Topics on human sexuality form a large part of the moral code for some
Christian denominations and individuals. For many, sex also forms the most
important segment of morality. For example, among Evangelical Christians,
a major concern of parents is that their children remain virgins until
marriage. Many in the Evangelical community believe that continued
homosexual behavior will prevent a person from entering heaven,
regardless of whether they have been saved by
trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Some of the reasons for these diverse beliefs on sex are based on:
Their balancing of the general with the specific: When
developing and defending their moral codes, some individuals and groups
stress specific biblical passages; others appeal more to general
themes of the Bible. They often reach different conclusions. For
example, on the topic of homosexuality:
Conservative Christians generally concentrate on
the approximately ten biblical passages that condemn
certain same-sex practices, and conclude that gay and lesbian behavior
is incompatible with Christian beliefs.
Liberal Christians tend to concentrate on the
biblical principles of justice acceptance, love, and reciprocity
(the Golden Rule). They conclude that exploitive sexual behavior -- sexual
activities that harm people -- is a sin. They may also decide that
non-coercive, non-manipulative, safe, consensual sex within a committed, monogamous relationship is not
sinful -- whether the couple is of the same or different genders.
Their balancing of the absolute with the relative: During the
past two centuries, great moral issues have been debated:
slavery, childhood inoculations against disease, birth control, racial
segregation, equal rights for women, inter-racial marriage,
inter-faith marriage, abortion, equal rights for gays and lesbians,
etc. Religious denominations played a major in debating these topics. Many arguments, pro and con, were biblically-based. Most have
been resolved. The resolution was often accomplished by changing the
interpretation of certain biblical passages from absolute truth to
Absolute rules of behavior are applicable for all
societies, all religions, all cultures, all geographical areas and all
eras. "Thou shalt not murder" from the Ten
Commandments is a good example.
Relative rules of behavior are not universal but are applicable only
for one society, or one area of the world, or one time period in history. One
example is the prohibition against eating pork or shellfish. With the
advent of refrigeration and improved cooking methods, pork and
shellfish can now be consumed safely . What was necessary in ancient
times to avoid food poisoning is no longer applicable.
Consider the topic of pre-marital sex:
Some would argue
that Paul's prohibition of pre-marital sex is absolute -- covering all
individuals, all societies and all eras.
Others argue that the need for virginity
before marriage was critical in the 1st century CE, when:
There was no effective contraceptive methods to prevent
pregnancy. Then as now, a child being brought up in a single
parent home tends to be disadvantaged.
A woman with a
child could not survive without the support of a father or husband.
There was no dependable method of avoiding transferring
sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
no effective treatments or cures for STD.
The average time interval between
puberty and marriage was only a few years -- perhaps even months.
with the availability of good birth control methods, financial support
programs, safe-sex practices, effective treatments for most STDs, they
might argue that sex between a committed, monogamous couple who
practice safer sex is
not a sin. They might conclude that since the time interval between
puberty and marriage is now on the order of 15 years, it is impractical
to expect most youth to maintain a state of virginity until