When I was a teenager at school it was before the days of Google and smart phones. Information was contained in books (NB: for the young folk – we used to call them “encyclopaedias”). Our small school library had about 12 huge volumes covering A-Z. And because the pages were of paper, “common (trending!) search terms” – as we call them nowadays – could be found by the grubbiness of previous fingers around the page and item. There was one bit that was the grubbiest of all. The most common “search term” was: “Sex”
I cannot remember what the entry for “sex” said after all these years. But I do know I went to that page at least once. Sex is sex after all!
The verses this morning got me thinking about sex.
Matthew and a transcript of a conversation between the Pharisees and Jesus – then the disciples and Jesus – and then me and Jesus …
“His disciples said to him, ‘If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.’ But he said to them, ‘Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’ ” Extract from Matthew 19:3-12
I use the New International Version, NIV. And often I check other bible versions in cases like this. Because these verses are “helpful” to both camps in the same-sex-LGBT-who-sleeps-with-who debate. An acrimonious and divisive debate. Both sides polar opposites. Even the word “eunuchs” mean different things – other languages are drawn into to prove a point – other contexts are dragged in to prove a point – other verses – other ologies – other isms. But all I want to know in order to be a good Christian is this:
Can I sleep with my best bud – should I sleep with my best bud – hands up those who say I can – can we have a re-count – can we have a ruling – can we have a manmade (but God divined) one size fits all on this matter – we need to know. Because “we” need to find sufficient grounds for excluding “them” (and to justify excluding “them” whilst still being pure and righteous ourselves) – and because (Heaven forbid) if we really have to include “them” I don’t know if I ever can!
So, I went “googling” in BibleGateway.
I thought of that word “sex” again – let’s see how much sex there is the bible. That should be useful is getting a sense of all the acrimony. Bible Gateway. Search. Sex. Go …
King James Version. Go … 0 (nil, nada, zilch) instances
New International Version. Go … 77 instances
The Message. Go … 162 instances
American Standard Version. Go …. 0 (nil, nada, zilch) instances
Common English Bible. Go … 145 instances
English Standard Version. Go … 47 instances
Mounce Reverse-Interlinear (New Testament only). Go …. 34 instances
Which surprised me. The good old KJV so many cling to as God-breathed – nil (and “The Message” with 164 mentions). Does this mean that sex is not as important in the bible (and to God?) as we would like to think it SHOULD BE?
But something else I noticed.
Where “don’t” is used in conjunction with “sex”, the context is almost always a long list of “other transgressions”. Rarely is “don’t do (this kind of) sex” isolated and dissected and extracted and volumised and exaggerated and held up as THE SIN OF SINS! Behaviour, thoughts and actions not in keeping with “Love Your Neighbour As Yourself” are ALL deemed to be no-no. And where the list is used – all the types of no-no are listed. Not just the ones we prefer to hold up as no-no.
So where am I in this debate … ?
Using a work (paid for) computer to type these posts … using work (paid for) pen and paper for private stuff .. not always giving back “incorrect change” when a busy cashier makes a mistake … saying bad stuff about others (in private – obviously) … using swear words from time to time (ditto) … not going to church very much … getting grumpy with God (and others!) … I have a long list of transgressions that are not of “Love Your Neighbour As Yourself”. And I am married.
But the consequences of me causing a failed relationship by deceit, a “hard heart”, carelessness, betraying one I love, anger, hurt, distance, disconnecting, excluding, lying, not caring, letting love die … is NEVER just about having me “doing adultery”.
Screwing someone over is not just about “screwing” someone else. It is about “love your neighbour as yourself (not)”. And that is my choice every time.
So let’s add God back in.
And dissect the bible to support whatever theory we have of “God rules ok”. Dissecting right from wrong (in a way Jesus DID warn us against): by focussing on splinters and ignoring the logs – by preferring “religion rules ok” to the unconditional love of God.
“Not seeing the wood for the trees” comes to mind.
Is that why we choose (so often) to ignore “the cross”?
(and what it really means)