A Brief Sexual Catechism

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1. How was mankind created?
We were created by God in the image of God, male and female together (Gen. 1:27).

2. Who is the author of marriage?
When God presented the first bride, our mother Eve, to Adam, He was establishing the first marriage (Gen. 2:22).

3. After the first marriage, how are marriages to be formed?
A man should leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife, so that they might become one flesh (Gen. 2:24).

4. What is the biblical standard for marriage?
One man devoted to one woman for life.

5. How do we know that such monogamy is the normal biblical standard?
We know this because God created one man and one woman for each other as a pattern (Gen. 2:24), because Christ is the ultimate bridegroom and He has only one bride (Eph. 5:23), and because Christian leaders are required to set the example of devotion to one woman only (1 Tim. 3:2).

6. What elements are necessary to bring a marriage into existence?
The two elements that are necessary are sexual consummation (Gen. 2:24) and a public covenant of marriage (Gen. 2:22).

7. What is it called if there is sexual consummation but no covenant?
It is called fornication or adultery (1 Cor. 6:16-18).

8. What is it called if there is a covenant but no consummation?
Anything but marriage.

9. What is the relationship of being “one flesh” to the existence of a marriage?
There can be no marriage without it, but the fact of a one flesh union does not mean that a marriage exists.

10. Can genuine marriages be formed in disobedience?
Yes. One example would be remarriage after unjustified divorce (Deut. 24:1-4). Another example would be found in societies where polygamy is legal.

11. Can the disobedience become profound enough that the end result is not marriage at all?
Yes. Homosexual “marriages” would be an example of this.

12. Why are these marriages not marriages?
Because they are physically incapable of becoming one flesh, which requires a male and a female.

13. But sexual activity does occur.
Yes. But not the kind of sexual activity that can ever culminate in a one flesh union.

14. But the law declares that they are married.
The law declares a lot of things.

15. How should we treat those in homosexual “marriages?”
We should treat everyone we know with love and respect, speaking the truth to them in love. But because they are demanding our approval above all, we must take care that our compassion and care never be confused with such approval.

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Stan McCullars
Stan McCullars
6 years ago

A question I have regarding all of this: How should we respond when a man introduces us to his “husband”? Or a woman introduces us to her “wife”? It hasn’t happened to me yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
6 years ago
Reply to  Stan McCullars

“It’s nice to meet you.”

Now if they ask you to refer to them that way, that’s where the actual question is.

Stan McCullars
Stan McCullars
6 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

“It’s nice to meet you.”
I like that. However, my combative self would want to correct them and say “you mean your so-called husband.”
I suppose referring to the “spouse” after the introduction, I could just use their first name. I could introduce the two guys to someone else as “Joe and John” for instance. I need not reference their perverted relationship to anyone else.
Problem solved. I think.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
6 years ago
Reply to  Stan McCullars

I think so.

If you don’t feel the need to correct other adults on their errors of fact or even correct their foolish notions every time you speak to them, I don’t think you need to engage when they misidentify their friends this way.

But in the case of the woman with whom my niece lives and has gone through both legal and religious ceremonies of a sort, “Hello, Anthea” (not her real name) works just fine. It’s not like we use husband and wife as forms of address, anyway.

Malachi
Malachi
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane Dunsworth

I understand your point here, Jane. So maybe it’s just my own inner reactionism getting in the way…but if there were a practicing cannibal in my house and he was gnawing on his favorite human foot, I’d probably feel the need to point that out, and then usher him back to the front lawn. With love and respect, of course. Also, if a man introduced me to his 6-yr-old “husband” I might truly feel the need to rescue the child. There ARE things that we still find abominable, and we DO still react with righteous revulsion and anger. I wonder… Read more »

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
6 years ago
Reply to  Malachi

Yes, but your examples are actions. I’m talking about words. Presumably Stan isn’t talking about throwing himself at the two women and physically breaking up their relationship, he’s just objecting to the words that they use. So I’m not sure that objecting to the words requires an immediate reaction. If you’re worried about the human foot or about the man with the child-husband, you’re clearly addressing more than just the words they’re using. I’m not suggesting Stan shouldn’t object to their relationship, just that the immediate reaction of not “letting” them use the word “wife” or “husband,” when they’re not… Read more »

Malachi
Malachi
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane Dunsworth

Perhaps you’re right about that. From Stan’s original question–“How should I respond when introduced to [sodomites]?”–I gathered that any form of response was possible and he was curious about his options. What followed was a polite option: “How do you do?” but I don’t think the Bible treats this particular sin very politely.

I suggest that perhaps the proper Biblical response would be something quite a bit more necessarily demonstrative. I think a viable option for Stan’s question is to toss them out of his house.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
6 years ago
Reply to  Malachi

Well, that’s assuming they’re IN his house. I was thinking of a rather more casual interaction.

I’m not sure how two women get into Stan’s house without Stan either already realizing the nature of their relationship, or having bigger fish to fry with them than tossing them out over using a word to describe the relationship he probably already knew existed.

Rebekah Frost
Rebekah Frost
6 years ago
Reply to  Malachi

Malachi, your comment provoked a couple of thoughts. Every person who has not turned to Christ for salvation is dead in sin and will receive the penalty of his or her sin, right? I believe that. I’d be spiritually dead if Christ hadn’t mercifully saved me. I’m no better than anyone else, and I ought to show others the way to Christ. Would you really throw a non-Christian out of your house simply because he’s a sinner? (I’d throw someone out who is actively stealing from me, or committing fornication in my presence, etc., but that’s different from having a… Read more »

Malachi
Malachi
6 years ago
Reply to  Rebekah Frost

“Would you really throw a non-Christian out of your house simply because he’s a sinner? (I’d throw someone out who is actively stealing from me, or committing fornication in my presence, etc., but that’s different from having a non-Christian in my home) There’s no reason to be outraged against an unbeliever who is simply there.” ——- I think perhaps you missed the illustrations I gave; I wasn’t offering up a generic “non-Christian” but someone practicing an abomination. The situation is much more “in-your-face” than mere presence would imply. By stepping into my home and saying, “This person, whose hand I’m… Read more »

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
6 years ago
Reply to  Malachi

I agree that a biblical response to someone’s sin ought to be more obvious. My point is that I have a hard time imagining that being introduced as “my wife” is going to be the flashpoint at which that response is called for. If the women are already holding hands, you know something before the words “my wife” come out of their mouths. Why didn’t you pre-empt the introduction by grabbing them by the ears and throwing them out then? If they’re in your home, I’m still having a hard time understanding how they both got invited there without your… Read more »

Nord357
Nord357
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane Dunsworth

Genteel and succinct as always.

jillybean
jillybean
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane Dunsworth

Exactly. I would have been a real hit at parties if I had said to divorced and remarried couples: “Excuse me, you can call Carlotta your wife until the cows come home, but we all know that your real living wife Clare, the one you promised to be faithful to, is out scrubbing floors to support the children you abandoned!”

Malachi
Malachi
6 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

I feel the same way, jillybean. And yet…I wonder if sometimes we’re not supposed to do the very thing that makes us such “hits” at these parties. Maybe…just maybe…if more faithful Christians spent more time reminding people of the holy standards of God’s Word, two things might happen. One: we’d have many more enemies, and two: we’d see much more repentance and righteousness. In reading the example you gave, I find myself wondering whether calling out someone’s adultery isn’t precisely what should be happening. In genuine boldness and with all manner of godly love for the people involved. Easy to… Read more »

jillybean
jillybean
6 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

I wish that “partner” did not make me think of dance class, bridge games, and old westerns.

Frank Turk
Frank Turk
6 years ago
Reply to  Stan McCullars

“I didn’t realize we redefined that term, too — unless you’re his wife?”

jillybean
jillybean
6 years ago
Reply to  Stan McCullars

“How do you do?” How do you do?”

Aaron Shaf
6 years ago

This is great, but I think it needs fine-tuning to account for legitimate male/female complementary marriages where consummation (via intercourse) is not physically possible.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
6 years ago
Reply to  Aaron Shaf

That raises the question of whether such marriages should be entered into deliberately.

Becky Pliego
Becky Pliego
6 years ago

Very good. Back to “basics” has never been so important! And as I was telling our children, it seems that we need a new line in our Creed as a response to all these lies and false teachings:

“I believe in marriage between a man and a woman as defined by the Holy Scriptures.”

Blessings!

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
6 years ago

If it were up to me, and maybe it’s good that it’s not, I’d tweak #4 to “One man devoted to one woman as long as they both shall live.”

The whole Victorian “married to his memory for eternity” thing flies directly in the face of some of the biblical treatment of widowhood, and the original wording could leave the door open to that.

jillybean
jillybean
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane Dunsworth

I would be reluctant to miss a chance to wear one of those mourning bonnets. Scarlett O’Hara’s comes to mind.

Job
Job
6 years ago

Doug,

When are common law marriages legitimate marriages, and when are they not?

Specifically, is a marriage ceremony performed at a church sufficient as a public covenant of marriage, or is that function performed by a state marriage license?

ArwenB
ArwenB
6 years ago
Reply to  Job

I thought common-law marriage meant that a couple had done without the church ceremony, and had either declared themselves to be married, or had lived together for a sufficient period of time (specified in the common law) to be considered husband and wife.

State marriage licenses, being a recent (and racist?) invention, would have no bearing on the origins of common law marriage.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
6 years ago
Reply to  ArwenB

I think he’s asking whether a marriage formed as a common-law marriage would be deemed legitimate by Doug, and if so, under what conditions?

Conserbatives_conserve_little
Conserbatives_conserve_little
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane Dunsworth

Common law question is worth a little more pursuing. Many states have done away with it, but it is on the books. Usually it shows its head when there is some legal necessity

Job
Job
6 years ago
Reply to  ArwenB

You’re right. If there is a religious ceremony, then the marriage isn’t common law. I was using the term to refer to unlicensed marriages.

What legitimizes the marriage:
Private Contract
Religious Ceremony
Religious License
State License
Something Else?

Frank Turk
Frank Turk
6 years ago

Hi Doug — First, this will become required reading in the future — with some minor revisions. I will list the ones that come to mind by Q#, and I hope they are received in the spirit they are offered. 6. I think the correct answer is this: “The elements that are necessary are: eligible participants (cf. Gen 12:10-20; Mat 19:5; Eph 5:22-33), a public covenant of marriage (Gen. 2:22), and sexual consummation (Gen. 2:24).” It anticipates the questions further down. 8. This answer is too flippant. I suggest: “Conjugal rights are an essential part of the covenant, (1 Cor… Read more »

Matthew Hoover
Matthew Hoover
6 years ago
Reply to  Frank Turk

I propose several additions. They make explicit what is implied in many other questions, because moderns need to have such things made explicit. 5A. Why is this biblical standard on sexual expression binding on all people? Because it is the Word of God, who made our sexuality and everything else for His purposes, to be pursued according to His will contained in that Word. (Matthew 19:4-5) 5B. Why is this biblical standard doubly binding on those who call themselves Christians? Because they are not their own, and have been bought with a price, and should therefore glorify God by fleeing… Read more »

JSM
JSM
6 years ago

Jesus mentions that there are instances where a marriage happens that is actually adultery. Assuming this happens how should the church counsel such a couple? Did God join them together? It seems Jesus actually contrasts God joining a couple and the adulterous relationship after an unjust divorce.

mintap
mintap
6 years ago

GOOD STUFF!

However for 8, “anything but marriage” as an answer is a bit inaccurate though.
Lack of consummation is grounds for annulment, right? Is there a Biblical reference for this?

And wouldn’t 11 (and other places) be more accurate if it read “same-sex ‘marriages'” instead of “homosexual ‘marriages'” People of any self-identified orientation could attempt a same-sex “marriage.”

Also 14 should clarify which law.

Nord357
Nord357
6 years ago

Oh this is going to be fodder for our family devotional time tomorrow. very good! Thank you gentlemen.
.

JohnM
JohnM
6 years ago

4. One man devoted to one woman for life. Might we not want to indicate mutual devotion? Or was there a specific reason for the specific wording? 11. Yes. Homosexual “marriages” would be an example of this. (disobedience) But homosexual whatever’s are not another example of what was pointed out in #10 above – as they are not marriages at all they are disobedience in a whole other category. 13. But sexual activity does occur. Yes. But not the kind of sexual activity that can ever culminate in a one flesh union. Or might the answer be “No. No it… Read more »

Rev. R. W. Shazbot
Rev. R. W. Shazbot
6 years ago

Rev. Wilson, there does seem to be one important omission in your catechism, and that’s the question of what is the biblical standard for the minimum age at which a person can enter into a valid marriage. Does the Bible say that a male or female must be at least 18 to get married? 16? 14? The minimum age for legal marriages has varied quite a bit in the history of Christendom. What are the biblical requirements?

invisiblegardener
invisiblegardener
6 years ago

In case this is a sincere question, the Biblical age requirements are none.

Chris Duncan
6 years ago

The best way to discover the consequences when people have sex is to find a verse in the Bible which addresses ONLY the sex act. The verse which addresses only the sex act is 1 Corinthians 6:15-16: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Then taking the members of Christ, shall I make [them] members of a harlot? Let it not be! Or do you not know that he being joined to a harlot is one body? For He says, The two [shall be] into one flesh.” Paul references Genesis 2:24. Here are some questions to… Read more »

timothy
timothy
6 years ago

Pastor Wilson, just a heads up.

The ‘man-o-sphere’ Christian arguments for polygyny are on the horizon. I am in the process of attempting to understand an advocates arguments now. If I get the job done correctly, I will share the work with you on an appropriate thread.

I say this because your brief may need to be expanded to cover what is coming.

God Bless,

t

Mark Allen Sells
Mark Allen Sells
6 years ago

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564) began teaching that the Roman Catholic Sacraments are just signs containing no inner working, nor transformative grace, and of those signs there are only two sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper). Holy Matrimony is not a Sacrament, That immediately opened the door to their next finding; that the institution of marriage is under the purview of the state government, rather than the Church. These are some quotes from the original Protestant Reformers: MARTIN LUTHER – “Marriage is a civic matter. It is really not, together with… Read more »

Frank Turk
Frank Turk
6 years ago

I think this is the real issue we Protestants have to own. Taking the lazy way out theologically during the Reformation by making marriage a “vocation” since it wasn’t a “sacrament” was disastrous, and we can see why now.

We have to do better this time.

Mark Allen Sells
Mark Allen Sells
6 years ago
Reply to  Frank Turk

If The Protestant Church were to designate Matrimony as a Sacrament, (to the contrary of Calvin’s opinion that the Lord God granted no Covenant therein,) then how would it be different from other Protestant sacraments, in that it forbids sinners to partake of the Sacrament? It may well be that it is also the “lazy way” to declare that sinners are excluded from the church and banned from partaking in sacraments, because of the mortal perception, (however well founded in Biblical authority), that other people’s sins are particularly unforgivable. My Pastor’s invitation to the Holy Supper stated,”…the only ones not… Read more »

Mark Allen Sells
Mark Allen Sells
6 years ago

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, – I am confident that the Christian community in America will do the right thing, as it has always done, …only after exhausting all the possible alternative incorrect choices..
;-)

Tom
Tom
6 years ago

Much as I hate to be that guy–I’m going to be him. Churchill probably didn’t originate that.

Mark Allen Sells
Mark Allen Sells
6 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Probably –

“In his keynote address to the “International Coal Show” in Chicago, in July 1980, Illinois Governor James R. Thompson of Illinois quoted with evident approval Sir Winston Churchill as saying, “You can depend upon the Americans to do the right thing. But only after they have exhausted every other possibility.” James R. Thompson is most well known for the fact that he was one of the few Illinois Governors to be un-indicted through his term of office, which gives it some patina of honesty, if not truth.

WK71
WK71
6 years ago

I wouldn’t cite Big Jim Thompson as a source of truth. While not indicted as a governor, he was the defense attorney for one who was convicted.

Mark Allen Sells
Mark Allen Sells
6 years ago
Reply to  WK71

I said “…not truth”.

I live in Illinois, I know “not truth” when I see it.

:-)

David Trounce
6 years ago

I have a couple in my congregation who have been married for 18 years but they have never been able to consummate in the ordinary sense because his doodle just doesn’t work. What council can I give them regarding consumation since it is such a central part of a marriage covenant?

jillybean
jillybean
6 years ago
Reply to  David Trounce

I had never heard that term before. I hope that you have not spoiled Yankee Doodle for me.

Alex in Wonderland
Alex in Wonderland
6 years ago
Reply to  David Trounce

Okay. I had hoped someone else would answer this before I spread any heresy. And mind you, this has no Greek/Hebrew research to substantiate my 2 cents worth…

I’m just thinking if they know what they would do if they could, and know that they do all they can…then good enough. If lusting is considered sin as adultery in the heart, then desiring each other in marriage and doing all they can do for fulfillment should surely count for something.

And that’s not very deep theologically, but…

Andrew
Andrew
6 years ago

Do you also need to point out the fundamental difference between “love” and “sex”?

http://www.virtueonline.org/gc2015-tec-bishops-comment-scotus-same-sex-marriage-ruling-0 captures various ECUSA bishops’ statements on the recent SCOTUS ruling. One refers to John 13: 34-35: “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. I’m pretty sure Jesus isn’t claiming “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you masturbate one another”.

Ray D.
Ray D.
6 years ago

So for number 6-8, what if a widow and widower who are 70 get married. Being righteous people, they did not fool around before marriage, but they discover on their wedding night and thereafter hat the plumbing does not work as well as it used to. They decide to live contentedly together anyhow. Does this mean a marriage did not happen?

JohnM
JohnM
6 years ago
Reply to  Ray D.

Why would people that age would want to remarry anyway? I know they sometimes do, but I don’t see why they would. No kids and no friends otherwise? Boredom? The ingrained notion that fulfillment is to be found in romance and not otherwise? I’m guessing the last one.
Regarding the plumbing, and this is also to David Trounce’s earlier, question, apparently regarding a real situation – did they really have no clue beforehand?

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
6 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

How about, without believing that “fulfillment is to be found in romance and not otherwise,” they really like each other and want to spend the remainder of their years together?

You speak as though people of that age could not be so strongly attracted to one another as to want to live out their lives together, unless they are living in some kind of romantic fog that induces such feelings. I don’t know why you’d assume that. Seventy isn’t even that old these days.

JohnM
JohnM
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane Dunsworth

Jane Dunsworth, I knew it would be someone, I’m surprised it’s you, in light of an earlier comment, no offense taken or intended. Anyway The rest here is in reply to you, and Ray D. as well Frankly, really like each other so much they want to spend their life together, practical considerations notwithstanding, and no other reasons accompanying, sounds a lot like romance, and slightly foggy, to me. Here’s the truth, when it comes to just friendship, nothing else involved, men and women don’t generally prefer one another’s company, so there has to be something else involved, and almost… Read more »

Valerie (Kyriosity)
6 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Psst: That D in Ray’s name stands for the same thing as the D in Jane’s. They’re pretty apt to agree on stuff. ;^)

JohnM
JohnM
6 years ago

Ah-hmm. Thank you.

Ray D.
Ray D.
6 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Um, they like each other and prefer to spend the rest of their lives together?

Remember, Paul said that widows up to 60, who were likely to be postmenopausal, to marry. His concern was not romantic love, but financial security.

And if there is such a command to the widow, then there is a corresponding unstated commend to widowers.

bethyada
6 years ago
Reply to  Ray D.

Nocturnal tumescence.

John
John
6 years ago

How does a couple know they are capable of consummating the marriage before they try? Is there a test they can perform? Who should perform the examination? Doctor? Pastor? Each other? If they only discover that they are incapable of consummating the marriage after the wedding, should they be eligible for a refund from the church and other service providers? If the only way to find out beforehand is through direct experimentation, are they married as soon as they confirm their compatibility? If two people test their ability to consummate through direct means, but find out that they are not,… Read more »