PART 16 CHURCH TEACHINGS
PART 16 CHURCH TEACHINGS
To Learn about Teachings That Will Inhibit a Believer from Growing Spiritually
Doctrines of Destruction
D. God’s Love Condones All Sexual Relationships.
What has given me the spark to write about this subject is a TV show that I watched a few times on cults. One of the things that resonated with me in one of the episodes was that the leader was sitting in a wooden type structure that was lifted up in the air by a group of women followers as if to indicate that he was someone of extreme importance. In a different episode, the leader claimed that he was the long-awaited Messiah/Savior of the Jews. And while there were both men and women in the group, the women were encouraged to divorce their husbands and become mistresses to the leader, while their ex-husbands remained in the group and tolerated such actions. In yet another episode, the leader claimed that he was an angel sent by God to the earth to evidence supernatural miracles and to proclaim a message to his followers of which I could honestly say that I didn’t understand anything he said.
What most of them appeared to have in common was a few things. Most leaders were male. Their faith seemed to emphasis the requirement that the leader could have as many wives/mistresses as he chose, even if some of them were already married to a male member who was in the church. They required utmost obedience even when in some cases criminal activity was involved. For most, not all, they claimed that the New Testament writings were not valid because Jesus was not considered by them to be the Messiah/Savior of the Jews.
When you watch these shows, it’s hard to believe that there are people that would allow themselves to be under such abuse. I can only assume that when they first got involved, they weren’t aware of what was really going on behind the scenes. In my mind, maybe I could understand a woman getting involved with a church or group like any of these that were presented, if her marriage was on the rocks. All of us are looking for love, peace, and happiness. And maybe after a while, if she was treated better by those in leadership, it’s understandable that she might gravitate toward their affection.
I wondered, where did these leaders get this mindset to operate their group or church in this manner? And what kind of teachings were conveyed to both the men and women that brought about such acceptance of having their marriages dissolved? From what I could gather from these shows on cults is that the leader delved into many different faiths and took from each what was considered desirable to satisfy their personal ambitions and sexual desires. In other instances, the leader proclaimed to be the Messiah/Savior of the Jews, believing that he was sent by God to establish His earthly kingdom and because of such the group tried to obey many of the tenets of the Mosaic Law that had been given initially to Moses by God.
What I would like for us to take a look at next are those sexual relationships that can inhibit a believer in their walk with God. Initially, we will take a look at what was God’s perspective toward having many wives along with many of the other sexual relationships that are delineated in the Old Testament. Did He approve of such? After which, we will take a look at what is God’s view pertaining to sexual relationships in the New Testament, i.e., the Church Age, the age in which we currently live. Are you ready to follow me along in this endeavor? Let’s go.
- Old Testament Sexual Relationships
Please open your Bible, if you have it handy, to the book of Genesis.
Shall cleave unto his wife
Suggested Reading: Genesis 2:7, 18, 22-24
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
After God made the first human named Adam from the dust of the ground, he made the first woman named Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. Furthermore, it was declared that there would be a time when a man (a son), who was engaged to his future wife will, when the wedding night is ready to consummate, leave his parent’s home and go to the home of his future father-in-law where the wedding ceremony would take place. Once the marriage was consummated, both of them would leave this house and proceed to go back to the groom’s parents’ house, where an attached room would have been added and ready for their occupancy.
One other thing to note is that this is the first time in Scripture where the word wife appears. This connotes marriage or the sanctioning of marriage by God between one man and one woman.
So, what happened to this divine institution? Why was it that so many Old Testament leaders had many wives? Was this condoned by God as revealed by Scripture? Let’s study and find out.
We’ll begin by taking a look at a Biblically famous Old Testament couple who were promised an heir by God. Do you remember who these people were?
And I will make of thee a great nation
Genesis 11:31-12:1-5; 15:1-18
1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
God called Abram to leave his country, the Ur of the Chaldees, unto a land that He would give him. He was also told that He would make of him a great nation, and that in him all families of the earth would be blessed. In order for this to happen, he would have to had born to him a male heir, which becomes a key focal point as the story unfolds. So, Abram and his family set out toward a land of promise not knowing where it was located.
A period of time has gone by, and a Word came to him from the Lord in a vision. God told him that He is his great reward. Abram in turn decides to pray (makes a request) in the form of a statement saying to God that the one born in his house, i.e., Eliezer his household servant, is currently his heir. God replied and said, no he is not the heir. So, Abram chooses to pray (makes a request) again, this time in the form of a question asking God about the promise of the land inheritance. God’s response was that at some future time this land will be given to his seed. What God essentially said was that an heir would come to pass during his lifetime, while the land inheritance will not.
Many years have now gone by and still Abram and Sarah have no heir. However, instead of waiting on the timing of God, they take the matter into their own hands.
Genesis 16:2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
Sarah, no longer believing that she was capable of providing her husband with an heir, thought that the reality of such would take place through her handmaid (slave) Hagar. Abram apparently agreed with this recommendation and proceeded to have sexual relations with her who conceived and eventually had a son, whose name was Ishmael.
What I wanted you to recognize about this story is that it appeared to be a cultural practice that if a wife couldn’t get pregnant, then the husband could have sexual relations with a female slave who would provide the wife with children. In this sense, the slave could be considered as a second wife. And if this wasn’t looked at in this regard in the culture at this time, then it somehow evolved into such, as we will look at someone else who had a lot of second wives. Hint, he slew a giant named Goliath.
The second king of Israel was a man named David, the son of Jesse.
1 Samuel 18:27 …And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.
Before he became king, he married a woman named Michal, one of the daughters of the first King of Israel named Saul.
2 Samuel 3:1-5
Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.
And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;
And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron.
Later on, in his life, David married more women, whose names were Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah. And let’s not forget about another wife, one named Bathsheba whose story has been long talked about in church teachings. So, I guess the question is who is who? What I mean is, if a man had more than one wife, then what was the formal arrangement between them and the one husband?
It appears that the first wife held the prominent position as to authority in the family, although this was not always the case. The other wives were called the husband’s concubine. They had a position inferior to that of the first wife. It’s pretty obvious that what was going on here is a practice that we would classify today as polygamy. This is the practice or condition of having more than one spouse, especially wife, at one time.209 This begs the question. Even though this practice appeared to be culturally based, was it supported by Scripture?
Scripture seems to give some clarification on marrying someone who was a maidservant (a slave). This instruction was given by God to Moses at Mount Sinai following the release and escape of the Jews from their bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt.
And if a man sell his daughter
Suggested Reading: Exodus 21:7-11
What is being set forth here are some of the many judgments (decisions) of the Mosaic Law that God (Jehovah) gave to Moses at Mount Sinai, who would after receiving them, write them down in a book called the Book of the Covenant and subsequently convey these to the children of Israel.
7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.
One of the topics under consideration pertained to maidservants (slaves) in respect to servitude and marriage. Except in this case, the slaves were Jews who were in subjection to other Jews. Why was this the case? In the event that a Jewish family had financial hardship, they were allowed to sell their daughter as a servant to a fellow Jew, i.e., to a man who needed one. He in turn would compensate the parents for up to the duration of the servitude, which was for a period of six years.
8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.
9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.
If it turned out that the man (the master) became engaged to the slave girl during her tenure, he was allowed by Law to break this off, if he so chose. However, he was not allowed to have sexual relations with her while she remained in his house. The man (the master) could also decide to promise her in marriage to his son. The son was under no obligation to fulfill the betrothal (engagement). He could break this off, if he so chose at any time.
After reading the Scriptures pertaining to this unusual situation, I didn’t get the idea that the master or his son would be allowed to marry her, if either of them was already married. In this sense, it appears that the idea of the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman was reinforced.
Are there any other Old Testament Scriptures that would shed further light on institution of marriage? Yes, there is. Please go to the book of Deuteronomy.
I will set a king over me
Suggested Reading: Deuteronomy 17:14-17a
14 When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;
17a Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away…
These instructions were given to the children of Israel by Moses in the final year of their 40-year wandering in the wilderness as guidance if they at some point of time in the future decided to have a king rule over them after they entered the Promised Land of Canaan. It was clearly written that a Jewish king was instructed to not multiply wives to himself. What is this telling us? This simply means that he was only to have one wife. Why was this a command?
Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
First, this was a command because it violated another command under the Mosaic Law which was not to commit adultery.
Second, it was a command because the committing of it would bring dishonor to God and the people as a witness of a Godly life to foreign nations. If the adultery involved marrying foreign women for political purposes, not only would this be embracing the practice of polygamy but it might also cause the king’s heart to turn away from serving Yahweh and follow other gods along with engaging in their pagan practices.
Genesis 4:19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
It appears that polygamy was a well-known practice in the ancient world. It was first recorded way back in the book of Genesis pertaining to a man named Lamech, who was a descendent of Cain, one of the sons of Adam and Eve. Beside the topic of marriage being addressed more specifically in the tenets of the Mosaic Law as to the consequences for committing it, there were other sexual practices such as adultery and incest that were probably not given clear direction as to the consequences for committing them prior to the giving of this Law.
I’m sure that these sexual sins had taken place prior to Moses receiving specific instructions from God concerning the consequences for committing them. What this says to me is that God allowed man free will to decide whether to follow His declaration which He made in the book of Genesis about a son leaving his father and mother and marrying a woman thus becoming one flesh. It’s obvious that when God’s instructions are not followed, the result is sexual deviancy in all forms.
My final thoughts are that if you are attending a church or group that advocates polygamy, that advocates divorcing your husband or wife so that you can become the leaders second, third, fourth wife, that advocates that God condones these types of sin, then you should be able to recognize that these teachings are not of God. So, get out of there as fast you can and never go back.
What I would like for us to take a look at next are those sexual practices that New Testament Scripture clearly tells us to not engage in, as they will not only inhibit our walk with God but will present to others an earthy ungodly testimony.
- New Testament Sexual Relationships
A. The four Greek words for love
As a Christian, it’s easy for us to get fooled as to what is considered acceptable Godly behavior. There are verses from the New Testament that if read without proper hermeneutics (Scriptural interpretation) might appear to be saying something in respect as to what sexual relationships are allowed to be committed by believers which leadership tries to convince us is so. For instance, take a look at these verses.
1 Peter 1:22b … see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
Romans 12:10a Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;…
1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
These verses could be used to condone various sexual relationships (e.g. adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, etc.). How would any of us know whether any of these are or are not forbidden by God? If we were newly converted, we wouldn’t know. It’s even possible to attend a mainstream Christian church and receive teachings that would condone some of these sexual relationships that were just mentioned. As I have said before in many of my studies, we believe what we know. I don’t know what you have been taught in this regard, but hopefully, when this study is completed, you will have attained a fuller understanding about such.
If we were to take another look at the four verses that I presented at the beginning, one word that each of them has in common is the word love. This word can mean different things to different people especially in the realm of sexual relationships. However, according to the Koine Greek, the language of which most of the New Testament was written, this word has very specific meanings. Do you know about what these are? Depending on what Greek word was used from which the word love was pertaining to will determine its meaning and give us a clearer understanding as to whether it reflects Godly qualities and actions or whether it does not. There are four different Greek words for love. Let’s take a look at each of these and find out what they mean. The first one we will look at pertains to God’s love.
~ God’s Love – Divine Love
Agape is the noun form, and agapao is the verb form.
When we consider how Christians operate in this love, what are the thoughts and actions that they will be thinking and expressing toward others?
Please go to the book of Galatians.
The fruit of the Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
God’s love is a fruit of the Spirit. The word fruit, which we talked about earlier in this study can also mean elements of character. There are nine elements of character that God wants to produce in us, become operational in us, and be expressive toward others. The first element of character is called love. The Greek rendering of this word in the noun form is transliterated into English and written as agape.
Because most of our English New Testament is derived from the Koine Greek (the common language of the Greeks during the time of Christ) and in certain minimal instances Aramaic, all we need to do is find this particular word love in Scripture by using a concordance, which will indicate to us every place it appears. We will also be able to find out whether this word is used to signify God’s agape love or another expression for love. And along with this, wherever this word love appears, we will be made aware as to whether it was used as a noun or verb.
So, this particular word for love means divine love, which is a love produced in the heart of the yielded believer by the Holy Spirit; its chief ingredient, self-sacrifice for the benefit of the one loved.210
Are you ready to find out more about what this word love means, whether in the form of a noun or a verb?
Please go to the book of 1 Corinthians.
Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
The word used as synonymous for the word love in these verses is charity, and it’s used primarily as a noun. There is much to say about God’s love, when a Christian is operating in it toward others, and whether the recipients of such are believers or unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long…
Charity (God’s agape love) is patient in bearing the offences and injuries of others. It has a long mind.211 Stay with me in looking at another part of the same verse.
1 Corinthians 13:4 …charity envieth not…
God’s love is not grieved, because another possesses a greater portion of earthly, intellectual, or spiritual blessings.212 Take a look at the next verse which follows this one.
1 Corinthians 13:5 …seeketh not her own…
Charity does not seek one’s own happiness to the injury of another.
What we have learned is there will be times when we will be hurt by others for our faith, and if we have appropriated God’s mindset according to His Word and apply it, we will evidence patience in the midst. And by the way, God’s love also is not jealous nor will it hurt others for personal gain.
Please go to the book of Romans.
Owe no man
Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
This is an interesting verse, which talks about the fact that if we owe someone a debt, we must make sure we pay it back. Why, because this is an expression of God’s love in interpersonal relationships. God’s love is responsible for its actions.
Go forward in your Bible to the book of 1 John.
Perceive we the love of God
1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
As we perceive (gain spiritual knowledge by experience) the love of God expressed in the laying down of His life for us, because of our response to such, we will have become the recipients of salvation.213 And likewise, we should lay down our life (by giving our time, care, prayers, substance214) for the brethren.
What else can we learn about God’s love?
1 John is where we should go next.
Let us love one another
1 John 4:7-19
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
The apostle John instructed believers to habitually love one another (to be ready to promote each other's welfare, both spiritual and temporal215).
The next verse talks about God’s love operating in marriage.
Husbands, love your wives
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Husbands are instructed by the apostle Paul to love their wives (to give himself in self-sacrifice for the well-being of the one who is loved;216 to promote the salvation of their wives, and their constant edification in righteousness;217 to seek the highest good for another person218), even as Christ loved the church and gave of Himself to redeem it.
Onward to the book of Galatians.
By love serve one another
Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Brethren, you have been called unto liberty (through the Spirit free from the power of sin in his daily life; and free from the Law with its demands and threats219). Only use not this liberty for an occasion to the flesh (to indulge the sinful nature or as a furtherance to corrupt passions220), but by love of the Spirit (divine love; such a love means death to self, and that means defeat for sin, since the essence of sin is self-will and self-gratification221) serve one another (to do that which is for the advantage of someone else222). Now that we know some of the thought patterns and subsequent expressions of divine love, the next question we can seek an answer for will help us determine what is contrary to it.
What are the thought patterns and subsequent expressions that are contrary to divine love, which a Christian should no longer be entertaining in their mind and thus committing in their actions?
Let’s begin by going to the book of 1 John.
1 John 2:15-16
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
God’s love commands us as to what we should not love. We are not to love the world (the ordered system of which Satan is the head, his fallen angels and demons are his emissaries, and the unsaved of the human race are his subjects, together with those purposes, pursuits, pleasures, practices, and places where God is not wanted223).
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
We are also commanded to not love what is in the world, which consists of the lust (sensual and impure desires) of the flesh (of the depraved nature), and the lust (the mental pleasure) of the eyes, and the pride of life (includes the desire to gain credit which does not belong to us, and outshine our neighbours224; an insolent and vain assurance in one's own resources, or in the stability of earthly things225).
What stood out to me is that we are commanded not to love the sensual and impure desires of the depraved nature. And we can speculate that whatever these desires are that may occupy us will express themselves in sensual and impure actions. What actions are considered sensual and impure in Scripture? Keep on reading, and hopefully, we will find out.
I don’t know about you, but I found learning about God’s agape love enlightening.
To summarize, God’s agape love:
~ Self-sacrifices for the benefit of someone else. Galatians 5:22-23
~ Operating in a husband seeks the spiritual well-being of his wife. Ephesians 5:25
~ Is patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others. 1 Corinthians 13:4
~ Is not grieved because another possesses a greater portion of earthly, intellectual, or spiritual blessings.226 1 Corinthians 13:4
~ Does not seek one’s own happiness to the injury of another. 1 Corinthians 13:5
~ Lays down its life (by giving our time, care, prayers, substance227) for the brethren. 1 John 3:16
~ Does not operate in the sin nature and continue in corrupt passions. Galatians 5:13
~ Does not love the sensual and impure desires of the depraved nature. 1 John 2:15-16
~ Is not kindled by the merit or worth of its object, but it originates in its own God-given nature.228 Galatians 5:22-23
~ Does not find assurance in one's own resources, or in earthly things. 1 John 2:15-16
Did you know that there is another word for love that Scripture mentions? Any idea what this love is all about? Let’s find out.
~ Philadelphia Love – Love of the brethren – Love of friends
Philia, a noun, is the transliteration of the Greek word. The verb form is phileo.
What is brotherly love all about?
How is it different from agape love?
Please go to the book of Titus.
Love their husbands
Titus 2:4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
Titus is instructing the aged Christian women (those advanced in years) that they teach the young Christian women, who are married, to be sober (to have their desires and passions well-regulated or under proper control229), to philia love their husbands (not be fond of other men than their own), to philia love their children (maternal affection; used to describe feelings or actions which are typical of those of a kind mother towards her child230). This love is described as being that of a philia type love, a love for one’s family.
Why wasn’t this love mentioned as being agape?
I can only assume based on what we know about agape love is that it’s a love which is self-sacrificing, i.e., it loves irrespective of the person loved or their response to it, whereas philia love appears to be a love based on something about the person who is loved which causes us to love them. Let’s see if what I just said is true about philia love by looking at more verses where this type of love is being illustrated.
The book of 1 Peter is where we should go next.
Unfeigned love - Love one another
1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
Apparently, there were some Christians who were having issues with philia loving their fellow believers. Unfortunately, they were operating in feigned (hypocritical) love. This love was described as being like a mask of feigned love placed over their usual countenances when associating with certain others of their brethren.231 Their only way out of living in this counterfeit love was by continual obedience to God’s Word while operating under the influences (the graces) of the Holy Spirit.
Choosing to appropriate and think with God’s Word caused them to operate in the fruit of the Spirit, and as such, they evidenced God’s love toward their brethren, which was characterized as being a philia unfeigned love (an unhypocritical love). This love is characterized as liking someone else because that person is like himself [herself] in the sense that this person reflects in his [her] own personality the same characteristics, the same likes and dislikes that he [she] himself [herself] has232). Based on the context, these characteristics would be those exemplified by the Word of God.
Then, the apostle Peter said that they were to see to it that they agape love (divine love) one another with a pure [not for the love of ourselves; to not use for our advantage; free from hypocrisy (a pretense of having a virtuous character233)] heart (mind) fervently (in an all-out manner).
This is interesting in that both philia and agape love are mentioned in the same verse. This seems to be saying that we should always be operating in divine love toward our fellow believers. And when we love them, because of something about them, this love can be described as a philia type love of the brethren.
Where should we go next, how about the book of 1 Thessalonians?
Brotherly love – Love one another
1 Thessalonians 4:9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
This verse talks about both agapao divine love and philia brotherly love. The reason why I included it is because in this context it is referred to as a love that is shown in relieving distressed brethren.234
So, philia love is a deep friendship kind of love, where we love the brethren or a family member because that person is like ourselves as to our personality or they have the same likes or dislikes that we do. We could also say that this love is called out of one’s heart by qualities in another.235
Is there any other Greek word for love that we need to look at?
Believe it or not, there is another one. Are you ready to take a look at this?
~ Family Love – Love of husbands and wives – Family affection for the brethren
Sterge is the noun form, and stergo is the verb form.
Please go to the book of Romans.
Let love be
9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
The apostle Paul is instructing the believers at Rome that their agape love (divine love) be without dissimulation (be without hypocrisy; a love that puts self aside in an effort to help and bless others. Yes, a love that goes to the point of suffering if that is necessary in order to bless others236). They were also instructed to turn away from that which is evil (whatever is unkind or injurious to a brother237) and to hold fast to that which is good (sharing the burdens and the blessing of others so that we all grow together and glorify the Lord238).
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Along with this, they were admonished to show tender affection to one another with philia storge brotherly love (the warmth of family affection239). One evidence of such is in showing honor (respect shown another which is measured by one's evaluation of another240) by preferring one another (every act of friendly kindness241).
In this context, we are to agape love the brethren with genuine love and philia storge family affection. Believe it or not, storge love, love for one’s family, is found nowhere else in the Epistles. You might ask, then how do you know that it means family love? We can determine this by finding out what the antitheses of this word means. The antithesis Greek word astorgos means to be heartless; without affection to kindred, and lacking natural love among family members. This transliteration of the original Greek word is found in two places in Scripture, where the words without natural affection refer to the lack of love in the family.
Romans 1:31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
2 Timothy 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
We can conclude, therefore, that storge love is natural family affection for husband, wife, child, and fellow believers.
I know you are not going to believe this, but there is one more word in the Greek which refers to love. Really? What kind of love?
~ Sexual Love or Romantic Love
Eros is the noun form, and eros is the verb form.
This kind of love is a passionate love. It’s comprised of pleasure. The basic idea of this love is self-satisfaction.242 This love looks for whatever it is in another person that makes them happy. If for whatever reason that which makes one happy is gone or has somehow changed into that which is undesirable, then this love no longer expresses itself toward the other person and subsequently seeks someone else to make them happy.
The transliteration of the original Greek word, which in its English form is eros, is not found in the New Testament. However, I do think that the way to characterize this kind of love is that of it as being a sensual love, which in the expression of its action could be considered moral or immoral based on societal norms. Are societal norms God’s norms? If a society approves of a certain sexual behavior, does this mean that God’s people should approve of it?
Based on this study on the four different types of love, according to the Koine Greek language, we have learned that each of these types of love has its own characteristics. We know that God would desire for us to operate in His agape love toward believers and unbelievers, philia friendship brotherly love, and in storge love toward family, but what about eros love? Does He desire for us to operate in eros love, which is a sensual type love that could seek its pleasure in such sexual avenues as marriage, polygamy, fornication, prostitution, adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, incest, and pedophilia?
You should know the drill by now. The only way to answer this question or any other pertaining to whatever the topic is to find out what Scripture says about these sexual practices.
B. What does God’s Word declare to us concerning those sexual behaviors that He condones and those that He doesn’t?
Should Christians follow societal norms or God’s norms in the way they think, speak, and act?
This is the dilemma facing many Christians. We have become born-again. We have received the Holy Spirit into our lives, and subsequently, a new nature. Eventually, we find out that the way we have been thinking about ourselves, about others, and the circumstances of life is diametrically opposed to the way God would have us to think.
Irrespective of God’s Word, we want to continue in our eros romantic, passionate love because we have a desire for it, it brings us pleasure, and maybe even because we consider God’s view on this area of our life as being antiquated. And in whatever form or expression this love takes us, we believe that God will sanction it, because it’s between two people or maybe even more than two people; and how could God not sanction love between people, right?
It is not for me to determine what God should respect concerning what I think, speak, or act. Rather it is up to God to declare to me through His Word, by the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit, the way I should think, speak, and act now that I have become a Christian, a new creature, His adopted son or daughter.
As was already asked, what should determine the way a believer should think, speak, and act?
Any idea as to what the answer is to this question? The following verse tells us so.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
This verse tells us that it is Scripture that provides for us the proper perspective as to how we as Christians should think, speak, and act. The last part of this verse which states for instruction in righteousness pertains to our study at hand. These words refer to instruction that produces proper behavior. So, there you have it.
In this regard, let’s take a look at Scripture from the New Testament and see what God’s Word declares to us concerning those sexual behaviors that He condones and those that He doesn’t.
We’ll begin by going to the book of 1 Corinthians. These initial verses that we will look at seem to clarify two expressions of sexual activity that God approves of and one expression that He doesn’t.
Let every man have
1 Corinthians 7:1-2
1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
Some believe that this exhortation had to do with a letter the apostle Paul received from those in the church at Corinth concerning issues relating to marriage. Paul talked about the fact that it was good that a man was not to touch a woman, probably for three reasons. One, if he was called to be celibate in the plan of God for a period of time. Second, if there was a desire for the sexual union, then they should not commit fornication (having sex outside of marriage) but get married (having sex within marriage). Third, in God’s eyes, being celibate or getting married is a witness or testimony of God’s approval of each condition.
2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
The apostle Paul further emphasizes the point that if you can’t constrain yourself with the woman you are with, then to avoid fornication (immorality) let every single man enter into marriage with the woman he is with, and vice versa.
I think what is being said in these verses would allow us to conclude that God sanctions celibacy according to His plan and will and marriage between a man and a woman. And we could also deduce that fornication (having sex outside of marriage) is not condoned. This is a start to find out what sexual practices are approved by God for Christians to engage in and which ones are not.
The next book we will take a look at is the book of Romans.
Gave them up
Suggested Reading: Romans 1:18-33
The apostle Paul in his writing to the saints at Rome began his letter by telling them that he longed to visit them and that he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ (the Good News which relates to the Messiah, to His character, advent, preaching, death, resurrection, and ascension243) in that it is the power (the means) of God unto salvation to those (to save those) who believe.
And then he talked about those who have decided not to respond to the Gospel, to whom God has made known that He exists, that He is real, being evidenced outwardly through the observation of the created universe and inwardly in their conscience. Yet, they still chose to not worship Him, and neither were they thankful. As they made the decision to disregard Him and live for themselves, they became wise in their own eyes. They considered themselves cultivated, skilled, and learned, but sadly, such self-absorption can lead to doing shameful things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
So, God gave them up (left them to their own self-determination244) to uncleanness (moral and spiritual depravity). Concerning which, He gave two examples.
26-27 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
Some of the unbelieving women were given over to a diseased condition out of which lust sprang to vile (disgraceful) affections (passions). They changed the natural relations with men in marriage to unnatural relations with women to do that which is against natural laws. Likewise, there were some men who left the natural relations with women to have relations with men thus engaging in an all-out endeavor to satisfy their totally-depraved natures,245 the result (penalty) of such would be that they would receive evil consequences and punishment from God.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Furthermore, we are told that God gave (let them do what they pleased246) these unbelievers over to a reprobate mind (a mind that cannot form right judgments247) to do those things which are not convenient (which expressed itself in attitudes and actions that ought not to be done248).
An additional list of these attitudes and actions that God does not condone are presented in the following verses.
29-31 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
There appears to be only one of these that is associated with sexual conduct, and that is the word fornication (all sexual contact between the sexes which is beyond the bounds of lawful marriage249). After which, the apostle Paul proclaimed what God’s response was toward those unbelievers, who were habitually entertaining these attitudes and practicing these actions.
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Who knowing (in their conscience) the judgment of God (the grand rule of right which God has revealed to every man250), that they who are habitually practicing these things will receive punishment from his [God’s] hand.251 We are not told what these consequences or judgments from God are, but what we have been made aware of is that these will be imposed on those who engage in such sexual actions such as fornication, homosexuality, and lesbianism.
Does this proclamation on consequence and judgment hold true only for unbelievers? If someone becomes saved, does this mean that these attitudes and actions are sanctioned by God? If this were to be the case, then the Word would declare such, wouldn’t you agree?
The next section of Scriptures we will look at will confirm two sexual actions that are condoned by God and two sexual actions which are not.
Please go to the book of 1 Timothy.
If a man desire the office of a bishop
Suggested Reading: 1 Timothy 3:1-7
1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
The apostle Paul is talking about the possibility that if someone desires (seeks after) the office of a bishop (pastor), he desires a good work (an honorable office). As to this leadership office, there is much debate today as to what qualifies someone to be a pastor. In this particular book of the Bible, there is presented one divine skill associated with this office along with other qualifications. One of the qualifications pertaining to this office gift concerns a sexual relationship that is condoned by God. Any idea which one this is?
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
One of the qualifications for someone seeking the office of pastor is that he must be the husband of one wife. This is not to say that a single person cannot seek the office of pastor. Does this mean that if he were divorced, he would be unable to seek this office? Validly divorced people who remarried were considered married to one spouse.252 The key words just mentioned are validly divorced.
There are two main issues at stake here. Some would say that the word husband clearly indicates that a pastor can only be a male. This is a study in and of itself. I have addressed this perception in a different study entitled, “A Woman Is Not Supposed to Do This - We have been told from the pulpit that only men have been called to the leadership positions of the church. - Uncovered truths and new translations have changed this perspective”
The next issue is, what do the words of one wife mean? These words refer to the marital conditions that must be met for someone to be considered for this office. What are they, you ask? Those marital conditions that are allowed and those that are not allowed are listed below. Let’s take a look at them.
Marital conditions that are allowed for a born-again Christian to seek the office of pastor
If a Christian is married to an unbeliever, and the unbeliever chooses to leave the marriage, then the believer is allowed to divorce and remarry. 1 Corinthians 7:15
If a Christian is married to either a believer or unbeliever, who decides to engage in an extra marital affair, then the Christian is allowed to divorce and remarry. Matthew 19:9
If the husband or wife dies, then the Christian is allowed to remarry. Romans 7:2
If a Christian is married to a believer and the believer chooses to leave the marriage (separation, not divorce) while remaining unmarried without engaging in an extra marital affair, then the Christian is to remain unmarried or be reconciled to their spouse. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
Marital conditions that are not allowed for a born-again Christian to seek the office of pastor
If a Christian seeks a divorce when their believing spouse chooses to leave the marriage (separation) while remaining unmarried without engaging in an extra marital affair. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
What else could we assume from the qualification of being the husband of one wife? We could deduce that marriage is between one man and one woman. This would therefore not condone the practice of polygamy or marriage between people of the same gender.
With that said, the name of the sexual practice we will take a look at next is not found in Scripture. However, there are examples of it in the Old and New Testament. Any idea what this could be referring to? Let’s begin by taking a look at the words used to describe it, along with those people who would be considered as engaged in such from the Old Testament.
Please go to the book of Leviticus.
Near of kin
Suggested Reading: Leviticus 18:1-16
Usually, when I do a study on Biblical topics of salvation or sanctification that pertain to the Church Age, I don’t use Scripture from the Old Testament to provide information concerning such. As for other subjects, Old Testament Scriptures can provide additional insight. However, in this instance, because there are such limited examples of this sexual practice, I have decided to have us take a look at how the Jews under Moses’ guidance viewed this interaction. What is this sexual behavior, you ask? Read on.
1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
The Lord (Yahweh) is instructing Moses to convey His thoughts on incest to the children of Israel. Believe it or not, the transliteration of the Hebrew or Greek word for incest appears nowhere in the Old or New Testament. When we think of incest today, probably many of us think of sexual relations between a brother and sister or even cousins. However, what we are about to find out, at least as far as the Old Testament goes, is that this involves more family members than first thought. Because I could find very little about this in the New Testament, why not at least take a look at what sexual relations were considered as incestual in the Old Testament.
6 None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord.
The words that are used in this context for incest are near of kin. Generally speaking, these words included the extended family as well as the immediate family.253 Below are the many verses that pertain to the instances where sexual relations would be considered as incest. Let’s read them over, and then I will provide a clearer summary as to who was involved.
7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
8 The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness.
9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.
10 The nakedness of thy son's daughter, or of thy daughter's daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness.
11 The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
12 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister: she is thy father's near kinswoman.
13 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister: for she is thy mother's near kinswoman.
14 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.
15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son's wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.
The wording of these verses could be confusing as to who is who. So, according to UBS [United Bible Society] Old Testament Handbook, incest could involve sexual relations of a son with his own mother; a son with his stepmother; a brother with his sister; a brother with his stepsister, a father with his son’s or daughter’s daughter (a grandchild); a son with his father’s or mother’s sister; a son with his father’s brother’s wife; a father with his son’s wife; and a son with his brother’s wife. Whew.
With this in mind, how do the New Testament Scriptures define incest?
Are the descriptions of what constitutes incest under Moses and the Jews the same for believers in the New Testament?
Are there any examples of incest in the New Testament?
There might be one that is found in the book of 1 Corinthians. Let’s turn there.
That one should have his father’s wife
1 Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.
Here is an example of a man having been found out to have had sexual relations with his father’s wife, who was actually his stepmother. At this time, I’m sure the Jewish faith would consider this as incest, and it probably would be looked upon as such in the same manner by the New Testament church unless Scripture declared otherwise. The consequence for this offense was that certain ones in the church would meet together and decide whether to impose a censure on this believer, thus removing him from fellowship for a fixed period of time.
I assume that the reason he was not excommunicated was that he probably repented of this sin when he was brought before those of the assembly who were in charge of hearing such matters. And presumably, when the allotted time for him to not be allowed to fellowship was up that there would probably be those believers who could testify either on his behalf as to whether or not he was continuing to engage in such sexual activity.
In the United States, laws regarding incest (i.e., sexual activity between family members or close relatives) vary considerably between jurisdictions. In all that two states (and the special case of Ohio, which “targets only parental figures”), incest between consenting adults is criminalized. In New Jersey and Rhode Island, incest between consenting adults (16 or over for Rhode Island, 18 or over for New Jersey) is not a criminal offense, though marriage is not allowed in either state.254
I don’t believe there are any other examples of incest in the New Testament. As we have just been made aware, there is a lack of consensus by the states as to whether this act is considered criminal. However, what we do know is that every state has concluded that anyone involved in such a relationship is not allowed to get married. And furthermore, scripturally speaking, any incestual sexual relationship would be classified as committing fornication.
So, how should we as Christians regard incest? I believe it should be regarded by us as a behavior that is not condoned.
Are there any other Scriptures that mention sexual relations with which Christians should not be involved?
Let’s go forward to the book of 1 Corinthians.
Shall not inherit
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
The apostle Paul declares a truth, which is not a surprise according to the Christian faith, that the unrighteous (the unsaved) shall not inherit (enter into) the Kingdom of God. And for whatever reason, maybe because at the time certain sins were considered acceptable in society and even esteemed as a means to worship or to satisfy some false deity. And anyone who would commit such would not enter into God’s Kingdom. Some of the sins mentioned, which are sexual in the description, are as follows.
⁓ Fornicators – Those who have sex outside of marriage.
⁓ Adultery – Sex with someone who is not your husband or wife.
⁓ Effeminate or the abusers of themselves with mankind - the passive and active partners... in male homosexual relation (Barrett)255; men who submit to or who practice homosexuality.256
And after he mentioned these various behaviors, he said to the believers at Corinth that such were some of these actions that they themselves were involved in, but at salvation, three things happened to them which changed their lives forever.
- They were washed.
They were baptized into the Christian faith being identified with Christ in His death and burial which separated them from sin’s power; and having been identified with Him in His resurrection became new creations walking in newness of life by the same power that raised Him from the dead.
- They were sanctified.
They were separated from common, earthly, or sinful uses, to be wholly employed in the service of the true God.257
- They were justified.
They were accepted as righteous by having entered into a new relationship with God.
And now that they were born-again, they had a new standing before God, and the opportunity by means of the Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit to no longer continue in these actions. So, these Scriptures further confirm that a Christian should not be involved with fornication, adultery, or homosexuality.
The next sexual practice we will consider was taking place at what was called the temple of Aphrodite. I’m sure you could make an educated guess as to what I am talking about.
Shall I then take the members of Christ
1 Corinthians 6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
Evidently, there were some believers at the church of Corinth, who were engaging in sex with prostitutes. At one temple alone, called the temple of Aphrodite, there were said to be over 1,000 female prostitutes working there. The apostle Paul’s response to this was to remind them that their spiritual connection with Christ belongs not merely to the soul, but also to the body, so that we are flesh of His flesh.258 He then said to them, shall I take a member (a part of Christ in vital union with him259) and engage this same body with a harlot (prostitute) and not affect my spiritual condition? He emphatically concluded his remarks by saying, “God forbid” (let it not be so). This verse clearly tells us that prostitution is not a sexual avenue that a Christian should be participating in.
We have one more Scriptural section to look at, which will unveil another sexual practice, the committing of such many would consider today as a particular criminal act. Do you have any idea as to what sexual practice this is?
Nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind
1 Corinthians 6:9
There are many examples of this sexual crime in the Old Testament Scriptures. This action was considered as being generally acceptable during Roman times, especially when committed on those who were of a lower social class. The sexual crime we are talking about is called rape. In today’s society, this word can mean sexual assault, forced stripping, or forced public nakedness. The on-line dictionary describes rape as unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.260
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
While I couldn’t find a storied example of such in the New Testament, some scholars believe that the Greek words arsenokoitai - abusers of themselves with mankind and malakoi - effeminate are specifically speaking out against these predatory practices of sexual abuse where a dominant, high-status man (viewed as masculine by patriarchal society) would sexually abuse a young boy or slave (seen as “effeminate” because of their lesser power in their patriarchal society261). Based on the acceptability of this action at this time, it would seem plausible that these two words beside implying the sexual practice of pedophilia could also refer to the predatory sexual abuse known as rape.
Scripture certainly has helped us in learning about what sexual practices God condones and which ones He does not. And so, here are the summarized findings.
~ Christians that are married and/or those who remain celibate are sanctioned by the Word of God.
~ Marriage between a man and a woman is encouraged, especially if there is a desire to engage in sexual relations.
~ Fornication (having sex outside of marriage), lesbianism or homosexuality (sex with someone of the same gender), incest (sex with someone of the immediate or extended family), adultery (sex with someone other than one’s husband or wife), prostitution (sex with someone who sells their body for pleasure), rape (forcible sexual assault), pedophilia (sex with a child), and polygamy (having more than one wife) are considered as actions that are not condoned by God.
If you are attending a church or group that advocates or approves of its members engaging in any of these sexual actions that God does not condone, then hopefully you will recognize these teachings as not being supported by God’s Word and will make the appropriate decisions to remove yourself from this ungodly environment. Otherwise, you will inhibit the ministry of the Holy Spirit being operative in your life. You will evidence to others an ungodly testimony, a testimony of sexual sin. And unfortunately, your advance to spiritual maturity will be hindered.
God wants the best for you. Sin doesn’t have to continually define us. You are a new creature. Learn about whom God has made you to be and how this can become an experiential reality in your life. And don’t allow teachings of the flesh to recontrol you. Break free, learn the Word, and live according to the fruit and power of the Holy Spirit.
Before we close this study, something came into my mind that I thought would be a good supplement to the doctrines of destruction that we have been focusing on. And that is, what would be those characteristics which exemplify Godly leadership and subsequently what would be those characteristics which would exemplify ungodly leadership. In this regard, two articles will be presented that pertain to such in the next chapter.
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210 Weust Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.
211 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.
212 Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
213 Weust Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.
214 Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 27 February 2019 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
215 Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
216 Weust Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.
217 Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
218 Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament.
219 The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
220 Barnes’ Notes.
221 Weust Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.
223 Weust Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.
224 The Pulpit Commentary.
225 Weust Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.
226 Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
227 Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown Commentary.
228 “Four Greek Words for “Love”,” <https://www.mcleanbible.org/sites/default/files/Multiply-Resources/Chap3/GreekWordsforLoveWS_Chapter3.pdf>.
229 Barnes’ Notes.
231 Weust Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.
232 Weust Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.
233 DHYPERLINK "http://www.dictionary.com/"ictionary.com.
234 Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown.
235 Four Greek Words for “Love”.
236 Weust Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.
237 Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown Commentary.
238 The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
239 The Pulpit Commentary.
240 Weust Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.
241 Calvin's Commentaries. Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 20 March 2019 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
242 Four Greek Words for “Love”.
243Timothy Williams, “Why a Vote on Gay Clergy and Same-Sex Marriage Could Split the United Methodist Church,” 2019. <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/26/us/united-methodist-church-gay-same-sex-marriage.html>.
244 Barnes’ Notes.
245 Robertson’s New Testament.
246 Weust Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.
247 Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown.
248 The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
249 Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament.
250 Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
251 Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
252 Barnes’ Notes.
253 IVP Bible Background Commentary.
254 UBS Old Testament Handbook Series Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 01 April 2019 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
255 “Laws regarding incest,” <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_regarding_incest>.
256 UBS New Testament.
257 UBS New Testament.
258 Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
259 Calvin's Commentaries.
260 Robertson’s New Testament.