Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength
Much of what I say here will also fit under “loving others as yourself.” True – loving God and loving others are very compatible.
If you love God, you should see people as He does. You will see our value is based on being created in His image:
There is a great little object lesson for Sunday School: Take a $20 note, and ask if the children would want it. They would. What is it worth? $20. Have some paint with you to soil the note. And if it gets dirty? It is still worth $20. Crumple the note and give it a slight tear. What if it gets crumpled and torn? Still $20. If you get mistreated, if you sin (get dirty), you are still made in the image of God, and worth so much that Jesus shed his blood for you.
Like the message of this lesson, human value is not based on sexiness or prettiness (a secular view), purity (a religious view), or anything else. It is based on being created in the image of God. We should not objectify others, because, in their humanity, they are valuable to God. We do not need to find value in how much others desire us, sexually – our value lies elsewhere. Women with sexual experience are not licked candy bars or damaged goods – they are valuable.
People are not objects (Lust):
This fits in closely with where we find our value.
I do not believe anyone would consider a hungry person a glutton. Needing food – or even desiring food – is not the same as consuming food to excess. This [sexual] feeling of our body is no more a sin than any other body function, until we act and make a choice… Yet there is a difference between gluttony and lust… the object of hunger is a plant or an animal… but the object of a lustful thought pattern is a fellow human being. Lust takes another human being and lowers her to the status of an object or a commodity. This frame of mind is destructive and sinful in ways that food fantasies could never be.
This is the fundamental problem with the Church’s current understanding of modesty. There is desire, there is lust and there is a difference between the two. A man can see something that triggers his sex drive or arouses him, but that does not amount to lust. Lust is when that man allows that desire or arousal to evolve into an objectification of a woman’s body. A man lusts when he brushes aside a woman’s humanity and her soul and begins to see her as an object that satisfies his desires… – Christianfeministdaddy
No double standards: The New Testament calls people to not judge by outward things, and God does not show favouritism:
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. – John 7:24
God does not show favoritism. – Acts 10:34 Romans 2:11 Eph 6:9, Col 3:25, Jas 2:1
Old-fashioned worldly standards blame women, not men, even for acts where the man had more decision making power. That is why there are sexual slurs for women who sleep around, but not for men.1 Liberal feminism (which is not a form of feminism I associate with) blames neither sex, even when their choices are not good for themselves or society. But a God who shows no favoritism does not endorse double standards.
Not lording it over others (Luk 22:25-26)
Of course, the previous point about having no double standards are about equally consensual people with equal power in the relationship, not about, say, an adult sleeping with a 14-year-old, nor even a prostitute 2 who desperately needs money and a violent customer. In those cases, we should blame the person with power. Power should never be used to force and coerce others into what they dislike. In the Bible, for example, a man who leaves his wife destitute is blamed for causing her to commit adultery if she then shacks up with another man. (The word translated “divorce” in some translations of Mat 5:32 actually refers to leaving a wife destitute without giving divorce papers.) Blame, in the Bible, goes to those with power rather than those without.
Even the secular world acknowledges this. It has rules by which sex between bosses and employees, therapists/ doctors and their patients, or teacher and (even adult) students are prosecuted.
Complementarians, however, claim God-glorifying sex can take place when men sexually lord it over women. Likewise, the BDSM world3 (which also promotes sadism, which is in its own class of evil) denies that consent is dubious when there is a power difference. Some complementarians even say – like Jared Wilson’s quoting of Doug Wilson – that rape and BDSM happens because people hunger for complementarian male lordship.
The New Testament on sex
Marriage traditions in Biblical times were very unlike those we have today. Even a question like “is it wrong to sleep with someone before you are married?” is strange to the Bible. Sleeping with someone for the first time in Bible times usually was marrying. The Bible is certainly not in favor of sex without commitment.
Jesus said it is what comes from the inside, not the outside, that defiles. (Mat 15:19/ Mark 7:20-23) Sexual immorality is not only sin (Rom 13:13, Gal 5:19-21, etc.) but sin against your own body. (1 Cor 6:18-20) Self-control is needed. (1 Cor 10:13, 1 Thess 4:3-5, for example.) Having a spouse is better than sexual immorality. (1 Cor 7:2, 8-9) Sexual sin, like any other sin, is forgivable before God. (1 John 1:9)
Mutual sexual commitment is not only ethical “because the Bible says so”: It is a protector against unwanted pregnancies and STDs. It gives sex a place to be intimacy on not just a bodily, but also a heart and mind level – to know and be known. I can clearly see how these ideas are in the best interest of people and society.
Why did I not start with these passages? Because knowing what God thinks of sex does not only involve texts on immorality. It involves what God says people are, the greatest commandment, and many other Bible principles that relate not only to sex.
If love is gentle and kind, if love does not dishonor others and is not self-seeking, if love protects, hopes, and perseveres, so should an ethical sexual relationship.
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1Complementarians who claim that men represent Christ and women the church in marriage should actually be a lot more intolerant of male sexual sin, as Jesus was perfect. Men, however, should be encouraged to forgive repeated sleeping around, as long as the wife returns and apologizes. Of course, I am not encouraging this type of double standards either: I do not hold to the “men represent Jesus, women the church” idea.
2 Prostitutes are more likely to have PTSD than war veterans. And most of them are in prostitution by some combination of coercion and desperation. About 90% would love to get out if practically possible, but they cannot.