14 Aug Is Sexual behaviour a matter of personal preference?
An ever increasing number of people today see their sex life as a personal or private affair. When a former senior politician of our country was put to shame for fathering a son out of wedlock and then denying it, his unwitting remark was, “This is my personal matter. The country should not waste its time on this.” Tiwari was polite in saying this while many others are blatant. A blogger writes, “The quantity and quality of any individual’s sex life is a private and personal matter, and therefore nobody else’s business. If he likes his wife in a French maids costume,…or he likes his boyfriend in chaps, or she likes tying up strangers,… or they like sex in a sling, or anal sex, or with whips and chains, or only in a bed, or with a third, or in groups, or smothered in whipped cream, or no sex at all, that is all the stuff of their private lives, and no concern of ours…” People who subscribe to this belief candidly tell others not to burden them with traditional or religious moral standards. The only thing they are concerned about is ‘Safe and Responsible Sex.’
A reputed music channel in its website has a guidebook titled ‘It’s Your Sex Life’ for its young music lovers. The introductory note says, “Fundamentally, it’s your body and it’s up to you what you do with it. Remember that having sex is a choice (not just the first time, but every time) and your decision is your own.”
The belief that sex is strictly a matter of one’s choice or preference is a dangerous one. It inevitably fosters sexual permissiveness. For over four decades or more, the North American society has been the laboratory where revolutionary sexual experiments have taken place thanks to this perilous conviction. The traditional approach to sexual morality which was based on the Scripture and long believed to be essential for American society was set aside as obsolete and a permissive approach to sexuality was welcomed. The outcome has been catastrophic to say the least.
“The United States Census in 2000 that two-parent families now represent less than 25 percent of all households in America, down from 45 percent as recently as 1960. Over the same forty-year period, the percentage of single parent families tripled, the divorce rate doubled, the percentage of people getting married at all dropped lower than ever before, cohabitation increased 1000 percent (by a factor of 10), and the rate of illegitimacy (births to unmarried women) rose by more than 500 percent (by a factor of 5). But while this rise in illegitimate births is terrible, the actual rise in illegitimate pregnancy has been at least two or three times higher,
because 80 percent of abortions in America are performed on women who are not married. No one keeps statistics on the rate of sexual promiscuity, but indications like these show that the rise in promiscuity must be epidemic as well,” writes Daniel Heimbach in True Sexual Morality.
Sexual permissiveness in Indian society may not be as widespread as it is in some of the western cultures, but there are ominous signs. Consider this: A majority of the voices that vented their anger following Nirbhaya’s rape and killing were in fact voices against sexual violence and discrimination of women. The protesters and media deserve our admiration for awakening our collective consciousness in condemning injustice done to women in our nation. Nevertheless, what intrigued me was the unwillingness of the majority to relate this incident as an indicator of moral deterioration in our culture. Anyone who raised the issue of sexual morality during public discussions was immediately ‘shot down.’ The unsaid words of many protesters were, “Don’t preach to us about sexual values or code of conduct. Rape is unacceptable to us. That’s it.” Not long ago, along with rape, much other sexual behaviour was considered unacceptable by the society. Now, it seems the only unacceptable sexual behaviour is rape and everything else is a matter of one’s choice or preference.
Indian outlook on Sexuality and Sexual behaviour is rapidly changing. Sample the following statements taken out of some popular Indian magazines: “Sex before wedlock or even outside of it is no aberration today. I’d be stupid if I thought virginity was some kind of a virtue. My friends would think I’m someone out of the Bible if I accused a woman of being adulterous! So what’s all this promiscuity nonsense about? Who am I to judge anyone’s sexual behaviour? Why judge others when everyone’s into it!” says Ruchika Pandey, 20 yr old student from Mumbai. “If two persons are into something by mutual consent, I do not find anything objectionable. After all, this has to do with the very basic instincts in men and women, and artificial restraints cannot make much of a difference,” remarks Bengali litterateur Sunil Gangopadhyay (http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx? 204376-1). One thing is certain – sexual permissiveness is making inroads into our society much faster and bolder than many of us think.
For the followers of Jesus Christ, the discussion above raises some questions: Is Sex really a matter of personal choice or preference? Does it matter to God whether I remain a virgin until marriage or not? Does it matter to Him if I sleep around with others or not? Does it matter to Him whether I remain a gay or a lesbian? Does it matter to Him whether I divorce my spouse and remarry another? The biblical answer to these questions is a resounding YES! God without doubt cares about our sexual life! He created man and woman in His own image (Gen.1:26-17); Sex is God’s idea – it is a gift to us from the creator! God expects us to handle this precious gift according to His guidelines, not according to our preferences. In the OT, we clearly see God setting a moral code in matters of Sexuality (Lev.18:1-23). He strictly warned his people not to follow the sexual patterns of the ancient near eastern cultures surrounding them (Lev.18:24-29).
Though we are no more under the Law, God’s sexual standards in the New Testament era remains the same (I Cor.6:12-20, 10:6-12). Biblical sexual morality has God’s holiness as its foundation and does not change with time or place. Unlike any other time in the history of the Church, Biblical sexual morality is now being challenged by people from both within and outside. There is an all out attack on the traditional understanding of biblical sexuality by groups and movements which support sexual liberation and permissiveness. While outsiders are out rightly rejecting the Biblical standards of Sexuality, the insiders are busy revising and reinterpreting the Scripture to justify and foster those activities considered sinful by the Church from its inception. I find the latter group more subtle and dangerous. Unfortunately, some of these people are in places of influence such as Church councils, theological colleges and training institutes. As a result, many denominations across the globe are lowering their guard to accommodate several sexual behaviours which were unacceptable until now. Almost every aspect of Biblical morality is now being re-constructed to accommodate the cultural changes happening in today’s world. Sample these statements: “If two people are not thriving healthily in a situation, I say remove the marriage. Let them heal” (Amy Grant, Christian singer). “Failing to accept faithful monogamous gay and lesbian marriages many deny the work of the Spirit and put…Christians in danger of their Salvation” (Eugene Rogers, Theologian).
What is at stake is not just sexual morality but also Biblical authority. Instead of the Scripture being the ultimate authority over matters of faith and conduct, standards are being changed to accommodate the world and its patterns. We have been warned! Some years ago, Francis Schaeffer wrote: “Accommodation, accommodation. How the mindset of accommodation grows and expands…Where is the clear voice speaking to the crucial issues of the day with distinctively biblical, Christian answers? With tears we must say it is not there and that a large segment of the evangelical world has become seduced by the world spirit of this present age.
And more than this, we can expect the future to be a further disaster if the evangelical world does not take a stand for biblical truth and morality in the spectrum of life.” The Great Evangelical Disaster. Friends, do not be deceived. We are living now in a post- modern culture where every aspect of human life is seen in relative terms. We as God’s children, let us hold on to God’s unchanging truths. Here I conclude with the words of Apostle Paul, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.” I Thess.4:3-8.
About the Author
Sam K. John is an itinerant preacher and Bible teacher based out of Bangalore. He is married to Jiji and they are blessed with two children, Kripa and Kevin.