Friday, March 22, 2013

Would it be wrong if an asexual person married? In God’s eyes is an asexual couple sinning because they are not intimate with each other? If this is a sin, what do they do if they can’t fulfill this commandment? Is divorce an option?


What is “asexuality”? 

“Asexuality” is not a topic many are very familiar with. Usually the term (in its modern usage when discussing humans) is understood as meaning “nonsexuality”, or “the lack of sexual attraction to anyone or low or absent interest in sexual activity" (wikipedia). 

Basically when one identifies themselves as being “asexual” they are saying that they do not have any sexual attraction to anyone and at times are unable to perform sexually at all. (Note: Although not being discussed in this post, the term “asexual” is also used in science to discuss an organism with no sex organs). 

Does an asexual person have to get married?

There is no command in the Bible for a person to get married. In fact, some in the Bible purposely decided to live a life a celibacy so they may be more focused on working for God (such as the Apostle Paul). 

The Bible does present marriage as an outlet for heterosexual desire. (1 Corinthians 7:1-2) states: “Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband”. This however is not the only purpose for marriage.

A person does not have to get married. If a person does not think they would want to ever be intimate with a spouse, they may choose to not get married and become a “eunuch” (a person who cannot have sex). 
"For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it." (Matthew 19:4)
What if an asexual person or couple gets married, do they have to be sexually intimate with each other?

A couple who cannot or does not want to have sex may still want to get married. I do not see any reason why a man and women could not get married even if they do not plan on having sex. It is true that one of the natural God ordained purposes of marriage is sexual intimacy, but it some marriages that might not be able to take place. Some examples of this may be a couple in which one or both parties has a disability, injury or illness, that prevents them from being able to have intercourse. 

If both parties equally did not have any sex drive (both being asexual), but still loved and remained faithful to each other while fulfilling the many duties a husband and a wife have, this marriage would still be pleasing to God. If person has no sex drive, adultery would not really be a temptation and thus the teaching to meet each other’s sexual needs (1 Corinthians 7:5) would not apply, because no sexual needs existed. 

Some have promoted the idea that a marriage does not take place unless sexual intercourse occurs. This is not true, the marriage happens when a person enters into the marriage covenant by saying the equivalent to “I do”. A paraplegic may not be able to have sex, but if he or she gets married, the marriage bond still exists and requirements of faithfulness still apply.

What if only one person in a marriage relationship has sexual desires?

If one person in a marriage did not have an active sex drive but the other person did, the asexual person would still be expected to meet the reasonable sexual needs of their spouse. Often in a marriage only one person will have the desire to be sexually intimate at a given time. Marriage is about meeting the needs of your spouse, and although one person might not find the same pleasure in sexual activity, they can still be pleased with the fact that they are pleasing their spouse and fulfilling their sexual needs.

Conclusion:

It is not a sin to not have a sex drive, however, one may want to seek some professional Christian counseling to find out if their might be something psychological that could be remedied through counseling. One should also visit a Medical Doctor to see if it is some type of hormonal imbalance or other physical condition. Just because one does not have a desire to be sexually intimate, does not mean that they are not pleasing to God. In fact, it may open doors for more dedicated service to Him.

If a person or persons who are “asexual” decide to get married, just because they cannot have sex does not mean they should divorce. I imagine that through creativity and communication they will be able to find ways to be pleasing to their spouse, romantically, physically, emotionally etc..

If one feels they do not have a sex drive or if they have a condition that makes it impossible for them to engage in sexual activity, honesty and openness dictate that they reveal this to a potential spouse prior to committing to marriage. 

Post by Cliff Sabroe - Quotations from NASB95 Bible and Wikipedia (Asexuality)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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Does the Bible teach that sex is only for procreation? What is the purpose of sex within marriage?


The Bible does teach that one of the primary purposes for sexual intimacy is the creation of children. In the familiar passage of Genesis 1:28, God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply”. Is the multiplying of mankind the only reason God created sex?

The Bible teaches that sex is a gift of God designed to be enjoyed within marriage. Although sex will often result in the blessing of a child, the Bible does not teach that this is the only purpose for the act of intercourse.

The Bible discusses many different purposes for sex within marriage
(Note: Sex is never to take place outside of a heterosexual marriage. When sex takes place out of marriage it is sinful and is usually referred to as “fornication” or “adultery”.)
Sex is for pleasure.
  • In the Song of Solomon you read of a married man and woman enjoying many moments of passionate sexual intimacy. In no place in the book do you find procreation being discussed. 
  • In the Song of Solomon sex is shown as an outpouring of affection and attraction for one’s spouse. In this inspired book of the Bible, this married couple finds great pleasure in being sexually intimate with each other on multiple occasions and in different ways.
Sex is for oneness in marriage.
  • “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 NASB).  Sexual intimacy in marriage allows a couple to consummate their union and express their closeness by becoming one flesh during the act of intercourse. You should be closer to your spouse than any other individual. Sex helps facilitate this closeness within marriage.
Sex allows for intimate knowledge of one’s spouse.
  • In many passages in our english Bibles, the word “know” is used to represent sexual relations. One such example is (Genesis 4:1) which states, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” (ESV). 
  • The word for “knew” or “relations (NASB)” is the Hebrew word yadah which is a word that means “to know, understand, perceive, learn and discern” (Strongs).  
  • The word the Old Testament uses often for sex may also demonstrate that within the intimacy of marriage one discovers a deeper understanding of their spouse through the act of intercourse. 
Sex in Marriage Protects one from Sexual Temptation.
  • In First Corinthians 7, the Apostle Paul teaches that a healthy sex-life in marriage will serve as a safeguard against adultery. 
  • "The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control". (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 NASB). 
  • Although some will find any excuse to be unfaithful within marriage, the Bible does teach that a healthy sex-life helps in keeping sexual temptations away.
Sex can comfort a hurting spouse.
  • When the child of David and Bathsheba dies, the Bible says “Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the LORD loved him” (2 Samuel 2:24 ESV). 
  • It may be, that during a time of sadness or depression, one way we may be able to comfort our hurting spouse is through physical intimacy. 
  • Society may teach that sex is selfish, dirty and bad, but the Bible teaches it is a beautiful intimate moment that takes place in a healthy marriage relationship. Sex is a way in which a married couple expresses their unselfish love for each-other. When a person is hurting or grieving, they need to know that their spouse is there to comfort them. Many times times comfort is shown through a physical means such as holding one another. Marital intimacy may be another way. This might not be the best course in every situation (be sure you know your spouse's needs), but in some cases a person may find great comfort in an intimate sexual moment with their spouse.
Answer:
  • Sex is not just for procreation. It is a gift to be enjoyed by a married couple for many different purposes from pleasure to protection, or intimate knowledge to procreation. 
  • One well-known Marriage Psychologist put it this way: 
    • “For human beings, sex isn't just to make babies. It is to join two humans in the most intimate union possible. I believe that sexual love freely shared in marriage is the most beautiful way God gave us to say, "I love you." (Beam).


By Cliff Sabroe, Scripture quotes from the NASB95, ESV and KJV Bibles. Citation from (Beam, Joe. Sex and the Bible. -  joebeam.com) 

Monday, March 18, 2013

In Gen. 9:3 we read that God told Noah "every moving thing that lives shall be food for you". Can we assume from that statement that humans were vegetarians prior to the flood? Would that account for their longevity before the flood?

I am going to answer this question in two parts.

1. Were humans vegetarians prior to the flood?
2. Why did humans live so long prior to the flood?

Question #1 - Were humans vegetarians prior to the flood?

This is a common assumption that many students of the Bible make. We have no direct reference of any humans eating meat prior to God "authorizing" it in Genesis 9. I would caution the reader of the Bible to not just assume that because God "authorized" an action at one point that some had not already been engaging in it. Mankind has a tendency to do lots of things without God's authorization. 

Our friend Eric Lyons at Apologetics Press wrote a detailed article in reference to the aforementioned question. Here is what he wrote in his article titled "Were all men vegetarians prior to the flood?"

After the creation of man and land animals on day six of the Creation week, God instructed Adam saying, “I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food” (Genesis 1:29). There is no record of God telling Adam and Eve that they could butcher cows or smoke chickens, but He did authorize them to eat the seeds and fruits of plants and trees. In the very next chapter of Genesis, it is recorded where God told Adam that he could eat “of every tree of the garden” (except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—2:16-17). Notice that nothing is said here about animals—only vegetation. Then again, in Genesis 3, when God sentenced Adam and Eve to a life outside of the Garden of Eden, He said: “And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground” (3:18-19). Three times in the first three chapters of the Bible, God instructed man regarding his diet. Each time, the Bible records only where God permitted man to eat vegetation (some of which could be made into bread—3:19). The Bible nowhere mentions man receiving permission from God to eat any kind of animal until after the Flood. It was then that God said:

And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs (Genesis 9:1-3, emp. added).

Just as God had authorized mankind to eat “green herbs” many centuries earlier, after the Flood, God gave His permission for mankind to eat “all things”—including all animals that move on the Earth and swim in the sea. [NOTE: It appears that laws regarding the eating of clean and unclean animals were not given until the Law of Moses (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14:3-21). Although a difference was made between clean and unclean animals prior to the Flood (cf. Genesis 7:2-3), this distinction seems to have applied only to the matter of which animals were suitable for sacrifice, not for consumption (cf. Genesis 8:20).]

To answer the question, “Were all men prior to the Flood vegetarians?,” one merely can conclude that the Bible reveals God giving instructions only regarding the eating of food made from vegetation prior to the Deluge. God’s Word is conspicuously silent regarding the eating of animals. However, just because God apparently did not authorize man to eat animal flesh before the Flood, does not mean that mankind abided by this regulation. It seems likely that there were some people who went beyond what God allowed, and ate various kinds of animals anyway. It is not difficult to imagine those living just prior to the Flood, whose every thought was evil continually (Genesis 6:5), leaning over a sacrificial sheep, smelling the sweet aroma, and taking a bite out of the lamb’s leg (cf. 1 Samuel 2:12-17).

Some have asked why Adam’s son Abel raised flocks, if he and his descendants were supposed to be vegetarians? Although the Bible does not say exactly why Abel was a “keeper of sheep” (Genesis 4:2), most likely it was because by raising sheep, Abel could provide clothing for himself and others, as well as provide animals that people could get from him to sacrifice to Jehovah. One thing we can know assuredly is that before the Flood, we never read of God granting permission to humans to eat animal flesh. Yet, at least three times prior to the Flood the Bible mentions God authorizing the fruit of the Earth for man’s consumption. Furthermore, Genesis 9:2-3 stresses that after the Flood a vastly different relationship existed between animals and humans. Animals developed a fear of humans, and humanity was permitted to use the flesh of animals for food, “even as the green herbs” were permitted since the beginning of the Creation (9:3; 1:29). (By Eric Lyons)  (Copyright Apologetics Press 2003) http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1257  

Answer to question #1:

It is a possibility that humans did not eat meat prior to the flood. There is also good evidence that God did not authorize eating meat prior to the account in Genesis 9. To say definitively, however, that no human ever ate meat prior to the flood would be a stretch. I believe that this is one question that does not have a definite answer.

Question #2 - Why did humans live so long prior to the flood?

The Bible does not specifically answer this question. There are many theories on the longevity of the Man in the Old Testament, however, they are nothing more than theories. Some possibilites include diet, lack of disease, climate or that God allowed them to live long to help populate the Earth. Another theory is that mankind was supposed to live forever on earth prior to the first sin, thus it took time for the "eternal genes" to be bred out. Some believe that the flood affected man's lifespan. It is true that the pre-flood earth would have been strikingly different from the post-flood earth, these changes to the world may have also affected man's longevity.

Answer to question #2

The Bible does not give enough evidence to why those in the Old Testament lived so long for one to come to a solid conclusion. There are many theories and it may be fun to speculate, however, we must all understand that unless we have a "Bible Answer", our ideas are nothing more than guesses. 

By Cliff Sabroe

Monday, March 11, 2013

Do I have to go to church every week? How often should I attend worship services? Is it ok to miss? What does the Bible teach about "going to church"?


Sunday, the first day of the week, has played an important role concerning the fellowship of the saints mainly because it serves as a time for congregational worship and devotion to God. Churches of Christ throughout the world meet on Sunday to glorify God in song, praise Him in prayer, teach His Word from the pulpit, take up a collection for different efforts of the church and partake of the Lord’s Supper. 

Why is meeting together on this day so important though? Is it really that big of a deal for a Christian not to be there on Sunday?

Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper during the Passover feast (Mat. 26:17,26-29). It was during this first day of the week that Jesus and his apostles gathered together to drink the fruit of the vine representing Christ’s blood and the unleavened bread which represented the body of Christ. After the establishment of the church we have example of Christians meeting together to take the Lord’s Supper together (Acts 20:7). Other events that take place on the Lord’s day (Sunday) are related to the taking of the Lord’s Supper. When the brethren met together to partake of the Lord’s Supper in Acts chapter twenty Paul also discoursed with them. The taking up of a collection as a congregation on the first day of the week is done so knowing that the brethren are meeting together to partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 16:1,2).

It should go without saying that Sunday is an important day in the life of a Christian. What if a Christian is sick though? What if there is a conflict of schedules with the time that the brethren meet together on Sunday and another event? What should be the thought process of a Christian? 

Thoughts for consideration when contemplating missing church services:
  1. Prioritizing your time is an important part of being a successful individual. What is most important to and what should be most important to you may be two different things. God needs to come before man and spiritual matters before the physical. 
  2. How can we encourage our brethren and teach them if we are not there? One of the key reasons Christians sing as a congregation is to teach and edify one another (Col. 3:16). 
  3. The Lord’s Supper ought to be taken by the Christian. This should be done with the other Christians in the local area. Paul in his correction of the Corinthian brethren points out how important it was for them to come together as a united group (1 Cor. 11:17-34). The brethren ‘came together’ to take the Lord’s Supper. Christians ought to be there to do so. 
  4. Will my not attending do more harm than good? Will my attending do more harm than good? There are some individuals who are physically not able to meet with the brethren. There are others who are so sick at times that they are at risk of infecting others. Wisdom ought to be used in all decisions. 
  5. Am I not going just because I do not want to be there? The Hebrew writer gives emphasis to the importance of brethren meeting together (Heb. 10:25). We need to make sure we’re not forsaking our brethren. We should want to be together to strengthen and edify one another. 
  6. What kind of example am I setting? Am I teaching other Christians what it means to really be a Christian or am I leading them down an apathetic path? Our example to others is important. How we influence others can shape lives. 
Conclusion:
Ultimately our attitude plays a vital role to understanding how important it is to meet with the brethren on Sunday. We should see it as a great opportunity! We should look forward to singing praises to God, hearing His Word, and taking the Lord’s Supper. Am I following Christ’s example or am I just looking for an excuse? Let’s all examine our real drive for meeting together and make sure that it is a Biblical one. 

Post by Tyler Kirkpatrick (Associate Minister for the West Visalia Church of Christ)