Dating and Sexual Immorality

There are several Scriptural references which directly address sexual intimacy in dating. One of these would be Exodus 20:14, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Deut. 5:18; Luke 18:20; James 2:11), and its corollary, Matthew 5:27-28:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say to you
That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

A second Scriptural reference addressing sexual intimacy in dating is Ex. 22:16-17:

“And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surety endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.”

We can see from this Old Testament case law that sexual intimacy before marriage is illegal in God’s economy. Although the penalty for this violation is not death, as in the case of adultery, it is a crime that exacts a monetary penalty. The difference in the penalty is because the seduction of a virgin does not involve the breaking of a vow (North, 1990). Fornication by unmarried partners was a crime in the Old Testament. In the New Testament era, seduction remains an attack on the authority structure of the girl’s family (North, 1990).

A third Scriptural principle involving sexual intimacy in dating would be the general prohibition against any type of sexual impurity such as sodomy (homosexual activity – Lev. 18:22), prostitution (Lev. 19:29), bestiality (Ex. 22:19), incest (Lev. 20:11), and fornication (I Cor. 6:9-20; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3) (North, 1983).

Finally, in Heb. 13:4, God says that sexual intimacy is to be reserved for the marriage bed:

“Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers [fornicators] and adulterers God will judge.”

It is left now for us to define sexual intimacy. Acts 15:29 says that as Christians we must restrain from sexual immorality. The Greek word used is porneia, which has been variously interpreted to mean anything from strictly sexual intercourse (Vine’s Expository Dictionary) to uncleanness as it is used by Moses in Deut. 24:1 (Sutton, 1988). I believe it to mean any kind of moral impurity including sexual impurity. If this is so, then any activity that would result in sexual impurity is prohibited before marriage. This would include fornication, adultery, incest, sodomy, and bestiality.

Friendship

Dating

Going Steady

Engaged

Married

L & T

L,T, & h

L,T, h, & H

L,T, h, H & k

L,T, h, H, k, K, fk, B, SO, & SI

KEY

L – look
T – touch
h – holding hands lightly
H – constant holding hands
k – light kiss
K – strong kiss
fk – french kiss
B – fondling breasts
SO – sexual organs
SI – sexual intercourse

Sexual Intimacy Before Marriage

“That which has its natural end in sexual intercourse should be held to your wedding night….” (Wright, 1977:197)

This chart of sexual intimacy permitted before and after marriage reflects my understanding of the Greek word porneia. When comparing Matthew 5:31-32 with Deuteronomy 24:1, Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees were distorting what Moses had taught. They had twisted Deuteronomy 24:1 so that all a man had to do in order to be rid of his wife was to write out a certificate of divorce. They had left out the requirement of finding the “unclean thing” in her, a specific offense (Sutton, 1988). Jesus supported Moses when He said that divorce requires porneia, “fornication.” Moses’ use of “uncleanness” and Jesus’ use of “fornication” was the same. Both these words generally refer to the same thing.

The original words for “indecent thing” (uncleanness) and “fornication” are coextensive in their meanings in the Hebrew Old Testament, the LXX, and the Greek New Testament (Bahnsen, 1984).  According to Dr. Greg Bahnsen, they both speak of “generic, ethically abhorrent misbehavior with the focus on sexual immorality” (Bahnsen, 1984:106).  In Exodus 22:27 and Isaiah 20:2, the “unclean thing” refers to nakedness, and in Exodus 20:26, 1 Corinthians 12:23, and Revelation 16:15 to the genital organ. In a broad sense, sexual immorality includes incest (Lev. 18:6; Acts 15:29; 1 Cor. 5:1), whoredom (Ez. 23:18; Gen. 38:24; 1 Cor. 6:15-16; 7:2), and homosexuality (Gen. 9:22; Ez. 22:10; Rom. 1:27; Jude 7).

The Greek word for fornication, porneia, is also used in a general sense for morally shameful behavior. In the LXX it is used for Numbers 14:33, Jeremiah 2:20; 3:9, and Hosea 5:4; 9:1 describing murmuring, arrogance, no fear of God, and idolatry. It is also used to denote witchcraft in 2 Kings 9:22 (Bahnsen, 1984). The Biblical concepts of “uncleanness” and “fornication” are virtually identical in Biblical writings. So, any sexual activity, and not just sexual intercourse, that is morally shameful, arrogant, selfish, or idolatrous would fall into the same category as adultery, fornication, bestiality, and homosexuality as being contrary to the will of God.

The unsaved world views these things to be deeply sexual (even touching of the female breasts). Christians, with their Biblical ethics and laws, should set the standard of sexual behavior in the world. Christians, when they are dating, should witness to these standards even as they witness of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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REFERENCES

Bahnsen, Greg L.
1984 Theonomy and Christian Ethics. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed.
North, Gary
1983 Unconditional Surrender: God’s Program for Victory. Tyler, Texas: Geneva Divinity School Press.

1990 Tools of Dominion. Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics.
Sutton, Ray
1988 Second Chance. Fort Worth, Texas: Dominion Press.
Wright, H. Norman
1977 Premarital Counseling. Chicago: Moody.

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A Brief Argument for Baptism by Pouring

The Greek word that must be dealt with in the New Testament and in the LXX is baptizw (baptize). Many have said in the past that this word, by its very nature, means to immerse. This is simply not so. The root to this word, bapto, means to dip. The context must determine whether this is dipped under or into (immerse or pour). So, we must see how Scripture uses this very important word.

The most telling Biblical argument for pouring is that the only actual description of a baptism found in the New Testament describes it as a pouring. This baptism is prophesied by John the Baptizer in Matthew 3.11,

  • I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and [with] fire:

We also read of this coming baptism in Acts 1.4-5,

  • And, being assembled together with [them], commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, [saith he], ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

When dealing with the new Gentile converts, Peter refers to this baptism in Acts 11.16,

  • Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

This prophecy of Christ baptizing His Church with the Holy Spirit is fulfilled in Acts 2 and 10. In each case we are told that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the people.

  • And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? . . . And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: . . . Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth [poured out – ed.] this, which ye now see and hear.
    Acts 2.7,17-18, & 33
  • While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    Acts 10.45

It is possible that Paul is alluding to this baptism in Titus 3.5-6 where he says,

  • Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us [poured out upon us – ed.] abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Another argument for Biblical baptism as pouring or sprinkling rather than immersion is the use of the Greek words formed from the root baptw in the LXX to refer to the ceremonial pouring and sprinklings of the Old Testament. Even in the New Testament the English translators render the words formed from the root baptw as wash rather than immerse, and the Old Testament ceremonial washings done by sprinkling or pouring are referred to as baptisms.

In Mark 7.4 baptiswntai is translated wash,

  • And [when they come] from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, [as] the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.

These tables certainly were not immersed, but were just as certainly baptized – that is, washed.

One of the most telling uses of baptize (baptismois) rendered as washing is Hebrews 9.10 where the baptisms mentioned refer to the ceremonial washings found in Exodus and Leviticus, which were sprinklings or pourings. These washings in Exodus and Leviticus are translated from the Hebrew into the Greek LXX as baptisms.

  • [Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings [baptisms], and carnal ordinances, imposed [on them] until the time of reformation. . . . For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
    Hebrews 9.10, 13-14
  • And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash [baptize – ed.] them with water. . . . Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put [it] upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about. And thou shalt take of the blood that [is] upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle [it] upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.
    Exodus 29.4, 20-21
  • And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field. . . . And he shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times:
    Leviticus 7, 51

For a more detailed and certainly more scholarly article on this subject,
see RL Dabney’s writings taken from his Systematic Theology.

The Sign of the Cross

You might have noticed some Christians praying in Church using the sign of the cross. Whether you choose to use this prayer help or not, it is good for you to understand the use of this sign as well as its history. After reading this brief article, you too might desire to use the sign of the cross as a prayer help. If not, at least you will have a better understanding why some of us do. It needs to be said that many devout Christians choose not to make the sign of the cross in prayer.

According to an article published on the web site of the Sacred Heart Church1 in Seattle, WA, whenever we use the sign of the cross we are reminded of the sufferings and death of our Savior, and thereby we are filled with fervent love, profound gratitude, and earnest contrition.

“The sign of the cross is the symbol of our deliverance and the emblem of the mercy of God giving redemption to sinful man.”

“The form of words which we use in making this sign, together with the action performed, manifests our belief in the principal truths of our religion. We say: ‘In the name’ – not ‘names’ – and thereby express our faith in the unity of God. We mention the three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and thus show our belief in the Adorable Trinity. The cross itself, made with the hand, manifests our faith in the incarnation, death and resurrection of our Blessed Savior, and shows that we regard Him not only as God but as man – for that He might be able to die on the cross it was necessary that He should possess a human nature. Thus we have in this brief formula a summary of the most important articles of our faith.”

“The making of the sign of the cross is a very ancient practice. It probably goes back to Apostolic times, and was in common use in the second century. Among the early Christians it was usually made very small, by a slight movement of the finger or thumb, on the forehead or breast. … The triple sign of the cross was employed very commonly in the early centuries of the Church and in the Middle Ages. … It is made by marking the forehead, the lips and the breast with a small cross, using the thumb, and is intended to remind us that our intellect must be attentive to the Word of God, our lips ready to announce His truths, and our hearts filled with love toward Him.”

“The ordinary method of making the sign of the cross is … the putting of the right hand to the forehead, to the breast and to the left and the right shoulder, with the words: ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.’ “

This holy symbol of our salvation, then, can in good conscience be frequently used by us and is used in several worship services, such as at Baptism, the Anointing of the Sick, and sometimes at the Benediction. In making the sign of the cross, we become partakers in the wonderful history of our faith, and companions of the glorious saints of the Church.

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1.  http://landru.i-link-2.net/shnyves

Victory

A crown of thorns we placed upon His head.
They pricked Him, cut His skin. He bled.
We beat Him, tormented Him, spit on Him, reviled Him.
We rejected him, cursed Him, accused Him, whipped Him.
Yet He did not condemn us. And He said,
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

He carried His cross, a burden, up the hill.
We hung Him. His feet and hands we nailed.
We laughed at Him, chanted at Him, stripped Him, pierced Him.
We rejected Him, tormented Him, hurt Him, murdered Him.
Yet He still loves us. And He said,
“It is finished.” He bowed His head.

We broke the legs of the thieves on each side,
But we didn’t break Jesus, we pierced His side.
His blood with water was spilled on the ground,
And He died the king, with a thorny crown.

Joseph took Jesus from the cross;
Nicodemus covered Him with spices and cloth.
We carried Him to His grave in the garden;
There we laid Him so dead and lost.

Three days later God raised Jesus.
And because He lives, through Christ, God saves us.
And with great joy I wish to proclaim
That Jesus Christ is risen and reigns!

Oh! How I love God! Glory be to God!
Blessed be the Lord God! All praise to God!

Benefits of Liturgical Worship

Some Christians think that liturgical worship is insincere, mechanical, non-Protestant, and therefore vain worship. Although liturgical worship can become mechanical and vain, so can any form of worship. Vain repetition takes place when we “amen” a prayer to which we have paid little or no attention. It happens when we mindlessly sing a hymn without concentrating on the actual words. However, when we are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually involved in what we are saying and singing, even if the prayers and hymns are pre-composed, there is nothing mechanical or vain about our worship.

If you were to ask most church-goers when they feel the most involved in worship, most would say they feel the most active and involved when singing well known hymns and scripture songs together with other members of the body of Christ. Few of us could write our own meaningful hymns from week to week, and it would surely be difficult for us to praise God together unless we had a pre-composed hymn of praise in hand.

Pre-composed hymns and scripture songs give opportunity for all in attendance to worship both corporately and intelligently before the throne of God. Although most of these hymns were written by others long before any of us were born, as long as we sincerely mean what we are singing, then singing these hymns is certainly appropriate when it comes to corporate praise. Why then do so many consider it inappropriate to take this same approach to corporate prayer?

Liturgical worship in the form of pre-composed prayers, orthodox creeds, canticles of praise, and antiphonal responses take up where hymns and scripture songs leave off. They provide the opportunity for all in attendance to fulfill their priestly function of praise and prayer before the throne of God. Worshipers use the liturgy as a tool to fully participate in all aspects of the worship service. And while it is most certainly true that the liturgy can never and should never replace the sermon, neither can the sermon nor any other activity performed by one or more persons ever adequately substitute for the congregation’s call to pray in agreement and in unison as a priesthood of believers.

A liturgical format serves to maintain a certain level of integrity in worship by providing rich Biblical content along with a logical structure. Like hymns, the liturgy provides a theological grid and context by which to better understand and interpret the scriptures. As long as the Church remains committed to the inerrancy and authority of the scriptures, the liturgy will serve to guide and instruct participants in Biblical truth while they are in the very act of worship. Children in particular benefit from the continual use of liturgical prayer. The liturgy serves to reinforce the basic truths taught at home and in Church. By becoming familiar with the liturgy, they also learn a great deal about the nature and substance of prayer which will eventually help in the formation of their own personal and individual prayers.

On one side are Christians who stress liturgy and sacrament and written prayer. On the other side are Christians who stress intimacy, informality, and spontaneous prayer. In the words of Richard J. Foster, “It is here that we need the holy conjunction ‘and.’ We need not be forced to choose one over another. Both are inspired by the same Spirit. We can be lifted into high, holy reverence by the richness and depth of a well-crafted liturgy. We can also be drawn into breathless wonder through the warmth and intimacy of spontaneous worship. Ours is a spirituality that can embrace both.”

The Doctrines of Grace

by Robert Himes+ © 1990

(as published in America at the Millennium: the Best Poems and Poets of the 20th Century ISBN 1-58235-510-X)

Promiscuous immorality;
Vile, bestial depravity;
Continuous, malevolent, obscene wickedness –
Man is an animal. Man is immoral. Only evil emerges.
Man is full of sin.

Abounding mercy;
Compassionate, forgiving grace;
Unconditional, loving, divine election –
He is God. God is merciful. He loves and saves sinful men.
He is full of grace.

Total submission;
Painful, horrible crucifixion;
Substitutionary, impeccable, blood atonement –
He is the Lord. Jesus died for His sheep. Crucified on Calvery,
He died in our place.

Irresistible grace;
Powerful, drawing personality;
Revealing, comforting, nourishing breath –
He is the Spirit. Spirit draws men to God. He cannot be resisted.
He reveals the Son.

Priestly kingdom;
Chosen, trusting people;
Persevering, submissive, worshipping Israel –
We are the elect. We believe and trust. His love and grace overflows.
We will persevere.

The Mark of Maturity

Probably at some time in your life you have known someone who was a living example of Christian maturity.  God worked mightily in them and through them.  Perhaps you know someone like that right now.  What makes them different?  What makes them a mature Christian?

In Hebrews 5:14 God reveals to us one of the marks of a mature Christian, which is the ability to discern both good and evil.  In Genesis 2:9b, 3:5, and 3:22, the word “knowledge” comes from the same Hebrew root, yada.

“The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the  tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  Gen. 2:9

“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Gen. 3:5

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.”  Gen. 3:22

In these verses, the word “knowledge” would more accurately be understood as “determine.” Thus, the sin of man, from the time of the garden, and ever since, has been the act of determining for ourselves what is good and evil. Man desires to establish his own laws and not obey the laws of God.

When Adam took of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he was, as Calvin wrote, “trusting to his own understanding” and establishing himself as “an arbiter and judge of good and evil.”1

Sutton agreed with Calvin when he wrote,

“[Satan] offered Adam divine authority.  He told man that he would                become like God, ‘knowing (determining) good and evil’ (Gen. 3:3), if            he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. . . . But the way            to manifest God was not by ‘knowing’ (determining) good and evil;                rather, it was by ruling as a delegated authority.”2

Adam’s sin was not simply in coming to know the difference between good and evil, but in determining for himself what was good and evil. Adam’s sin, and even Satan’s rebellion, stemmed from a desire to decide for himself what is good and evil.

Christian maturity is just the opposite.  Mature Christians are spoken of in 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul reveals that Christians can experience different levels of spirituality and carnality.  In Hebrews 5:14, the instruction from God is that a mature Christian is one who can discern God’s Law and apply it to everyday situations.  The difference is between determining and discerning. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb. 5:14).

To “discern” both good and evil is to distinguish between what God considers good and evil. W.E. Vine defines “discern” as, “a distinguishing, a clear discrimination. . . . In Heb. 5:14 . . . of those who are capable of discriminating between good and evil.”3  Robertson adds, “To discern . . . ‘For deciding between’ . . . (between good and evil).”4

So, we must conclude that, if we aspire to maturity, we must study God’s Law and learn to apply it to our lives.  For me, this means I must not only know and understand the Ten Commandments, but also the case law of the Old Testament – Exodus 21-23 where the Ten Commandments are applied to specific cases5 – as well as the Sermon on the Mount and the instructions of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Maturity demands diligent study of the Word of God and discerning application of the Law of God.

Think about it!

NOTES

  1. Calvin’s Commentaries – Vol. 1, John Calvin, translated by the Rev. John King, M.A., Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1979, p. 118.

2.  That You May Prosper, Ray Sutton, Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, Texas, 1987, p. 44.

3.  Vine’s Expository Dictionary, W.E. Vine, ed. by F.F. Bruce, Fleming Revel Co,, Old Tappan, NJ, 1981, p. 315.

4.  Word Pictures in the Old Testament – Vol. 5, Archibald Thomas Robertson, Broadman Press, Nashville, 1932, p. 372.

5.  Tools of Dominion, Dr. Gary North, Institute for Christian Economics,    Tyler, Texas, 1987.