With age, I get more and more aggravated with some folks hyper-focus on sexuality in Christianity, as there is a ton of important stuff that gets glossed over because of it. There is no need to bend the Greek to English translation of porneia into cultural morality, especially puritanical morality. It is better to let the scriptures stand with the power granted by the word of God, than it is to bend them to align with some imagined historical sexual ethic.
Apart from that, sexual moral failures among the married are explicitly covered by the words of Jesus, for the unmarried, by the greatest commandments. Consider that the greatest commandments also hit on consent, sexual harassment and assault irrespective of marriage status… thus sexual moral failure is a whole lot more encompassing than a mere violation of puritanical moral standards or modesty codes. One can argue that some errant forms of complementarian marriage practices, patriarchalism, and the idolatry of purity all fall far short of the greatest commandments.
I think of the tweet stream I came across today… its like ????
No wonder some sectors of Christianity have high levels of marital sexual dysfunction. When humanity is removed from sex and is replaced with objectification and monetary exchange and 1600 folks like it… something is seriously hosed up. Consider that the only difference between prositution and the above is monogamy within the confines of near perfect marriage behaviors (radical self giving and life long commitment), the model is in error. Even worse, when a person who ascribes to such experiences real marriage, rather than a projected idealized form, what happens then? My guess is there is a ton more sexual immorality in marriage than outside of it due to teachings like this.
In fairness to @TimKellerNYC, he presents a pretty decent model for “real life” marriage in the following article. https://relevantmagazine.com/life5/you-never-marry-the-right-person/ which includes a quote from Denis de Rougemont “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love … ?” That is why a good marriage is more painfully hard to achieve than athletic or artistic prowess.”
I think back to my younger days working with youth, and remembered I had a youngster ask ” am I going to hell for sleeping with my girlfriend?” Apart from being a bit flabbergasted at the kids age, it was if the prior years teaching on Ephesians 6:8-9 went clear out the window. Apparently some idiot youth pastor was having a field day cherrypicking 1 Cor 6:10…
And while it takes a great deal of effort to get messages past teenage or pragmatically, most any age hormones… we shouldn’t be throwing the scriptures under the bus to do so. We shouldn’t be creating errant sexual ethics which set the stage for future failed relationships and dysfunctional marriages. On the other side of the coin, its important to consider that many will try to bend the scriptures the other direction, in order to give them wiggle room or perhaps even an out to wildly follow their hormones wherever they may lead.
Addressing such is not a simple thing… and it really freaks folks out too. Consider the following from Sarah Moon in response to the Revelant magazine study where it was found that 80% of evangelicals engage in premarital sex..
So I started asking questions in the comments section …. In asking the questions, I learned that no one seemed to have the answers. Instead of answers, I either got harsh judgement or other people who admitted to being just as confused as I was.
But in every comment that told me I was “abusing grace,” that I “must not be very familiar with the Bible,” telling me to “get married earlier, genius!,” to just find a fraternity house where they can set me up with a goat if all I want to do is get laid (FOR REAL), or comments that just listed every verse in the Bible that mentions sexual immorality (while failing to define sexual immorality), all I heard was “I don’t know the answers, and your questions expose that. I don’t know, and that makes me afraid of you.”
As I was unable to find said comment stream to see how this played out… I searched out and found a parallel one. https://urbanfaith.com/2012/07/why-unmarried-christians-are-having-sex.html/
And thus honest conversations about Christians and sexuality hardly ever occur. I remember reading over an evangelical friends premarital counseling guidebook… and thinking, well, 80% of evangelicals have premarital sex… so why on earth are they devoting 3 chapters to abstinence teachings? I guess it might be why 1600 likes showed up on the above tweet. Perhaps Its a comfortable place and such makes it easy to compartmentalize abstinence to the 3 weeks of class, followed by ignoring it… but how does such truly help young couples get on the path to a healthy marriage? How does it help singles of any age develop good relationships irrespective of whether they lead to marriage or not? What about those who are perpetually single? What about married couples experiencing sexual dysfunction due to an errant ‘Christian’ sexual ethic?
These are the sort of things where candid discussions needs to occur… near exclusive focus on a puritanical sexual ethic is missing the point, no matter how comfortable it may be.
Some reference sites: