Summary: The system of sexual morality which begins with God operates on three levels, in three dimensions. First it binds the individual, then the couple, and finally the entire society. And each dimension reflects something of the nature of our Creator.
So what is all this fuss over marriage about, anyway? And why shouldn’t any two people who love each other be given the blessing of church and state? Come to think of it, why should it be limited to two people? After all, David had any number of wives, at least 8 that we know of not counting the concubine Abishag when they were trying to warm him up on his deathbed And he was “a man after God’s own heart.” And Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines. What’s the big deal? After all, it’s natural for men to want to chase around; scientists tell us that our genetic code demands that we do everything in our power to maximize
the number of our offspring. And anything natural is good, right? Polygamy’s been practiced all over the world since the beginning of time. A couple of years ago, some feminists - believe it or not - were floating the idea of man-sharing as a way to “have it all” - with several wives, those with strong maternal instincts could take care of the children and those with careers wouldn’t have to feel guilty. And it’s not as if there were hordes of marriageable men out there, after all... Wouldn’t it be better to go shares on the best of the lot than to settle for a miserable unshaven layabout? It’s just another form of extended family, so to speak. And isn’t keeping the older wives kinder than casting them out into the streets -along with the children - off when a newer, more exciting one comes
And why limit it to multiple wives, anyhow? Don’t women deserve equal treatment? Of course, there are usually more spare women about than men, which is why polyandry is so much rarer ... Although there are tribes in the Himalayas where women have more than one husband...
Or - let’s be really adventurous, really think outside the box so to speak - aren’t we being awfully species-ist? I read not too long ago where a man sued the hospital for refusing to give his dog visiting rights, after all, he’d listed her as his next of kin, and didn’t he have the right to choose who he wanted to be with? Well, I actually think that was a gag story. Not one intended to make people gag, you understand, but a joke...
Well, at least we’re no longer deluged in the daily news with screaming headlines about the infidelities of our national leaders. Not this week, at any rate.... Even if a reporter dug up a scandal, we probably wouldn’t pay much attention unless it was about someone the jackals wanted to bring down anyway. I think the public is suffering from adultery fatigue. But are we really in any better shape as a nation than we were a couple of years ago?
What has happened to us?
The recent Presbytery vote on same-sex unions was an interesting contrast to the one a few years ago on Amendment B - you know, the fidelity and chastity amendment. Our meeting last Tuesday evening was very eye-opening. At least this time we didn’t have people saying they didn’t know what chastity meant, and even those in favor of same-sex marriage believed that sex should take place within a context of “commitment.”
The chair of the Church and Society Committee said that he thought the whole issue of same-sex marriages was really irrelevant, since such a small percentage of our population would actually want to take that route. He thought we ought to deal with out-of-wedlock births and fatherless families. My answer to him was that the two problems are related. Both have to do with the fact that our society believes that we can make up our own rules for how to be in relationship with one
another... we can marry whom we like, as often as we like, and it doesn’t have to last any longer than we want it to. Even if we pay lip service to the idea of commitment, unless we get the whole picture of God’s intention for human sexuality right, we’re going to wind up with a mess.
And so this sermon on adultery has to start a whole lot farther back at the beginning. Because, you see, you can’t possibly talk about why God calls two people together - of opposite sexes but equal in value and status - to make a lifetime, exclusive commitment. We can’t understand why any of the variations on the theme, from polygamy to divorce to adultery - are wrong, without understanding what marriage is, and what sex is. So, folks, we’re are starting with the Biblical equivalent of the birds and the bees. That is to say, with the book of Genesis.