Humans, Sex, and Our Options
In all the homosexuality debate that rages throughout America, very few people ever mention two crucial texts in the discussion. Two texts that come from Jesus are hardly ever mentioned. This is a big deal. If we’re Christians, it should matter to us what Jesus says, right?
I’m not about to offer a detailed exegesis of these texts. I just want to highlight a few things.
First, Jesus, along with every other Jewish author of which we have evidence, believed that in most cases (not all), humans were to be married. And marriage was between men and women. This sentiment appears in all the Synoptics, but let’s use Matthew’s version. Except in the rarest of cases, Jewish men had the authority to divorce women. Moreover, they could do so for a whole host of reasons. Jesus disagreed with their practice.
He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?” (Mat 19:4-5 ESV)
The point is that a Jewish man does not have broad authority to end the marriage whenever he wants (in Matthew's version, Jesus says that "porneia" is a viable reason to get divorced, 19:9. It's debated how to translate that term). To do so is to rip apart two bodies now united.
At this point, I’m emphasizing that Jesus only holds heterosexual marriage as an option. This view of heterosexual-only marriage is commonplace throughout the history of Judaism and Christianity (until the last few decades). This, and nothing else, is the view of Jesus, the Messiah, the Second Person of the Trinity.
Second, mainstream Judaism taught that men and women should get married whenever possible. However, Jesus believed that it was certainly viable to remain single your entire life (just as Paul believed and taught, 1 Cor 7:17). What’s key here is that Jesus believed the only other option for a non-married human is celibacy. Celibacy, i.e., not having sex whatsoever, was caused or chosen. The disciples were struck by how stringent Jesus was concerning marriage and celibacy. Jesus had to encourage them:
But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, 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 men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” (Mat 19:10-12 ESV)
So, a person can be a eunuch (someone who is castrated) because he was born that way, because someone else castrated the man, or because a person simply acts like a eunuch because they have decided to commit themselves solely to the work of the Kingdom.
Whatever the reason, not having sex—being a eunuch—is the only other option for a human outside of marriage. There’s no middle ground.
This means that every Christian who lives together (assuming they have sex) is living in direct opposition to the teaching of the Messiah. This means that every Christian who has sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend, or during a one-night stand, is living in direct opposition to the teaching of the Messiah.
Instead of focusing so heavily on homosexual behavior, which Jesus would have absolutely condemned due to what we just read, the Church should focus on the rampant unethical behavior concerning sexuality.
What does this mean? If you can’t control your sexual impulses, get married (as Paul commanded in 1 Corinthians 7:9). If you feel led to get married, then get married. If you want to marry but can’t find someone, stay celibate until you get married. If you have no desire to marry, stay celibate.
Celibacy or heterosexual marriage: there are only two options for humans according to Jesus.
It’s time for the Church to support those who want celibacy and support those who struggle with celibacy because they want to be married. It’s time for the Church to teach what Jesus taught: having sex outside of marriage, or pretending to be married by living together outside of marriage is clearly outside of God’s design for humans.
And, if you’d like to listen to the only surviving recording of a man who was deliberated castrated in order to have a singing career (called a "castrato"), listen to Alessandro Moreschi of Italy sing, “Ave Maria”: