Monday, September 23, 2013

Sex Inside and Outside Marriage

A dictionary definition of adultery is, “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse.” My question is, would anything at all justify adultery in a marriage? Here are some scenarios apparently justifying adultery:

(1) The Old Testament records personalities who dabbled in adultery (Lot, Judah, Tamar, Rahab, David & Bathsheba…). So, can marriages dabble in extra-marital affairs, especially since the Bible apparently endorses it?

(2) If one’s belief is intact in Christ, he is saved and heaven-bound. Does this give him/her the privilege to be adulterous?

(3) God loves to forgive. Can a partner in marriage be adulterous, then repent, gain forgiveness, and be right with God? In this instance, man finds pleasure in tasting variety, and still remains right with God. Is this acceptable?

(4) What if a marriage is heading towards divorce and one partner indulges in sexual intercourse with a friend/acquaintance who he/she intends to marry. Is this a sin?

(5) Sex is an inherent component in a marriage. What if a marriage truly suffers in its sexual expression (sex life in marriage sucks)? Does pain from lack of sex offer the person the moral privilege to satisfy his/her sexual needs with another outside marriage?

Does the Bible define adultery or sexual immorality? The answer is a very certain yes. To begin with, God says that sex should only be within the precincts of marriage (Genesis 2: 18-25; Leviticus 18; 1 Corinthians 7: 2-4).  God also states adultery is a sin (Exodus 20: 14; Hebrews 13: 4). Therefore, any sexual innuendos outside the marriage, in thought (Matthew 5: 28) or in deed is adultery and a sin against God and the spouse.

The Bible as a narrative records various historical instances, so it records the sexual frailties of Lot, Judah, Tamar, Rahab, David & Bathsheba. These are mentioned as a historical narrative and not to endorse adultery. These instances serve to teach that sex outside marriage is a sin against a holy God. While interpreting the Bible, one must always employ the hermeneutical principle to interpret the implicit passages by their explicitly stated, similar-themed counterparts. Therefore, Exodus 20: 14, Leviticus 18; 1 Corinthians 7: 2-4, and Hebrews 13: 4, should interpret all narratives of adultery in the Bible.

If one’s belief is intact in Christ, he/she should flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6: 18). But, humans are fallible, for we are weak and prone to sin. Still, it is normative that a believer in Christ will not sin intentionally, for such an act will betray his faith in Christ. But, if a Christian intentionally sins to satisfy his hedonism through adultery, he is in grave danger (cf. Romans 8: 5a & Galatians 5: 21b).

The Bible unequivocally states that God’s grace doesn’t offer a believer the liberty to sin (Romans 6 ff). One cannot bank upon libertarianism or God’s forgiveness to sin intentionally. In fact, God’s grace should captivate and motivate a believer to love and obey God always.

A marriage heading towards divorce also isn’t a license to adultery. Primarily, divorce isn’t an option for a believer. Of course, we do have the exceptions of marital infidelity (Matthew 5: 32) and unbelief (1 Corinthians 7: 12-17) that offers a believer a valid option of divorce. But God’s relationship with Israel vividly portrayed in the personages of Hosea and Gomer implies to me personally that divorce even in proven cases of marital infidelity is to be approached with grace than law. One should work to repair the broken marriage than find an easy way out of the marriage. Exploring this on another tangent, we can infer that finding an easy way out of the marriage could be an indication that the partner was never in the marriage to begin with.

Finally, unsatisfactory sex within a marriage is not a valid reason to engage in adultery. Marriage is not a means to douse one’s burning sexual appetite and fetishes. Marriage is beyond sex. It is a conglomeration (heterogeneous combination) of two individuals to believe, love, care, and nourish each other through favorable and unfavorable circumstances. Sex is a secondary aspect in a marriage. A marriage can indeed survive, by the grace of God, even without satisfactory sex.  

In my blog about premarital sex, there are reasons against premarital sex for the sake of those who do not believe in Christ. Those reasonings were not from the Bible. Still, those reasons would deem adultery as a non-viable option for all and sundry. 

In today’s postmodern world, people rely upon themselves for decisions on morality. A partner in marriage can decide that he needs a change and thus engage in adultery. That person may think that he is not bound to his spouse or any other objective moral authority (God, parents, children etc.). But this person will hypocritically subject himself to a moral framework at his place of work. He cannot take off from work as and when he desires. He would be allowed a certain number of days off from work. Further absence from work would result in termination of employment or loss of salary or a severe reprimand. In other words, this person who is postmodern in his morality within his marriage will not or cannot subscribe to the very same post-modernity at his workplace. Isn’t this sheer hypocrisy? He who refuses objective authority in his marriage hypocritically subjects himself to an objective moral authority at his workplace. He will not be a postmodern at his workplace for the fear of losing his job. Whereas Godlessness in his life that entails fearlessness in his marriage motivates him into adultery. Such a person may fool himself thinking he would not lose anything by virtue of adultery. But he loses his mind, and along with it his morality, integrity, consistency, but most significantly, the pleasure of being with God and enjoying HIM.

Ravi Zacharias offers a perfect analogy for the postmodern mindset. When a friend told him that Wexner Center for the Performing Arts1 is a postmodern building that was designed with no particular design in mind, Ravi quipped that the foundation of this building would certainly be purposeful. Of course, the architect would have designed this building with pillars without purpose and stairways going nowhere. But this architect would have built this postmodern building with a purposeful foundation meant to hold the building together.

This is the hypocrisy inherent in postmodernism. A postmodern mind may think that life is capricious and so can be lived without any purpose. But that purposelessness is the very purpose, exhibited hedonistically and inconsistently, in that postmodern life – an utter insanity. A postmodern man would reject an objective moral authority when he prefers to indulge in adultery, but he would subscribe to an objective moral authority elsewhere (workplace). Wexner center was closed for three years and $15 million dollars worth repairs were performed to counter its basic design flaws. Similarly, a postmodern mindset, unless transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ, would inevitably be riddled with moral inconsistencies and disasters.

A few days ago, much acclaimed basketball superstar, LeBron James married his longtime sweetheart, Savannah Brinson. The couple had two sons even before they were married; a result of their live-in relationship before their marriage. Live-in relationships are a prevalent practice today. If two unmarried people live together and have children, would they be categorized as adulterers or those indulging in premarital sex? Practicing Christians would consider a live-in relationship a sin or an aberration. A live-in relationship is a loose arrangement without a binding covenant (before God) that holds the relationship together through thick and thin. Adultery comes into the picture when marriage is solemnized, but when the couple has children before marriage, I would term it as premarital sex, thus unacceptable.

To conclude, sex is only permitted within the confines of a marriage. But marriage is not meant for sex alone. Adultery is unjustifiable. May God protect us. Amen.

P.S: If a person has kept his marriage bed pure (in thought & deed), but is accused of adultery, how should he respond? He surely can come out with all his guns blazing, but in the most peaceful and with God’s wisdom. In other words, the evil in the accusation should be despised and overcome by the power of God. Patience should be adopted with a view that the marriage be reconstructed through justice served by God at HIS time and according to HIS pleasure and purpose. Amen.


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