Let’s talk about sex…

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talk-sex

Acts 15: 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

Here the leaders in Jerusalem are giving counsel to new believers outside of Israel, telling them what rules are particularly important – the “essentials”. The one that caught my attention “fornication”. What is fornication anyway?

I looked it up and found it interesting. First, the Greek word here translated into English as “fornication” is “porneia” – from which we get the English word “pornography”. It refers to the category of sexual activities that are considered immoral. Therein lies the rub. What exactly is considered sexually immoral?

Cultural norms around sexuality are changing all the time. Back in the day, it was considered immoral for a man and woman to live together outside of marriage. That seems to be less so today. In the broader secular culture homosexuality is becoming more widely accepted, though it has been condemned for most of human history. There are other examples of changing mores/expectations related to sexuality.

As Christians we are compelled to take our cues, not principally from the whims of wider culture which change all the time, but from the word of God. I found a long passage giving great detail in this regard in Leviticus 20. You can see it printed below. It’s worth a look. In any event, the fact that fornication was listed among the “essentials” to be observed by new Gentile believers should give us a clue that how we exercise our sexuality matters to God.

Gracious God, we thank you today for the gift of sexuality. Give us grace to live out this important dimension of life in ways that please you – the one who created sexuality in the first place. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Leviticus 20:10 If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death. 11 The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall be put to death; their blood is upon them. 12 If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall be put to death; they have committed perversion, their blood is upon them. 13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them. 14 If a man takes a wife and her mother also, it is depravity; they shall be burned to death, both he and they, that there may be no depravity among you. 15 If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he shall be put to death; and you shall kill the animal. 16 If a woman approaches any animal and has sexual relations with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.

17 If a man takes his sister, a daughter of his father or a daughter of his mother, and sees her nakedness, and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace, and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people; he has uncovered his sister’s nakedness, he shall be subject to punishment. 18 If a man lies with a woman having her sickness and uncovers her nakedness, he has laid bare her flow and she has laid bare her flow of blood; both of them shall be cut off from their people. 19 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister or of your father’s sister, for that is to lay bare one’s own flesh; they shall be subject to punishment. 20 If a man lies with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness; they shall be subject to punishment; they shall die childless. 21 If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity; he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.

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