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The War on Sexual Sin

In the wake of conservative Christian outrage over the Supreme Court rulings on Proposition 8 and DOMA, David Platt (covered by Grace Thornton of Baptist Press) urges believers to remember that every human being struggles with sexual sin, and all of it is reprehensible before God. Platt says,

"If we roll our eyes and shake our heads when we see the Supreme Court ruling on this case, yet we turn the channels on our TVs to watch the trivialization of sex on shows and advertisements, to surf the Internet to find images in order to satisfy our lusts, to go to movies that glamorize sex ... and entertain sexual thoughts and desires outside of our own marriage, then we have missed the entire point.”

Platt also notes,

“Sins shouldn't be acceptable just because they are the sins of the majority.”

Progressive blogger Rachel Held Evans brought up a point similar to this in a recent blog post, entitled “Everyone’s a Biblical Literalist Until You Bring Up Gluttony” – writing,

“…in spite of the flood of emails I get each week condemning my support of women in ministry, I’ve never received so much as an open letter criticizing my refusal to wear a head covering, even though my Web site is full of photographic evidence of what the apostle Paul calls a “disgrace” in 1 Corinthians 11:6.

We may laugh at these examples or dismiss them silly, but the biblical language employed in these contexts is actually pretty strong: eating shellfish is an abomination, a bare head is a disgrace, gossips will not inherit the kingdom of God, careless words are punishable by hell, guys who leer at women should gouge out their eyes.”

On, Russell Moore also weighs in on the sins of the majority. He writes that the popular approval of same-sex marriage might be a needed boost for the Christian community to start taking marriage seriously again, stating,

“The dangerous winds of religious liberty suppression means that our nominal Bible Belt marrying parson ways are over. Good riddance. This means we have the opportunity, by God’s grace, to take marriage as seriously as the gospel does, in a way that prompts the culture around us to ask why.”

In the Baptist Press article, Platt argues that, instead of selectively focusing our displeasure on homosexuality (certainly not a sin of the majority) we should combat our “sex-crazed culture” by refocusing our efforts on waging war against all sexual sins in our own lives, including adultery, pornography, sex outside of marriage, and masturbation.

While Platt argues that the Bible could not be clearer on the Christian way to approach these areas, these topics have been the subject of books, sermons, and blogs for time out of mind – sometimes with grey areas winning out over black and white answers. After all, according to Crosswalk article “Sex: God’s Got an Opinion,” the institutional church of AD 200 had such a low view of even marital sex that (between feasts and observances) sex was only permissible for about 44 days per year.

Many current bloggers and authors are dealing with these hard questions of how Christians should approach sexuality, often led by the realization that marriage and sexual ethics were practiced very differently in the ancient near-eastern world of the Bible (for example, see the saga of Judah and Tamar). Godly men had many wives, and God allowed it. Rapists were legally required to marry the women they raped. (Many even note that the love making displayed in the Song of Solomon isn't necessarily between a husband and wife; it could reasonably be interpreted as being between an engaged couple or simply between lovers) These are difficult issues to wrestle with, and while, with proper study, we can see God at work in this more primitive and patriarchal culture, questions still beg to be asked and grappled with.

Perhaps, as Platt states, a full-out assault on sexual sin is necessary in such times as ours. But others have suggested that evangelical Christianity desperately needs to develop a healthy sexual ethic – working toward the good (what is God’s ideal for human sexuality? How can I actively pursue that?) instead of just fighting against a set of unquestioned black and white rules. Unfortunately, because many young people grow up without an understanding of why they have been taught certain sexual rules and boundaries, those boundaries often go out the window once doubts and questions do creep in.

What do you think? For more resources on this topic, check out these Crosswalk, Religion Today, and articles:

How to Live with True Purity
A Hunla Hunka Burnin’ Love…or Lust?
A Warped Worldview: Another Moral Effect of Pornography
The Thing About Sex
Would You Attend a Same-Sex Wedding?

…and these articles from around the Christian blogosphere:

Preston Yancey’s series on Creating a Holistic Sexual Ethic
Christians & Masturbation: Seven Perspectives
How Pride, Virginity, and Abstinence Messed Up My Sex Life
Why You Should Really Stop Watching Porn
I’m Gay, and 10 Questions You May Have About What That Means
I Am Not a Sex-Fueled Robot

Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for

Publication date: July 11, 2013