Wednesday, July 9, 2008


What the
says about…
PROSTITUtion, fornication,
pornography & homosexuality

And Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you” (Mt 21:31).

“Flee fornication” (1Co 6:18, KJV).

What the Bible “REALLY” says about PROSTITUTION, fornication, pornography, and homosexuality, and what many people think the Bible says about prostitution, fornication, pornography, and homosexuality are two different things.

Prostitution¾sex for hire
Of course, Scripture clearly frowns upon sex for hire. God prohibited the daughters of Israel from becoming prostitutes (Lev 19:29)¾and that went double for a daughter of the High Priest. If she took a walk on the wild side, she could get burned¾ literally (Lev 21:9).
Nevertheless, there were instances when God at least condoned the monetary procurement of sexual favors. God commanded Hosea to marry a harlot (Hos 1:3). God later promised not to punish the daughters of Israel when circumstances forced them into prostitution (Hos 4:14).
Proverbs 7:6-27 cautions men against foolishly pursuing loose women.
The world’s oldest profession was commonplace in ancient Israel and other countries of the Near East. The Old Testament contains no laws prohibiting prostitution for non-Israelite women. Neither was it adultery for a man to patronize a house of ill repute¾even if he was married. Foolish? Perhaps. Adulterous? No.
Biblical harlots included Rahab of Jericho, the harlot of Gaza whom Samson frequented, and two squabbling prostitutes who asked Solomon to settle a dispute. Noticeably absent in these narratives is any condemnation of their lifestyle. Solomon was in a position to have prostitutes executed, yet he allowed them to practice their trade without government interference.
Genesis 38 illustrates the mindset of ancient Israel. When Judah discovered his daughter-in-law Tamar became pregnant while masquerading as a prostitute, he went ballistic, ready to incinerate the backslider. However, when he received the shocking revelation that he was the father, her life was spared.
Initially, Tamar’s actions as a woman were considered worthy of death, while Judah’s actions as a man were no big deal. Judah was open about his relationships with prostitutes, yet he was simultaneously ready to execute his daughter-in-law for being one. How should we understand this apparent double standard?
Tamar desired a child. This drove her to seduce Judah. Judah declared her more righteous than himself, since he had forfeited an earlier promise to hook her up in marriage with his son Shelah. Tamar bore twins and is in the lineage of Jesus.
To ensure that a Hebrew woman would perpetuate the family line and that the woman’s husband was the child’s true biological father, a woman was expected to be a virgin on her wedding night. Afterwards, she was expected to have sexual relations exclusively with her husband. If she committed adultery, she risked execution.
Some women, however, did not belong to families. Therefore, they might resort to prostitution as a means of survival. Their children were nobody’s heirs, therefore, nobody’s bloodline was adulterated. This is why it was not adultery for a man to have sex with a prostitute.
Judah saw no harm in hiring a prostitute. His wife had recently died and he desired female companionship. Yet he was willing to execute Tamar because he thought she was bearing an illegitimate child. Had she slept with numerous men, the identity of her child’s biological father would have been ambiguous. Tamar’s child would not have been a part of Judah’s family line and the child would thereby not be entitled to receive any inheritance. Perhaps Judah’s concern was to keep his inheritance all in the family. Ironically, Tamar produced legal heirs as a direct result of seducing Judah.
Rahab is also praised (Heb 11:31). Joshua sent two spies to Jericho (Jos 2:1). While there, they lodged at Rahab’s brothel. The Hebrew word used is never translated lodged anywhere else in the Bible. Some margins say this should be translated lay. Although this can mean “to nap,” it is unlikely that anyone would go to a whorehouse to “catch a few winks.” If the spies simply chatted without availing themselves of the services available, they would have stuck out like sore thumbs. Talk about “blowing your cover.” (No pun intended!)
Jesus said prostitutes would enter the Kingdom (Mt 21:31). Now most people add a qualifier. “Yeah, right… if they give up their profession.” Sorry¾Jesus did not say (or imply) ex-prostitutes. He said prostitutes. Period. Employment opportunities for women in Jesus’ day were severely limited. An ex-prostitute would have found it very difficult to survive.

Fornication as cult prostitution
Although the Bible tolerated prostitution in general, it strongly condemned cult prostitution as idolatrous fornication. Prostitution is used as a metaphor for idolatry in Hosea 4:12-14. Prostitution and idolatry are used interchangeably throughout the fourth chapter of Hosea. Paul expressed the command against fornication (“Flee fornication.”-1Co 6:18, KJV) and the command against idolatry (“Flee from idolatry.”-1Co 10:14, KJV) in the same way.
In pagan cultures, fornication and idolatry went hand in hand. Having sex with a cult prostitute was a way of worshipping one’s favorite god or goddess. Cult prostitutes were common in Old Testament Canaan and New Testament Corinth. The Canaanites orchestrated elaborate orgies as an act of worship, hoping to hoodwink Baal into fertilizing their crops and cattle.
The First Commandment forbids the worship of any gods other than Yahweh. In Old Testament times, the Canaanites worshipped Baal and Asherah. Venus (Aphrodite) was the principal deity of Corinth in the New Testament. It is within this context that Paul’s statement to flee fornication must be evaluated (1Co 6:18, KJV). A text without a context is a pretext.
Corinth was famous for prostitution. The Temple of Venus was the most magnificent building in the city. The temple employed a thousand prostitutes financed with public funds. Many early converts to Christianity continued their old practices, which included going up to the temple and engaging in orgies dedicated to the worship of Venus. They saw nothing wrong with this. Paul, however, warned them to flee fornication.
Many have taken Paul’s warning out of context. The words “flee fornication” have been widely misappropriated, battering potential transgressors like a ministerial billy club.
Meanwhile, Christendom seems oblivious to what fornication meant in biblical times. One church was so strict that if a member kissed his date, she was indoctrinated to slap the fornicator and run with haste, screaming all the way. This was their idea of “fleeing fornication.” Talk about striking out before even getting to the plate.
This would have seemed ludicrous to the Bible writers, who¾on at least five occasions¾urged Christians to greet each other with a kiss (Ro 16:16; 1Co 16:20; 2Co 13:12; 1Th 5:26; 1Pe 5:14).
Contrast ancient Corinth with a modern date. In Corinth, fornicators had sex with temple prostitutes¾not only for gratification, but also as a means of worshipping Venus (which is idolatry). Why did Paul condemn this? The rationale is clear¾Christians are members of the body of Christ (1Co 6:15-20). Paul uses Genesis 2:24 to demonstrate that sex unites a man and woman as one entity. A Christian should not join a member of Christ’s body to a prostitute (1Co 6:15). The body of a believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit (v. 19). A Corinthian prostitute regarded her body as a temple of Venus.
Temple prostitution often involved child sacrifices. King Ahaz sacrificed his sons to Baal (2Ch 28:1–3).
Christians should not frequent cult prostitutes because it unites something good with something evil. For a good God-fearing Heaven-bound Christ-worshipper to sexually unite with an evil and unrepentant Hell-bent idol-worshipper makes about as much sense as welding a commode onto the back of your BMW. Nevertheless, this should not be taken as a carte blanche condemnation of prostitution because it is possible for a prostitute to practice her profession ethically and still enter the Kingdom.
Righteousness and wickedness have nothing in common. Light has no fellowship with darkness. There is no harmony between Christ and the Devil (2Co 6:14-18). Although Venus was probably just a fictitious goddess with no basis in reality, the Bible does seem to indicate that there are demonic forces behind the worship of pagan gods and goddesses. A Christian should never engage in any activity, sexual or otherwise, that unites good with evil.
Yet Scripture continually admonishes Christians to live in unity, fellowship and harmony. The difference between engaging in an idolatrous orgy and giving a Christian date a smooch is like day and night.

What is fornication?
“Fornication” does not mean the same thing it did in Paul’s day.
To illustrate how much confusion surrounds this one word, according to the 1959 edition of The American College Dictionary, fornication is “voluntary sexual intercourse on the part of an unmarried person with a person of the opposite sex.”
In 1995, Webster’s Dictionary defined fornication as “consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other.”
So, the first definition limits fornication to heterosexual intercourse where at least one party is single, while the second definition includes sex between married people who are not married to each other, as well as acts of homosexuality. That’s quite a change in a mere thirty-six years. If Webster’s 1995 definition is accurate, one has to wonder why the Seventh Commandment doesn’t read “You shall not commit fornication.”
Imagine the change that may have occurred over the past two thousand years as different cultures translate this word into different languages.
Bible translators are also scratching their heads over how to define this elusive word. Fornication comes from the Greek word porneia. Although the King James Version consistently translates porneia as fornication, other versions translate porneia as marital unfaithfulness, unchastity, sexual immorality, or just immorality.
That’s playing it safe, but it still doesn’t tell us what fornication is, or why it is wrong. Some claim there is no distinction between adultery and fornication. But if that’s the case, why have two different words? And why do Galatians 5:19, Mark 7:21, and Matthew 15:19 use both words¾adultery and fornication¾in the same sentence?
The literal meaning of porneia is prostitution. The Greek word for prostitute is porne, which is where the word pornography comes from. The word pornography simply means a story about a prostitute. According to this definition, the Disney film Pretty Woman is pornographic.
The Hebrew word for fornication is zenut. In the Old Testament, fornication is often used to refer to Hebrew idolatry and Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. This is especially true in the book of Ezekiel.
In Revelation, Babylon is called “the great whore” (19:2), and “the mother of harlots” (17:5), with whom “the kings of the earth have committed fornication” (17:2).
Some complain that fornication and prostitution are not the same thing. This is because there are a few instances in the Bible where fornication does not refer specifically to prostitution. Bestiality, rape, homosexuality, premarital sex, and incest are also referred to as fornication.
Incest was not a sin until after Moses. Prior to the Law, it was common for relatives to intermarry. Abraham and Sarah had the same father (Ge 20:12). Isaac married his cousin (Ge 22:20-23). Apparently, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve intermarried.
Perhaps the problem lies not so much in how to define “fornication” as it is in how to define “prostitute.”

What is a prostitute?
According to The American Heritage Dictionary, a prostitute is “One who solicits and accepts payment for sexual intercourse.”

Today’s use of the word prostitute
Although the aforementioned dictionary definition of prostitute is technically accurate, the word can have a much broader usage. A woman who sleeps around is sometimes referred to as a prostitute, even though she may be giving it away.
Is a stripper a prostitute? Although some strippers do hook on the side, many, probably most, do not. And yet they use sex indirectly to earn a living. Some strippers earn more than most prostitutes. Or so I’m told.
Are massage parlor employees prostitutes? Some of them make an obscene amount of money. Or so I’m told. Although many of these ladies will go all the way¾for the right price¾ many will not.
And what about those who earn their living as phone sex operators? Or those who pose nude for men’s magazines?
Or, what about a wife who uses sex as a bargaining tool? God only knows how many husbands have been whipped like puppies by a materialistic, manipulative wife who just has to have a new dress. Although she is not technically a prostitute, in one sense, she is the worst kind of prostitute there is.

The biblical use of the word prostitute
In biblical times, a woman was expected to be a virgin on her wedding night. Few men would have married a non-virgin unless she was widowed. Since single women who had lost their virginity were damaged goods with little or no opportunity for either employment or marriage, many of these women probably resorted to prostitution. Therefore, it’s logical that such women may have been stereotyped as prostitutes or fornicators. Perhaps this is why the Bible sometimes refers to sex prior to marriage as fornication.
As for homosexuality and bestiality, these activities were often used in pagan cultures to commune with a pagan god or goddess. And since the main thing the Bible condemns about cult prostitution is its use in idolatrous worship, it makes sense that the Bible would use the word fornication to refer to these activities.

Slang references to prostitution
We also use slang references to prostitution to condemn dishonest activity. Getting “screwed” means “getting ripped-off.” Immoral people are often referred to as prostitutes, even though their actions may have nothing to do with sex.
These slang terms have probably come into vogue because of the immoral consequences associated with prostitution. Prostitutes are notorious for ripping off their Johns, although vice versa is true. Add to that the use of drugs and the spread of STDs. These are just a few of the dangers involved in street hustling. Yet many of these problems would be minimized if prostitution were made legal.

Sexual slavery
Slavery was a form of prostitution for many women in biblical times. Slaves were traded freely and became the property of their owners. Their offspring had nothing to inherit, so it wasn’t important who a slave child’s biological father was.
According to Mosaic Law, if a male slave served his owner for seven years and agreed to be set free, the slave was required to leave his children and their mother behind. They were the property of his master (Ex 21:4). Therefore, laws regulating Israelite marriages did not apply to their slaves. Considering that the Jews were slaves in Egypt and didn’t receive the Ten Commandments until they came out of slavery, one has to wonder if there was a such thing as adultery among slaves who were traded back and forth like sports cards.
If a man slept with another man’s slave girl, it was a minor offense. The offender offered a ram and Voila¢¾his sin was forgiven (Lev 19:20). Had she been another man’s wife, the two could have been executed.
Female slaves were often used as sex tools by the Jews. Besides being useful for menial labor, slaves were an economic asset valuable for breeding. It was a common requirement for a slave woman to share her sexual favors with her master and his sons. This satisfied the master’s sexual appetite while increasing the family’s wealth.
According to Louis Epstein, although it was a minor offense to have sex with another man’s slave, the same action was customary if the slave owner gave him permission. One was stealing, the other was graciously accepting an act of hospitality. Men had a right to share what was theirs.1
Moving to the New Testament, there were six million slaves in the Roman Empire alone. Considering that many of the early Christians were slaves, one might wonder how they were expected to conduct their sexual lives. Hypothetically, let’s say that an early female Christian slave was having sexual relations with her master, her master’s sons, and her master’s neighbors. Such a hypothetical situation was not only possible, it was probable. Would Paul expect this Christian slave woman to defy her master by refusing to commit adultery and/or fornication?
First, this would have been considered neither an act of adultery, nor an act of fornication. Rather, to withhold her sexual obligations would have been considered robbing her master of what was rightfully his.
What advice did Paul give? Slaves were instructed to serve their earthly masters wholeheartedly (Eph 6:5-8).
Peter says the same thing (1Pe 2:18). Peter instructed slaves to submit to their masters, even if their masters were bad, even if that submission caused unjust suffering. Although sexual matters are not specifically addressed here, this must have been a concern. Nowhere do Peter or Paul tell slaves to refuse conjugal duties with their masters. This would have been their obligation, and an act of submission to Christ.
Considering the nature of slavery, an infinite number of hypothetical situations must have arisen. Put yourself in Paul’s position, giving advice to these slaves. What if a male slave had just been given his freedom, but was required to leave his children and their mother with his former master? Can he remarry? Or must he spend the remainder of his life celibate? The answer should be obvious.
Next scenario¾a slave woman has recently been traded. Naturally, her new owner expects her to breed with him and satisfy him sexually. This was why he purchased her. Scripture indicates that both Peter and Paul would advise her to obey her master and give him his conjugal duties (Eph 6:5-8, 1Pe 2:18-21).
What advice would you give to a modern-day prostitute who wants to be a Christian? For the sake of argument, let’s say she lives in a part of the world where prostitution is legal. Also for the sake of the argument, let’s say she practices safe sex, like the legal prostitutes in Nevada. The workers there are very clean, and seldom if ever contract a venereal disease. For a legal prostitute in Nevada to not practice safe sex would be risking unemployment. The same is now true for today’s porn stars. (This is not to say porn stars always or even usually wear condoms during a sex scene. But before they can do a shoot, they must now be checked at a clinic for STDs.) Isn’t it ironic that there is probably less risk in having sex with a legal prostitute or a porn star than with one’s own mate? But I digress.
So let’s say this prostitute loves her job and makes a good living. She recently heard the gospel and now wants a personal relationship with Jesus. Is that possible? Or must she first quit her job?
What advise would Jesus give?
The Bible doesn’t address this issue. However, being an unemployed ex-prostitute in Jesus’ day would have been hazardous to one’s economic health.
Is it possible to be a Christian prostitute? Jesus warned the religious hypocrites of His day, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes (not ex-prostitutes) are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you” (Mt 21:31).
There’s a huge difference between cult prostitution, which involves the idolatrous worship of a pagan god, and secular prostitution, which may involve a woman struggling to make ends meet. I’d rather be sided with Rahab and Tamar than the scribes and Pharisees.
In a perfect world, prostitution would not exist. But this is not a perfect world. We are fallen creatures in a fallen universe. And many of God’s instructions were given to guide us through the maze until Paradise is restored.

Speaking of sex for sale, consider this parallel between the bottled water industry and the porn industry. We blithely pay a dollar or more for a gallon of bottled water. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?
In a perfect world, everyone would have pure water¾free! How ironic! We’re willing to have someone filter our dirty water¾something which should be clean and free¾then pay them to sell it back to us at a premium price.
Who’s the culprit¾the customer? No, he’s got a legitimate need.
What about the store¾is the store the bad guy? No, the store simply supplies a needed product.
Is the bottled water company to blame? Of course not. Who can blame a company for selling a legitimate product for an honest price?
So who is to blame? Obviously, it’s the scoundrel polluting our water! He’s the one creating the market. If there were plenty of free, pure water, bottled water companies wouldn’t have anybody to sell to.
The same is true of the porn industry. The devil in disguise is that halloed, finger-wagging crusader who pollutes our minds with the propaganda that sex is evil. And many of the publishers of pornography aren’t helping things either, as they describe the sexual acts they promote as dirty, filthy, and naughty. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Isa 5:20). Sure, the abuse of sex is evil¾so is the abuse of Bon Bons.
It’s extremists like Reverend Falwell who keep the Larry Flynts of the world rolling in dough.[2] For centuries, too many misguided Christians have been imposing their false legalistic rules of sexual suppression on a weary public. That’s why Hustler and Playboy have such a hot market. What should be freely available is condemned as a menace to society.
God only knows how many call girls have lined their pockets because somewhere in Christendom, a nice girl was naively “saving herself” for marriage. Granted, this was important in biblical times¾women married much younger and contraceptives had not yet been invented. But times have changed.

Does the Bible condemn homosexuality?
One of the most controversial issues of modern times is whether the Bible condemns or condones homosexuality. Trying to keep an open mind on this issue, I’ve read quite a bit from both sides of the fence. Unfortunately, neither side has been very persuasive. Therefore, I’m still sitting on the fence.
As a heterosexual male, it is hard for me to comprehend how any man could be sexually attracted to another man and have no desire for women. On the other hand, two women making love is one of the most beautifully erotic things I’ve ever seen. And I know a lot of men agree. Romans 1:26 is the only verse in the Bible that seems to frown on lesbian love, and it’s not quite clear whether it is a negative assessment of lesbianism per se, or a condemnation of cult prostitution. One has to wonder about the thousand wives of Solomon. Even if Solomon had sex with a different woman every day, it would have taken almost three years to get back to the beginning of the rotation. What did these women do in the interim to satisfy themselves?
Certainly any behavior that puts someone at risk of acquiring AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases should be condemned. But the odds of acquiring a disease, if quality condoms are used properly and consistently, is almost zero. And there is still debate among experts as to the cause of AIDS. (See the chapter on safe sex.)
For those who maintain that the Bible condemns homosexuality, it is true that the Bible says nothing positive about it. However, there are only six biblical passages on same-sex relations, three in the Old Testament and three in the New. And it’s debatable whether any of them can be used as an absolute condemnation of homosexuality per se.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 only seems to be condemning homosexual rape and a lack of hospitality. It says nothing about a loving committed relationship between two consenting adults. The Holiness Code in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 condemn a man having sex with another man, but it also condemns wearing clothing woven of two kinds of material (19:19) and priests shaving their beards (21:5). In a time when it was important for Israel to be fruitful and multiply, men having sex with other men would have been a threat to the survival of the nation.
Scholars are presently debating whether the New Testament passages found in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, and 1 Timothy 1 condemn homosexuality per se, homosexual cult prostitution, or pederasty (an older man having sex with a young boy).
Meanwhile, there presently seems to be little evidence that gays are “born that way.” Even most gays don’t believe that. And there are enough ex-gays that have changed that the excuse “I just can’t help it” no longer seems valid. Of course, even if gays are not born that way, and even if gays can and do change, this has no bearing whatsoever on whether homosexuality per se is a sin. Even if homosexuality is a sin, Christians need to be patient and loving towards homosexuals because everybody is a sinner of some sort. What is needed now is meaningful dialogue between both sides. I realize this is an emotional issue, but shouting matches seldom accomplish anything productive.

What does the Bible “REALLY” say about prostitution, fornication, pornography, and homosexuality?
Although the world’s oldest profession has never been among the Bible’s “Top Ten Career Choices,” neither was it totally outlawed in ancient Israel. Proverbs warns foolish men to avoid loose women. Although prostitutes are notorious for ripping off their Johns, rip-offs occur in all types of transactions. An honest prostitute can enter the Kingdom. Unlike Jumbo Shrimp, Christian Prostitute is not necessarily an oxymoron.
The Bible says nothing positive about homosexuality, but the few passages that seem to condemn it may or may not relate to consensual loving relationships.
Prostitution and pornography are symptomatic of a fallen humanity. A distinction needs to be drawn between cult prostitution (fornication) and other forms of prostitution. The former uses sex as the idolatrous worship of a pagan goddess, while the latter uses sex as a means of putting bread on the table.
A much greater condemnation is given to religious hypocrisy. Let’s pray that our minds can be cleansed with truth. The last thing we need is another misinformed evangelist sending us on a sexual guilt trip. Legalism only detours us by going beyond the parameters God has set forth in His Direction Manual. Sexual repression has done more to prostitute our minds than all the prostitutes put together. Let’s pray for sexual healing. Otherwise we’re really getting screwed!

[1] Epstein, Louis M. Sex Laws and Customs in Judaism. New York, NY: KTAV Publishing House, 1967 (reprint).
[2] I respect Reverend Falwell. I do not question his sincerity. I just disagree with many of his positions on sexual morality.

Back Cover

What the Bible
“REALLY” says about…SEX

WHAT THE BIBLE “REALLY” SAYS ABOUT SEX, and what many people think the Bible says about sex are two different things. Although the Bible clearly condemns immoral sexual behavior, to go beyond what the Bible clearly teaches is legalism. Words like “adultery,” “fornication,” and “lust” do not mean the same things today that they meant in biblical times. We’ve also lost sight of the reasons behind the rules.

WHAT THE BIBLE “REALLY” SAYS ABOUT SEX makes a compelling biblical case for “RESPONSIBLE NON-MONOGAMY,” also known as “polyamory.” It also grapples with other difficult ethical questions concerning nudity, prostitution, fornication, pornography, homosexuality, situation ethics, polygamy, the sin of Adam and Eve, procreation, marriage, safe sex, love, sex after the resurrection, and family values. TOM GRUBER gets to the crux of the matter with laser-sharp clarity. Gruber writes in a style that a layman can easily understand, a skeptic cannot easily refute, and a scholar cannot easily dispute. This highly-controversial book is a must-read for all open-minded individuals seeking an accurate understanding of:



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What does the Bible “REALLY” say about sex? Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible does not condemn all intercourse outside of a monogamous marriage. There are numerous Scriptural examples that prove otherwise.
In a perfect world, every man would be deeply and intimately in love with every woman, and vice-versa. Humanity would not be ashamed of the beautiful bodies God created. “Clothing optional” would be a universal way of life.
In a perfect world populated by perfect people in perfect health, there would be no STDs. Death and aging would be a thing of the past.
In a perfect world, women would not be exclusive possessions of jealous husbands.
In a perfect world populated with perfect people living under ideal circumstances, there would not be any logical reason for any and every man not to make passionate love with any and every woman.
“Ah,” you say… “But this is not a perfect world.”
Astute observation, Sherlock. Nevertheless, perfection should be the goal of every Christian. We are commanded to become perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect (Mt 5:48). This verse does not say, “Let’s wait until we all get to Heaven to live a perfect life.” Christians are not “children of this world who marry and are given in marriage.” Christians are citizens of Heaven who have been set free from the bondage of worldly marriage by our eternal husband¾Jesus Christ! Therefore, we should live as if we were in Heaven¾now! We should responsibly love one another with fervency. And depending on a wide variety of factors, that expression could and should include sex.
Jesus summarized the law with, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This mandate stands in sharp contrast to the marital vow of “forsaking all others,” a concept nowhere in Scripture.
How do we determine whether or not it is ethical to have sex with someone? To put everything in a nutshell, we need to ask ourselves one question, “Taking into consideration all the pertinent variables, is having sex with this person in the overall best interests of everyone concerned?” In other words, am I doing unto others as I would have others do unto me? This Golden Rule can be applied to any ethical decision, sexual or non-sexual. If the answer is yes, then to not have sex with that person is a sin of omission. If the answer is no, then having sex under those circumstances would be a sin of commission. Speaking from my own personal experiences, I have more regrets over the sexual opportunities I have failed to take advantage of than the ones I have taken advantage of. I partially blame the legalists for turning me into someone M. I. A. (Missing Intimate Action). I also blame myself for allowing myself to become hoodwinked. Hopefully others will learn from my mistakes.
For our religious leaders to put artificial restrictions that go beyond the teaching of Scripture on the sexual conduct of their followers is sexual legalism. Probably the person the most guilty of this serious offence in the history of Christendom was Saint Augustine, although I would hasten to add that I certainly consider Augustine to be a great Christian teacher and perhaps the greatest of all time. I also consider men like John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, James Dobson, Hank Hanegraaff, and others to be great and faithful teachers of our time. I also find them guilty of spreading false doctrines regarding sexual legalism. Since this matter is non-essential for salvation and because I believe they are sincere in their errors, I believe God will be very merciful towards them if they repent. But I am reluctantly pessimistic that they will change their errors even after this book has taken a total wrecking ball to their legalistic edifice. I hope and pray they will prove me wrong.
I believe I’ve made a compelling case for responsible non-monogamy. Of course, you’ll have to be the final judge of that. If your verdict agrees with my conclusions, then isn’t it about time you practiced what I’ve preached?
Knowledge without application is of no value. “Do not merely listen to the word, do what it says” (Jas 1:22). God knows we’ve been enslaved by sexual legalism for far too long.
Now is the time to put the power of love into practice. And while you’re at it, why not get this good news (not to be confused with the good news) out to your friends with a copy of this book?
We’ve discovered What the Bible “REALLY” Says About Sex. Now let’s experience the joy that comes from loving one another fervently, as Christ commanded. “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (Jn 13:17).

family values

What the
says about…

Jesus pointed to His disciples and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt 12:49-50).

What the Bible “REALLY” says about FAMILY VALUES, and what many people think the Bible says about family values are two different things.
Peppy slogans proclaim, “We are family!” It’s a fad to refer to fellow Christians as Brother and Sister such and such. But in practice, this hoopla is usually hypocritical rhetoric. If anyone were to really love his neighbor as himself, he’d be ostracized as an enemy of family values. Today’s family has more in common with ancient Judaism that the new model Christ established.
Jesus made a comment that must have confounded His listeners. “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” He then pointed to His disciples and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt 12:46-50). In one fell swoop, Jesus redefined family.
Jesus redefined what it meant to be a member of the family of God on another occasion. Many believed that just because they were physical descendents of Abraham, this automatically made them members of God’s family and entitled them to eternal life. Jesus acknowledged that they were physical descendants of Abraham. But that didn’t give them a free pass into the Kingdom. If they were really descendents of Abraham, they would do the works Abraham did. In fact, Jesus branded them children of the Devil (Jn 8:31-58).
John the Baptist gave a similar denouncement to unrepentant Jews (Mt 3:7-10). After calling them a brood of vipers, John said, “Do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”
Paul identified all believers, Jews and Gentiles, as children of Abraham (Gal 3:7).
Jesus was not advocating that we should deny our responsibilities to our earthly families. To the contrary, Jesus criticized the religious leaders for not following the Old Testament command to honor their parents (Mt 15:1-9). Jesus also provided for His mother’s security (Jn 19:25-27). Nevertheless, Jesus was including all believers as His real family because they would spend eternity with Him in Heaven (Mt 12:49-50).
Christians are often closest to their spiritual family. Walking in Christ’s footsteps can cause tension between Christians and non-Christian family members. Jesus came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies would be members of his household (Mt 10:35-36).
Peter said to Jesus, “We have left all we had to follow you!” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth. No one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life” (Lk 18:29).
Peter said all the disciples gave up everything. Peter gave up being a fisherman to become a fisher of men. The passage indicates that at least some, if not all, of the disciples left their wives and families to follow Christ.
Peter was married prior to this. His wife’s mother is referred to earlier (Lk 4:38). Peter had a wife accompany him on his missionary journeys (1Co 9:4; 1Pe 5:13). Whether this is the same wife referred to in Luke 4:38 is not clear. Some suggest the woman referred to in the later texts was simply a female traveling companion, since the Greek word for wife can also be translated “woman.”
Whatever the case, Jesus said if following Him causes us to loose a wife, we will gain many more wives¾not just in the future, but now.
So, first Jesus said everyone who does the will of God is a member of the family of God. Then Jesus said everyone who has left a wife for the sake of the Kingdom would receive many more in this present age. When we combine these two statements, we can only come to one logical conclusion¾all Christian men become married to all Christian women as a result of following Christ.
Of course, most people allegorize this, just like they do with the church being the bride of Christ. But if our marriage to Jesus is just an allegory, then why does Paul get upset with believers for having sex with prostitutes (1Co 6:15)? Paul described the Corinthians as already joined to Christ. To join one’s self to a prostitute was akin to joining Jesus Himself to that prostitute. How is this possible if our marriage to Jesus is just an allegory? If we are literally married to Jesus, then it is also an incontrovertible fact that we are also literally married to one another. To be married means to be united or joined together. It is impossible to be joined to Jesus without also being joined to all other believers. Although author R.C. Sproul would probably disagree that all Christian men are now married to all Christian women, he would at least concede that we are all united. To quote Sproul:

Every individual who is personally united to Christ is at the same time personally united with every other person who is in Christ.[1]

Paul warned husbands and wives not to deprive each other of conjugal duties (1Co 7:5). Isn’t this a clear instruction for all Christians to provide for each other’s sexual needs?
The early church, filled with the Holy Spirit, had everything in common (Ac 2:44). Although the text doesn’t say so, if they had everything in common, wouldn’t everything include wives? Wives were possessions (Ex 20:17). I’m not trying to imply that the early church shared their wives sexually because to do so would probably have been irresponsible since there were no safe and effective means of birth control or ways of preventing the spread of disease. But what if the early church had had access to condoms? Most scientific studies show that quality condoms are almost 100 percent effective if used properly and consistently. What logical reason could there have possibly been for the early church not to share their wives sexually?
The Bible makes it very clear¾all Christians are one big community of believers. Yes, we are family¾“REALLY!” We’re all brothers and sisters and husbands and wives and fathers and mothers if we’re Christians. Regardless of our bloodline, our spiritual bloodline makes us all part of the universal Christian family if we have all been purchased by the blood of Jesus.
According to Harper’s Bible Dictionary, the “New Testament views of the family are somewhat different from those found in the Old Testament.” “Some of Jesus’ sayings subordinate family loyalty to loyalty to the gospel” (Mt 10:34-39; 12:46-50; Mk 3:31-35; Lk 12:49-53). “The traditional view of family was transformed by seeing the Christian community as a new family” (Gal 6:10; Eph 2:19) (p. 303).
The Bible instructs us to prove all things, which means to put all things to the test. We’re to hold on to the good and reject the bad (1Th 5:21-22). Jesus said good trees don’t bear bad fruit, nor do bad trees bear good fruit (Lk 6:43-44). We can determine whether something is good or bad by evaluating the results. Following this biblical mandate, let’s examine the results (fruits) of those who have pioneered alternative family lifestyles. Let’s see if the results have been good or bad.

The Oneida Community¾
Paradise Restored? Or Sodom revisited?
In the mid-eighteen hundreds, John Noyes founded a revolutionary Christian community that practiced group marriage.
Located in Oneida, New York, the community consisted of approximately 150 members¾one third men, one third women, and one third children. In their own words, they were “sober and substantial men and women, of good previous character and position in society.” [2]
According to their beliefs, none of the men had exclusive ownership to any of the women¾every man was married to every woman.
Naturally, they had rules to make their unconventional lifestyle work. Men were not allowed to force themselves on a woman. “No” always meant no. But any man was allowed to sleep with any woman if she consented.
Historians regard this group as one of the most successful communes in history. Unfortunately, after 30 years of harmonious communal relationships in a Utopian setting, the Oneida members were forced to ban due to external persecution.
Detractors denounced them as heathens. In response to their critics, the community vigorously defended their social theories in their publications. They pointed out that they had “conquered and civilized their sexual passions. Otherwise, they could not have survived and prospered for over 30 years.”[3] Detractors accused them of being licentious. Their response was that if they really were licentious, then why was everybody in the community so happy and healthy?
They cordially welcomed visitors, challenging them to examine their fruit. According to Noyes, their fruit spoke volumes. There was social harmony, congenial business practices, and robust health.
Noyes said that jealousy was virtually nonexistent among the members. This evaluation is fairly consistent with other studies done of similar lifestyles today. The following is a testimonial written by one member:

With a strong natural tendency to idolatrous love, the change, which has taken place in my own heart and in the hearts of my companions, seems miraculous. I used to ask myself: “Is it possible for me to ever realize a condition in which I can love all my brothers and sisters and not love some ONE idolatrously?”[4]

Others confessed they had no inkling how splendid life could be until they shared their lives intimately with a wide variety of Christians. Another member writes:

Our sexual fellowship now is as far removed from any approach to carnality as it had previously been removed from Christ. It is a sacrament to us in which we accumulate spiritual vitality in contradistinction to physical waste. My experience has also been that the theory was utterly impractical without the presence of Christ; that like the gospels its benefits can only be appreciated by believers. But no sooner is Christ introduced into the connection than the entire nature of the transaction becomes so changed that the carnal is completely lost in the spiritual. [5]

Monogamous marriage was viewed as a worldly institution, which binds its victims to “cast-iron rules of sexual selfishness.”

Advantages of group marriage
Let’s consider some advantages of group marriage.
In a group marriage, one interacts in a group that is inclusive rather than exclusive. Every man treats every woman as both friend and lover. No one ever lacks attention, companionship, or sex.
Everyone is concerned that everyone’s needs are met, emotionally and otherwise. The goal is for love to flow freely throughout the group. Whenever this goal is not being met, the group makes a conscious effort to remedy the situation.
One goal is to make sure each relationship is equally important, without preferential treatment.
Although no two relationships will ever be the same, each bond of intimacy is special. Everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses to offer.
There is less pressure on a woman to fulfill all the desires of any given man. There is less possessiveness and idolizing of others.
Some sociologists suggest that a main reason for the escalating divorce rate is that people have unrealistic expectations going into marriage. As those expectations are unmet, the seeds of separation are sown.
The current rate of divorce is alarming. An American marriage has about a fifty/fifty chance of remaining intact. In 1996, 2,344,000 weddings were performed, while 1,150,000 divorces and annulments were filed.[6] In 1997, the US figures improved somewhat, with 2,383,700 marriages and 870,600 divorces.[7] In Britain and Whales, there were 272,536 marriages and 146,689 divorces in 1997.[8]
Ironically, Christians are more likely to experience divorce than are non-Christians.

Surprisingly, the Christian denomination whose adherents have the highest likelihood of getting divorced are Baptists. Nationally, 29% of all Baptist adults have been divorced. The only Christian group to surpass that level are those associated with non-denominational Protestant churches: 34% of those adults have undergone a divorce. Of the nation’s major Christian groups, Catholics and Lutherans have the lowest percentage of divorced individuals (21%). People who attend mainline Protestant churches, overall, experience divorce on par with the national average (25%).

Among non-Christian groups the levels vary. Jews, for instance, are among those most likely to divorce (30% have), while atheists and agnostics are below the norm (21%). Mormons, renowned for their emphasis upon strong families, are no different than the national average (24%).[9]

According to a study reported in USA Today, out of all the married people surveyed, 23% of men and 12% of women admitted to an affair.[10] These figures are probably very conservative since some participants were most likely reluctant to admit to an affair.
In group marriage, participants are honest about their desires.
Shared parenting is another big advantage of group marriage. With numerous adults around, children have more role models, and more love. Adults have less burnout. The children do not lose the care and attention of their biological parents. Rather, they gain the care and attention of numerous adults. If a biological parent dies or becomes disabled, there are other adults to fill the gap. Widows and widowers are less likely to be traumatized by the loss of a mate because they have plenty of other mates to meet their needs.
There have been several extensive studies conducted to analyze the psychological effects of group marriage on children. These include studies by Hunt, Constantine and Constantine, and Salsberg. A variety of clinical and field research techniques, including psychological testing, were employed in these studies to assess the outcome. In a comprehensive review and summary of seven separate studies involving more than 150 communal and group-marriage families, a remarkably clear and consistent picture emerged. Contrary to the negative predictions of alarmists, almost all these children experienced a positive outcome. They were happy and positive, with healthy self-images. They were self-reliant yet cooperative. They displayed more competence than competitiveness. And they were friendly and energetic, brimming with self-confidence. Any fears concerning resultant major emotional damage can be laid to rest.
There are many economic advantages to group marriage. Sharing resources, such as food, housing, transportation, and appliances can be extremely advantageous for those who are willing to share in a group setting. Dividing tasks can make work fun and easy. These benefits were commonly reported at Oneida. A small group of loving and well-coordinated partners divided up tasks that could have overwhelmed one or two people. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says that two are better than one. And verse 12 says that a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. The biblical principle of “strength in numbers” definitely described the Oneida group.

A modern-day lesson from Kerista
In more recent times, we can learn from both the successes and shortcomings of a modern-day commune known as Kerista (1971-1991).
Michael S. Cummings, a self-described conscientious communal scholar, studied the Keristas, a communal group in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. In 1980, the group was featured in Psychology Today and members were guests on the Phil Donahue Show. It was hailed as an exciting, fluctuating, urban, group-marriage community. In the beginning of 1992, the group voted unanimously to disband.
On a positive note, their lifestyle seemed to be working. They maintained sleeping rotations, members expressed sexual satisfaction with the system, and Cummings and his crew sensed little jealousy. Cummings noted that friendships seemed strong among long-time members.
Moreover, Cummings observed that… “…the regularity and variety of sexual activity seemed to have resulted in a high level of personal gratification and freedom from sexual tension without undermining the necessary work ethic.” (p. 69)
So what went wrong? The group expelled their leader Jud for becoming too negative and too controlling. In July 1992, Cummings visited some of the ex-members, who became a new ten-person polyfidelitous commune relocated in Hawaii. According to one member, they had weathered Kerista’s demise “without missing a single sleeping rotation.” The members all seemed optimistic about their future as polyfidelitous lovers.[11] So the downfall of Kerista should not be seen as a failure of group marriage and sexual sharing, but rather as a caution light warning us against cults. Many ex-members described life dominated by Jud as cult-like, while affirming that their sleeping rotation was a success.

Principles to making group marriage work
To make group marriages work, a few biblical principles need to be employed. One of those principles is found in Exodus 21:10. In ancient Israel, if a man took a second wife, he was not to deprive his first wife of food, clothing, or sexual rights. The better a man’s primary relationship is, the better the odds that adding to that primary relationship will be a rewarding experience. However, if a primary relationship is on the skids, then group marriage is probably not the best solution.
Since Christians should have a reputation for honesty, they must not forsake their vows¾marital or otherwise. It is dishonest and detrimental to a marriage to withhold sex from a spouse while having a secret affair. However, marital vows need not be set in stone. As long as couples provide for each other’s sexual needs while engaging in consensual sex with others, there is no cheating. If I pay my rent on time, I am not cheating on my landlord by spending other money elsewhere. Marital agreements can be renegotiated to adapt to changing circumstances, just like other agreements.
Before admitting anyone new into a group marriage situation, all new applicants should be required to get a check-up to prevent any sexually transmitted diseases from infesting the group. Consistent and proper use of quality condoms should also be a consideration.
Can casual sex be ethical?
What if a single person doesn’t want the entanglements of marriage, conventional or otherwise? Is it permissible for that person to enjoy casual sex? According to Paul, single people have a better opportunity to devote more time to godly pursuits, while a married person has more distractions (1Co 7:32-35). Regarding sexual matters, Paul said, “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial” (1Co 6:12). So, whenever we encounter a sexual situation, the very first question we must always ask is whether or not this experience will be beneficial for everyone concerned. A Christian must never engage in any action, sexual or otherwise, which does not take into consideration the welfare of all parties involved. This applies to couples not looking for secondary relationships who simply enjoy sex with a variety of partners.

Another variety of non-monogamy is swinging, referred to by insiders as “The Lifestyle.” Swinging has been defined by some as “recreational sex for couples where the two primary partners agree to casual sex with other couples as long as there is no emotional involvement.” Some claim that polyamory is different from swinging because polyamory includes emotional involvement along with the sex. However, some swingers do get emotionally involved with other swingers. Also, those involved in polyamory do not always get emotionally involved with their secondary sex partner.
Family expert Brian Gilmartin studied 100 swingers and found that swingers seldom experience jealousy when their mates were having sex with someone else.[12] He also found that not only do swingers have more sex than non-swingers (no surprise there), but they also have more sex and better sex with their mates than non-swingers. Of those surveyed, twenty-three percent of swingers had sex an average of six or more times per week, while only six percent of the non-swingers surveyed had an equal amount of sex. Thirty-two percent of swingers and only fourteen percent of non-swingers had sex 4 to 5 times per week. Conversely, only 11% of swingers as compared to 48% of non-swingers had sex once or less a week. Swingers were also more likely to describe their marriages as “very happy.”[13]
Proponents of swinging, such as The Liberated Christians, claim that the divorce rate among swingers is dramatically lower than among non-swingers.[14] It will probably come as a surprise to many that several studies have found that swinging often has positive effects on the marriages of swingers. For example, Gilmartin (1974, 1975) found that approximately 85% of his sample of swingers felt that swinging posed no real threat to their marriages. The majority felt that their marriages had improved.[15]
In 1974, Varni interviewed 16 couples who were actively in swinging and found that half believed that swinging led to an increased feeling of warmth, closeness, and love between the husband and wife. This feeling was reported to be strongest after swinging with someone else.[16] In 1988, Levitt found that almost three-fourths indicated that swinging had a positive influence on their marriages; only 6.2% indicated a negative impact.[17] Similar results have been found by Bartell (1971),[18] Smith and Smith (1970),[19] and Palson and Palson (1972).[20]
Finally, Jenks (1986) found no reason to believe that swinging was particularly detrimental to marriage. Over 91% of the men and 82% of the ladies indicated that they were happy with swinging. Less than1% of the ladies were displeased with swinging; no males expressed any unhappiness. And, when an analysis was done comparing their perception of their relations, both sexual and non-sexual, before and after swinging, it was found that the majority expressed either no change or an improvement.[21]
So although a small minority of swingers drop out of the lifestyle because they experience negative effects such their inability to control their jealousy, the vast majority of swingers are happy with the results. Perhaps Thio said it best:

We may conclude that swinging is like a two-edged sword – it may swing in the direction of positive consequences or in the opposite direction of negative consequences. The nature of the consequences depends more on the individual who uses the sword than on the sword itself.[22]

So what does the Bible “REALLY” say about family values? Jesus redefined the family. Our eternal family includes everyone who does the will of God.
All Christians are heirs with Abraham and members of the body of Christ. The church is also the bride of Christ¾not just allegorically, but literally. Since the church is literally married to Christ, then all Christians are also married to all other Christians. Since Christians are married to each other, Christians are entitled to have their sexual needs met by other Christians (1Co 7:5). The Oneida community pioneered the way, proving once and for all that group marriage among Christians can work. The ultimate goal of Christianity is to love our neighbors as ourselves. Group marriage certainly approaches this more closely than monogamy, which advocates forsaking our love for all but one person. Group marriage is a more accurate reflection of God’s infinite love.
Can Christendom recognize itself as one family? We’re living in a sexually exclusive culture that glorifies jealous possessiveness and regards monogamy as the ultimate building block of society. I beg to differ. So did Jesus. We need to eliminate unwarranted jealousy and possessiveness. Society discourages us from becoming one family by erecting a barbed-wire fence around the nuclear family. Intruders beware¾No Trespassing is tolerated.
Sharing something precious is usually awkward at first, especially when we’re talking about a spouse and/ or lover. Nevertheless, jealousy can transform itself into ecstasy once we let go of our ego and stop viewing people as property. Group marriage participants have discovered that jealousy becomes less of a problem as individuals mature. Once we recognize God as the real owner of everything, possessiveness becomes less and less of a problem.
God’s ultimate desire is for all of us to be just like Him, sharing our love on an inclusive basis. Then everyone everywhere can grow and develop as a complete human being. Our joy will know no boundaries.
There are many valuable lessons to be learned from group marriage¾lessons about loving ourselves, lessons about tolerance for others, and lessons about communicating deeply from the heart. These lessons can help us develop and mature, both emotionally and spiritually. Once we learn our lessons, our human family will have learned the meaning of infinite love¾and the joy that comes with it!

[1] Sproul, R.C. Getting the Gospel Right. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999, p. 23b.
[2] Oneida Association and its branches. Bible Communism: A Compilation from the Annual Reports and other publications. Brooklyn, NY: Printed and Published at the Office of the Circular, 1853, p. 22.
[3]Oneida Association and its branches. Second Annual Report. Brooklyn, NY: Printed and Published at the Office of the Circular, 1850, p. 20.
[4]Oneida Association and its branches. Oneida Circular. Brooklyn, NY: Printed and Published at the Office of the Circular, June 3, 1872, p. 179.
[5] Oneida Association and its branches. Oneida Circular. Brooklyn, NY: Printed and Published at the Office of the Circular, February 5, 1866, p. 374.
[6] Statistical Abstract of the United States 1998. (118th Edition) Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census, 1998, p. 111.
[7] Statistical Abstract of the United States, The National Data Book. (119th Edition) Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census, 1999, p. 113.
[8] The Office for National Statistics. .
[9] ¾Christians Are More Likely to Experience Divorce Than Are Non-Christians. The Barna Update. December 21, 1999.
[10] Wiederman, Michael W. “Extramarital Affairs: An Exaggerated Myth.” USA Today Magazine, July 1999, Vol. 128, Issue 2650, Section: LIFE IN AMERICA, p. 74.
[11] Michael S. Cummings is Chairman of the Political Science Department at the University of Colorado, an active member of the Communal Studies Association specializing in research concerning contemporary communities, and the owner of a long-time group house in Denver. Mike is coeditor of Utopian Studies III . His conclusions on the Keristas and another group, Sunrise Ranch, are the topic of an article A Tale of Two Communes: A Scholar and His Errors, which appeared in the 1995 Edition of Communities Directory: A Guide to Cooperative Living (published by Fellowship for Intentional Community, Langley, Washington).
[12] Pines, Ayala Malach. Romantic Jealousy. New York, NY and London: St. Martin’s Press, 1998, p. 144.
[13] Ibid, p. 147.
[14] Liberated Christians, PO Box 32835, Phoenix, AZ 85064-2835. Voicemail: (602) 955-0711.
[15] Gilmartin, B.G. Sexual deviance and social networks: A study of social, family, and marital interaction patterns among co-marital sex participants. 1974. Also see Gilmartin, B.G. “That swinging couple down the block.” Psychology Today. 8: 1975, pp. 54-58.
[16] Varni, C.A. “An exploratory study of spouse swapping.” In Smith, J.R., and Smith, L.G. (eds.), Beyond Monogamy: Recent Studies on Sexual Alternatives in Marriage. John Hopkins Press: Baltimore, 1974.
[17] Levitt E.E. Alternative life style and marital satisfaction: A brief report. Ann.s Sex Res. 1: 1988, pp. 455-461.
[18] Bartell, G.D. Group Sex. Wyden: NewYork, NY, 1971.
[19] Smith, J.R., & Smith, L.G. Co-marital sex and the sexual freedom movement. J. Sex Res. 6: 1970, pp. 131-142.
[20] Palson, C., and Palson, R. Swinging in wedlock. Society 9: 1972, pp. 28-37.
[21] Jenks, R. A further analysis of swinging. Unpublished manuscript. 1986.
[22] Thio, A. Deviant Behavior. (3rd edition) Harper-Collins: New York, NY, 1988, p. 270.


What the
says about…
sEX after the resurrection

And Jesus answering said unto them, “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Lk 20:34-36).

What the Bible “REALLY” says about sEX after the resurrection, and what many people think the Bible says after the resurrection are two different things.
Tragically, most envision the future paradise as a sex-free environment¾an endless eternity of sexual self-denial. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s not a shred of evidence to support this negative assessment. In fact, since sex is a good thing created by God, then the burden of proof should fall upon those who make such outlandish allegations.
Let’s discover the origin of this pessimistic predilection, and then consider the ramifications. As the late theologian Richard Weaver profoundly remarked, “Ideas have consequences.” Nothing illustrates this better than an experience I had as a teenager.
I was taking a bike ride with Richard, a boyhood chum, as our topic of conversation turned to theology. Richard made a disturbing comment¾one I’ll never forget.
“I sure hope I go to Hell when I die,” he remarked.
What a horrible thing to say! I couldn’t fathom how anyone could prefer a future of eternal damnation to an eternity of heavenly bliss.
My curiosity was peaked, so I went fishing for an explanation. Richard put it like this: His propensity for Satan’s dominion developed from childhood recollections of a sermon describing sex and Heaven as mutually exclusive. The crux of the message was, sex is something Christians will give up forever once they gain entrance into the Pearly Gates. As far as Richard was concerned, Heaven without sex was the worst form of Hell imaginable.
I identified with Richard, though I couldn’t have disagreed more. Although I was a Bible illiterate at the time, I was confident that Richard was sadly mistaken.
Yet, what if he was right? What if the Bible really did proclaim a cessation of sensual delights in the Heavenly Realm? I had to admit that a sex-free Heaven seemed pretty dull. I knew deep in my heart of hearts, this had to be a gross misrepresentation of what the Bible really says, although I could not prove it at the time.
I put the matter on the back burner for years. Then one fateful day, the monster returned to haunt me. Only this time, it was my clergyman espousing eternal celibacy.
I couldn’t believe my ears. At first, I paid homage to my pastor’s indictment, though rather reluctantly. After all, he’s the expert. Why, he even graduated from seminary.
As months became years, I questioned everything. How could someone whom I regarded as a paragon of biblical discernment reach this verdict? Why would a loving God invent something as fantastic as sex, and then flip-flop by mandating abstinence? This didn’t add up.
I interrogated clergyman after clergyman, hoping for an optimistic second opinion. No dice. Seventy times seven second opinions later, everyone was still parroting their predecessor. It was like dejavu from a Twilight Zone episode. All of this redundant dogmatic insistence that sex is taboo beyond the Pearly Gates became exasperating. But the real head-scratcher was¾ why would anyone want to believe such a horrid notion in the first place? My annoyance escalated. I resolved to stop the insanity and prove the matter once and for all.
Hitting rock bottom, I began to identify with a cartoon character. A man died and went to Heaven. Perusing the surroundings, he couldn’t help but notice a large neon sign which read, “Welcome to Heaven¾a Sex-Free Environment.” A sheepish expression of downtrodden disappointment noticeably permeated the countenance of Heaven’s new arrival. He timidly approached Saint Pete and made an unusual request. “Uh, I was just wondering…” the man stammered, “…is there any possibility of me getting a one-way ticket to Hell instead?”
Doesn’t it make sense that if Satan wanted to discourage us from going to Heaven, this would be a very effective lie?
So what about it? Does the Bible really say there is no sex beyond the pearly gates?
The good news is there’s not one text from Genesis to Revelation ruling out post-resurrection coitus. The bad news is, there’s also not a text stating explicitly that there will be sex after the resurrection either. Yet, using deductive reasoning, we can reach a relatively safe determination. There are logical reasons to anticipate the future paradise as a place of intimate pleasures beyond our wildest imaginations. After all, everything else in paradise is going to get better¾why should sex be the exception?
To give credit where it is due, I was somewhat pleased with Billy Graham’s comment on Larry King Live. When asked by Larry¾ “What will Paradise be like?”¾Graham responded with, “…everything that you ever wanted for happiness will be there. People say that the Bible teaches there’s no sex in Heaven. If sex is necessary for our happiness and fulfillment, it’ll be there.” [1] At least Dr. Graham was willing to acknowledge the possibility of sex after the resurrection.
Although I would not agree that sex is absolutely essential for happiness and fulfillment, it seems illogical for God to create something as wonderful as sex and then turn us all into eunuchs unable to enjoy that wonderful blessing for all eternity. Although I’ve since found a few ministers who agree with Dr. Graham’s position, those who valiantly defend the possibility of post-resurrection coitus seem to be among a dwindling minority.
Why do most Christians subscribe to a sexless eternity? Part of the problem is a misreading of Luke 20:35. Jesus said, “There is no marriage and giving in marriage in the resurrection.” Notice… He didn’t even mention sex. Jesus said marriage would cease¾not sex.
Stanley J. Grenz describes the eternal state as a community of male and female. Grenz makes a strong case for the continuity of humanity as sexual creatures. According to Grenz:
Often the vision of the final reign of God pictures a nonmaterial, sexless world. Proponents of such a vision appeal to Jesus’ response to the Sadducees, in which the Lord declares that in the kingdom era people will not marry, but will be like the angels (Matt. 22:30). Yet it is instructive to note that Jesus’ statement does not declare that in the reign of God people will no longer be sexual creatures. On the contrary, … both Jesus’ own resurrection and the doctrine of the resurrection in general indicate that human sexual distinctions (albeit in a transformed manner) are taken into existence in the community of God.
In that community, we remain embodied, albeit people whose embodied existence has been transformed through the resurrection. Because sexuality is a crucial dimension of our existence as embodied creatures, we remain sexual beings in the community of God. At the same time, our sexuality, like our embodiment as a whole, is transformed.[2]

I couldn’t agree more with Grenz. Unfortunately, he jumps the track by claiming, “…we no longer will express our sexuality in genital intercourse, for this act is related solely to the marriage bond, which will no longer be present in the community of God.”[3] Hank Hanegraaff says virtually the same thing in his book on the resurrection, admitting that there will be sex after the resurrection in the sense that resurrected Christians will still be male and female. But Hanegraaff denies that our sexuality will be expressed through genital intercourse. According to Hanegraaff, that would be “too clumsy.”

In the resurrection, there will no doubt be “millions of more adequate ways to express love than the clumsy ecstasy of fitting two bodies together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle (p. 140).”

Perhaps God should be indebted to Hanegraaff for spotting a glitch in His original inadequate design of intercourse. God said what He had made was good, but Hanegraaff has ingeniously discovered a way to improve on God’s original design of expressing love by getting rid sexual intercourse. Of course Hanegraaff, like everyone else, has no idea what God should replace it with to make it less clumsy. I thank God that Hanegraaff was not there in Eden when God made Eve.
The reader of Hanegraaff’s book is supposed to be consoled by the sentiments of Christian author C.S. Lewis. God’s got something that’s so much better than sex to take its place that we won’t even miss it. For an adult to give up sex will be like a kid giving up chocolates.[4]
Forrest Gump was right. Life really is like a box of chocolates. At the end, there’s no chocolate left!
My position is that marriage in the afterlife will cease in terms of reproduction. Also, no one man (with the exception of Jesus) will have exclusive rights of ownership over any one woman. I differ with both Grenz and Hanegraaff in that I believe the cessation of marriage (as I just defined it) will result in unlimited genital expression rather than a cessation of genital intercourse. Critics of post-resurrection coitus begin with a faulty premise¾all sex outside of marriage is a sin. Then they combine that error with Revelation 21:27, which says there will be no sin in Heaven. Therefore, no sin plus no marriage must equal no sex. Is it any wonder that millions¾like Richard¾do not zealously anticipate their ultimate heavenly destination?
Previous chapters have given conclusive evidence that extramarital sex is not necessarily a sin. Therefore, it is at least possible that sex will exist in paradise.
Luke 20:35 makes it clear¾marriage will not exist after the resurrection. Before we consider what this means, let’s consider what it does not mean. First, this is not saying resurrected Christians will be like ghosts, devoid of corporal bodies. The Sadducees were using a scenario carefully calculated to make mince meat of the doctrine of bodily resurrection. That is why the Sadducees brought up the argument of a woman with seven husbands. They weren’t interested in whose wife this woman would be when all her ex-husbands were resurrected¾they didn’t believe in a resurrection. Evidently, this argument had the Pharisees over a barrel, because they believed that after death, married life would continue as usual.
Affirmation of the bodily resurrection has always been a central tenant of orthodox Christianity. False teachers have continually challenged this doctrine, which is why Paul repeatedly defended it (1Co 15). A common heresy in Paul’s day was that everything physical was evil and temporal.
The body was regarded as the prison for the soul. Only the soul (i.e. spirit) was believed to live beyond the grave. These false teachers did not necessarily deny a belief in life after death. What they denied was that resurrected Christians would have physical bodies.
Because many in the Corinthian church were influenced by the Greek philosophers of their day, many believed their bodies would not be resurrected at a future date. Therefore, some Christians had the notion that they could do anything they wanted sexually.
Although the Bible doesn’t describe our resurrected bodies in detail, there are a few things we do know. Our bodies will be basically the same as now, only far superior. Whatever we’ll look like, we will be recognizable. Our resurrected bodies will be like the resurrected body of Jesus (Php 3:21). After Jesus was resurrected, He was recognizable.
A common argument used to deny that Jesus looked the same after His resurrection is that Mary Magdalene and His disciples did not recognize Him on three occasions. However, the reason they did not recognize Jesus is their eyes were miraculously kept from recognizing Him (Lk 24:16). Later, Jesus opened their eyes and they did recognize Him.
Christians will be raised imperishable (1Co 15:42). No more wrinkles, receding hairlines, or bulging waistlines. Everyone will have vibrant health!
Those perfect bodies will still be male and female. Jesus was referred to in masculine terms after His resurrection. The Bible also gives an example of a girl being resurrected (Mt 9:18-26).
Many believe that Heaven is now populated with disembodied spirits who are awaiting a future resurrection of the body, either at the Rapture or at the Second Coming. Others believe those now in Heaven have some type of body in the intermediate state prior to a future resurrection. To me, it makes no sense whatsoever that right now, Abraham and Sarah have been in Heaven for all these many thousands of years without bodies, unable to express their love sexually. One pastor responded to my concern by saying that there is no time in Heaven and that a thousand years in Heaven would be like one day on earth.
Some misuse Galatians 3:28¾which says there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus¾to support an androgynous resurrection. This verse simply means there is presently no gender discrimination among believers. Women have an equal opportunity to benefit from Christ’s salvation¾now. Galatians 3:28 has nothing to do with removing our gender.
God made us male and female and said it was good (Ge 1:31). Since being a sexual creature was good enough for Eden, is there any reason why it won’t be good enough for the paradise of the future?
Since our resurrected bodies will be new and improved versions of our present bodies, doesn’t it follow that the glamour girls of today will become even more gorgeous when they receive their heavenly bodies at the resurrection?
According to author and teacher John MacArthur, married Christians will enjoy an eternal companionship in Heaven with their spouses. Those partnerships will be more perfect than any earthly partnership. The difference, according to MacArthur, is Christians will also enjoy an equally perfect relationship with every other person in Heaven. [5]
I concur fully. Yet I doubt that MacArthur would allow for the possibility of those future relationships including sex. Of course, God could remove our sex drives¾but why? What would be wrong with perfect men and perfect women expressing their love sexually?
In Heaven, God will be our sole provider. There will be no sexually transmitted diseases. Women will no longer give birth to babies in need of constant supervision. So, unless Augustine was right and God made sex only for reproduction, there is no reason why sex for pleasure should cease.
Let’s take another look at Luke 20:34-36:

The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.

These words can be interpreted two ways.
The common interpretation says there will be no sex after the resurrection whatsoever, because all sex outside of marriage is a sin. If all extramarital sex is a sin, then there is no alternate way to interpret this.
The negative ramifications of such an unwarranted exegesis have been tremendous. But again, we’ve already seen examples where sex outside of a monogamous marriage is not a sin. Therefore, there is a better way to interpret this passage, which is equally valid.
This is the most logical approach to the words of Jesus: “After the resurrection, sex will be returned to its original state of purity. There will no longer be the begetting of children. No one man will have exclusive rights of ownership over any one woman.”
Although I agree with my critics that our main focus in the afterlife will be on Jesus, not our spouses, I disagree profusely with the conclusion that we will be so enamoured by the Beatific Vision that we won’t even care about sex. If we’ll care about lesser things like eating, drinking, and music¾and the Bible indicates that we will care about those things¾then why wouldn’t we care about sex? Won’t it still be lawful to love our neighbors as ourselves? To take away our sexuality is to take away a major part of our humanity. Our sexuality is part of what it means to be human.
In paradise, Jesus will be the ultimate Husband and the church will be His ultimate bride. Under the Old Covenant, marriage was only a shadow of this ultimate marriage. Therefore, since everyone in paradise will be married to Jesus, there will no longer be a need for any kind of sexual restrictions. Sexual restrictions were imposed by God to protect us from sin. Since there won’t be any sin in paradise, there won’t be a need for any sexual restrictions.
I challenge anyone to come up with one good reason why God should get rid of sex once perfect people inhabit paradise. God made us male and female. God said it was good. Our sexuality is all part of what it means to be male and female. So unless God is a Cosmic Killjoy, why would He want to rob us of sexual pleasure?
If Christians in Heaven do have bodies now, then it also follows that right now, the citizens who currently inhabit their eternal heavenly dwelling place are experiencing uninhibited sexual bliss with an endless array of partners.
Now let’s take this one step further. Jesus gave the following as a model prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Jesus instructed believers to make things happen here on earth the way they are already happening in Heaven. So, isn’t it a logical deduction that Christians everywhere should endeavor to make this Heavenly ideal an earthly reality A.S.A.P.?
Jesus said, “ ‘The children of this world’ marry, and are given in marriage” (Lk 20:34). Who are “the children of this world”? Unbelievers are referred to as “the children of this world.” Believers are referred to as “children of light” (Lk 16:8). Nowhere in the Bible are believers referred to as children of this world. Believers are contrasted with unbelievers as being in this world but not of this world.
Paul spoke of marriage as a worldly institution that was soon to pass away (1Co 7:29-31). Luther said that since marriage had existed from the beginning of the world and among unbelievers, it could not be a sacrament.[6] So, why do so many Christians enslave themselves to the cast iron rules of sexual exclusiveness that this worldly institution of marriage promotes?
A married man cares for the things of this world, such as how he may please his wife (1Co 7:33). Friendship with this world makes a person an enemy of God (Jas 4:4).
Believers are not to love the world. Neither are they to love the things that are in the world. If a man loves the world, then the love of the Father is not in him (1Jn 2:15).
The Bible also refers to believers as being resurrected now. So right now, believers are considered children of the resurrection. Oh sure, there is a future resurrection of the body. But being spiritually regenerated is also referred to as being resurrected. God has already raised believers up (Eph 2:6). A believer is already risen with Jesus (Col 2:12). Believers are said to already possess everlasting life. Not in the future, but now.
Anyone who believes in Jesus has everlasting life (Jn 3:36). All believers have already passed from death into life (Jn 5:24). Jesus said that anyone who believes in Him would never die (Jn 11:26). Jesus wasn’t referring to the death of the physical body. He was referring to the death of the inner man, also known as the soul or the spirit. In other words, our soul can never die once we are truly begotten.
Also notice that Luke 20:27-38 says nothing about Heaven. Certainly this would apply to both the state of things in the New Heaven and Earth. But it is just as applicable to believers today. Even though the Kingdom of Heaven is not yet here in its fullness, it does exist in part within the church.
Today’s children of the resurrection are not called to simply be a carbon copy of the children of this world who marry and are given in marriage. Instead, the church of Jesus Christ is supposed to be showing the children of this world a better way to love one another, which is the way things will be for all eternity once the Kingdom of Heaven has fully arrived.

What does the Bible “REALLY” say about sex after the resurrection?
Although marriage will cease, there is no reason to rule out sex. Sex after the resurrection is not only a possibility¾it’s a probability. And if there is sex after the resurrection, it’s got to be awesome, baby!
The Christian ideal is perfect love among all believers. In Heaven, this ideal is a reality. Meanwhile, Christian earthlings are to become heavenly-minded. If we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” while clinging to monogamy, aren’t we being a tad hypocritical? Christians are to strive for perfection (Mt 5:48). Monogamy falls short of God’s perfect ideal.
Let’s not put off till tomorrow what can be accomplished today.
Christ gave a new commandment. We are required to love one another (Jn 13:34)¾fervently (1Pe 1:22). Many religions forbid a man and a woman not married to each other to love each other fervently. But if we are to obey Christ, we are commanded to do this.
Society and religion say that it's okay to express love for one another through the unity of our hearts, but it's not okay to express that love through the unity of our bodies, except with a spouse. If we refuse to love one another fervently, as Christ commands, then do we really love Christ? Do we really acknowledge Him as our ultimate husband?
The church is the ultimate bride. Christ is the ultimate husband. The union between Christ and His church is the ultimate marriage. Therefore, if the ultimate bride refuses to express fervent love for other Christians, as Christ commanded, then isn’t this the ultimate form of adultery?
By restricting the sexual expression of fervent love to exclusive monogamous relationships, we become the enemies of Christian unity. Conversely, if we all loved one another fervently, wouldn’t life here on earth be… heavenly!?

[1] Larry King Live Interview, CNN, Dec. 25, 1998.
[2] Grenz, Stanley J. Sexual Ethics: an Evangelical perspective. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997, p. 250.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Hanegraaff, Hank. Resurrection. Nashville, Tennessee: Word Publishing, 2000, pp. 137-142.
[5] MacArthur, John F. The Glory Of Heaven: The Truth About Heaven, Angels and
Eternal Life. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1996, p. 138.
[6] Marius, Richard. Martin Luther: The Christian Between God and Death. Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 259.