|The Righteousness of God and sexual acts|
Sex is created by God for our pleasure. Sex by itself is not dirty nor unrighteous. God creates us as sexual beings with the intention to foster and strengten our relationships. Sex is powerful because the two flesh will be united together. God is less interested in who we have sex with rather than our faith in Jesus Christ and how we treat others with respect, love, and humanity. It is easy for the conservatives like Ted Haggards of this world like foxes in sheep clothing to condemn gays whilst living a double life. God treasures our humility, simplicity and authentic faith rather than pretending that we are not.
Unfortunately, Sex and worship are intertwined in the bible. Sex has a pathway to the core and innermost parts of our very existence and being. When we have sex with the temple prostitute, we are joining the temple of God within us to another god. Sex can have such a spiritual impact that through faith based sexual orgies of the Canaanite goddess Ashtoreth, the people of Sodom were possessed by the spirit behind it to attack the angels and to rape them. It is not only about sexual abuse but demon procession. They were not gays nor were motivated by same sex orientation and love to have sex with the angels.
Yet, by the time of King David and King Solomon, such inhibitations against sex and cross religious marriage seems outdated. There was no notion of monogamy. King David had at least eight wives, and King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Amongst the wives, there were the women from Moab, Ammon, Sidon and Hittites which had influenced Solomon to depart from the God of Israel. Having many wives and open relationship were well accepted and not a sin as long as it does not impact your faith in God. The songs of Solomon with its sexual imagery dispels any notion that sex by itself is unrighteous.
(1 Ki 11:4 NKJV) For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives
turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the
LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.
We are called not to follow the ways of Solomon, not because of too much sex, but because of their spiritual influence to turn his heart away from God. The heart of the matter is where our heart is, whether our allegiance to God comes first in choosing correctly the sexual relationships we engaged in.
For the early church in Corinth where the nation itself has a culture of many sexual partners and one night stands with a strong religious connotation, the Christian community were very strict insisting on monogamy, and marriage within the same faith. The church was a very small minority and probably had no choice to maintain its religious purity. However, in the 20th century, where the church has a very strong presence and a majority in many countries, do we insist on the same rules.
In God's grace, there is no firm standard of what is right or wrong with regards to sex with the general principles applying of being a good witness for Christ:-
1) We are bought and owned by Jesus Christ, who is our righteousness. Therefore when we have sex, God is there as the third party. In the OT commandments (Exo 20:2-5), the children of Israel obtained right standing or righteousness before God by coming into a Covenant that they will worship and be aligned to the God of Abraham only, and not engaged in the worship of gods from the other faith traditions where their other gods inhabits the idols in the form of birds, animals, or reptiles. The Law was given to remind Israel of their obligations after they fell into idolatry. The Jews were repeatedly reminded by God not to take the hand of marriage from the nations.
2) Sex should be based on justice and equality. The righteousness of God demands justice for the weaker party of the sexual relationship. In Exo 20:14, the bible exalts us not to commit adultery. It is not the woman committing adultery but the man. The man has a higher status than the woman and he was allowed to have many wives and concubines under his care, and to have sexual relationships with them as he desire as in the case of Abraham with Hagar. However, adultery is not only going beyond the marriage covenant (which is a modern idea), but going outside one’s household to have sexual relationship with an unwed woman. The woman is now forever linked to the man and could not now be married to another man. She would be left in the streets to fend for herself as a common prostitute rejected by all.
3) Sex should not be taken casually. Sex joins us together – our body, soul and spirit. In Gay relationships, too much open sex is an issue because on each act, our emotions and lives are somehow intertwined, and they become part of us and we part of them. In Ex 20:14, once there was adultery, the woman was considered used because there was a link to the man which will taint the relationship with another man. It is a much larger issue than sex, but concern relationships and caring for each other.
4) Covenant Sexual relationships must be respected. In Exo 20:17, we are not to covert our neighbor’s belongings including the wife. It was unjust after all the care, protection and love given to the woman. The bible has a concept of household ownership because there is responsibility by the man to take care of the household and to fend for them. The wife was essentially to be loved, to be adored and for relationship. Often, we are so envious of others and their boyfriends. By our stealing, we do great injustice to the man who has been betrayed after all he has done for his boyfriend and the mutual support and relationship built up. Relationships should not be self centered for our sexual needs only, but be part of long term mutual care and support for each other. God is against us breaking up relationships through our stealing of the “cute boys”.
5) Sex is a spiritual act. The righteousness of God is deeply intertwined with sex and religious practices. In Lev 18:3 God reminded Israel that “you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan.”, and went on the state the practices of Canaan which includes, Lev 18:22 which says “you shall not lie with a male as with a woman, it is an abomination”. This abomination should be understood in the context of worshipping Baal, Morlech, and Asteroth. The gods demanded the sacrificing of babies in the verse before in Lev 18:21. It was a show of ultimate faith for parents to sacrifice their babies, and straight men having sex with other men. It was not about sexual orientation but the way for the spirits to enter the humans. Sex orgies with female temple priestess were not mentioned because women were considered sex objects and would not draw any repulsion. The power of Sex is further emphasized in 1 Cor 6:16 where the straight men have sex with the female temple prostitute. They were in fact having sex with the gods behind it. As we are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), on the account that we are paid by Christ death at the Cross, the clean shall not be joined with the unclean.
In summary, sex is not unrighteous but can be mis-used to impact our christian faith. Our walk with Christ should be so central that is must be guarded and protected and honoured. In everything we do, we should consider how our Christian faith and ministry will be impacted. Having too much of a good thing like Solomon's 700 wives may be our downfall. Being from the same religious tradition will help us in being more compatible and consistent in our purpose and Christian ministry.
Yet, love often overcomes all obstacles. However, we need to live with the person the rest of our lives and our first love will soon be a distant memory and our differences for which religion can be a profound factor can be a constant torn. For the Gay community, long term relationships are more viable if based not only on the sex, or the physical appearance which will diminish over the years, but intrinsic compatibility both in character, vision and mission, and religious faith. After all, our relationship with Christ should be above all, even our sexual relationships and partner for life.
However, more often, a fundamentalist view of religious faith can be detrimental to our same sex relationships as we carry into relationships much self condemnation and self loathing. Different faith traditions is a non issue if there is mutual acceptance and we take religion as a private matter rather than imposing it on our partner or be too dogmatic.
The bar of judgement of our righteousness and sexual actions may depend on whether we live by grace or if we had lived by the law. If we had lived by the law eg the Pharisees, claiming our righteousness by abiding the law, abusing our power over the weak, and being hypocrites in our judgement, we will be judged by the same manner we had judged others and even more. Jesus judged them by the Spirit of the law ie it is sin even if we do not act on our impulses. We should not be so perturbed by the Christian Right Activist twisting every lie against gays and using the vast support amongst the Christian community to campaign against gays. God will judged them likewise and much more, their lives coming under far higher scrutiny.
God is not mocked when we abused the weak and defenceless in the name of Christianity. We have claimed our righteousness by imputing that straight sex act is much holier than gay sex. When we like our own righteousness so much, God Himself may expose us in public - eg Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, George Rekers, etc. We must approach life with the grace of God understanding our righteousness is in Christ Jesus and not of ourselves, having the spirit of humility that when walking through the streets of Geylang we will even consider ourselves no less a sinner than the straight sex workers of Geylang. For who knows their background? and how are we to judge them?.
1st Commandment Exo 20:2,3 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
2nd Commandment Exo 20:4, You shall not make yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Exo 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, Exo 20:6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7th Commandment Exo 20:14 You shall not commit adultery
10th Commandment Exo 20:17 You shall not covert your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or male or female servant, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.