle. However the king did not merely “ask”

Vashti to appear naked before his guests. He demanded it. Had he

asked, allowing her to make the decision for herself, might the

situation have been different? Who knows? There is no Biblical

reason for such a request to be looked upon as vulgar, filthy,

perverted, or any such thing..

 

This story illustrates a common trait of men that people are

reluctant to consider nowadays: A man is more proud of his wife’s

beauty than he is of anything else he “possesses.” As eager as a

man is to invite other men and women to look at, examine, caress,

 

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etc. and thoroughly enjoy his beautiful car, his guns, his boat, etc.

so are most men eager to show off their wives. A common fantasy

of most men, is their desire to show off their wife’s body, especially

to other men. It has to do with male self-esteem. In our society, that

desire is not overtly demonstrated except in very limited occasions,

 

such as beauty contests which boyfriends and husbands support

strongly, encouraging and helping their girlfriends or wives

prepare, and watching with delight as they walk the runway in

bikinis and revealing gowns, for all to see their glory. Years ago a

friend, commenting on a mutual acquaintance's penchant for

wanting his very beautiful wife to dress in short skirts, and without

bras, said “he likes the guys to see what he has at home.”

 

Some will

respond by saying, “It is different with one’s wife, than with one’s

car, boat. etc.” Perhaps. But exactly how is it different? And who

says so? If it is no more than a human opinion, then it is worthless

for this discussion.

 

The question is, does such a desire mean a man is wicked,

debased, vulgar, etc.? Nowhere in Scripture is such a suggestion

made. If it is sinful for men to have such thoughts about displaying

their wife before others, the Bible makes no mention of it and we

can learn it only by human reasoning. As we have already said, we

refuse to accept moral standards that cannot be supported by

Scripture.

 

Morality based on human reasoning can never be God’s

morality. No human should feel the slightest compulsion to accept

human doctrines and man made rules for moral behavior. If God

didn’t say it, we can safely discard it.

 

Why would any husband desire others to look at his wife’s

beauty? The obvious reason has already been suggested: his male

ego is fed by the admiration of others for what he alone possesses,

just as with the display of his car, etc. There is also the desire of a

self-assured man to allow his wife the satisfaction of being admired,

 

with the ego boosting and self-assurance and self-confidence that

such brings to her. Women have been held in the background and

treated as if they should never expect to be encouraged to enjoy

being who they are, or to enjoy their beauty, or to seek and receive

 

praise from others because they are beautiful. Such a desire on

woman’s part is not vanity or pride. It is normal. If men would

more overtly work at encouraging their wives to be independent,

self-confident, etc. what a wonderful change it would make in our

women. Women want and need to feel that they are beautiful and

 

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that their husbands are proud of their beauty. For a man to

encourage and enable his wife to so display herself that she might

receive praise for her beauty would be a wonderfully liberating

thing for her. What motivates a man to allow his wife to enter a

beauty contest, to wear revealing gowns, and to strut her stuff in

the “swimsuit competition?” No one really thinks much about a

man actually encouraging or “supporting” his wife to do such a

thing. The motive for the man is both his own self esteem in having

 

such a beautiful wife, and in ministering to his wife’s desire and

need for recognition and admiration, and congratulations for her

physical charms. If men were confident in their own identity, if

they were assured of their wives’ love for them, and if they were

not filled with fear and jealousy at the thought that other men

would look at their wives with admiration for their beauty, how

much would it do for women everywhere, to be free to receive, and

bask in such affirmation of their beauty? Tell me, what is

 

fundamentally different about a man’s wife posing, strutting in a

beauty contest in a swimsuit, and this king’s request of Vashti? Do

we say, “well, the beauty contestants have some clothes on?” Still

the purpose is exactly the same – to display the beauty of woman’s

body. The human body is gloriously beautiful and was made by

 

God to be that way. Nothing about nudity is inherently sinful. And

there is nothing inherently sinful about people admiring the beauty

of other people’s bodies. For a man to look at a woman’s nakedness

and relish the sight, or for a woman to look at a man’s nakedness

with admiration, for example at a “Mr. Universe” contest, is of the

same nature as God’s looking at his naked man and woman and

saying, “that’s very good.” If God looked and pronounced it good,

how can we look and pronounce it evil?

 

The Song of Solomon is the most straightforwardly sexual book

in the Bible. It’s theme is that of two lovers who take pure delight in

each other’s bodies and sexual love. In 4:1-5, the man describes the

woman’s body in detail, using Hebrew words that have strong

sexual meaning. In 5:11-15, the woman describes the man’s naked

 

body, from head to toe, including euphemistic references to his

penis (“belly,” cf. Strong’s #4578) or as one translator put it, “His

rod is arrogant ivory.” In 7:1-6, the girl is wearing nothing but shoes,

for the boy’s description of her body moves from feet to head.

Admiring her “navel” refers to her vulva, according to The

 

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Interpreter’s Bible. In the context, the girl is dancing, (thus the shoes)

and the people call to her to turn around so they can look at her.

Her back was turned and they could not see her full naked beauty.

The man is pleased with their admiration of “his girl,” and asks

teasingly, why they love to look at the girl who dances (6:13). Of

course, he knows why they look: they look because she is beautiful

from head to feet, and he delights in their admiration of her body.

 

The Interpreter’s Bible commentary says this was some special

dance apparently performed in the nude. The Pulpit Commentary

says the dancing girl may have worn clothing of a light texture

through which the outlines of her body and breasts were seen,

“according to the mode of dancing in the East.” (Journey From Eden, p.

49). Such nude dances as these were common in that culture. Adam

Clark thinks she wore “transparent garments,” which allowed her

 

body to be viewed. The girl was dancing in such fashion that her

breasts were visible and described as a perfectly matching pair,

“two young roes that are twins.” As she danced her breasts bounced

like young roes jumping on the hill. This girl had breasts like

“towers” – large, firm breasts – and this was a major factor that

caused the man to delight in her, (8:10).

 

Given the jaundice with which especially religious people have

learned to look at sex and nudity, it is impossible for most

Christians to handle such imagery as used in the Song of Solomon.

But it is nevertheless there for all the world to read and to profit

from. Churches have tried their best to help God out, since

apparently, in many minds, He did not do an adequate job of

defining decency. Modern religious people are offended at the

 

suggestion that God would actually inspire such a book as Song of

Solomon. Most commentators refuse to deal straightforwardly with

its explicitly sexual language. Adam Clarke suggested that the

sexual references in this book were so explicit that even a medical

Doctor would be embarrassed to use them. Yet the fact remains that

 

this book is part of inspired Scripture. Any suggestion that it’s

language and sexual references are crude, unacceptable for decent

society, vulgar, etc, is an accusation against God’s personal

holiness, purity and righteousness. On the other hand, if we can

accept that this book is inspired by God Himself and that its sexual

 

content is not shameful, unholy or in any other way foreign to

God’s character, then we are in a position to be able to understand

God’s true attitude toward sex. God made sex. God made sex

 

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enjoyable. God made human bodies. God made them beautiful to look

at. God also created men’s and women’s sexual reaction to the

naked bodies of others. God sees this as good. And it all

harmonizes with His essentially Holy nature. In God’s mind there

 

is no dirt connected with sex or human nakedness. All the dirt

exists in human minds. We have taken our human standards so

seriously that we believe we are able to define (since God did not)

 

what is “decent” and what is not. Humans (religious ones) have

through the years, shown just how expertly they can define

morality. They have at different times prescribed exactly how short

is too short for skirts, that a woman’s knees should not be seen, that

 

she should wear long sleeves so no one will be excited by her naked

arms, that she must not allow her legs to be seen at all, that she

cannot be seen in public wearing a “swimsuit,” or if she does, it

must be a one-piece suit, etc. If holiness is defined by how much

clothing one wears, then surely those religions that require women

 

to cover everything, including their faces, are the most holy of all.

Against this modern backdrop, imagine if you can, the fact that

as the church developed, in many churches nude baptism was

conducted. Will Durant said: “Total nude immersion was required

lest a devil should hide in some clothing…”(The Age of Faith, pg.

75). References to nude baptism are contained in writings by

Chrysostom, Ambrose, Cyril of Jerusalem and others (Rousas

 

Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, pg. 758).

It is well known that in Greece, athletic contests and training

were conducted in the nude. The word “gymnasium” means “a

place for naked exercise.” Our modern Olympics is the offspring of

 

these Greek games. Today, both men and women in these games

wear such brief attire that nothing about their physique is left to the

imagination. They could as well imitate the Greeks and simply

“run naked.” Outlandish as it sounds to most people in our society

 

this is not inconsistent with anything in the Bible. The Bible does

not advocate nudity, but neither does it condemn it. In fact, as the

Song of Solomon and David’s dancing indicate, God even accepts it.

We will then make this bold, radical statement: No Scripture

 

exists that calls forth God’s judgment upon humans appearing naked

before other humans. No law exists in God’s book that makes public

nudity sinful. While this may sound outlandishly radical, the test is

easy for anyone to take: simply read through the Bible trying to

find such a law. It does not exist. There are some occasions where

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nakedness is forbidden (e.g. Priests must wear undergarments

when ministering above the crowd below; exposure for purpose of

enticing to adultery). There is a law against exposing other’s

nakedness against their will, for purposes of selfish sexual

enjoyment (getting someone drunk, then undressing them for

 

sexual exploitation). God condemns those who display their

nakedness for purposes of enticing others to adultery (e.g. married

prostitutes who appeared naked in public). But there is no law

against being naked, even in public. Make of this what we will, it is a

fact. Indeed we have seen Biblical examples of public nakedness of

 

which God approved. In view of the principles established in

chapter one, What Makes a Thing Sinful, we must re-think

carefully the conclusions we have made about human nudity and

establish, if necessary, new rules based on the Bible rather than on

our own opinions.

Additional Observations and Conclusions:

Nakedness is neither moral nor immoral. Because God created

nakedness as the original and “very good” condition of humanity it

cannot possibly be thought to be immoral, nor questionable. What

God saw as “very good” was human and animal nakedness. This

was God’s ideal. Clothing is a hiding of God’s perfect creation. In

God’s perfect scheme, nakedness is perfection. Clothing is not

desirable. Nakedness remains the norm today for all creatures

 

except man. The awakening of human conscience, the awareness of

sin, the shame of guilt, etc. cannot transform an inherently moral

condition into an immoral condition. If nakedness itself is not

immoral or sinful then acts of sin cannot make it so. Just as eating

too much may cause one to sin through gluttony, the act of eating is

 

not thereby made sinful. Drinking wine is acceptable and even

recommended by God to be a blessing. But drinking too much and

becoming habitually drunk, is sinful. The sin of drunkenness does

not make it a sin to merely drink wine. The Bible does not teach

that nakedness became sinful on the basis that Adam and Eve

 

sinned. It is not nakedness that is shameful; it is the guilt of

disobedience that creates shame. Clothing was not invented by

Adam and Eve as an attempt to hide the shame of physical

nakedness; it was their attempt to hide the spiritual shame of sin. It

is possible for humans to be naked in front of each other without

guilt.

 

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Nakedness was the normal state of everything God created. His

original intention was stated in the form and character in which He

created man and animals. Animals cannot sin thus no shame can

attach to anything they do and their nakedness has no moral

 

implications. When God looked at the state of His totally naked

creation, He announced that it was “very good.” God never intended

people to wear clothes. Their physical beauty, like that of animals,

should have borne perpetual testimony to the awesome handiwork

of the Creator. That human bodies are covered detracts from the

 

glorious tribute to God’s creative genius that should come from all

God’s creation. Certainly, nothing God made is so beautiful as the

human body, which is proven by the fact that history’s greatest

 

artists have painted, sculpted and photographed the naked human

body for the collective (even if in most cases, furtive) admiration of

all who see their images. This should be normal.

The entrance of sin brought shame and a compulsion to hide. It

is most unlikely that Adam and Eve were ashamed of the mere fact

that their bodies were naked. It is more likely that their shame was

at the realization of their disobedience and their total exposure to

the holy gaze of God. They were now aware that they were

 

violators of that holiness and that they could not hide that fact from

each other or from God. This is demonstrated by the fact that they

did not stop at clothing their bodies. They were compelled to try to

hide among the trees of the garden. Their clothing, like their

cowering behind trees, was a factor of their transparent

 

disobedience – not of the shamefulness of their physical nakedness.

God’s act of clothing them with animal skins was not His testimony

that man must now be clothed, but was God’s dramatic

demonstration of the spiritual fact that man cannot hide the

consequences of sin. Only God can cover sin and only blood

 

sacrifice can do that, thus the animal skins. If mere clothing was the

issue God could have shown Adam and Eve how to make sufficient

clothing without killing an animal. And if clothing becomes

mandatory for us because Adam and Eve were ashamed, why does

it not also become mandatory that we hide behind trees from each

other?

 

If nakedness was the inherently innocent, “very good” aspect of

creation that God said it was before the fall, then the fall of Adam

and Eve did not change nakedness itself into something inherently

shameful. Man’s sin does not transform the nature of any of God’s

 

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creation. But sin does place all of God’s creation in a less than ideal

condition. Sin changes man’s ability to relate to God’s creation in

total innocence. Sin becomes a matter, in most instances, of using

God’s “very good” creation in wrong ways and for wrong

purposes. Such is the case with the whole realm of sexual activity

with which this study deals and with nakedness. Apart from sinful

use of nakedness, nakedness itself is no more sin now than when

man was originally created. Nakedness becomes shameful and sinful

 

only when it is misused. Nakedness is misused when it is used for

enticement, to disgrace another, to expose one against their will, to

flaunt public morals, to hurt another’s conscience, etc.

 

Since, at the fall, there were only Adam and Eve to see each

other’s nakedness, and they hid from each other via clothes, do we

conclude that to be naked in the presence of our mates is sinful or

shameful? The shame in this instance had nothing to do with their

mate or any other human (had there been others) seeing their

naked bodies, nor is there any verse that indicates that their shame

 

consisted of being seen by each other. If this situation is the

platform upon which to build an attack upon human nudity under

any circumstances, then it is certainly a platform upon which to

build a case against nudity between husband and wife. In which

case, those who advocate marital sex only under circumstances

wherein a husband and wife do not see each other’s naked bodies,

 

are right. Who can believe it?

The factual case is that “nakedness” “shame” “clothing” appear

in a context where the only parties involved are a husband and wife. Do

we conclude that husbands should always be clothed when in the

presence of their wives and vice versa? Any case against nudity

built on these verses, makes this position mandatory, for these

verses cannot legitimately be forced to serve in debate against

nakedness on a general scale, if they have nothing to do with

 

nakedness on the particular scale. If we eliminate certain

conclusions on the particular scale, and that scale being the only

one under consideration in the passage, then we thereby eliminate

those conclusions on the general scale. If the clothing of Adam and

Eve proves anything as to the “sin of nudity,” it proves it is wrong

 

for a husband and wife to be nude together. It would thus be

wrong for a man and wife to bathe together. A husband must not

enter the bathroom while his wife is naked in the shower, etc. Most

of us can see that such application to the particular situation

 

39

 

involving Adam and Eve/husband and wife, are absurd. We

should be able then to see the absurdity of trying to make generally

applicable, what will not serve the particular situation. The very

absurdity of such ideas should help us realize that some of our

other conclusions about nudity may also be wrong.

 

Why did Adam and Eve hide themselves from God “among the

trees of the garden,” (Gen. 3:8)? What does this have to do with “and

they knew that they were naked,” (vs. 7)? Why did they clothe their

 

bodies? What did their sin of eating the fruit have to do with their

realization that they were naked and why did this specific

realization motivate them to clothe themselves? Is it a shame to be

naked in God’s presence? Were Adam and Eve hiding their bodies

from each other? from God? from the animals? Who else was there?

And is fallen man to be ashamed of his physical nakedness in

 

God’s presence and his wife’s presence? Since they were naked and

unashamed from the start, but sinless, was their “shame” the result

of seeing each other’s nakedness? Do we suppose they were

somehow blinded to each other’s bodies before the fall? Is the

passage dealing with nakedness itself, or is there more to this than

meets the eye?

 

Adam and Eve had seen each other’s naked bodies before the

fall without shame. God had seen their naked bodies before the fall

and they were not ashamed. It is not possible that Adam had never

noticed that Eve was “different” from himself; that her anatomy

and his were not only different but that the difference was

compelling. Who can believe that Eve had never noticed that Adam

had a penis and she did not? As they looked at each other’s bodies,

 

and as God looked at their bodies, there was nothing unusual about

the sight. They knew the difference in their anatomies and Adam

and Eve had doubtless investigated each other’s specific differences

relative to penis, testicles, vulva, breasts. God’s mandate to them

and animals was to “multiply and replenish the earth.” Do we

suppose that they and animals were ignorant of the means of doing

this until the fall? If so we must conclude that man had no way to

 

fulfill God’s mandate until he sinned! What an absurd idea! Sexual

activity, copulation by both humans and animals, must have been a

part of life in Eden before the fall. Adam and Eve could not have

been ignorant of their sexuality and had surely enjoyed the

pleasures of sexual love. Whatever was the source of their “shame”

 

40

 

at being naked, it could not have attached to physical nakedness as

such. And the fall did not involve sexual sin, so there was nothing

attached to the use of their sex organs or to the sight of them, to

which the fall applied. Therefore no sexual connotation could be

made of their nakedness. Adam saw Eve’s breasts and vulva before

 

the fall and neither of them were ashamed. Eve looked at Adam’s

penis and testicles before the fall and neither she nor he were

ashamed. God saw all these sexual parts and neither He nor they

were ashamed. Since Adam and Eve’s sexual organs were made for

sexual activity just as was the sexual apparatus of animals, may we

not conclude that Adam and Eve had “done what comes naturally”

and animals had done so as well, before the fall?

 

 Did they begin to

actually relate to each other as husband and wife before the fall?

 

Did sexual activity not begin for animals or man until the fall?

 

Common sense tells us that Adam and Eve were not oblivious to

each other’s sex organs before the fall. So what happened at the fall

that caused them be ashamed of their bodies? They were not seeing

each other’s naked sex organs for the first time! They were not just

 

at that moment, for the very first time, aware that they had no

physical clothes on. They had never seen a living creature of any

variety wearing clothes, so they had no context for thinking

something was amiss because they had no clothes. It was not their

bodies that fell, but their souls. Their realization was that they had

 

absolutely no way to hide their guilt from each other or from God.

It was the natural reaction of a moral creature to personal

recognition of wrongdoing. Guilt in their soul produced the effort

to hide themselves as persons. What they are inside is now fully

 

exposed and the shame is too great to bear. They are not ashamed

that their flesh is naked. Nothing about their sin had to do with

naked flesh. Nothing about their sin had to do with sex organs.

They are ashamed that their soul is naked before each other and God

and they are compelled to hide – in the only way they could think

 

of at the time – by putting something artificial around them and by

hiding among the trees. People still do the same today: hiding from

cameras, hiding behind other people, hiding faces from view, etc.

The clothing provided by God required the sacrifice of an

 

animal, (Gen. 3:9). The Bible nowhere says or even implies that fig

leaf aprons were “insufficient clothing.” This is man’s guesswork

theology, and has zero authority. There are at least two more logical

and theologically consistent reasons:

41

[1] Adam and Eve are to be expelled from the garden into an

environment unlike the mild and healthful state of the garden.

Outside the garden, in a world cursed by sin’s effects such as

harsh fluctuations between cold and heat, adequate clothing

becomes a practical issue, but not a moral issue. Even then, where

climate does not recommend clothing there is nothing moral,

Biblical or spiritual that mandates it.

[2] Adam and Eve must understand that man’s effort to

cover the consequences of his sin are never enough. Man cannot

hide his sin or his guilt. Only God can do so. God’s way of

 

dealing with sin, guilt, shame, is always the same - sacrifice of

an innocent victim as substitute. God Himself gave Adam and

Eve proper covering for their guilt by providing a sacrifice for

them. As they left the garden they wore on their back the

 

constant reminder of the consequences of their sin. No clothing

of their own making could possibly have taught them this

lesson. Nor could anything but substitute sacrifice provide the

cancellation of that penalty of death “in the day thou eatest.” By

slaying animals in their behalf God provided “salvation” for

 

them from His announced penalty of death, and by making

clothes for them of the hides He taught them that the only

covering for sin is blood sacrifice, and only God can provide it.

Consider these comments from various Biblical Scholars:

“Now for the first time, blood was shed, and it was shed by

God Himself. To use the skins of animals, it was necessary to

 

slay them. This God did, and it would be difficult to find a

simpler object lesson to show us that it would take the death of

the Savior, the Son of God, to clothe us with a righteousness

which is not our own, but which comes from Him by virtue of

His atoning death.” (Donald Grey Barnhouse, Genesis, a

Devotional Commentary, p. 27)

 

“Man is ever seeking fig leaves to hide his shame and cover

his sins, but they are ever visible to the all-seeing eye of God.”

(Lange’s Commentary on Genesis)

 

“This verse (3:21), gives us a typical picture of a sinner’s

salvation. It was the first gospel sermon, preached by God

Himself, not in words, but in symbol and action…It was the

initial declaration of the fundamental fact that “without

 

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shedding of blood, there is no remission.” It was a blessed

illustration of substitution – the innocent dying in the stead of

the guilty.” (Arthur Pink, Gleaning in Genesis, p. 44)

“Here is the beginning of animal sacrifices: God sheds blood

in order to make clothing for Adam and Eve. He made them

from skins of animals therefore those animal’s lives were

sacrificed to clothe Adam and Eve. (Ray Stedman, Expository

Studies in Genesis 2 & 3, p. 104)

 

“The text tells us that they saw that they were naked, that is,

[1] That they were stripped, deprived of all the honors and joys

of their paradise state. They were disarmed; their defense had

departed from them. [2] That they were ashamed. They saw

themselves laid open to the contempt and reproach of heaven,

 

and earth, and their own consciences….Adam and eve made for

themselves aprons of fig-leaves, a covering too narrow for them

to wrap themselves in. Such are the all the rags of our own

righteousness. But God made them coats of skins, large, strong

and durable, and fit for them; such is the righteousness of

Christ. Therefore ‘Put on the Lord Jesus Christ’.” (Matthew

Henry’ Commentary, on Gen. 2, 3.)

 

“Having become conscious of their shame Adam and Eve at

once endeavored to hide it by making unto themselves aprons

of fig leaves. This action was highly significant. Instead of

seeking God and openly confessing their guilt, they attempted

to conceal it both from Him and from themselves…Church

going, religious exercise, attention to ordinances, philanthropy

 

and altruism are the fig leaves which many today are weaving

into aprons to cover their spiritual shame.” (Pink, p.38).

“It was not skin nakedness that they discovered, but the

nakedness of their dead souls…They became aware of their

condition and they sought to cover themselves as quickly as

possible…Fig leaves were a substitute for righteousness.”

(Donald Grey Barnhouse, Genesis, a Devotional Commentary, p.19,

 

20)

 

“They sew together for themselves girdles of leaves. For

what end? That they may keep God at a distance, as by an

invincible barrier…with a covering so light they attempted to

43

 

hide themselves from the presence of God.” (Calvin’s

Commentaries, Vol. 1, Genesis, p.158, 159)

“What is involved here? It is not a matter of physical sight.

Adam and Eve were not blind before the fall. Adam’s eyes were

not opened physically for the first time so that he saw Eve’s

nakedness now, though not before, and became aware of his

own nakedness also. What is involved, is spiritual nakedness, that

 

is, nakedness before the eyes of that Holy God against whom

they had sinned. It was their sinful state they were aware of,

which their nakedness symbolized.” (James M. Boice, Genesis, An

Expositional Commentary, p.118)

 

“The reason why we do not like staring is that we associate

staring with prying, and are ashamed to have anyone pry into

what we actually are like. So we hide ourselves. We wear

masks, pretending to be what we think other people will respect

and admire. In a psychologically related manner, we project

these false images but reveal our true psychological and

 

spiritual nakedness through the choice and use of clothes. So

did Adam and Eve. They made fig-leaf clothes. And when they

heard God coming toward them in the garden, they hid,

knowing that their clothes were inadequate to disguise their true

selves.” (James M. Boice, Genesis, An Expositional Commentary,

p.119)

 

The compulsion to clothe themselves is not necessarily anything

more deeply significant than the normal(?) human reaction of

humans, even today, who are embarrassed when attention is

drawn to them. They may giggle, hide their face, blush, etc. The fall

brought self-consciousness, and with that came awareness of things

about self that had not previously been significant. Specifically,

 

their self-awareness was infused with the knowledge that they had

violated their Creators’ law and were condemned. As they looked

at each other and themselves in this new light, mutual sinconsciousness

produced compulsion to hide from each other and

 

from God. Their nakedness was the physical symbol of their

spiritual vulnerability and their attempt at clothing was an attempt

to insulate themselves from the knowing of, and being known by

others, especially by God. The need to clothe ourselves is not

spiritual, but psychological. Clothing helps us feel more comfortable,

 

44

 

more secure, more adequate, less vulnerable around others.

Clothing, even today, has more to do with the mind than with the

body. Clothing is largely a means of hiding our real self from

others. It projects an image that is not true to reality. Amazingly,

 

people’s self image changes dramatically simply by changing

clothes! In Adam’s and Eve’s case their intense guilt and fear

produced their compulsion to hide from each other and from God.

 

Their clothes could not suffice, and when God came calling they

tried to hide behind the trees. Their “clothing themselves with fig

leaves” no more sets a precedent for humans to wear clothes than

does their hiding amongst the trees.

 

Hiding is the instinctive reaction to guilt, whether it takes the

form of putting on clothes or covering one’s face, or a host of other

devices. Adam and Eve clothing their physical nakedness is no

more to be received by all humanity as the “norm for fallen

 

creatures,” than if they had made masks for their faces. After the

fall, their physical nakedness was no more shameful and sinful

than it was before the fall. They were ashamed because they knew

they were defenseless and exposed to each other and to God, and

 

any device to cover themselves in a crisis was brought into being.

Nothing about the fall made physical nakedness inherently

shameful or sinful. Nothing in man’s mind today can make nudity

inherently sinful or shameful. If nakedness between Adam and Eve

 

was God’s original plan, their rebellion did not change God’s

goodness into sinfulness. Their choice of physical clothes to hide

spiritual guilt cannot be made a moral norm for all society for all

time. Doubtless, people will always choose to wear clothes in order

 

to insulate themselves from the gaze of others. But the choice to do

so is not a moral choice, but is rather a psychological choice. There is

nothing inherently sinful in looking at another person’s naked body.

(The case of a man “looking upon a woman to lust after her…” in Matt.

 

5:28, is discussed in detail later.) Public nudity is not inherently

sinful now any more than it was in Eden. The question of whether

it is socially acceptable is a different issue. As in many other specific

cases public nudity becomes questionable or sinful only to the

 

degree that it violates personal conscience, causes another person to

violate their conscience, or is done in a way that violates civil

statutes. Nudity can be practiced without sin if one takes steps to

not offend others.

 

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As with everything else, the redemption purchased by Jesus

Christ, affects all creation. It affects the issue and practice of human

nakedness just as it does all other aspects of man’s nature. Fully

redeemed men and women are no longer under bondage to the

curse put upon their lives because of sin. Just as redeemed people

 

may expect to be rid of the curse of sickness, demonization,

poverty, etc, and from misinformed legalism, so may they expect to

be redeemed from the “curse of clothing.” Men and women who

are redeemed of sin and guilt no longer have any reason to hide

from others. The whole Biblical logic for wearing clothes is

 

eliminated for those whose sin and guilt have been removed by the

blood of Jesus. We straightforwardly declare that nakedness and

sexuality are not incompatible with holiness. Men’s and women’s

spiritual character is not defined by their physical appearance,

clothed or unclothed. Godliness is not a factor of how much

clothing one wears. People are neither holy nor unholy on the basis

 

that they either do or do not wear clothes.

In his book “The Great Divorce,” C. S. Lewis paints an

intriguing, imaginary picture of Heaven, in which he describes all

Heaven’s inhabitants as naked. This must surely be a correct

concept, for if the original state of man was unclothed, and this was

God’s best effort, then full redemption must bring us back to that

original “very good” state.

 

The question we must now ask is, “What are the demands upon

redeemed ones, relative to nakedness?” Part of the answer comes

from those Scriptures that require us to do nothing that will harm

the conscience of another person. Like eating meat sacrificed to

 

idols, the thing itself is innocent and can be indulged in by an

informed saint. But to do so in a way that hinders the faith of an

uninformed saint is forbidden. To think of a “saint” walking naked

in the outdoors seems incongruous to many. Yet we have no

problem thinking of Adam and Eve doing so. There is nothing

 

inherently sinful about a redeemed sinner being naked, indoors or

outdoors. What makes it sinful is the purpose of the nakedness, and

it’s effect upon others. Thus:

If the purpose of nakedness is to entice into sexual sin (like

the adulterous harlots in above referenced Scriptures), then

nakedness is sin.

 

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If the purpose is to “rub people’s nose in it” by flaunting

nakedness in the face of society where it is unacceptable, then it

is sin.

 

If the effect upon others is to hinder their conscience and

cause them to sin, nakedness is sin.

But: if the purpose is to enjoy the normal state of God’s

 

original creation, and to enjoy the exhilaration and freedom of

being in the open air, under the brilliant sun, unhindered and

unhidden by clothing, it is not sin.

And if the effect has no negative bearing on the lives of

others, then it is not sin.

 

The question then arises about how may a Christian enjoy his

original state of nakedness, as part of the blessing of his redeemed

status?

 

Nakedness in one’s home is unquestionably safe. Even though

some saints, because of personal hang-ups due to ill-informed

consciences, would never walk around the house naked in view of

other members of the family, nothing in Scripture makes such

scruples valid. If one’s conscience will simply not allow one to do

so, one must avoid nakedness even in one’s own home. (Rom.

14:23) But how sad this is!

 

Family nudity is innocent as parents and children simply enjoy

the freedom of nudity in their own homes and even outdoors

wherever they can practice it without social repercussions. For a

whole family to be naked in their home, or in their back yard, or in

the woods, or in the desert, carries no sinful implications. For

married children to return to visit in their parent’s home with

grandchildren in tow and for them all to be nude together, is

 

innocent. Nothing Scripture says makes such a thing either sinful

or ill-advised. Family nudity provides a setting where parents can

teach their children by both precept and example that there is

nothing shameful about their naked body. Family nudity is one of

the many ways redeemed, holy people may take advantage of the

 

freedoms bought back for them by Jesus Christ. Family nudity

could only be practiced if all concerned have been taught and know

that it is right and there is no sin. All would have to learn a

different mind set than we presently have. Existing children would

need to be taught as thoroughly as possible, before beginning the

practice. But if children had the advantage of living in an

 

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environment in which all family members are naked and

unashamed they would not only be able to accept their bodies as

something for which they should thank God but they would also be

more likely to discuss sex issues openly and without shame.

Many Christian people with high moral standards, and a

 

devout desire to please God and serve Him faithfully, are

“backyard nudists.” They shed their clothes whenever and

wherever they can do so without offending neighbors. They may

walk the desert naked and lie in a secluded place to soak up the

sun. Women can love Jesus Christ and still enjoy being nude at

home, doing their work or simply relaxing in the nude. And when

 

they desire to go outside they may enjoy the freedom to experience

the sun, air, rain and pool, without the encumbrance of clothes and

without apology to themselves or God. Again we remind the

reader: This is how God intended it. This is normal as God created

normality. No Christian should bear any guilt at the desire to be

“naked and unashamed.” Anywhere and at anytime they can

legitimately do so they should feel absolutely free to do so.

 

One of the opportunities for people, including Christians, to

experience the joy of wholesome nudity, is at a nudist resort. The

stigma that attaches to nudist resorts is unfortunate and without

either moral or logical foundation. Nudist resorts could be safely

visited by saved people because those who visit such camps have

like attitudes toward human nakedness. Their conscience would

not be offended by the participation of a Christian.

 

We quote the following from the preceding chapter on “What

Makes A Thing Sinful?”

 

“When in the company of believers or unbelievers, a saint is

not obligated to try to figure out in advance what they might

think of their behavior. If what they do is inherently innocent,

then saints may do it without concern about the potential

 

reaction of unbelievers. Note especially “Eat anything sold in the

market place without asking questions, for conscience sake, for the

earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (1 Cor. 10: 25, 26).

We might paraphrase this to say “therefore be free to go naked

before unbelievers who are like-minded without asking how they

react to it, for conscience sake, for nakedness is a blessing from the

Lord.”

 

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And note: “If an unbeliever invites you and you wish to go, eat

anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience

sake. But if anyone should say to you, ‘This is meat sacrificed to idols,’

then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you and for

conscience’ sake.” (1 Cor. 10:27,28.

 

Again we might paraphrase this: “If you have opportunity to

practice nudity among unbelievers, feel free to do so, without

asking what their reaction may be. But if one of them says, ‘I don’t

think a Christian should practice nudity,’ then do not do it, for the

sake of the one who questioned you, and for conscience sake.”

To quote again:

 

“We simply cannot possibly try to figure out in advance

what others will think about every action we want to take. God

sets us free to come to our personal conclusions about our

desires and conduct, then freely act on those convictions unless

we know that doing so will bring spiritual harm to another. We

are not required to investigate in advance, what our actions will

do to others. We are simply required to operate with due

respect to those around us, and not intentionally offend them.”

In a nudist resort, for example, the question becomes irrelative.

Being nude among nudists will not offend them. And we do not

have to go around to each one in advance, and ask them if our

nakedness will cause them any offense.

 

Quoting again:

 

“Society’s standards, or the church’s traditions cannot make

a thing sinful, to any degree. If God’s law does not forbid an act,

and one does it without guilt, he is free, regardless of what

others think. If society and the church frowns on an act, a

Christian who knows better may still enjoy that act as long as it

 

is done in enough privacy that others will not be led to offend

their weak consciences. If this is not so, how do we apply these

Scriptures that teach it is okay to eat meat, if we do not harm

another’s conscience by doing so. Paul could and probably did

meat sacrificed to idols, in privacy, even though some of the

Corinthians would have thought him a sinner if they knew he

did it. His liberty is not eliminated by the weak consciences of

others. He must simply control his liberty.”

 

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What does this say about the aforementioned practice of both

family and social nudity? Some believe it is sinful, unclean, etc. to

go around one’s own house without clothes; to undress in front of

even one’s own mate and especially in front of one’s children; for

married people to bathe together; to lay nude under the sun in

one’s private yard, etc. Even more people believe it is utterly

 

reprehensible for nudist resorts to even exist. For them it is

unthinkable that a Christian might visit such a resort. But what sets

the moral standard for this? Certainly Scripture does not make

these things sin. Therefore no other standard can make it sin. A

Christian can enjoy nudity as long as he/she does not knowingly

hinder another’s conscience.

 

Many people, including some Christians, believe it is innocent

to practice nudity even in social settings, for example, in nudist

resorts, where everyone shares the same moral values about that

specific act. The teaching of Scripture for bids us to classify this as

outright sinful simply because God has no law against it. To the

contrary, Scripture allows social nudism for those whose personal

conscience allows it. We know Scripture does not prohibit it. We also

 

know Scripture proves nudity to be God’s preference. That means

nudity can be enjoyed with a clear conscience by those who have no

intention of enticing another person to sin by committing adultery,

and who take care to not offend others by their practice.

Only God’s law can establish anything as sinful. So if God’s law

 

does not forbid nudity, what do we do with this knowledge?

Obviously, truly public nudity cannot be practiced without public

knowledge and society and church traditions would disallow

public practice. But what of the private or highly restricted practice of

such? Since nudity in the private, protected environment of a

nudist resort is not a public issue and attending such a resort

 

would not be a matter of “public nudity,” what is to prevent those

who desire to exercise their freedom to live without clothes, from

either occasionally visiting such resorts, or even from living in one?

To this author’s mind, there is no valid moral restriction against this

practice.

Is it a mark of “civility,” that humanity is clothed? Is public

nakedness “uncivilized?” In the Western world, we condemn as

“uncivilized savages,” cultures (African tribes, etc.) that practice

partial or full nudity. We believe it is our “Christian duty” to

 

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educate and “civilize” such people and teach them to wear clothes.

In doing so we are not actually placing God’s requirement upon

them but are simply imposing our own human standards upon

them. A “televangelist” recently said something like this: “When

little Johnny was 18 months old, and running naked through the

 

house, it was cute and innocent. But when 18 year old Johnny runs

naked down the beach, it is lust.” In spite of the many “amens”

from the crowd, we ask the question: “Is this true because the Bible

says so?” This author does not believe the Bible teaches such a

thing.

 

When Adam and Eve were created, naked and unashamed,

were they “civilized?” To be perfectly “civilized” in God’s original

estimation was to be human and naked and unashamed. To simply

brand as uncivilized and savage those who wear no clothes, is to

impugn God’s original creation and is to correct God. It is no more

uncivilized to practice nudity now than when God made nakedness

to be the normal condition of human existence.

 

On the issue of human nakedness, as with most sexual practices,

we are free to draw conclusions and form opinions for ourselves

and establish our own rules for our personal conduct. But we must

not establish rules for the behavior of others. Only God’s law can

do this. Again the final word is, “where there is no law, there is no

 

sin.” If God did not legislate against human nudity as such then no

amount of human engineering can produce a valid law against it.

And if God did not make a law against nudity what insanity makes

man think he has a better concept of it than God does?

 

Is clothing universally attested? Some think that everybody,

everywhere, wears clothes, and that this fact establishes the

“collective human conscience” that nudity is sinful. But what of the

many tribes still practicing communal nudity, and of past

 

civilizations that did so until “enlightened” by cultural, religious

interference from outside? If not for our meddling and imposition

upon other cultures of our own standards, many tribes that

 

presently wear clothes, would not be doing so. Many tribes still do

not wear clothes (Read National Geographic, watch Public TV and

learn). Public nudity, nude beaches, nude bath houses, etc. are

common in many parts of the world. It is misinformation that

 

causes us to think that, “clothing is the norm all over the world.”

Even in America, many Native American tribes practiced either

 

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partial or total communal nudity before the “white man” came to

“civilize” them.

The existence in so many places of the tendency toward nudity,

is not a testimony to the fallenness of man. It is rather a testimony

of the original condition of man. What was normal and “very good”

for man in his original state, still exists as a desire in his soul. The

inner desire to be naked and unashamed is a longing to get back to

our original perfection. There is nothing dirty, unclean, impure, or

sinful about either the desire or the practice.

 

Women and “Modest Apparel

 

What is the meaning of “women adorn themselves in modest

apparel,” (1 Tim. 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:3)? These verses have nothing at all to

do with how much or little clothing a woman wears. It has to do

specifically with “orderly” clothing. The Greek word is kosmois,

meaning “orderly, in regard to how women appear in public

worship (cf. R.C.H. Lenski’s commentary for example). That Paul is

 

not discussing amount of clothing, but the nature of clothing is

demonstrated by his prohibition of “braided hair, gold, pearls, costly

garments;” and then stating that her clothing is to be “good works,” (1

Tim. 2:10). As Lenski says, the purpose is to avoid “vanity, pride

and other improprieties. Extravagant dress is generally worn for

mere display with the secret desire to produce envy.” Spirituality

and good taste as conducive to worship, is Paul’s point. To press

 

these verses into service to forbid women to wear tight clothing,

shorts, sleeveless dresses, pants, swimsuits, etc. is to abuse

Scripture. The argument that a woman must be careful to dress so

that a man will not look at her with sexual desire, gives women an

impossible task. It makes woman responsible for whether a man

sins or not. By his nature, men will look at the most completely

covered woman and will have sexual thoughts. The argument that

these verses forbid a woman to go to a swimming pool wearing a

swimming suit, is invalid. Interestingly, no such arguments are

made from these or any other Scriptures, that forbids a man from

wearing swimming trunks in public. Do we conclude that God

commands women to be fully clothed in public, but that He does

not so command men? Of course not. The verses do not address

this issue, but rather the issue of women’s penchant for overdoing

dress for the sake of impressing others.

 

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If we take the words of Scripture as literally as some want us to

do, pretending thereby to find a rule by which they can measure

the modesty of women’s clothing, then let us take Peter’s statement

literally. He said “Let not your adornment be external – braiding the

hair, and wearing gold jewelry, and putting on dresses; but the hidden

person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet

spirit, which is precious in the sight of God,” (1 Pet. 3:3,4). Based on this

Holy Spirit inspired statement, and taking it literally, we have

 

“authority” for total nudity because Peter writes very clearly that

women are not to wear either jewelry or dresses! Such a conclusion

is, of course, absurd. But it illustrates the absurdity of trying to take

words out of context in order to prove a case. Peter, as did Paul,

wants women to “adorn” themselves in the “clothing” of holy

character. He does not prescribe dress length, nor define a

“tightness factor,” nor forbid wearing pants or shorts, or halter

tops, or bikinis, or.…

 

On the subject of public swimming pools, One of the ways

people demonstrate their innate desire to be unclothed, is to strip to

the bare minimum in such public places as swimming pools. Both

men and women wear so little at these places that nothing is left to

the imagination. Men’s swimming trunks often are so skimpy and

tight that the outline of their penis is obvious. Women’s suits are

also so skimpy that often their pubic hair is visible, as is the outline

of their vulva and the nipples of their breasts. The material is

usually so thin that a man or woman’s full sexual splendor is not

truly concealed. The popularity of the bikini and its extreme form,

 

the string bikini or thong, carries this trend to the limit. One can see

on public beaches and swimming pools, as much nudity as one can

see in many striptease shows. Is it a sin for a woman to wear a

bikini to a public pool? We no longer believe so. If our society

accepted nudity at our public pools, would it be sinful? We no

longer believe so. Nudity is not condemned in Scripture, and what

condemnation is spoken as related to nudity, is related to its

 

connection with sexual sin (adultery, fornication) or with idol

worship. It appears to us that, this being true, whatever degree of

public nudity is acceptable in a given society, is allowable. People,

including Christians, may feel free to enjoy the freedom of

whatever degree of nudity is allowed in their culture. If this

 

suggestion still sounds outrageous, remember that nudity is God’s

first choice for humans. From God’s perspective clothing is not ideal,

 

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nakedness is ideal. God does not mind seeing people naked. God is

not offended by human nudity any more than He is offended by

animal nakedness. Why would God be more offended by a man’s

unclothed penis than by an ape’s penis? Why would God be more

offended by a woman’s bare breasts than by a cow’s exposed

udder? God intended for earth to be populated with naked men,

 

women and animals. From God’s perspective, going naked in

public is what He originally intended. The invention of clothing did

not come from God, it came from man. And man’s invention of

clothing did not make clothing more preferable than God’s original

pattern of nudity. To be partially unclothed, as with swimming

 

apparel, or to be totally unclothed is not an issue with God. Man

must deal with his own personal attempt to hide himself from God

and others. When he is delivered from this compulsion and wishes

to practice nudity the way it was meant to be, he is free to do so as

long as he considers the effect of his freedom on others who are still

bound by various bondages of false guilt and shame. Nudity is a

human issue, not a God issue.

 

Why would one desire to attend a nudist resort? A related

question is: Why would one desire to go virtually naked at a public

swimming pool? We are talking about a difference of only a few

square inches of cloth. It seems that living without clothes is the

normal desire for mankind and the desire to return to this original

and normal condition exists, at least latently, in the hearts of us all;

 

in some more than others. It is this original condition to which

many desire to return. Since we cannot do so in most cases without

incurring the wrath of others, we must pursue such liberty

carefully. But in situations where there are none to offend, and

 

where nudity may be practiced without repercussions from others,

there is no reason to forego the lawful pleasure of nudity.

Since God did not condemn nakedness as such, even in fallen

man, but condemned only its misuses, then God does not forbid the

practice of nudity in those situations where it can be enjoyed

without harming the conscience of another person.

 

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CHAPTER THREE

 

POLYGAMY, MONOGAMY AND CONCUBINAGE

 

The prevailing opinion throughout the Christian world is that

the Bible restricts all sexual partnerships to “one man with one

woman for all time.” The only exception to this hard and fast rule is

on the occasion of either divorce or death of one mate. No

 

possibility is allowed for one person to have more than one mate.

The single argument made for this position is that, though the Old

Testament allowed polygamy, concubinage and sex relations with

one’s slaves, the New Testament changed that, to totally disallow

multiple partnerships. Let us see what the Bible actually says. We

begin by listing all the texts that refer to polygamous relationships,

with brief notations.

 

Polygamy In Scripture

 

Lamech takes two wives and God neither corrects nor

condemns Lamech, (Gen.4:19). On this first mention of polygamy in

the Bible, it is strange that God did not move immediately to stamp

out this “moral vulgarism,” if indeed that is how He saw it. Many

scholars refer to the “principle of first mention” as one tool by

which to assess God’s attitudes on different issues. For example,

 

this principle is said to establish the sinfulness of homosexuality,

via the fact that the first time human sexuality is referred to, it is

cast in a heterosexual light. This “first mention” then is the basis for

such anti-homosexual arguments as “God made Adam and Eve,

not Adam and Steve.” But don’t you think it is strange, reader, that

 

the same scholars refuse to accept the implications of this “first

mention” of polygamy? Since God utters not a single negative

word about it, we can legitimately argue that “God’s prima facie

acceptance of polygamy from its first mention, is evidence that God

was not disturbed by multiple relationships.”

 

Arguments are also made to the effect that God simply tolerated

polygamy, though He never accepted it. For now, we simply reply

that if God was as distressed about polygamy as modern Western

 

Scholars say He was, how did God let Lamech’s breach of “Divine

marital law” pass without nipping this “sin” in the bud? Doesn’t

make sense does it?

 

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Esau marries two wives and again there is no word of

correction, (Gen. 26:34, 35). Later Esau marries a third wife, still

with no correction and no indication that God is getting edgy about

this multiple marriage, (Gen. 28:8,9).

 

Jacob marries both Leah and Rachel, (Gen. 29:31ff). Jacob

became the father of Israel. He obtained God’s blessing after

wrestling all night with an angel. He is one of the great heroes of

faith, to be admired by all God’s people, for all time. But there is no

hint of God’s disapproval of his polygamous marriage. One might

 

argue in both Lamech’s and Esau’s cases, that neither of them were

particularly noteworthy in terms of relationship with God. But

Jacob is a different case. He is in the lineage of Messiah. He is God’s

man, with God’s blessing. If God merely tolerated polygamy among

 

the spiritually weak of humanity, how is it that He missed another

golden opportunity to set the record straight right here, with this

man of faith?

 

Laban – not God – asks Jacob to take no other wives, (Gen.

31:49, 50). Laban was not opposed to polygamy because it was his

deception that led to Jacob marrying both his daughters. Laban’s

concern is only for the security, provision, etc. for his two

daughters. Anyway, Jacob now has 4 sex partners because he has

 

children by the “handmaids” of his two wives. In none of this do

we find even a hint of God’s disapproval. What gives modern

Christians the spiritual hives did not concern God at all. Indeed, it

appears that God simply looked upon polygamy as a normal result

of man’s social development.

Joseph had one wife, (Gen. 41:45).

 

God decrees that if a man marries a woman and her mother

both are to be burned with fire, (Lev. 20:14). Whatever may be the

reason for this harsh sentence, it does not mitigate against

polygamy. In fact, it does the opposite. God says nothing at all

about polygamy, except to reference its existence among His

 

people. Yet He is violently opposed to a man marrying mother and

daughter at the same time. His bold condemnation of the one

multiple relationship, contrasted with His silent acceptance of

“normal” polygamy is strong evidence that He approved of it. His

legislation against this form of polygamy indicates that He would

 

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have legislated against other forms of polygamy if He was indeed

opposed to them.

God warns a king to not multiply wives unto himself, “lest his

heart turn away…” (Deut. 17:17). This prohibition is not against

polygamy as such, or the sexual connection, but against the danger of

apostasy in Israel’s leaders. Note the same prohibition against

amassing silver and gold. We will see later that Israel’s greatest

 

kings married many wives and amassed great hordes of silver and

gold. Both the wives and the riches were said to be God’s blessings.

Thus this text is a warning of the dangers inherent in having many

wives and much riches. It is not a prohibition of either, but a

warning to realize the dangers in each case.

 

When Israel warred against hostile neighbors, they received

God’s specific permission to keep as plunder, all women and

children, just as they kept the animals, etc., (Deut. 20:14). These

captive women became wives, concubines and slaves.

 

The law of “Levirate marriage” requires that if one’s brother

dies with no son, his widow is to marry the living brother, to give

an heir to his brother, (Deut. 25:5-6). This is true even if the living

brother is already married. This is God’s law! If he refuses to marry

her, he is cursed publicly by her, (vs. 7-10). Thus we have God’s

mandate for polygamy in this situation. It is useless to argue

 

“special circumstances” here. If polygamy is truly a moral offense, no

special circumstance can make it morally right. If God is offended

by a person having sex with more than one other person how can

we make any sense out of this law? Sin is sin! Immoral acts cannot

be permissible simply because of circumstances. On the one hand,

God decrees the death penalty for “adultery.” On the other hand,

God decrees multiple marriage in this text. So – aren’t we missing

something?

 

Gideon had “many wives” who bore him 70 sons, (Jdg. 8:30;

12:9, 14). He was a valiant warrior and faithful servant, and he died

without God ever rebuking him or correcting his polygamy. He is

honored as a hero of faith, (Heb. 11:32,33). Strange that such a man

is held up as an example for Christians, if having “many wives”

was truly a spiritual disqualifier as most Christians believe. If God

 

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disapproved of his many wives, it surely would have been helpful

to us for God to have said something in Heb. 11, like “…yet it was

not good that he married many wives…” The absence of God’s

correction implies His acceptance.

 

When Boaz marries Ruth, the elders of Israel blessed him with

these words: “May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your

home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of

Israel…Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar

 

bore to Judah…” (Ruth 4:11, 12). This labels Jacob’s polygamy as a

blessing. It recognizes that Israel was “built” by both wives equally.

Certainly these spiritual leaders were not embarrassed by Jacob’s

polygamy, nor had they any hint that God was displeased. If

polygamy was indeed a sin then Boaz would actually have been

cursed by these words.

 

Boaz is also blessed as Judah was blessed by Tamar, who bore

Perez, Boaz’s forefather. This is stranger still, given our modern

mind-set, because Tamar was Judah’s daughter in law, with whom

he had sex thinking she was a prostitute! So now prostitution and

sexing a daughter in law are both used as a basis of blessing! Really,

 

now, do we believe that sinful relationships can be legitimately

used as grounds for blessing? Perhaps our concept of things needs

to be adjusted. Oh yes, and Perez, the offspring of that act

 

produced Boaz, Obed, Jesse and David. In all this not a word from

God of displeasure or correction. Not even a mild one! Strange

behavior indeed from a God whom we think must have been

inwardly seething at these “sins!”

 

Elkanah has 2 wives, Hannah and Peninnah, (1 Sam. 1:1-2). He

is faithful to worship God, (vs. 3), thus his worship is accepted and

commended. Still God does not even hint that his polygamy is

unacceptable. This man has a strong spiritual relationship with God

that is in no way hindered by his polygamy. This could not be true

if polygamy was a spiritual malady that offended God.

 

David marries wife #1, Michal, (1 Sam. 18:20ff.) then later takes

Abigail, & Ahinoam as wives, (1 Sam.25:39, 43), and lives with

them apart from Michal, (27:3). David then takes Maacah, Haggith,

Abital and Eglah for total of 7 wives, (2 Sam. 3:3-5). By this time

Michal is married to Peltiel and David demands her return, (2Sam.

 

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3:13-15). David takes still more wives plus concubines, (2 Sam.

5:13). Next David watches Bathsheba bathe on her housetop and

desires her sexually. He sends for her, has sex with her and she

conceives. To cover his tracks David ensures that her husband

Uriah is killed in battle, then he takes Bathsheba for his wife, (2

Sam. 11:2-27).

 

In all David’s marriages & concubinages, not once is it said that,

“David has done evil in the sight of the Lord,” as it does in reference to

his dalliance with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:27). What was evil here is

not in marrying yet another wife. Rather, Nathan’s rebuke proves

that God’s displeasure arises from David’s adultery and murder, (2

Sam.12:9, 10). Adultery is not having more than one wife, but it is

stealing another man’s wife. Since God does not hesitate to

 

announce that David had done evil in this matter, what accounts

for the fact that God never breathed a word of displeasure about

the supposed “evil” of David’s multitude of wives and concubines?

After amassing countless wives and concubines, adding one more

is unworthy of mention, regardless of who she is. But the thing God

will not allow is taking another man’s mate. This is the “evil”

 

involved here. If Bathsheba had been single nothing more would

have been said about David taking her, than was said about all his

other women.

 

Now for a real “kicker!” God says He gave David’s many wives

to him, and if those were not enough, He would have given him

“many more!” (2 Sam. 12:7,8). This statement is certain to give

spiritual apoplexy to most of those who read it because it gives

 

overt proof that God not only blessed David’s polygamy and

concubinage; God Himself was the author of David’s plural

marriages and multiple sex partners! Look! David had so many

wives and concubines because God gave them to him! Far from

being something God merely tolerated, polygamy was a blessing

from God. And God said He would have blessed David with even

 

more women if what he had was not enough. In other words God

said “David, why did you have to steal another man’s wife? If you

wanted more wives why didn’t you just ask Me? I would have

given you more.” Well, this is sure to “put a hitch in some people’s

 

get-along.” Still believe in the inspiration of Scripture? Still believe

the word of God’s prophets (in this case Nathan) is true? Then

accept these words of God’s blessing on David’s multiple sexual

relationships. And be brave enough to draw the next and inevitable

 

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conclusion: If God originated and blessed it for David, He will not

send us to Hell for doing it.

 

As part of God’s punishment upon David for his adultery and

murder, God will give David’s wives to his companion who will

sex them in broad daylight, (2 Sam.12:11). This companion turns

out to be his son. Who can believe that God, in order to punish

David, will select an innocent man and force him to commit a

 

horrible sin by having sex with David’s wives? If God will “take

your wives from before your eyes, and give them to your companion, and

he shall lie with them in broad daylight” then it is useless to argue that

God is utterly opposed to a man having sex with more than one

woman; or that it is sin for a man to have sex with another man’s

 

wife under any circumstance (“Adultery” is a separate issue which

we will prove later.). If such is sin, then woe be to the hapless

victim upon whom God lays this sin. If this be the case, Absalom

commits sin by God’s design! Who can believe it?

 

David keeps Bathsheba as wife and she bears Solomon, (2

Sam.12:24). God testifies that David did what was right in God’s

sight in everything God commanded except in the matter of Uriah

(& Bathsheba), (1 Kg. 15:5). So the many wives that God said He

 

gave to him, and would have given more if that had not been enough,

plus all his concubines, were “right in God’s sight!?!?” It is beyond

argument here, that in all David’s marrying and concubinage, he

never breached God’s commandment. If David was right in God’s

sight in everything God commanded, then obviously marrying

many women and having sex with many concubines does not violate

God’s commandment against adultery or fornication! Think about it!

David walks in “integrity…truth…hates wickedness,” (Ps. 26:1-12).

 

This is one of many passages where David makes these claims for

himself, and other Scriptures affirm this is true of him. What do we

make of this in light of his polygamy and concubinage? It is

obvious that nothing about polygamy or concubinage is

 

inconsistent with “integrity…truth…hating wickedness.” It is man

who demonizes polygamy, not God. David had countless sex

partners. Yet he was a righteous man, greatly anointed and highly

favored by God.

 

A man can “Cleanse his way by heeding God’s word,” (Ps. 119:9). If

polygamy & concubinage were in any sense “unclean” then how

do we make sense of the following verses? David hid God’s word

in his heart that he might not sin against God, (Ps. 119:11). Did

 

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God’s word not enlighten him of the sin of polygamy &

concubinage? Obviously these things were not “sin” and God’s

word gave David no hint that God was in any way displeased with

his having many women.

 

“I restrain my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Your word,”

(Ps. 119:101). Was David “keeping God’s word,” when he had sex

with his many wives & concubines? Was there no “evil way” in this

practice?

 

“Through Your precept I get understanding, there fore I hate every

false way,” (Ps. 119:104). God’s “precepts” did not give David any

“understanding” that polygamy & concubinage were, in any sense,

a “false way.”

 

“I esteem right all Thy precepts concerning everything. I hate every

false way.” (Ps. 119:128) David did not hate polygamy &

concubinage, therefore God’s precepts did not provide him any

idea that polygamy & concubinage were wrong. David followed

what was right in “everything.” How come he did not have a clue

that God did not like polygamy?

 

David had sons by seven wives, “besides the sons of the

concubines,” (1 Chron. 3:1-9). David took “more wives,” (1 Chron.

14:3). Wives were not the same as concubines. Some women David

married. Others he just brought into his house basically for sexual

purposes. God had no problem with either.

 

Solomon marries Pharaoh’s daughter, (1 Kg. 9:24). He loved

many foreign women, (11:1). He had 700 wives, 300 concubines,

(11:3; enough women to sex 3 different women every night for one

year!). God had promised to bless Solomon if he walks in all God’s

laws, (9:4ff,) threatening to curse him and his sons if they turn from

God’s laws. But not a syllable of censure about this extreme

 

polygamy and extreme concubinage. The only censure is his marrying

pagan women against God’s commands, (11:2, 4, 5) and that they

turned his heart away from the Lord, (11:4, 9, 10, 11, 33; 9:4, 6). But

many of his wives were Israelites. Since there is no word of such

being a breach of law, it must not have been a breach of law! And

 

what sense does it make to think that God was incensed about

Solomon’s marriages to pagan wives and thus rebukes him for it,

yet never rebukes him for marrying many Israelite wives, though

He was equally incensed about that? Obviously, God was not

concerned about how many wives Solomon had. His wrath was

 

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aroused by Solomon’s apostasy. Ultimately Solomon acquires a

“harem,” (Ecc. 1:8, supposing that Solomon authored this book.).

Ahab has many wives besides Jezebel, (1 Kg. 20:3, 7). Yet amid

the many censures for his great evil, polygamy was not once

condemned.

 

Jehoiachin had “wives,” (2 Kg. 24:14).

Caleb (son of Perez) had 2 wives, Azubah & Jerioth, and a third

Ephrath, whom he married when Azubah died, (1 Chron. 2:18, 19).

Hezron had 2 wives, (1 Chron. 2:21).

Jerahmeel had “another wife,” (1 Chron. 2:26).

Asher, father of Tekoa, had 2 wives, (1 Chron. 4:5).

Izrahiah had five sons, who, with their father’s houses, had

36,000 troops, “for they had many wives and sons,” (1 Chron. 7:3, 4).

Machir has an unnamed wife, plus Maachah, (1 Chron. 7:15).

Shaharim had children after he sent away 2 wives, Hushim and

Baara. He had sons by Hadish, his 3rd wife, (1 Chron. 8:8, 9).

Rehoboam weds Mahalath, Maachah, whom he loved “more

than all his other wives and concubines, for he took 18 wives and 60

concubines,” (2 Chron. 11:18-21).

Abijah had 14 wives, (2 Chron. 13:21).

 

Israel sinned by marrying pagan wives and Nehemiah curses

them for it, (Ezra 10:2, 10; Neh. 13:23-25). “Solomon sinned by these

things…pagan women caused him to sin,” (vs. 26). His sin was not in

having 700 wives. It was in having any pagan wives. Even one

pagan wife would have been sin. Israel transgressed against God

by marrying pagan women, (vs. 27). Because of this rebuke, they

 

covenanted with God to put these wives away, (vs. 3, 11, 14, 17, 44).

This has nothing to do with polygamy. They put away only the

pagan wives which God’s law forbade them to wed. If polygamy

itself was a sin why did God never legislate against it and why do

we not have a single example in all Scripture, of a godly man or

 

group of men, such as here, learning that God was displeased with

multiple wives, then repenting and “putting away all their wives

except the first one?” And if polygamy is wrong, why require that

these Israelites put away only the pagan wives? Why not require

 

them to divorce all their extra wives? This Ezra passage proves they

would have done so if God had desired it. But none ever did such a

thing, even though polygamy was openly practiced, even to extreme

 

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degrees, God never intimated in any way, that He was displeased

with such a practice.

 

These same people “confessed their sins,” Neh. 9:2. We have

several examples of this national repentance in Scriptures, but not

once do we find them repenting of the “sin” of polygamy or

turning away from it.

 

Beautiful young virgins ar

e sought for King Ahasuerus to

choose one to replace Vashti, (Esther 2:2, 4). So Ahasuerus will have

at least 2 wives. Esther is “lovely and beautiful,” (2:7), i.e. sexually

attractive. Each virgin is to take a turn with the king; a different one

each night having sex with the king so he can choose the one he

likes best, (2:12ff). So he “promiscuously?” “fornicates?” with these

 

beautiful virgins until he decides upon Esther. Esther takes her turn

having sex with the king, (2:15-17). He likes her more than the

others. Is this a game of “which one turns me on the most?” If this

disgusts God, why not a syllable about it? Esther was a godly

woman, and her cousin Mordecai was godly and God-fearing. If

this “try them all, and choose the most beautiful and best sex

partner,” process would defile her, why didn’t she or Mordecai or

someone know? If no one knew, why not send a prophet to her so

she would not sin through “fornication?” Could she have

 

responded by saying something like, “My God has a law, and by

that law, I cannot sex you or be your wife…?” Fornication and

adultery had been against God’s law for generations by this time.

No one in Israel was ignorant of this law. Whatever else we may

say about the “pagan virgins” involved in this “sex-capade” we

must deal with both Esther and Mordecai, Israelites living under

God’s moral law.

 

Mordecai suggests that Esther was “come unto the kingdom for

such a time as this…” (3:14), thereby encouraging her to willingly

participate in the sexual experimentation of Ahasuerus. So how do

we fit God’s holiness into a scheme that involves what we moderns

would define as multiple sins of fornication, adultery and polygamy?

Does God resort to making Esther an adulteress, or promiscuous,

or a fornicator, in order to accomplish His holy Kingdom purposes?

Can any sane person believe it?

 

Evidently the king enjoyed this “selection process” so much that

even after he chose Esther as his queen, a second round of virgins is

selected for him to enjoy, (3:19). In all this, it is incredible that, if it is

 

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sinful, God never says so, and even blessed Esther and Mordecai for

their parts in it, (10:1-3)! Our modern definition of fornication and

adultery fits this scenario of sexual experimentation exactly! But

how does a Holy and Just God legislate the death penalty for

adultery, then use that very sin to save His people, and then honor

not only the adulteress, but the cousin who advised her in it? What

are we missing in our definitions? Either our definitions are wrong,

or God used sin to accomplish His holy will?! Which is more likely

to be the case?

 

If we decide that what Esther did was neither adultery nor

fornication, then what does that do with our fundamental

definitions of those sins? If we truly believe that God is Omnipotent,

Omniscient and Sovereign over all, then we must conclude that he

could and would have found a way to bring Esther into power in the

Persian kingdom without allowing her to participate in this “sordid

sex carnival.” The fact that our Holy God used just such a scheme

to accomplish His purposes proves beyond doubt that we must reevaluate

our concepts of sexual morality. God is not the author of

 

sin, and God does not instigate sin to further His purposes. What

king Ahasuerus did here, what Esther and all the other virgins did,

and what Mordecai consented to, was not immoral, not fornication,

and not adultery. Allow this fact to shake you up! Then get to work

with some really hard study and some serious meditation on the

actual words of Scripture. We have taken too much for granted for

too long. It is time for us to come into the light.

 

God judges that Jerusalem has become a “harlot” and is

condemned. But Jerusalem is wed to God, so her harlotry is the sin

of blatant adultery. She is behaving as if she is unmarried and free

to be “married” to whomever she will, (Isa. 1:21). This is the

meaning of (Isa. 3:16), “Zion’s women are flirting with their eyes.”

In the day of destruction, 7 women will beg to be wed to one

man, (Isa. 4:1). No condemnation is suggested here. Why does God

hold Israel accountable for obvious sin in the former verses, with

condemnation, but does not do so here if indeed God deplores

polygamy as much as he does adultery?

 

Belshazzar has wives and concubines, besides the “queen,”

(Dan. 5:1, 3, 10).

 

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Let us state some obvious conclusions based on this material.

 

• God allowed polygamy to enter human experience without a

word of correction.

• The Bible refers directly to at least 23 men who had more than

one wife.

• This list of polygamous husbands contains the names of the

most illustrious examples of faith and holiness in all the Bible.

• God makes polygamy mandatory in the case of the “Levirate

marriage law.”

• Israel’s elders use examples of polygamy, to bless the

marriage of Boaz and Ruth.

• God gives Israelite men permission to keep women and

children for themselves after a successful battle. Even married

men had this privilege.

• God commends the worship of a polygamous man.

• God’s prophet says David’s multiple marriages are blessings

from God, and assures David that God would have given him

more if he desired them.

• God uses the polygamous inclinations of a pagan king to

 

bring Esther to power, and thus to save Israel from a holocaust.

Not one time, with even one word, in all the OT record, did God

even so much as hint to His people, that he preferred that they not

practice polygamy. Not once did God refer to Adam and Eve as His

ideal for marriage. If God was displeased with polygamy, no one in

the entire scope of OT history knew it! God never told even His

most trusted servants. God simply gave us no record of His

 

disapproval of polygamy! It is not possible to believe that God

granted polygamy as a blessing to His people until Jesus came, but

now sees it as a sin worthy of eternal Hell. It is not possible that

God blessed David with many wives and would have given him

more, but that He will send us to Hell forever for the same thing.

God did not, and still does not disapprove of polygamy. We will look

at the sparse NT texts below. Be patient!

 

MONOGAMY

 

Now we must consider the NT texts that relate to this issue.

There are not many, and none of them address the issue of

 

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polygamy directly. The consensus of church scholars is that the NT

reverses the OT view of polygamy, and makes monogamy the only

acceptable sexual relationship possible to us. It goes even beyond

that to effectively demonize polygamy and make it a sin worthy of

eternal Hell. In view of the emphatic stance of modern church

 

leaders, we will expect to find very clear expression in the NT of

this change in God’s attitude. Let us see what we actually find. First

let’s look again at the opinion of modern scholarship.

Comments from other authors:

 

“Although Polygamy is recognized and not condemned, the OT

assumes that monogamy is the basic form of marriage, or at least

that a man should be faithful above all to “the wife of his youth,”

(Prov. 5:18-19; Mal. 2:14-15). It may be that the two wives of

Lamech are emphasized (Gen. 4:19) to associate the origin of

 

polygamy with the evil line of Cain. Concubines and secondary

wives are associated mostly with, though by no means restricted to,

the patriarchal period and royalty.

 

The tendency toward monogamy or the preference of a primary

wife was reinforced most of all by love which was acknowledged

as a significant, though certainly not the only force in the initiation

and nature of marriage relationships (e.g. Gen. 24:67; 1 Sam. 18:20).

 

Recognizing the dangers into which sexual attraction could lead

(Prov. 7:6-27) did not draw the people into a harsh puritanism, but

rather into a celebration of the pleasure of faithful marriage (Eccl.

9:9; Song of Sol. 8:12).

 

A father could sell his daughter as a concubine, but the law did

seek to protect the status of such women (Ex. 21:7-11). If a man

raped or seduced an unmarried woman, he was required to pay the

marriage gift to her father and take her as his wife(Ex. 22:16-17; Dt.

22:28-29). Yet because the husband was regarded as master over his

 

wife, adultery was a crime only against the man whose wife or

fiance had been unfaithful; there was no sense in which it could be

a crime against the woman (Lev. 20:10; Gt. 22:22-24). But that

marriage was not as simple as an owner-property relationship is

shown by the contrast in penalties for intercourse with a betrothed

 

female slave (Lev. 19:20-22) and for adultery.

Monogamy continued as the norm in NT times; it was only the

few who could afford to be polygamous.

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