Apologetic Considerations of Controversial Topics

After reading quite a few comments on several intriguing posts, I decided to post my own thoughts in a listed and organized manner on several subjects. I hope this is a help to everyone who reads!

First of all, I am a Senior Pastor, with an apologist background. I very much appreciate considering and mulling over the various topics within scripture. However, I do not believe there is room to say that Scripture is wrong, or outdated. God’s Word is His Word, and it breathed from His mouth, written by men. To say that the content of scripture is wrong, or no longer applies suggests two problems: that God didn’t write the Bible accurately, or that God is wrong, neither of which is acceptable for Christianity. If scripture is untrustworthy, why believe it at all? If God is wrong, is He really God?

Instead, a better example of debate can be seen in interpretation, that Christians who hold to the inerrancy of scripture still disagree, and deeply. William Lane Craig represents a theistic evolutionary view of scripture, and John Lennox represents an Old Earth Creationist view, while Stephen Meyer represents a strict creationist view. All of them hold to the belief that God wrote the scripture inerrantly and yet disagree. This makes more sense to me than to suggest we can just pick what parts of scripture to agree with and which to cast aside.

Concerning sexuality, there are a few topics I’d like to consider Biblically and invite discussion on in respect to the interpretations of scripture available.


There has been a recent discussion on whether or not females are relegated to the homosexual standards of scripture. Further, some have suggested that homosexual standards are either outdated, misunderstood, or incorrect.

1. Levitical law and male gender usage

The Levitical law restricts “men with men”, but does that include women? The answer is yes. You have to apply the grammatical rules of the day, to understand the meaning implied. While women are not mentioned by gender in this law, that does not mean it does not apply to them. The fact is that languages have always typically assumed the male gender in scenarios and situations where the gender is ambiguous, and we still do it to some extent. For various reasons, written language always came from the perspective of a male reader, and used predominately gendered words reflecting such. Consider the following examples: The Ten Commandments restrict coveting a neighbor’s wife, but that law applied for women coveting other’s husbands too; we use the term mankind to refer to men as well as women and occupational terms as well including policeman, fireman, and others which allow for both genders while only referring to one.

2. Greek Terms in the NT

The two terms for homosexuality in the New Testament are either: Arsenokoitēs or Malakos depending on usage. The first term refers to general homosexuality, in all its forms. Scripture never supplies an affirming view of homosexuality but condemns it in every instance it is mentioned. This includes lesbianism, as context and applied definition show both in and out of scripture. Thus, lesbian sex is not approved in the Bible. The second term refers to a specific act of dressing up young men as females and placing them in the temples for prostitution, although it was not always for prostitution. This indicates that transgendered, homosexual sex is also not approved.

3. Morality

Some may be willing to cede that the Bible does not approve of these things happening then, but that the world has changed and God is indifferent to these things. However, morality does not change with culture, nor with benefit. The moral standard for the Christian cannot be that bad things are harmful and good things are pleasurable since there are many harmful things that remain right and some pleasurable things which are wrong. Morality is more than just what result it brings, it is a reflection of God’s desires. A martyr does what is right by giving his life for God, but is harmed by it. A kleptomaniac receives fulfillment and satisfaction by stealing, but it remains wrong. Ethics are not based on human results, but rather on God’s authority.

4. Created Gay

When God created the World and its natural order, it was perfect, only upon the entrance of sin did the world become cursed. Since then, while we remain the indirect creation of God, we bear the imperfections of this world. We have imperfect bodies from birth, we are sometimes born with diseases or maladies, all of us are born with harmful mutations, and we all are born with sinful tendencies that are not from God. Thus, claiming God is your creator does not excuse your desires, nor does it suggest that God desired you to be the way you are today. We are free agents, able to do as we like in this world in preparation for the next. To excuse our desires—whether holy or unholy—because we are the creation of God is to ignore the curse of sin, which means Christ came for nothing, according to the Apostle Paul.

5. Genders Educating Same Genders

I do not believe it is inherently wrong for women to teach sexual things to women, nor for men to teach sexual things to men, depending on the involvement of the teaching. Simple discussion and even examples or presentations are not the same things as having a sexual event together, but there is a line where it is not education, and it is rather a sexual event.


There were some questions as to what lines are drawn with pornography and erotica.

1. Pornea

Translated as fornication most commonly within scripture, this word is a catch-all for sexually immoral behavior. While it most commonly has been inferred to mean pre-marital sex, it really encompasses anything outside of moral sex, including incest, bestiality, adultery (although there was another word used to specifically reference adultery on its own merit), prostitution, and much more. The moral boundaries of “fornication” are based on knowing what is approved by God, and the rest is pornea. Using both the Old and New Testament as guides on sexual boundaries, it is clear that sex before marriage is dishonorable, sex outside of marriage is dishonorable, and certain types of sex (e.g. incest, bestiality) within marriage are dishonorable. Fornication refers to all of it.

2. Masturbation

Masturbation is not a part of fornication, although it was traditionally lumped in with it after an erroneous application of Genesis 38 was applied in the Catholic Church. Rather, in context, it seems there are various parts of scripture, primarily the Song of Solomon, which promote it. At the very least, the Bible promotes fantasizing sexually of one’s lover, which is usually the moral quandary of masturbation (Chapter 5, SOS). The only restriction on this is the coveting of another wife (or spouse) than your own. In principle, it is not wrong to fantasize about others unless they already belong to another. Once a person is in covenant with God and another human in marriage, they are no longer available for you to even consider being in covenant with, with few exceptions including widowhood.

3. Pornography

As was mentioned, pornography is simply the description of various sexual acts in any means. This includes all mediums, such as written forms, visual forms, artistic or drawn forms, and even described forms. The morality of pornography is parallel to the morality of all sex, that is to say, marriage and holy sex are the determining factors of all pornographic depictions. Considering there are at least mild pornographic inclusions in scripture (Genesis, the books of History, Proverbs, Song of Solomon), it seems there are indeed forms which are approved by God. I think the best use is that of a married couple creating and sharing pornography together, whether through erotica, audio samples, video recordings, photography, artistic renditions… the list goes on. I even believe it is right to celebrate and be inspired by the creations of others, within proper context, since that is exactly what God provides in the poem of the Song of Solomon. What is not good or approved by God is the coveting of others through pornography, and that is a tough line to draw in one’s mind. So, one must be self-aware, knowing the difference between indulgence of self and worship of God in sex.

4. Pre-marital Sex

While some debate the issue of pre-marital sex in the Bible, I believe there is a Biblical example of what is and is not permitted in sex before marriage. First of all, it is important to note that in Jewish culture, a marriage was made up of seven different ceremonies, and it could take as much as a year to complete them all. The state of being in between these ceremonies was called the betrothal period, with possibly the best example being Joseph and Mary. (Joseph did not have conceiving sex with his “wife” yet, although she was technically considered that because they had not completed the process of marriage. This allowed for him to put her away if he desired since the only other logical option for her conception was unfaithfulness. Thankfully, we know how the whole story worked out!) Scholars agree that the Song of Solomon takes place with the first chapter or two in the betrothal period, and the rest in full marriage. That means that the acts of kissing, cuddling, and breast-play (and possibly oral sex) are all outside of the marriage status but within the betrothal status. There is room for debate on exactly what is allowed or isn’t, and much of it has to rely upon faith. But for sure, conceptive sex is not approved by God before marriage, while strong showings of affection and various fore-playing techniques are.


I hope all of this helps and would love to hear your thoughts. Please bear in mind, though, that Scripture is indeed the only standard acceptable for morality and sexuality, and thus we should try to study what God desires more than what we desire!

Pastor J.

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37 replies
  1. QueenandHubbie says:

    Boom! Well written and we agree! You mention sex before marriage, outside of marriage, incest, beastiality, etc., and we refer to these as The Six. We think a clear, hermeneutically correct reading leads to a biblical prohibition against sex 1) before marriage, 2) outside of marriage, 3) with same gender, 4) incest, 5) beastiality, and 6) with dead people. There’s probably 7) without consent, that would include rape, and forcing your partner to do that which they don’t want. But we’ve settled on “The Six” as the euphemism for that which the Bible clearly say “no”.

    The value in ID’ing The Six, is that we believe God has created and provided everything else as “in bounds” and therefore good for a husband and wife to pursue (with energy, heat, passion, intensity, enthusiasm, etc.). Rather than say all sex is bad except for these few things specifically “allowed”, we think it’s better to say all sex is good except for these few things specifically “prohibited”.

    We also think your take on 3. Pornography, and 4. Pre-marital Sex are well reasoned and applicable. Finally, (for now), much of what you presented would be accepted by a vast majority in the Christian “pro-sex” camp. Some may disagree, but that does not negate or gainsay your claims. It just means they get to disagree and be outliers in their belief structure.

    We do believe in a real, Biblical God who actually created us, and actually designed sex to be a special, strong, positive, preserving force in marriage. On purpose, not as an afterthought or whim. Reserving this power for the crucible of marriage, and the so many affirmations and prohibitions in the Bible, lead me to be way more sex-positive than traditional church positions. I think “church” has missed the boat on sex, to our detriment.

    We appreciate your measured, biblical, and “free” approach to this subject. Thanks.

  2. Fearless Lunk says:

    Thanks for sharing your opinions. I disagree with a number of the conclusions here. I’m not really wanting to get into a debate or be argumentative. I just want others who disagree to know they are not alone. As Dr. John Walton of Wheaton College teaches: “The Bible was written for us, but the Bible was not written to us.” So jumping to a “therefore” too quickly and calling it a “Biblical” perspective is actually not helpful. Anyone who extrapolates theology out of Song of Solomon (a book of poetry, not a book of teachings) immediately raises my eyebrows. But everyone is entitled to share their opinions – so thanks for your perspective. I hope it guides others to think more deeply on the topics and what they personally believe.

  3. Frankie says:

    Adoniswerewolf, I’d be curious about your position on someone using the pornographic sites on the internet to research sexual information and techniques (i.e., G spot manipulation, female ejaculation, oral/genital sex, sex play, etc.). These pornographic sites always portray sex as between unmarried people. However, there is not much information on conservative religious sites. The conservative sites (MH excluded) seem too embarrassed to offer any detail (or pictures or video) on any subject other than a married couple having intercourse in their bedroom under the sheets with the lights out using the missionary position. What is a Christian man or woman to do? Go without the information? Or go to the pornographic sites and then feel guilty about what (s)he saw there? I am not asking to challenge your position. I would really like to know.

    • Adoniswerewolf says:

      Excellent question, and I think this demonstrates the inability of past Christians to be willing to even discuss sexuality, much less teach it…

      However, those resources do exist! Check out these apps which I recommend in my premarital counseling sessions: Ultimate Intimacy, and Intimately Us. Another website you could use for education and help is "Marriedchristiansex.com." I hope this helps give you a healthy alternative!

  4. SecondMarge says:

    You like anyone are entitled to your opinions. Interpretation of scripture in the manner you desire. As are those that think the world is flat. We never landed on the moon. All creation was done 6 thousand years ago in 6 days. Noah built a humongous boat sailed the world collecting all species of animal. God will cure you, don’t go to the doctor. God didn’t create disease, or any variation of the healthy heterosexual. For better or worse all of those things are 100% proven untrue. But faith allows for ignoring facts, science and rational thought.
    God did not have to lie to have things in the Bible that are not true. Nor does a new driver need to learn the inner workings of an engine. God was smart enough to know rules needed thousands of years ago would not be needed until the end of time. Nor did he create sheep lacking the intellect to gain the understanding to adjust those rules. After all we are made in his image. To believe he did not want or expect us to understand science, evolution, physics, astronomy, biology etc., belittles God. And belittles those he created in his image. You give children the basics, then they go on to surpass what they were taught. You do not expect them to keep reading “See Dick Run”. Even though you gave them that when it was all they could understand.
    I think it is a great honor to our Lord that we learned and progressed, no longer need things that our ancestors needed. In the same way pork was once unsafe to eat and incest was once accepted. Things change and God blessed us with big brains capable of understanding that. Developing medicines. Refrigerators. The need for virginity is complicated but most reasons certainly are long gone. The prohibition of same sex relationships once had a purpose. Sin is merely a rule to protect us. If the harm no longer exists, it’s no longer a sin.
    But facts can never overrule faith because you can believe the world is flat because God made it that way.
    Biblical scholars are not unanimous in their beliefs. Many accept science and can still find value in the Bible and believe in God. A God who knew we would advance and understand the needs of those who came before us and why they needed the rules(sins) he wrote for them. That we would not be coveting man slaves.
    Solomon had about 400 wives and over 600 concubines. He has his own book. So multi partner sex is acceptable? Typically we use what fits our beliefs and ignore that which doesn’t fit. Judge not lest ye be judged.

    • Adoniswerewolf says:

      "Judge not lest ye be judged" only works if you believe in the value of that passage… Using your interpretation, I could just say that was for a different people, and I'm allowed to judge all I want!

      You are allowed to believe whatever you want, regardless if it's right… very true, but there has to be a standard of truth. If yours is not scripture, but rather you hold scripture to only be true to the standard of truth laid out by a secular world, the Bible will lose its value very quickly.

    • SecondMarge says:

      I understand that logical thinking is a foe to many. We have the intellect to understand the purpose of “See Dick Run” was not to inform children that Dick is running. The purpose was to teach. We long ago proved some things in the Bible are not true but written for a purpose. A need that existed then. We no longer have man slaves to covet. We do have cars. Color TVs. Computers, etc. Are we permitted to covet them because they are not on the list? So even the most 1800’s thinking adjusts the words in the Bible. Instead of not eating pork, maybe the Bible should have said unless refrigerated until cooking in your oven until internal temperature reaches 220 degrees.
      God inspired men to write the Bible. But those men could never understand things that would be known in the future. Men are flawed, translations and editing in the Bible have had to be changed revised because of mistakes. Versions of the Bible vary even in older versions. Some books in the Bible are excluded, some included by various beliefs. By men, not God.
      Once man understands the purpose, he becomes closer to God not further away. God would never expect mankind to ignore proven science nor want him to. Fear of knowledge was invented by men in the church who feared donations would go down if people would think. None of the facts that disprove fables in the Bible need to be feared.
      We don’t stop children from reading because no one actually saw Dick run. We don’t stop believing in God because we know that creation in 6 days is all mankind at the time could comprehend.
      Knowledge that creation took place over 15.8 billion years only makes God more amazing. The devil did not create knowledge, God did. God wants us to question and learn. God right now is think “I can’t believe some people still think the world is flat”. But if ignorance brings people piece of mind, calms their fears it’s not up to me to remove their baby blanket. Not all Christians are stuck in the 1800’s. May God bless and protect you.

    • uncharted territory says:

      Long ago man proved what in the Bible is untrue? What in the Bible was a mistake? Is there a particular example for each of those questions (or one that suits both)?

      Also, readers should aware that the scientific method cannot prove anything. Science is about observations and empirical testing, not proofs. The fields of logic and math use proofs. This is an important distinction between scientific and philosophical study.

  5. Keystone Jack says:

    Excellent! I love your writing. Biblical discussion is lacking on these topics. As someone who attended Bible College and grew up in ministry, I have always felt sexual topics within Christian circles have been unnecessarily avoided. That's part of why I'm on this site. I eagerly await the discussion that will follow!

  6. LovingMan says:

    Maybe I’m very conservative in some of my views (& maybe liberal in others) but to me an engaged couple should not go past kissing, cuddling, clothed massage, & no touching of genitalia nor breasts would be allowed. Massage in swimsuits would be ok. Oral sex would definitely not be OK. Hugging is ok but fondling buns or breasts or genitalia would be a no. Hugging does involve touching of chests through clothing and I don’t have a problem with that. But massaging breasts or/& squeezing nipples through clothing is a no no. French kissing is OK as is some kissing on neck but not on the torso.
    Reading a sex book written to help newly married couples navigate sex is good. Reading it together to discuss things is even better.

    For married couples I’d say have fun -but only with each other. Be kind, understanding, & patient with each other too.

    I have written many stories of our (my wife’s and my) sexual escapades and some fictional married sex stories as well. If sex is depicted in writing as being within marriage I think the writing can be enlightening and uplifting. If I did not think that I would not be involved with the MH site. I think we Christians don’t talk enough about sex and it creates this mystery and tends to leave our kids uneducated and more curious about sex.

    I’m not really a nudist but I’ve wondered if nudism might help our kids and adults be more body positive. Desexualizing nudity might happen if society were more accepting of nudism and no sexual nudity in general. But I suppose that is a different topic for discussion. Or maybe it IS relevant here: What do you feel the Bible teaches about non sexual nudity?

    • Adoniswerewolf says:

      From what I can tell, the Old and New Testament deals with nudity by equating with shame, and in some but not all cases, sin. Adam and Eve realized their nudity and felt ashamed, although no one else was around to notice. Noah's son was cursed because he laughed at the nudity of his grandfather. In some death penalties, people were stripped of their clothes entirely to show shame for the crime they committed. While nude breasts are frequently mentioned in a positive light in the Old Testament, public genital nudity is never mentioned positively. During their periods, women of Israel would live together in a communal tent, so as not to cause shame to themselves and to prevent sickness… All in all, I think that public genital nudity should be avoided because there doesn't seem to be any positive use of it anywhere in scripture.

      However, as far as being more conservative in your premarital relationship, I would support the idea that even if it is allowed, it is not necessary to engage in sexual activities. Rather it is always better to be safe rather than sorry, and I caution toward doing what you know confidently is "right, good, and acceptable, which is what God wants."

  7. DefiantArtist says:

    I'll kick this off by giving you a resounding thank you! It is not easy to nail down the nuances and complexities of the subject in so concise a manner, and I believe you have nailed it to a tee. I wholeheartedly agree!

  8. Waiting Hardly says:

    Regarding lesbians or women stimulating each other, since it isn’t intercourse. The Law did differentiate between male and females. When it says men, it means men. A woman was the property of her husband and one property couldn’t covet other property. Anyway, here is a clear example.
    Leviticus 18:22-23 (NASB)
    You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.
    Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.

    I included the bestiality verse that comes right after the verse on men lying with another man to show that when God forbade an act he was specific about who it applied to. Verse 22 is only about men, but verse 23 applied to both sexes (and says so).
    Sex in the perfect Law of God was anything that would take away virginity, provable by examination by the priests. Therefore women are incapable of having sex with each other.

    • Adoniswerewolf says:

      I appreciate the scriptural response! But I'm not sure how you arrive to the conclusion that women are incapable of sex… are you saying that bodily penetration is required for sex? Because if so, lesbianism has used dildos since ancient times, and that shows penetration existed then.

      I will say, while there are some examples of the use of gender specific laws, a simple study of how law was applied will show that the law was primarily written to a male audience, but applied to both genders. Again, the Ten Commandments dictate that a husband is not to covet his neighbors wife… yet that still applied to women as well.

      In the case of a female "standing to mate" with an animal, it is referring to an act only possible by women, and thus it takes the time to detail that. But there is no scriptural evidence or scholarly position that I've ever heard which says sex is not possible between women. This is primarily because sex is not limited to a single act or variant of an act. There are different types of sex, and many different acts within sex, some which are possible to be shared between the same gender, thus the regulation fits.

      From a logical perspective: If the definition of biblical sex is a penis entering a vagina, and thus women can have relations since there is a lack of a penis… Why would there be a condemnation of males who have no vagina involved?

  9. Waiting Hardly says:

    While poneaia in Greek was a catch all for sexual immorality in the pagan mind, to the Hebrew listeners to whom it was first addressed, it meant prostitution. Hermeneutical rules say it can’t mean to us what it wouldn’t have meant to those who first heard it.
    Song of Solomon speaks approvingly about premarital sex and mutual stimulation before the passage where the king’s wedding party shows up.
    Would like to here your thoughts on plural wives, as God set up rules for that in Exodus, which implies His approval of the practice.

    • Adoniswerewolf says:

      (Of the things mentioned here, I will just address the question of plural wives, since the others are hermeneutical differences primarily.)

      The primary arguments against plurality of wives or polygamy usually entails the following in part or in whole:
      1. Adam and Eve were created in a monogamous relationship and thus the original standard and pattern is monogamy
      2. Levitical law condemns the multiplying of horses, wealth, or wives.
      3. While polygamy is mentioned as frequent and common, it does not necessarily correlate that it is right, just that it was regularly practiced.
      4. Most every description of polygamy includes a negative connotation, showing that polygamy was presented in a bad light.
      5. In the New Testament, polygamy was no longer practiced, and was rather shown to be negative. Pharisees especially seemed to condemn the use of multiple husbands or wives.

      The primary arguments for plural marriage or polygamy tend to include the following in part or in whole:
      1. The Bible shows a pattern of polygamous patriarchs and speaks well of those who practiced it.
      2. The lack of laws concerning polygamy show it to be allowed, since the law was specific in other areas.
      3. The Bible is outdated and no longer applies to marital matters, thus we are free to do as we'd like in marriage related matters.
      4. Biblical marriage is between a man and a woman, but since there is no regulation on how many of those marriages may exist, plural marriage is allowed.
      5. Levitical law regulates polygamy, which would indicate that while it is limited, it is still allowed and thus ok.

      Of all these arguments, I find several on both sides to be faulty.
      First, I can't find anywhere a passage which defines it as good or bad, rather a I find many which describe them as happening without commentary on if it was good or bad. Thus, I don't find either side's argument about the presence of polygamy in the Old Testament as convincing on moral merit, but rather that the Bible describes it as having happened… Both lose points
      Second, the Levitical law prohibiting polygamy was not against the people in general, but against the kings which would come. The passage specifically references royalty as the only audience of that rule, by saying "Kings shall not multiply horses, wealth, or wives." So that prohibition is not applicable in general I find… Point to polygamy
      Third, there is no argument compelling to me which uses the basis that scripture has lost its value or applicability. Thus, I don't give credence to the idea that we are free to do as we please because the Bible is outdated or wrong. Point to Monogamy
      Fourth, the New Testament does seem to support the idea that a marriage was constituted between only two people, although it is not very clear or prescriptively dictated… Point to monogamy
      Fifth, regulation of something does not mean direct approval of it. (example, God hates divorce according to Malachi, but gives a provision for it anyway…Slavery was never approved by God, but was regulated and also required the eventual freedom of all slaves, while Philemon shows slavery to be unacceptable for Christians) Just because humans engaged in an inappropriate behavior and God gave regulation to it, does not mean God approved of it at all. Thus, the Levitical law regulation the treatment of wives does not indicate to me the approval of polygamy.

      I honestly find room for both sides on the argument, but settle on monogamy, primarily because of this single thing: Adam and Eve were created in a monogamous relationship, God prescribes this relationship to be the archetype of marriage, thus God desires for a monogamous relationship. That is where I settle, at least for now, and that is really the only scriptural basis for it.

  10. Sacred Cum says:

    My views on premarital sex have changed a lot since my youth. My wife and I agree that if we could go back in time and do our courtship all over again, we wouldn’t have waited. The amount of guilt, anxiety and frustration we put ourselves through during our dating and engagement years was not worth it. We loved each other and we should have been f*ing each other’s brains out while we were young and in peak physical and sexual form. Instead, we believed that sex was bad and that we would both go to hell if we crossed certain lines. I realize the importance of boundaries and restraint in life, but we were mature for our age and deeply in love. Four years of sexual repression was pointless and only led to difficulty once we were married. I was so anxious about sex and associated it with evil to such an extent that it took me months to blow my load after we were married. We even went through long stretches of not looking at each other’s nakedness or touching each other. It was all a result of what we grew up with. Sex was dirty and couldn’t be talked about. Now we have a much better sexual relationship and it continues to improve. We f* each other’s brains out as much as possible, we watch and enjoy porn together, we experiment and share deep fantasies. I think we have a long way to go, but everything that’s helped push our sexual intimacy and pleasure forward would be condemned by every church and Christian marriage counsellor. We are still very committed Christians, but we’ve embraced a heretical sex life and are much better off for having done so.

    • SecondMarge says:

      Well put. Sad that people are tortured into believing such things. Having entered my first marriage untouched, shame on them. My second marriage we did everything but intercourse, shame on me for not having grown up more. Waiting has no value. Virginity was intended for children. Not 30 year olds. Women were expected to be married and having sex by 14. Funny how churches don’t fight for kids to get married immediately after puberty as was the case then. Ah those Catholic monks so many centuries ago that had no interest in women sure set up some restrictions.

    • MarriedtoaHotBabe says:

      Lauren and I didn't wait, nor did we even try to wait. Within weeks we were having sex. And guess what? We regret nothing because we can't imagine the torture holding out would have brought. Today, 21 years later, our sex life has never been better.

  11. Frankie says:

    Adoniswerewolf – I think I agree with your position on nudity. If I understand you correctly, your position is that in determining what is moral, the nudity is less important than the reason for that nudity. No one would criticize a woman for being naked in an operating room seen by male doctors or having to relieve herself on a camping trip where there is no concealment. I guess nudity at a public beach or “artistic photos’ is more of a gray area – a matter of intent.

  12. SecondMarge says:

    “For example, the Center for Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which is evangelical Protestant, estimates that there are currently 47,000 denominations.” Stephen Beale, "Just How Many Protestant Denominations Are There?" /National Catholic Register/ October 31, 2017

    And everyone of them think, like you, that the Bible is clear and says what they think it says and the other 46,999 denominations were so wrong about the Meaning that they had to start a new denomination. Often including violent acts. Yet they all insist they are sure the others beliefs are not true Christians.

    Not to mention other non Christians that use the Bible to some degree. Yet think it says things that are entirely different.

    I never tell anyone they are not a Christian because their beliefs are more conservative or more liberal than mine. Whether they believe the world is flat or God is an alien who came here on a spaceship. Having been raised ultra conservative maybe I am more sensitive to what I consider flaws in both extremes. But I doubt a loving God will punish either. But I’m sure many here think I am headed to hell. Since I do not believe in a hell I am not overly concerned. But I continue to attempt to help others, never harm them.

  13. Chloe says:

    Hmmm, no devil, no hell, no sin… makes a person wonder why Jesus had to become man, suffer and die on the cross? From what did we need rescuing? Everyone goes to heaven, no matter what they believe? That idea just destroys the Christian faith (and rips out almost all the pages of the very Word of God).

    • SecondMarge says:

      Less than half of Christians believe in a devil and hell, has not destroyed Christianity yet. No hell means everyone goes to heaven? Where is that written.

    • Fearless Lunk says:

      This is a “mic drop” moment I’ve heard before. I looked up and down this thread and I can’t find anyone saying that sin doesn’t exist. I am someone who doesn’t believe in a literal Devil, but I do believe in evil. I also don’t know if hell exists or not, but if it does I don’t believe it’s designed for humans to be sent and tortured there for eternity. Because I hold these beliefs no way belittles what Jesus did. Sin exists, of course, and the world is very much fallen. Jesus died to conquer sin and Death. He broke the curse. However, some people believe that Jesus’ atonement is limited only to the people who have a “right set of beliefs” about Jesus and/or have prayed a specific prayer. That’s fine. I used to believe that too. But my view of God has grown over the years. I don’t believe in a transactional faith. I used to believe in “Jesus’ forgiveness is a gift, but you human must OPEN the gift to receive it.” (We’ve all heard the cliches.) I now believe that Jesus’ gift is more like a Direct Deposit, and it’s not contingent on my checking any boxes. •• I say all this not to be argumentative. I’m not asking you to change your beliefs. And there is no mic drop moment that will make me change mine. BUT I’m sharing a perspective about how one can believe in UNlimited atonement and yet Jesus’ sacrifice has NO LESS meaning or significance.

  14. starlight says:

    @SecondMarge, I always adore your comments; they are elequent and well thought through. Just like you, I was raised in an ultra-conservitive home; and consider it a miracle that I've managed to preserve any kind of faith given I witnessed some of the worst acts committed in the name of Christianity! with age and time though comes perspective; and I realise that, in most areas of life, but especially in sexuality, there is not one answer. For some couples it is right to wait, for others its not, that is OK. Everyone has sexual preferences, likes and dislikes. The key I think is to keep listening, be open to our partners and to other perspectives. The moment we stray into 'ultimate reality statements, or the idea there is only one way to think or do things; we are in trouble; and before I'm condemned for that; if free will wasn't constructive; why the heck did God bless us with Brains and intilect? Christians need to do more receiving and less transmitting, and recognise that if the wisdom of the bible is for all time, there has to be contextual interpretation on many aspects to fit with life as it is now. Even if we can't accept that, we can at least agree to disagree without condemning others to hell (which may or may not exist; no one really knows!), and remember, to be so heavenly minded as to be no earthly use surely works against everything Christ instructed us to do, around being loving, creators of positive growth and change. I must say though I do hugely respect MH for creating such an open, diverse platform for Christians of all perspectives to share these views. Though I may disagree; I benefit hugely from reading opinions that differ from mine; and am grateful for the fact there is a safe space to both listen and learn from others.

    • kdm1984 says:

      These debates always grab my attention because they deal with some of the most serious questions about the faith, and are worth grappling with.

      My dad taught that hell isn't eternal, and that people can be saved after they die. These are definitely not traditional conservative interpretations, I've since learned. A little over a decade ago, I was associating with some very conservative Reformed Christians online who were also really into the 16 type personality/brain system popularized by Myers Briggs. They believed ENTP was the most common Myers Briggs type (not ISTJ, as is typically believed), and they actually argued that ENTP is inherently a more liberal type, prone to making black and white issues into gray. They believed it was up to ISTJ, ISFJ, and other types to interpret and analyze the Bible back into its proper, conservative, and traditional contexts. (My dad, of course, got labeled ENTP, so his more liberal views on salvation and hell were considered incorrect.)

      I do wish there was more unity among Christians in our beliefs. It's not good witness to be so divided. But there are certainly many opposing beliefs out there. My own happen to be moderately conservative, but I've gotten much less apt to voice my opinions than I was in my 20s and early 30s. Most are convinced in their own minds, and I seldom see hearts and minds changed through internet discussions. They're more interesting to read from afar than to participate in directly.

  15. uncharted territory says:

    I’ve had many thoughts reading the comments here, and wish I could respond to each one conversationally, but to avoid comment spam by replying to each, I’ll try to touch on a theme I’m seeing with those who disagree with the author.

    God’s love means he cannot (or will not) be perfectly just.

    To this I pose a question: if God does not punish sin justly, then is God good?

    A good district court judge doesn’t let the murder of a young child go unpunished. In the same way, God does not either. If God were to allow that, then he wouldn’t be a good judge.

    Not every sin is murder you may say. But the severity of the sin doesn’t change the nature. An offense against God or one of his image-bearers (i.e. humans, you and me) is still an offense. As a debt, it still has to be paid.

    To refuse justice to whom it is owed is not good, which would be a huge strike against Christianity. Furthermore, Jesus himself spoke about hell more than anyone else in the Bible and referred to the devil as a real person. So, did Jesus lie about hell and the devil? That’s another huge problem for Christianity, were it true. Annihilationism doesn’t fix this since Jesus would still have lied about the fate of sinners in the gospels.

    When I look at the depths of human cruelty and destruction around the world—lies, murder, greed, racism, rape, theft, envy, malice, lust, and much more—it quickly appears to me not “how could God punish everyone?”, but rather “how can it possibly be that God hasn’t already punished everyone?”

    Thank you to Adoniswerewolf for your thoughtful post, though I don’t agree with all of it. Clear Christian thinking is something we always need more of in the world.

    • SecondMarge says:

      I don’t wish to rehash my difference with your opinions. However, I was interested in your list of wrongs the world suffers from. Lust? Really? Lust is not bad, not even a sin, but a good thing. The fact anyone was taught that lust is bad is pathetic and sad. People and even Jesus say things that are untrue for reasons. To achieve an end. Doesn’t mean they lie. Sin, the devil, evil were the only stick God had to put fear of the naive and ignorant to not harm themselves or each other. The carrot was heaven, the stick hell to encourage people. It also was a framework for how Christianity was different from other beliefs of the time. We do not know what Jesus actually said, only what flawed men with their own purposes wrote.

  16. CrazyHappyLoved says:

    This is an amazing conversation: Christians of many different viewpoints discussing what they believe and why without attacking each other? Bravo.

    I get that we can all come to different conclusions about what the Bible means, but like the OP, I can't comprehend dismissing what it says as irrelevant. If I did, where would I place my faith? In my own intellect or that of others? I have to believe that God intended those words to instruct me in some way, or my faith in its claims about Jesus is worthless. But I think even Marge, who doesn't trust the veracity of even what the Bible reports as Jesus' own words, doesn't discount it completely, just that it holds any guidance for today beyond "do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

    I think I'm beginning to see that some believe in Jesus' atoning death and resurrection but think that ended the need for obedience. I guess I just see the words "Lord and Savior" and understand them to make my role that of an obedient servant, grateful to be saved. And what will I obey except that which he said to me and had (I believe) faithfully recorded by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit?

    Do I think that everything Paul wrote applies to me? Not if he said, "I say and not the Lord," or "I do not allow…" But when he says, "Not I, but the Lord…" I've gotta listen.

    Mostly, the NT isn't laying down laws, though. The Gentiles were given only a few things to abstain from by the "pillars of the church," and the most relevant to this site is "abstain from πορνειασ /porneias/", generally translated "fornication" and specifically referring to prostitutes and acts with them. Some translators understand by its use in classical Greek texts that can refer to "selling off" one's purity—whether before or during marriage and whether for money or some other benefit—similar to how (perhaps in earlier generations more so than today) a promiscuous woman might be referred to as a "whore." I found the OPs thoughts that today's pornography (whether written, audio, visiual, or a combo) could be good or bad depending on the subject matter to be very much in agreement with my own.

    I was unable to find any source of information on the seven ceremonies of early Jewish marriage. My understanding is that there was only betrothal and the wedding ceremony that culminated in the "yichud", a private ensconcement of the bride and groom in a nearby tent of room, with the friend of the groom listening at the door for proof of consummation.

    As an aside, OP, I don't think one could actually practice bestiality "within" marriage. 😋

  17. firefly says:

    Let me say from the depth's of my heart, great post! Great comments, and yes, stay out of the attack mode, just good discussion. I have a dear Christian friend that came from a very wicked background, though all sin, is wicked sin. He and I can sit for hours and discuss scripture, God's love for us through Christ, and how he paid a price we obviously deserved to pay. Discussions around what is discussed here come up. He and I may differ and express those differences, then after consulting scripture, we find we both believe the same thing, just arrived at it differently. Because of his background, he sees things from a different perspective, because of mine, another, but scripture always brings us to a proper conclusion, because Scripture is the final authority, God's word. If I "feel" like it is right, search the scripture to verify, and if scripture says otherwise, then follow scripture, not your heart or feelings. Thank you fellow Christians for recognizing God's gift of sex and the pleasures therein, and seeing through the world's immoral sinful path. God and His word should always be what directs our path through life for Him.

  18. YoungCouple69 says:

    Adonis, thank you for this high-quality exposition. I appreciate you background as a pastor and apologist. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and that it is the ultimate measure of truth. The wonderful thing about believing in the authority of Scripture is that one always knows where to go for answers. Though my background is in the natural sciences and medicine, I did attend a Bible college and took many credit hours of Bible courses. One of my favorite Bible professors in college would always say, "God meant something when He said what He said, and it's possible for us to know what He meant." God doesn't intend to leave us in the dark regarding important issues of daily living like these. I think you did a great job handling these topics–sticking to the Word and leaving off the extraneous personal opinions this sort of discussion somehow always conjures up.

  19. sarah k says:

    Thanks, Adoniswerewolf, I have been butting heads against some members of Delights of the Believers, who I believe have a too permissive attitude as to what is permissible in the sight of God.

    I get private comments from people supporting me who are too afraid to speak out.

    I shared this there, sure enough, I got disagreement. But I will not be silent.

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