Christian Patriarchy and Sexâ€”What the Bible Teaches (Part 5):
Contrary to the teachings found in many Patriarchal pseudo-Christian sects, sex is not a taboo subject in scriptureâ€”as weâ€™ll explore today, much is written in the Word of God about the beauty and innocence of sexual feelings and marital relations. An entire book of the Bibleâ€”Song of Solomonâ€”is dedicated to the sexual and romantic feelings between a man and his future bride. For those that have not read it, I encourage you to do so. This book, though symbolic of spiritual things, demonstrates that God does not consider it a sin for mankind (and womankind!) to have natural sexuality and attraction.
But before we begin to discuss what the scriptures do teach us about sex in the life of a Christian it is important to come to an understanding about what it does NOT sayâ€”teachings that are common to Christian Patriarchy and the Message as taught by William Branham. These thing cannot be rightly established by Scripture, and since it cannot be established, we would do well to remove these false teachings and false doctrines from our minds:
1) Scripture does NOT TEACH that women were designed by Satan or for immorality, or for sex. This is simply a FALSE DOCTRINE with absolutely NO scriptural basis. God created man AND woman as part of the original creation (Genesis 1:27). Godâ€™s plan from the beginning was to have two genders of human beingsâ€”male AND female. These two God-created beings were placed together in one body (Adam) and later separated into two co-equal beings that together constituted a complete picture of Godâ€™s intended image for humanityâ€”together, scripture tells us, they are ONE FLESH (Genesis 2:18-25). Women were created by God to complete the image of man that God ordained. In that way, being a woman does not necessitate any added shame or responsibility when it comes to issues of sexual immorality.
2) NO WHERE does sex within the marriage bed defile a person, but we are told that the marriage bed is to be considered undefiled by all (Hebrews 13:4). In this way, there is NO SHAME in sex within a marriage, and there is no shame inherent to sexual intimacy. It is a holy thing when used as God intended. Any doctrines that say married couples should abstain from sexual contact for any cause besides privately mutual agreed upon separation for a brief time should be completely disregarded as unscriptural. Any â€˜convictionsâ€™ or teachings that consider a married woman or man as less holy as a result of their married state is foundationally unscriptural.
As Jesus taught in Mark 7:20-23, it is not the bodyâ€™s physical â€œstateâ€ that defiles a manâ€”itâ€™s not what you eat, or what you wear, or whether youâ€™re a virgin or not that defilesâ€”it is the heart and what comes out of it that defiles. Holy sex within a marriage, therefore, could never defile.
Therefore, the teachings on marriage and divorce found in the message are foundationally flawed. In Marriage and Divorce, WMBâ€™s arguments against women marrying again hinges on the pretext that women, once they are no longer virgins, are â€˜defiledâ€™, â€˜markedâ€™, or â€˜boundâ€™ to something beyond the marriage covenant. This is Scripturally unfounded.
3) Victims of sexual assault DO NOT BEAR ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR ABUSE. One of the false teachings in the Message is that a woman is responsible when a man lusts for her. This is foundationally false. Scripture never once places the blame for the lust upon the woman but squarely upon the man that lusted. Scripture tells us to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18, 2 Timothy 2:22), that each individual person is tempted, not by scantily-clad women but by their own desires which becomes sin (James 1:14-15), and that we should guard our eyes from temptation (Matthew 5:29). Sin originates in the hearts of mankind (Matthew 15:19)â€”so a woman with a pure heart is not sinningâ€”even when she is the object of a sinful manâ€™s lusts. It is simply a scriptural impossibility. She may well have sins of her own, but his lust is NOT her responsibility.
Now that we have these things established, we can take a look at what scripture DOES teach us about sex.
First, sex was part of Godâ€™s plan for marriage from the very beginning. From the moment God created the woman from Adamâ€™s side, God wanted marriage and conjugal relations to exist (Genesis 2:24). When the Corinthian church wrote Paul, they were under the false impression that God did not want men and women to have sexual relations at allâ€”but Paul set them straight:
1 Corinthians 7:1-5
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: â€œIt is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.â€ But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Sex, then, is not a dirty thing that should be avoided, but a blessed and holy creation of God. Often in Christian Patriarchy sex is viewed as a filthy thingâ€”discussions about it avoided at all costs. This is not only a dangerous practice, but it creates a fundamental misunderstanding in the minds of men and women alike concerning their bodies, their natural sexuality, and the purpose of marriage in the life of the Christian.
We already have established that marriage and sex within a marriage do not defile a person and somehow make them unclean or less consecratedâ€”marriage is honorable, and the marriage bed pure (Hebrews 13:4). Additionally, scripture teaches us that our inherent sexuality is not sinfulâ€”that men being attracted to women is not wrong, and women being attracted to men is not wrong. As stated repeatedly in the Song of Solomon, the issue is not the desire the bridegroom and the bride have towards each other that is to be avoided. Their love is pure, and their attraction to one another is not sinfulâ€”but the â€œawakeningâ€ or stirring of the passion that cannot be rightfully fulfilled (lust) is the issue. (SoS 3:5).
We could spend a great deal of time discussing the many lessons concerning sexuality from the Song of Solomon but to summarize: both the bride and the bridegroom express their delight in the bodies and sensualities of the other. The bride longs for her husband before they are wed, and the bridegroom expresses his admiration for his future wifeâ€™s body in vivid detailâ€”none of which is sinful! It has been included in scripture as an example of God-ordained love between a husband and a wife. The intimate and all-consuming desire between a husband and a wife are symbolic of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32).
It is therefore wrong to shame children and young adults for having sexualities as many Patriarchal Christian sects, including the Message, tend to do. Doing so reinforces the false doctrine that God-ordained marital sex is somehow dirty. Indeed, we are hard-wired to seek that intimacy with another by God Himselfâ€”it is purely how we were designed. Instead of shaming the young for having these feelings, we should instead teach them the proper outlet for them, which is marriage, and how to avoid temptations to â€œawaken love before it is properâ€.
Like the brideâ€™s admonitions to the maids in Song of Solomon, we should instruct the youth to avoid â€œstirring up loveâ€. We should instruct them to flee youthful passions (2 Timothy 2:22), which doesnâ€™t mean that they ignore them or harbor feelings of shame for them, but that they do not allow these passions to become sin by acting upon it or allowing the heart to dwell upon it. Youth (and all Christians) should avoid bad company (1 Corinthians 15:33) that would make maintaining morality difficult, submitting their lives God fully and resist evil (James 4:7), and conduct oneâ€™s affairs not with indulgence of the flesh in mind but in all things to pursue righteousness (1 Timothy 6:11).
Correcting the misinterpretations and misapplications of scripture that follow a fundamental misunderstanding about the inherent purity of sexuality and the marriage bed is a huge featâ€”one that I will barely scratch the surface of today. But, now that we have established that 1) attraction to the opposite sex is not sinful, 2) marriage and sexual intimacy do not â€œdefileâ€ a person, and 3) that women are not any more responsible for sexual immorality than a man because of their gender, we can at least address a few of the biggest issues that cause confusion:
William Branham taught that women should cover their bodies in loose-fitting clothing that hides the natural form of her body so that men wonâ€™t lust after her. The Duggars likewise ascribe to this definition of â€˜modestyâ€™â€”that a woman is only â€˜modestâ€™ when her flesh is fully covered so that a man will not lust when looking at her. The problem is that, as we have already discovered, a woman is not â€œdesigned for lustâ€. She is not responsible for the thoughts her appearance elicits in the hearts of another. The only thing that she is responsible for in terms of her appearance is outlined in scripture as follows:
1) Women should wear respectable (appropriate) apparel that is not showy, expensive, or chosen to bring undue attention to herself. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)
2) Women should not allow their clothing to define them, but instead what they wear should be a secondary matter entirely to a pure heart (1 Peter 3:3-4).
3) Women should not dress or behave with the intent in their heart of trying to cause men to sin (Matthew 18:6-7)
â€¦and thatâ€™s it! We do not have condemnation for disobedience to â€œlawâ€ for we are free in Christ, no longer under the law of sin and death but are now under the law of the Spirit of Life (Romans 8:1-2). We should not use our freedom in Christ in order to indulge the flesh with sinful pursuits, but to lovingly serve one another (Galatians 5:13). Nevertheless, we are free, and in that freedom there is a great deal left to our discretion through the leadership of the Holy Spirit. We are not our ownâ€”we are Christâ€™s, and He leads and guides each of us individually.
Therefore, teaching for doctrine â€œmodesty standardsâ€ that are beyond the express written commands of scripture is a false teaching. Let me repeat that:
Any church, pastor, teacher, or â€œprophetâ€ that teaches a modesty requirement beyond what Scripture teaches is spreading false doctrine!
We absolutely should have standards, and we should absolutely use discretion when choosing clothing so that we are a benefit to the Kingdom of God and not hindering it. However, when our personal standards cross the line into doctrine we have overstepped the bounds of our authority. Modesty, therefore is not about loose-fitting clothes, necklines, sleeve lengths, lace, pants, or makeupâ€”itâ€™s about appropriateness, humility, and consideration for the needs of the Kingdom of God day in and day out on an individual basis.
The Duggars have attained the fame that they have in part because of their very strict policy against â€œdatingâ€ and all the typical things that accompany it. Emotional connection or intimate friendship between members of the opposite sex is forbidden prior to courtship. Touching a member of the opposite sex is forbidden except for family members, and even in that there are designated boundaries to avoid â€˜impure thoughtsâ€™ about them. There is absolutely no kissing permitted prior to marriage, and no unchaperoned interactions between members of the opposite sexâ€”even during a courtship or engagement until the wedding day.
Though many in the Message do not go to such extremes regarding dating relationships, there are many doctrines with no basis in scripture concerning datingâ€”false doctrines whose roots can be traced to a fundamental misunderstanding of Godâ€™s gift of sex.
Nowhere in the Bible is there a guideline given for â€œproperâ€ dating or courtship rituals that must be observed in the life of a Christian. We have basic guidelines to keep us from sinningâ€”like avoiding bad company, fleeing lusts, and many examples that teach us to avoid situations that could be compromising. We should be mindful to pursue relationships with the opposite sex sober-minded and thoughtfullyâ€”but that does not mean that every Christian must do the exact same things. We should, through the leadership of the Holy Spirit do what is necessary to keep ourselves pure prior to marriage, but that does not necessarily prevent dating.â€™
Dating for young adults is going to, from necessity, look quite a bit differently than dating for the more mature. Those seeking romantic connections far later in life will likely go about it differently still. The point is not to be legalistic or bound by a set of rules but to be at liberty to approach it with Godâ€™s will in mind and pure intentions at heart.
Though sex prior to marriage is sinful, sexual attraction is most certainly not wrong, but a natural part of the human condition. It is when we allow these attractions to become lust that we have a problem. It is natural for men to be attracted to women and to pursue romantic relationships with women that they are physically attracted to. The same holds true for womenâ€”it is normal, and as long as it doesnâ€™t become lust in our hearts or impurity in our actions there is no sin in it. Men can admire the beauty in womenâ€”including in the female formâ€”without it becoming lust.
Though William Branham taught that kissing was equivalent to sex, biology clearly demonstrates that this is not true. The lips do not contain â€œsex glandsâ€â€”they are simply another part of our face containing many nerve endings and it is therefore pleasant to have them touched. The Scriptures are filled with positive examples of Godly kissesâ€”Song of Solomon 1:2 tells us of the (soon-to-be) brideâ€™s desire to have her future husband kiss her on the mouth. Jesus on multiple occasions had women kiss his feet. Romans 16:15 tells us to greet one another with a holy kiss! There are examples of friends kissing one another, fathers kissing their children, among others. Jacob kissed Rachel when he first met her (Genesis 29:11) when they were unmarried and before any discussion of marriage had taken place.
Kissing, then is not in and of itself sinful. It is only sinful when accompanying lust or sexual impurity. Dating, likewise is not sinful. Creating a doctrine of man and enforcing it as if it were a God-given command however is without question sinful.
Because of the flawed view of womenâ€™s origins and the purpose of women in the plan of God, Christian Patriarchy has a flawed idea about the role of women in society and in marriage. Though this was already addressed before, it is worth repeating briefly:
Women are equal in Christ, and are co-heirs of the promise. Women are no more â€˜requiredâ€™ to be available sexually to their husbands than husbands are â€˜requiredâ€™ to be sexually available to their wives. Women have not been placed upon the earth in order to fulfill a purpose tied to their gender exclusivelyâ€”whether the sect believe that to be the gratification of their husbands or the birthing of as many babies as possible. Womenâ€™s value is not tied to their bodies, and it is not tied to their relationships with men, but their worth comes from God. It cannot be taken from them. Women are creations of God and reflect His glory.
Any teachings that belittle this truth is false.
The denial of these truths is the foundation upon which deviant thoughts and behaviors form. In purity and according to their natural design, men and women are attracted to one another. When these natural impulses are criminalized, the individuals attempt to bury them. This false doctrine causes every conceivable controversy and contention in the Body of Christ. Suppression of the truth causes major spiritual problems, as outlines in Romans 1:18-31. This portion of scripture tells us exactly why sexual deviance arises in the Body of Christâ€”it is because they deny the truth of God ordained from the beginning, and in so doing harden their own hearts to the Word of God. God them gives them over to the lusts of their hearts, and every evil thing within mankind rends its head.
Our homes, churches, and cities suffer because of the false teachings going out from Christian Patriarchy movements like the message of William Branham. In Hosea 4:6 God tells us, â€œMy people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.â€ When we do not know the truth of the Word of God concerning these matters we are putting ourselves at risk. It is important that we are diligent in our walk with the Lord, studying all things out and knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt what the Truth is. There is too much at stake for Godâ€™s people to continue in ignorance.
Our hearts go out to the many who suffer under these false systems. Our prayer for you is that you find healing in the arms of Jesus, peace and freedom in His promises, and salvation in His sacrifice. For those predators that, within the false system feel justified in their victimization of the weakest among us, I pray for justice in this life so that they can come to repentance and avoid the wrath that awaits them. It is only through exposing the wrongs of the wrongdoer and enforcing justice that we can help the victims heal and the predators truly reform. In this way, we hope that covering up sexual assault and abuse in the church always gets called what it is: a crime against innocents by all involved parties.