Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Q: Hey Peter, I was talking to a friend the other day and somehow the question of whether or not it's okay for guys and girls to sleep together, provided that's all they do (No idea how that came up). My first reaction was "well that's obviously not okay", but then when pushed for an explanation I couldn't come up with a good one. It always kept tying back to "they're probably not just sleeping", but if that actually was all that they were doing, I couldn't say why it was wrong. Is there something obvious that I'm missing here?
People tend to have an overly legalistic idea of sin and what is right and what is wrong. They think that the Church or Christianity functions like a court system, where there are certain prescribed sins, but if there's no actual rule against a thing, then it must be OK. People are like this all over culture, actually. They think that if it's not illegal, it must be OK. They'll do something rude, and if you object they'll say "It's a free country. That's not illegal."
A: The obvious answer is that we are not only to avoid sin, but also the near occasion of sin. Presuming the 2 people are attracted to each other and have a sex drive, 'sleeping' together is the occasion of sin, and making yourself vulnerable is in itself a sin! Imagine if I just 'slept' with some woman other than my wife, but told her 'we were just sleeping.' I think she would have good reason to object!
Laws are in place for people who are inclined to break the laws- in other words, people with no real character. Christianity is actually about freeing people from the law- giving people the character and the tools they need to live holy lives. Basically, to get out of the system. So it's not about rules at all. When people reduce sexual ethics to a bunch of rules, they inevitably call them "arbitrary" or "religious" rules. They equate it to things like the Jewish prohibition of pork.
But it is really not like that at all! Sexual morals exist because of the dignity of human persons, the dignity of sex, and the fact that the greatest sex is an act of love which creates new life.
So the question is really about character, not about rules. No, there's no rule that says that people shouldn't sleep together. Or live together. Or that French kissing is wrong. Or at what age people should begin dating, and if courting is preferable to dating, etc, etc. But God doesn't want us to live according to a list of rules- ready Galatians or Romans or Hebrews, and it becomes clear that this is exactly what Jesus came to free us from! God wants us to have 'the law written on our hearts.' To make choices out of love, not legalism.
So... there's no rule. But people living by the rules miss the point entirely.
Posted by Peter van Kampen at 11:02 AM