Author archives: FRC

Human Sexuality and the Goodness of Marriage

by Clara Ramos and Shania Burch

August 10, 2017

The place and value of sex is a complex issue in modern American culture. The view of sex as the intimate union between a man and woman brought together by marriage under God has largely been lost. It has been replaced by an entitled inclination toward convenience and conceding to a desire for the instant gratification of sexual and emotional fulfillment.

Being a part of a culture engulfed in endless choices, including the choice to have sex at any point in life regardless of the type of relationship between the partners, makes it necessary for Christians to bear witness to God’s intention for human sexuality. Using the guidance of the Bible, early Church fathers, and Christian scholars, Christians can promote God’s will for sexual intimacy as the exclusive and supreme physical act of unity between a man and woman who are drawn together under Him in marriage.

The Modern View of Sex

Contemporary Americans place utmost importance in their happiness and freedom of choice. What often defines happiness, according to Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, is summarized by the acronym PERMA: pleasure, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments. Many seek their purpose, freedom, and sources of fulfillment in their activities, contribution to their environment, and ability to enjoy such pleasures as food, sex, and material comforts.

From the Christian perspective, true freedom is attained by dedicating one’s life to the glorification of God and living in liberation from sin. Paul the Apostle verifies this by asserting that man should glorify God in body and spirit and flee from sins, such as sexual immorality, in order to uphold God’s sacred gift that is the human body (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). In the modern view, however, individuals tend to perceive their sexuality as a part of their humanness that demands and deserves total autonomy, and, as a result, use it to exercise their freedom of choice and self-expression.

Robert Buffington and his colleagues expand upon the value of sexual freedom in their book, A Global History of Human Sexuality: The Modern Era, by highlighting the way in which the fight for sexual freedom has become a major political issue in contemporary culture. Due to the strongly Western ideal of liberty, sexuality has become yet another aspect of life that can be expressed at the discretion of the individual and supported by advocates within mainstream culture who believe that one’s sexual identity can be self-created.

The Implications of the Modern View of Sex

The values of modern Americans show that what is deemed to be most important is the idea of choice. Choosing to be involved in relationships, to engage in one’s community, and to enjoy pleasure in proper ways are important for human flourishing, but they are often overemphasized. When we concede to the desire for personal happiness in this way, we distance ourselves from God and move closer to a false self-identity that dictates our choices. Aspects of sexual freedom, such as freedom from sex trafficking and gender-based bullying, are certainly important; but placing sexuality at the center of one’s identity and using it without discretion degrades God’s purpose for human sexuality.

In contemporary culture, sex is no longer the act of a man and woman united under God, engaging in sexual unity to raise a godly generation; rather, it is an act of personal choice and freedom where reproduction is often seen as an undesirable consequence.

Christians know that true freedom is not anchored in a sexual identity, but in an identity in Christ (Colossians 3:3). Christians have the opportunity to share with others that God’s intention for human sexuality is an exclusive act of union that follows, rather than precedes, deep, God-centered love. Genesis 1:24 demonstrates that kind of love by stating that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh,” making it clear that God first created men and women, then united them in one flesh by the goodness of marriage.

The Goodness of Marriage

Marriage is a profound mystery, one that God has planned from the beginning of time. When God created Adam, He gave him the task to name and rule over all the animals of the field and of the air; yet, God saw that Adam was lonely and had “not found a helper like himself” (Genesis 2:20). The beasts of the land, the birds of the air, and all living creatures brought a sense of joy and delight to him, but were not and could not be a fulfilling match for him.

So God created woman from the rib of Adam and brought her into Adam’s sight. He exclaimed, “This now is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman” (Genesis 2:23). God blessed this first marriage, saying “increase and multiply,” (Genesis 1:28) for they were to become the models of marriage for humanity as the first parents in complimentary union.

The Trinity and Marriage

Marriage is true, good, and beautiful because it resembles the oneness of the three divine Persons of the Trinity. The perfect bond and oneness of the Blessed Trinity makes them inseparable; this also occurs in the sacrament of matrimony when the marital bond of husband and wife is sealed by God.

Sam Allberry further reflects that “by virtue of their marital union, man and wife are able to arrive at a kind of oneness that can reflect the oneness of God the Trinity.” This oneness is possible by the gifts that proceed from the Trinity and should reflect in marriage: totality, unity, and fidelity. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states:

…the characteristic traits of marriage are: totality, by which the spouse gives themselves to each other mutually in every aspect of their person, physical and spiritual; unity, which makes them “one flesh” (Gen 2:24); indissolubility and fidelity which the definitive mutual giving of self requires; the fruitfulness to which this naturally opens itself.

Marriage also images the Trinity by way of the Holy Spirit, which is the fruit of the Father and the Son’s reciprocal love. In the same way, a child is the fruit of the husband and wife’s love.

These traits seem to have faded away in modern society. The totality of marriage has been degraded to merely pleasure and selfishness. Pornography has objectified women and men by taking the sexual act out of its proper context within marriage, thereby debasing it by taking away its inherent beauty and unity. This perversion of marital fidelity and privacy, which continues to grow with an ever-increasing number of porn websites and a consuming public that justifies its consumption through a relativistic mindset, prevents the world from seeing the goodness and dignity of marriage.

The Purpose of Marriage

God’s oneness, which only He can give, can be seen in the creation of man when God made woman from the rib of Adam, her husband. God did not take a foot or a strand of hair from Adam to create Eve. No: He took a rib to show man the equal dignity of male and female. Matthew Henry expands upon this: “[T]he woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”

The purpose of marriage is not, as John Chrysostom puts it, for “indecency and laughter,” but “for the sake of begetting offspring and in the fidelity of chastity” (Augustine). Chrysostom understood that the unique beauty of marriage will dissipate in the swamps of infidelity. Thus, marriage is and can only be between one man and one woman. Anything other than this is contrary to God’s plan. Its purpose is unitive and fruitful, and glows in the eyes of God. It is precious and holy, for it has the potential to bring into this world another human being that is capable of knowing God.

The nature of marriage is ordained for “the procreation and education of the offspring, and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.” Yet, God’s merciful love and compassion not only enriches the fertile womb, but exceeds in bounty to marriages that have gone through the hardships of infertility and miscarriage, thus making marriage not only procreative in nature, but also unitive. God’s love ensures that experiencing these great trials can still bear the fruit of unitive marital love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church plainly states: “Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.” This shows the infinite goodness and love of God, whose love makes “the human person the authentic image of the Blessed Trinity, [the] image of God.”

Clara Ramos and Shania Burch are students at Regent University.

An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from a Vermont Pastor

by Tim Counts

June 12, 2017

Dear Senator Sanders,

I am a pastor in Manchester Center, Vermont, so I am one of your constituents. And I am concerned. You and I both know that Vermont has added to the rich history of religious freedom in our great country. I live 25 minutes from the Old First Church in Bennington, where the following plaque is placed on the side of the historic church building: “First Church in Vermont dedicated to separation of church and state. Congregation founded by those seeking religious freedom.” As you probably know, First Church was “gathered” on December 3, 1762, the first Protestant congregation in the New Hampshire Grants. They were “separatists,” believing that the government should neither establish nor restrict religious freedom. They were seeking religious freedom, not freedom from religion.

Your actions towards and comments to Russell Vought during his confirmation hearing for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget endanger our rich history of religious freedom as both a state and a country.

Here is why I am concerned, and here is why I write you today: not only because I believe you violated Article VI of the United States Constitution in imposing a religious test as a litmus test for somebody’s fitness to hold a government office, but also because you then released this statement yesterday: “…racism and bigotry—condemning an entire group of people because of their faith—cannot be part of any public policy.”

As I have read your comments towards Mr. Vought and watched the video of your interaction, I am astounded at how quickly you have tied together personal faith that Jesus is the only Savior with an individual’s public policy. As Mr. Vought tried to express but was interrupted, Christians believe that all people are made in the image of God and thus should be treated with dignity and respect, even while we hold to Jesus’ statements such as, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

We do not have to be Universalists theologically to be able to hold public office nor to be good citizens in the Green Mountain State or in the United States of America. I believe that the founders of First Church would have been shocked at your statements, as they were leaving a government that told them what they could and could not believe. We have reverted back to a government that has a religious test, but rather than church membership allowing entrance into government office, it is now philosophical membership in secularism that holds the keys.

I ask you to clarify and clearly articulate whether or not you truly believe that a Christian who believes that Jesus is the only way to salvation can no longer hold public office in this country. Are you saying that citizens who are not atheists, agnostics, or Universalists cannot serve as government officials? As you have been reminded already since Wednesday, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution declares, “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Evangelical Christians who hold to salvation in Christ alone may be a minority in our great state, but we are not racists or bigots, and our elected Senators should not make such broad-brush and intolerant statements.

I will continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, which means the “good news” of Jesus Christ. It is a message of reconciliation to God and fellow man. It is good news that we offer to all people who will listen: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) It is a message that says that although our sin condemns us before the holy God, that Jesus took our condemnation on the cross and rose from the dead so that believers in him will never stand condemned (Romans 8:1). And if somebody really believes that message, they will embrace Jesus not only for salvation but also to help them live a life of service and love to others. Jesus himself said that all of the commandments are summed up in love for God and love for others (Matthew 22:36-40).

I will not only continue to preach that message, I will continue to pray that those of us who believe in this good news will be allowed to serve in public office; not promoted because of our faith but also not prohibited from service because of our faith. I am writing to you today not because you are telling me I cannot preach this message, but because you are telling me that those I preach this message to are “hateful” not because of their actions, but because of their faith.

As a Vermont pastor, I ask my country for freedom to not only preach the gospel–but also for freedom for those I preach to–to hold their religious beliefs while also holding public office. If you return to our roots of religious freedom as a state and as a nation, the religious tests will stop. And you may find that those you classify as racists and bigots today not only believe that Jesus is the only way to personal salvation, but also that His way is a way of love that treats all persons with the utmost love, respect, and service–even in public office.

Sincerely,
Tim Counts
A Concerned Pastor in Vermont

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TAKE ACTIONSign this petition to the U.S. Senate to Reject Senator Bernie Sanders’ demand that Bible-believing Christians be excluded from presidential appointments.

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