A celibate life doesn’t have to be a life “without love.” This is a common misconception in today’s sex-saturated society. Despite popular assumptions to the contrary, there is no “natural” connection between sex and love. They don’t necessarily “go together like a horse and carriage.” That’s why the apostle Paul had to instruct husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). It also explains why we have such things as rape, pornography, and sexual abuse. Clearly, sex can easily coexist with any number of unsavory and destructive bedfellows: for example, hatred, violence, greed, and a lust for dominance.
Meanwhile, it’s entirely possible to live a deeply fulfilling life without sex. One can love other people genuinely and sincerely without ever relating to them on a sexual level. The Bible and Christian morality have nothing to say against that.
God would never ask you or any other Christian to live his or her entire life “without love.” On the contrary, as a believer you are expected to make love the primary goal of your existence, for God Himself is love (1 John 4:8). But sex is a different story. Sex, according to the Bible, is not necessarily for everybody. It’s reserved exclusively for a man and a woman joined together in the bonds of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.
Why should this be so? The answer is simple. From the scriptural viewpoint, sex is about something more than pleasure or the expression of mutual love. It’s a unique “sacrament.” It consummates and seals the spiritual, emotional, and physical union between husband and wife.
This is what Jesus has in mind when He says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Mark 10:6-8, quoting Genesis 2:24). Paul builds on this thought in 1 Corinthians 6:16. “Do you not know,” he writes, “that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He says, ‘shall become one flesh.'”
To take sex outside of heterosexual marriage is like taking the wine consecrated for Holy Communion and using it for a frat house drinking party. This is precisely why the writers of Scripture so often compare idolatry to the sin of fornication or adultery. It also explains why they use sexual purity and faithfulness between spouses as an image of our relationship with the Lord (as, e.g., in Song of Solomon, the Book of Hosea, and the 16th chapter of Ezekiel).
Bottom line: as Christians, we are free to love anyone (and everyone) we please. We are not, however, at liberty to engage in sexual relations outside the bonds of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. To do so is to violate God’s standard for the proper use of human sexuality. Biblically speaking, there are no two ways about it. Personal emotions and feelings of attraction don’t alter this picture in any way.
If you feel it would be helpful to discuss these thoughts on love and sex at greater length, we’d like to invite you to call our Counseling department. They can also provide you with a list of licensed Christian marriage and family therapists practicing in your area.
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Revisionist Gay Theology