Marriage: It Is Good For a Man Not to Marry

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I became a Christian at a very young age. In truth, I can scarcely remember a moment when God was not an active and conscious presence in my life. Because of this, I felt drawn to Jesus early on.

I was drawn to more than Jesus, however. I also remember being drawn to girls. I had a pretty big crush on a dark-haired girl in kindergarten! The first time I actually held hands with a girl was in fifth grade. Tina and I rolled around the skating rink, both of us blushing as the Carpenters’ melodious harmonies described us well: “I’m On Top of the World.” It sure felt like it!

As I grew older, both of these movements – toward Jesus and toward females – sometimes created an uneasy tension. The man I most admired, the one person on whom I wanted to model my life and to whom I wanted to express my commitment, was a single man.

As far back as I can remember, I was fully aware of the long-standing tradition of celibacy – monks and nuns who lived out their dedication to God by pledging to abstain from marriage and sex. Part of me wished I could embrace this; I wanted to be “sold out” for Christ, and in college I struggled with the apostle Paul’s words,

It is good for a man not to marry. – 1 Corinthians 7:1
In fact, there is much in Christian history that has unofficially (and at times blatantly) considered married believers to be “second class Christians” who compromised their integrity or who were too weak to contain their sexual urges. Augustine thought he was being charitable when he wrote, referring to the intent to procreate, “Marital intercourse makes something good out of the evil of lust.”

While Scripture is reliable and even infallible, Christian history isn’t, and unfounded prejudices do exist.

There’s no question that the “first pope,” Peter, was married. (Jesus couldn’t very well have healed Peter’s mother-in-law if Peter didn’t have a wife!) But there is also evidence in Scripture (1 Timothy 5:9-12) that during the first century young widows were already taking vows of celibacy. By A.D. 110, celibates could take vows that mirrored marital vows. This became a little more institutionalized so that by the third century, lifelong vows of celibacy were not uncommon. By the fourth century, such vows were commemorated by a full liturgical celebration.

Although Christianity was born out of Judaism, a religion in which marriage was considered a religious duty (one rabbi suggested that a man who does not marry is not fully a man), it wasn’t long until married believers were scarcely an afterthought during centuries of writing on “spiritual theology” (studying how Christian believers grow in their faith, learn to pray, and draw closer to God). Most of the Christian classics were written by monks and nuns for monks and nuns. The married could at best feebly try to simulate a single pursuit of God; the thought of pursuing God through marriage wasn’t really given serious consideration; instead, the emphasis was largely on pursuing God in spite of marriage.

I carried some of this baggage into my own relationship, but early on, my eyes were opened to a different reality. I remember my brother asking me a few questions about what marriage was like. I thought for a moment and said,

If you want to be free to serve Jesus, there’s no question – stay single. Marriage takes a lot of time. But if you want to become more like Jesus, I can’t imagine any better thing to do than to get married. Being married forces you to face some character issues you’d never have to face otherwise.
Jesus, of course, was celibate his entire life, so it’s somewhat ironic to suggest that marriage is the preferred route to becoming more like him. But Jesus did live in a family, and, as Betsy Ricucci points out, that’s all he had done at the time the Father proclaimed,

This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. – Matthew 3:17
“What had Jesus done to receive such praise? Nothing but live in His own home, honoring His parents and serving His father’s carpentry business. Apparently that was enough to please God.”

Family life is clearly not a cop-out; and after you’ve been married for a while, you realize that the emphasis on celibacy is slightly overblown. All other things considered, the sexual aspect takes up just a fraction of a married couple’s time. I was the first of my group of friends to get married, and I remember one of them asking me if it was still okay to just “drop in” unannounced.

“Oh, you better call first,” I said gravely, capturing his attention. “Married couples walk around naked all day long, you know.”
For a second, I almost had him!

The real transforming work of marriage is the twenty-four-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week commitment. This is the crucible that grinds and shapes us into the character of Jesus Christ. Instead of getting up at 3:00 A.M. to begin prayer in a monastery, the question becomes, “Who will wake up when the baby’s diaper needs changing?” Marriage calls us to an entirely new and selfless life.

This insight occurred to me some years ago when Lisa and the kids were traveling while I had to stay home and work. For the first time ever, it seemed, I had a free Saturday. For as long as I could remember, I had awakened each weekend and talked over with Lisa what the family would do; I almost didn’t know how to ask the question – what do I want to do? Yet that was the question I had asked myself as a single man virtually every Saturday before I was married.

Any situation that calls me to confront my selfishness has enormous spiritual value, and I slowly began to understand that the real purpose of marriage may not be happiness as much as it is holiness.
Not that God has anything against happiness, or that happiness and holiness are by nature mutually exclusive, but looking at marriage through the lens of holiness began to put it into an entirely new perspective for me.

“But Since There Is So Much Immorality…”
I find it fascinating that just after Paul said, “It is good for a man not to marry,” he follows it up with these words:

But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. – 1 Corinthians 7:2
I would do violence to the Greek biblical text to suggest that this passage is referring to anything other than sexual relations – the New International Version tidies it up a bit, but even a cursory exegesis reveals that, clearly, sex is intended. Even so, I suggest that we can elaborate the principle to reveal truth beyond sexual relations. Since there is so much immorality within us – not just lust, but selfishness, anger, control-mongering, and even hatred – we should enter into a close relationship with one other person so we can work on those issues in the light of what our marriage relationship will reveal to us about our behavior and our attitudes.

I found there was a tremendous amount of immaturity within me that my marriage directly confronted. The key was that I had to change my view of marriage.

If the purpose of marriage was simply to enjoy an infatuation and make me “happy,” then I’d have to get a “new” marriage every two or three years. But if I really wanted to see God transform me from the inside out, I’d need to concentrate on changing myself rather than on changing my spouse.
In fact, you might even say, the more difficult my spouse proved to be, the more opportunity I’d have to grow. Just as physical exercise needs to be somewhat strenuous, so “relational exercise” may need to be a bit vigorous to truly stress-test the heart.

I didn’t decide to focus on changing myself so that I could have a tension-free marriage or so that I’d be happier or even more content in my marriage. Instead, I adopted the attitude that marriage is one of many life situations that help me to draw my sense of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment from God. Lisa can’t make me happy, not in an ultimate sense. Certainly we have some great times together, and she has been a wonderful wife, exceeding my dreams – but these great times are sprinkled with (and sometimes seem to get buried in) the demands, challenges, and expectations of paying the bills on time, disciplining children, earning a living, and keeping a house clean.

I guess what I’m after is a quieter fulfillment, a deeper sense of meaning, a fuller understanding of the purpose behind this intense, one-on-one, lifelong relationship. As a man who believes his primary meaning comes from his relationship with God, I want to explore how marriage can draw me closer to God.

There’s another reason to stress this: Marriage, for all of us, is temporary in the light of eternity. The truth is, my and Lisa’s relationship with God will outlive our marriage. Most likely the time will come when either Lisa or I precede the other into eternity. The remaining spouse will be left alone, no longer married – perhaps even eventually remarried to someone else.

For the Christian, marriage is a penultimate rather than an ultimate reality. Because of this, both of us can find even more meaning by pursuing God together and by recognizing that He is the One who alone can fill the spiritual ache in our souls.
We can work at making our home life more pleasant and peaceable; we can explore ways to keep sex fresh and fun; we can make superficial changes that will preserve at least the appearance of respect and politeness. But what both of us crave more than anything else is to be intimately close to the God who made us. If that relationship is right, we won’t make such severe demands on our marriage, asking each other, expecting each other, to compensate for spiritual emptiness.

Unfortunately, as a fallible human being I can’t possibly appreciate Lisa the way God appreciates her. I can’t even begin to understand her the way she longs to be understood. I’d get bored with myself if I was married to me, so it only makes sense that Lisa might occasionally be bored – or at least grow weary – of living with me.

But God delights in both of us. God appreciates our quirks and understands our hearts’ good intentions even when they might be masked by incredibly stupid behavior.

One thing is sure: Lisa can’t look to me to be God for her. And even when I try to love her like only God can love her, I fail every time and on every count. I give it my best, but I fall short every day.

#GoodNews: You can Celebrate the Touchdown tonight!

The Touchdown

In most sports, there is one feat that galvanizes the fans. In golf, it’s a hole-in-one. In basketball, it’s the slam-dunk. In baseball, it’s the home run. But in football, it’s the touchdown. It always brings fans to their feet.

The objective is simple. The team with the most points wins and usually that means the most touchdowns. But the greatest and most exciting touchdown has yet to occur, and when it does, the players on the winning team will go wild with joy. Those on the losing team will be devastated with defeat.

The Bible tells about it in the Old and New Testaments. The Messiah will touch down on the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem when Jesus returns.

Do you believe it? Will you be ready for the ultimate feat?

How you respond in faith to Christ determines whether you are on the winning team or losing team–forever.

It is my hope that you’ll be able to celebrate the touchdown, when Jesus comes!

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#GoodNews: Meaningful relationships are essential to real living

Pseudo Grief

A modern day phenomenon in the age of TV is the irrational outpouring of pseudo grief. People grieve more intensely for an image they’ve never personally known, than they do for a neighbor or family member who dies.

We saw this most dramatically with the death of Lady Di and JFK, Jr. Both represented what society saw as the best of their nation’s royalty. Both were young, glamorous, attractive and wealthy. They were the ideal in the world’s eyes. Yet, most of us didn’t know them. We just knew the image presented on the screen.

Do you care more for images than the real people in your life?

Who do you grieve for the most when they’re gone? If it’s an image on TV, you’re living a ‘pseudo life,’… not a real life. For real living comes with real relationships and sometimes, with loss, that involves real grief. But when that loss comes, a real relationship with God will get you through that grief. Real relationships have real pain, but they also have real meaning. Meaningful relationships with God and your fellow man are essential to real living.

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#GoodNews: Self-Control essential to successful living

Self-Control

Do you ever say, “It was just too tempting,” or “I wish I hadn’t lost my cool?”

A key to successful living is self-control–controlling our emotions, desires, passions, or our tongue. Self-control is about self-discipline. The Bible compares it to sports. It says, “Run your race to win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.” Self-control is essential to success in living, as well as in sports.

Let me suggest a few ways to learn it:

1. Clarify your purpose–what are you trying to accomplish? Is it to lose a few pounds? Then your decisions will be shaped by that purpose.

2. Be honest with yourself about where you lack self-control. Alcoholics who find victory over booze know the first step is admitting their inability to control the problem.

3. Ask God for self-discipline.

4. Take action on that discipline, one day at a time. Self-control is a real key to successful living.

Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].

#GoodNews: Three keys to victory for moms #RightFromTheHeart

Three Keys For Mom

It’s not easy being a mom these days. Whether you’re home full time or working outside the home, there are challenges. There’s a verse of scripture in Romans that contains three keys for moms and, really, anyone who wants to live a victorious life:

Be joyful in hope. Every mom has hope for her kids. When a mom trusts in the Lord and believes His promises in scripture, she can be joyful in hope for the future of her family.

Persevere in trials. There will be difficulties and trials for every mom (kids not doing well, times of feeling unappreciated, etc.). But when her hope is grounded in God, she can find strength to endure any trial.

Be devoted to prayer. Hey, moms, with so many trials and so much out of your control, be devoted to prayer. Turn your concerns, your fears, and your children over to the Lord. Prayer is the power source for being a great mom and a great person.

Hope, perseverance, and prayer–three keys to victory for moms and most everyone.

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#GoodNews: Black preacher forgives white community for bombing house #RightFromTheHeart

Forgiving Our Enemies

In 1962 in Montgomery, Alabama, a young, unknown Baptist preacher came home to find a large crowd gathered in front of his house that had just been bombed.

He ran inside to see if his wife and daughter had survived. He found they were unharmed. He comforted them before going outside to the large, angry crowd.

They had gathered with chains and weapons to retaliate against the white community for such a despicable deed. He told them there would be no retaliation saying, “Jesus tells us to love our enemies, to forgive those who persecute us. Now go home.” Thus began the legacy of an amazing man with a unique spirit, Martin Luther King, Jr.

What King did on that occasion isn’t natural–it’s supernatural. The ability to forgive our enemies who have wronged us is often beyond our natural ability, but it is the Spirit of Christ. It is true Christianity. It is a power available to us all and it can change the world.

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Biblical Sexual Morality

According to God’s plan, sexual intimacy is the exclusive prerogative of husband and wife within the context of marriage. Sexual morality, on the other hand, is everyone’s concern. It matters to single individuals, to families and to society. Most of all, it matters to God.

God intends sex to be a source of satisfaction, honor, and delight to those who enjoy it within the parameters of the moral standards He has established. Biblically speaking, human sexuality is both a gift and a responsibility.

At creation, the gift of sex was among those things God declared to be “very good” (Gen. 1:31). What’s more, the sexual relationship is invested with a profound significance in that it brings together a man and a woman within the context of the shared image of God (Gen. 1:27). Because sex is God’s idea, and because it touches the image of God in human life, it is very important that the holiness of sexual behavior be diligently preserved. In fact, sexual behavior is moral only when it is holy (Eph. 1:4; 5:3; 1 Thess. 4:3-7; 1 Pet. 1:14-16).

Not only is sex good in itself; it is also given to serve good purposes. At creation God made it very clear that sex functions in two ways: it generates “fruit” (Gen. 1:28); and it enables relational “union” (Gen. 2:24). In other words, sexuality does not exist merely for its own sake. Rather, sex fosters human nurturing, both through the union of husband and wife and also through the enrichment of society through the building of families and communities. God also made sex to reflect the mysterious spiritual relationship He will one day enjoy with all redeemed humanity following the wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7, 9).

According to God’s plan, sexual intimacy is the exclusive prerogative of husband and wife within the context of marriage. Sexual morality, on the other hand, is everyone’s concern. It matters to single individuals, to families, and to society. Most of all, it matters to God.

Sex that honors God’s guidelines and standards is pleasurable. He designed sexual activity to be physically enjoyable, emotionally satisfying, psychologically fulfilling, and spiritually meaningful because He delights in the joys and pleasures of His creatures (Song of Sol. 4:1-16). Men and women who honor God’s standards for sexual behavior please Him as well as themselves (1 Cor. 6:20; also note analogy in Isa. 62:5).

But while sex is designed to be pleasing, not all sexual pleasure is ethical. Feelings are extremely unreliable as guides to the morality of sex. As a matter of fact, it is possible for sinful men and women to experience a form of physical enjoyment and degrees of emotional, psychological, and spiritual fulfillment even in sexual conduct that God considers abhorrent. For this reason, the Bible gives many solemn warnings against appealing to human passion or lust as the basis for our definition of moral sex (Rom. 1:24, 26; 13:13-14; 1 Thess. 4:5; 2 Tim. 2:22; 2 Pet. 3:3; 1 John 2:15-17; Jude 18). Our sex lives are moral only when conducted according to God’s standards. When engaged in according to these guidelines, sexual activity is enriching, fulfilling, and eminently blessed.

We want to warn against deceptions that hinder or forestall this blessing of God upon our enjoyment of the wonderful gift of sex. We also want to help men and women understand God’s good plan for sexual conduct, and thereby to realize all the joy, satisfaction and honor God offers to sexual creatures made in His image.

Based on our understanding of biblical teaching, we make the following declarations. We do not claim that these declarations cover everything the Bible says on sexual morality. But we do believe they highlight standards that are critical for our time.

1. Desire and experience cannot be trusted as guidelines to the morality of sex (Rom. 8:5-8; 13:14; 1 Cor. 2:14; 1 Thess. 4:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:22; James 1:14; 1 John 2:15-16; Jude 19). Instead, the morality of sex is defined by God’s holiness (Lev. 20:7-21, 26; 1 Cor. 6:18-19; Eph. 1:4; 5:3; 1 Thess. 4:3-7; Heb. 13:4; 1 Pet. 1:15-16).

Thus we affirm that men and women are free to enjoy sex in any way that honors God’s holiness. We affirm that God made sex to be physically enjoyable, emotionally satisfying, psychologically fulfilling and spiritually meaningful, and that only sex that honors God’s holiness can fully realize the complexity of His design at every level. We affirm that concepts of sexual morality founded upon anything other than God’s holiness always pervert God’s standards of sexual moral purity.

2. God’s standard is moral purity in every thought about sex, as well as in every act of sex. Sexual purity can be violated even in thoughts that never proceed to outward acts (Job 31:1; Matt. 5:28; Phil. 4:8; James 1:14-15). Sex must never be used to oppress, wrong or take advantage of anyone (1 Thess. 4:6). Rape, incest, sexual abuse, pedophilia, voyeurism, prostitution and pornography always exploit and corrupt and must be condemned (Lev. 18:7-10; 19:29; 2 Sam. 13:1-22; Prov. 6:26; 23:27; Matt. 5:28; 1 Thess. 4:3-7; 1 Pet. 4:3; 2 Pet. 2:13-14).

Thus we affirm that God requires sexual moral purity in thought as well as in deed. We affirm that sexual desire must be disciplined to be moral. We affirm that thoughts of indulging sexual desire by outward acts of sexual sin are inward sins of lust. We deny that stimulating lust by images of sexual sin can be moral at any age or under any circumstances. We believe that no sexual act can be moral if driven by desires that run contrary to the best interests of another human being. We believe no sexual act can be moral that treats persons as impersonal objects of sexual lust. We reject the idea that thoughts about engaging in sexual sin are not immoral if not expressed in outward acts. We reject the idea that pedophilia, voyeurism, prostitution or pornography can ever be justified.

3. God’s standards for sexual moral purity are meant to protect human happiness (Prov. 5:18-19; 6:32-33; John 15:10-11), but sex is not an entitlement, nor is it needed for personal wholeness or emotional maturity.

Thus we affirm that unmarried singles who abstain from sex can be whole, mature persons, as pleasing to God as persons who are faithful in marriage. We affirm that sexual celibacy is a worthy state for mature men and women (Matt. 19:12; 1 Cor. 7:1, 8; Rev. 14:4), and that lifelong celibacy can be a gift from God (1 Cor. 7:7). We affirm that freedom for service without obligations to spouse and children is a worthy advantage of the unmarried life (1 Cor. 7:32-35). We reject the idea that persons are not “whole” without sexual intercourse. We affirm that all persons, even unmarried teenagers, can rely on God for strength to resist sexual temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). We deny that unmarried teenagers must have sex and cannot abstain from sex before marriage.

4. God calls some to a life of marriage, others to lifelong celibacy, but His calling to either state is a divine gift worthy of honor and respect (1 Cor. 7:36-38). No one is morally compromised by following God’s call to either state, and no one can justify opposing a divine call to either state by denying the moral goodness of that state.

Thus we affirm that God is pleased with those He calls to serve Him through the loving expression of sexual intimacy in marriage. We also affirm God is pleased with those He calls to special witness and service through a life of celibacy apart from marriage. We reject the idea that God’s Word ever represents the loving expression of sexual intimacy in marriage as morally compromised.

5. Sexual behavior is moral only within the institution of heterosexual, monogamous marriage. Marriage is secure only when established by an unconditional, covenantal commitment to lifelong fidelity (Gen. 2:24; Mal. 2:14-15; Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-8; 1 Cor. 7:39; Rom. 7:2; Eph. 5:31), and we should not separate what God has joined (Mal 2:14-15; Matt. 19:6; Mark 10:9). Christians continue to debate whether there are a limited number of situations in which divorce is justifiable (Deut. 24:1-4; Matt. 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:15), but all agree that divorce is never God’s ideal; lifelong commitment should always be the Christian’s goal.

Thus we affirm that God established the moral definition of marriage, and that it should not be changed according to the dictates of culture, tradition, or personal preference. We deny that the morality of marriage is a matter of mere custom, or that it should be allowed to shift with the tide of cultural opinion or social practice. Furthermore, we affirm that God views marriage as an unconditional, covenantal relationship that joins sexual partners for life. We oppose the reduction of the moral obligations of marriage to a business contract. We do not believe that divorce for reasons of dissatisfaction, difficulty, or disappointment is morally justified.

6. Marriage protects the transcendent significance of personal sexual intimacy. Heterosexual union in marriage expresses the same sort of holy, exclusive, permanent, complex, selfless and complementary intimacy that will some day characterize the union of Christ with the redeemed and glorified Church (Eph. 5:28-33; 1 Cor. 6:12-20).

Thus we affirm that intimate sexual union in marriage is a reflection of the intimate moral and spiritual union Christ will some day enjoy with the redeemed and glorified Church. We do not agree that the meaning and purpose of human sexuality can be defined on the basis of personal preference or opinion. We oppose the idea that sexual morality is simply a matter of culture, tradition, or individual aspiration.

7. Sex in marriage should be an act of love and grace that transcends the petty sins of human selfishness, and should be set aside only when both partners agree to do so, and then only for a limited time of concentrated prayer (1 Cor. 7:3-5).

Thus we affirm that sex in marriage should be enjoyed without selfishness. We do not believe that sex should be withheld as a way of controlling, punishing, or manipulating the behavior of a spouse. We reject the morality of any sexual act, even in marriage, that does not express love seasoned by grace. We believe no sexual act can be moral if it is driven by selfishness or ambition for power.

8. Sex outside of marriage is never moral (Exod. 20:14; Lev. 18:7-17, 20; Deut. 5:18; Matt. 19:9,18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Rom. 13:9; -1 Cor. 6:13,18; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; 1 Thess. 4:3; Heb. 13:4). This includes all forms of intimate sexual stimulation (such as foreplay and oral sex) that stir up sexual passion between unmarried partners (Matt. 5:27-28; 2 Tim. 2:22). Such behavior offends God (Rom. 1:24; 1 Thess. 4:8) and often causes physical and emotional pain and loss in this life (Prov. 5:3-14). Refusal to repent of sexual sin may indicate that a person has never entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Eph. 5:3-5; Jude 13; Rev. 22:15).

Thus we affirm that God’s blessing rests on sexual intimacy only when it occurs within the boundaries of marriage. We deny that sex outside of marriage is justified for any reason. We reject the idea that sexual intimacy outside of marriage can be moral if partners are honest, consenting, or sufficiently committed. We oppose the portrayal of sexual sin as a way of enhancing the popular appeal of entertainment. We reject the idea that sex between unmarried teenagers is acceptable if it is “safe.” And we do not believe that churches should welcome into fellowship any person who willfully refuses to turn away from the sin of living in a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

9. The Old and New Testaments uniformly condemn sexual contact between persons of the same sex (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10); and God has decreed that no one can ever excuse homosexual behavior by blaming his or her Creator (Gen. 2:24; Rom. 1:24-25).

Thus we affirm that moral sex is always heterosexual in nature. We affirm that God gives strength to His people when they ask Him for help in resisting immoral sexual desires, including desires for homosexual sex. We affirm that God has perfect knowledge concerning human sexual biology and made no mistake in prohibiting homosexual sex without qualification or exception. We deny the claim that science can justify the morality of homosexual behavior. We reject the idea that homosexual attraction is a gift from God (James 1:13). We deny the idea that homosexual relationships are as valid as heterosexual relationships. We do not agree with those who claim that it is sinful to make moral judgments that favor heterosexual behavior over homosexual behavior.

10. The moral corruption of sexual sin can be fully forgiven through repentance and faith in Christ’s atoning work (1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 John 1:9), but physical and psychological scars caused by sexual sin cannot always be erased in this life.

Thus we affirm that God fully forgives all who repent of sexual sin. We believe that relationships broken by sexual sin can be restored through genuine repentance and faith. We deny that there is any sort of sexual sin God cannot forgive. We oppose the idea that victims of sexual infidelity or abuse should never forgive those who have sinned against them.

11. Christians must grieve with and help those who suffer hard-ship caused by sexual immorality, even when it is caused by their own acts of sin (Rom. 12:15; Luke 19:10). But we must give aid in ways that do not deny moral responsibility for sexual behavior (John 8:11).

Thus we affirm that God calls Christians to love all who suffer social isolation, poverty, illness, or the burdens of unplanned pregnancy and single parenting, whether or not it was caused by their own sexual sin. We believe Christ set an example of loving ministry to those who suffer from the results of their own acts of sin. We reject the idea that our obligation to alleviate human suffering is valid only if such help is “deserved.”

This statement was authored by the Council on Biblical Sexual Ethics.