Science in Christian Perspective
Is There a Christian Basis for a Sexual Revolution?
RUSTUM ROY Yes!
Materials Research Laboratory
The Pennsylvania State University University Park, Pennsylvania 16802
RICHARD H. BUBE No!
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Stanford University Stanford, California 94305
From: JASA 26 (June 1974): 70-81
No one needs to be told that a revolution in sexual ethics has taken place in our lifetimes-at least a revolution in comparison with recent centuries. There are far more reasons for this revolution than can be adequately summarized here, and many books have been written on the subject. Christians commonly assume that the principal thrust for this sexual revolution comes from non-Christian sources, that in fact much of the revolution is explicitly or implicitly against the Judaeo-Christian biblical perspective on sex, marriage, chastity, and fidelity. When Dr. Albert Ellis, for example, spoke locally in the summer of 1972, he started with the thesis that all guilt feeling are illegitimate, and went on to defend pre-marital sex and "civilized adultery," and to condemn "religious claptrap" and monogamous marriage. In group sex experiments, Dr. Ralph Yanev reported to the California Medical Association in the spring of 1973, couples obtain "a greater sense of gratitude and self esteem," and the relationship between couples is improved and made warmer and closer when each views the other having sexual relationships with a third party.
What is usually not recognized by Christians, however, is that there is a movement from within Christian circles to endorse and support at least a portion of the sexual revolution, not for secular and non-religious reasons, but on the basis of their interpretation of Christianity. We are not concerned here with the non-Christian involvement in the sexual revolution, but we are concerned with the arguments and the significance of support for a sexual revolution that claims Christian foundations.
To give specific focus to our discussion, we select two representative publications:
(1) Sexuality and the Human Community, a report of a Task Force of the Council on Church and Society of the United Presbyterian Church (1970), together with its appendices; and (2) one of the books recommended in the previous report for further reading, Honest Sex: A Revolutionary New Sex Guide for the Now Generation of Christians, by Rustum and Della Roy, Signet Books (1968).
To give breadth to our discussion we have been fortunate to receive the participation of Dr. Rustum Roy himself through a statement and responses to questions. Dr. Roy is Director of the Materials Research Laboratory of the Pennsylvania State University, is on the Board of Directors of Kirkridge, a Protestant retreat center at Bangor, Pennsylvania, has helped form the Christian Community experiments Koinonia for students and the Sycamore Community for adults. He has also served on several committees of the National Council of Churches.
Our discussion takes the following form. First, a presentation of the issues involved and the arguments advanced for a Christian sexual revolution. Second, responses to some thirteen questions by both Dr. Roy and myself, questions which I had proposed to get at some of the deeper issues for the Christian. Contributions from Dr. Roy were written after he had seen all of my discussion and answers to questions. As usual readers are invited to contribute to our discussion by sending their comments for publication in the Communication pages of the journal ASA.
Because of the limitations of space, ice focus in this discussion on the central issues of sexual relationships between men and women, and make no attempt at all to include equally vital subjects treated in Sexuality and the Human Community and Honest Sex, such as contraception, abortion, sterilization, sex education or homosexuality.
ISSUES AND ARGUMENTS I
Richard H. Bube
Traditional Biblical View of Sex
Sex is not a peripheral aspect of life, and sex is not a peripheral aspect of the biblical revelation. The biblical basis and development of the significance of male/ female sexuality appears immediately in the first two chapters of the Bible. Genesis 1:27 teaches that "mankind" is both male and female. "Unisex" is a non-biblical concept. The same chapters teach that sex existed before the Fall, that sax is therefore part of the good creation, and Genesis 3 indicates that sex like every other aspect of life was affected by the Fall. The greater and more blessed the gift of God in the context of His good creation, the baser and more destructive the abuse of this gift in the context of fallen man. Genesis 2:23-25 sets forth the nature of the sexual relationship between man and woman when uncorrupted by sin,
This at last is hone of my hones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Mao. Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Both man and woman are made in the image of God. Their total sexuality is defined in such a way that they complement each other in every aspect of life. Woman is to be a suitable helper for man, and man is to forsake all other human relationships at the same level at which he gives himself wholly to his wife.
The Ten Commandments are not silent on sex. The same commandments that Jesus said could be summarized as "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself," also state "You shall not commit adultery," and "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife." It is not stretching the argument far to claim that Jesus is saying that to love your neighbor means not to commit adultery and not to covet your neighbor's wife.
In the New Testament we need call attention to just a few passages that will enter into our later discussion. In Matthew 19:3-6, Jesus refers back to the 11 one flesh" concept of Genesis 2, and adds, "So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder." In I Corinthians 6:16, Paul invokes the "one flesh" argument to show the complete impropriety of a Christian engaging in sexual relationships with a prostitute. After the general words concerning a Christian's walk in love in Ephesians 5:1-5, together with the acts and attitudes that are ruled out if one is truly in Christ, Paul goes on in verses 21-33 of the same chapter to set forth one of the most exalted views of the creation-intended character of human marriage: to be representative of the relationship between Christ and His Church.
Sexuality and the Human Community
Three main arguments are advanced by Christian advocates of a sexual revolution. All three of these
We are not concerned here with the non-Christian involvement in the sexual revolution, but we are concerned with the argument and the significance of support for a sexual revolution that claims Christian foundations.
Bube: It is not stretching the argument far to claim that Jesus is saying that to love your neighbor means not to commit adultery and not to covet your neighbor's wife.
can be found in both Sexuality and the Human Community and in Honest Sex. The former is more moderate than the latter, but by the inclusion of Honest Sex as recommended further reading it is evidently oriented in the same perspective. It should be mentioned for those for whom the information is not available that the Task Force's report was received, published, and recommended to the churches for study and appropriate action by the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church, with the added phrase, "this action is not to be construed as an endorsement of the report," by a vote of 485-259. An attachment to the report was included by a vote of 356-347 which reaffirms
our adherence to the moral law of God as revealed in the Old and New
that adultery, prostitution, fornication and/or practice of
homosexuality is sin.
We further affirm our belief in the extension Jesus gave to the law, that the
attitude of lust in a man's heart is likewise sin.
The report also includes excerpts from a 1969 Report of a Study of the Faith and Order Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, "The Biblical and Theological Understanding of Sexuality and Family Life," to which we shall also refer in the following.
The three arguments can he summarized briefly as follows.
1. Modern scientific understanding and changes in living styles make traditional (nonscientific, pre-modem) approaches to sexual ethics untenable for a Christian today.
2. Biblical teachings on sex are either unclear and! or not applicable to modern life.
3. The authentic application of the Gospel to modern life calls for a response dictated by Love, not by Law, and hence for radical changes where Love overrules Law in the modern situation.
Specific examples of the first argument include questioning the church's preoccupation with "technical virginity" because
there is little medical or psychological evidence that premarital coital experience between persons who subsequently marry is necessarily damaging either to their emotional health or to their personal adjustment. (p. 29)
The Canadian Appendix questions the usefulness of the "one flesh" concept as a basis of sexual morality today because
Modern psychology makes it difficult to accept the "one flesh" concept at least as it was construed by Paul and by many others in the Christian tradition until recent times. (p. 44)
One approach to dismissing the authority or utility of the Bible to speak completely about modern sex ethics is to point out examples in the Old Testament law with which no Christian would any longer agree, as for example the death penalty for fornication in Deuteronomy 22, or the exclusion of eunuchs and bastards from "the assembly of the Lord" in Deuteronomy 23 (p.9). Another approach is to call into question the real meaning of the original Greek words translated fornication, adultery etc. and to claim either that these terms applied primarily to "pagan practices of cultic and commercialized prostitution," (p.27) or to invoke "modern scholarship" as the basis for stating
The many New Testament injunctions.
therefore, against "fornication," in AV and RV (e.g., Matt.
John 8:41; I Cnr. 5:1; 6:18; Gal. 5:19; Col. 3:5 I Thes. 4:3; etc.) cannot with
certainty be construed in the traditional sense as explicitly
forbidding all extramarital
intercourse. (p. 44)
Finally resort is made to the claim that exegesis of biblical passages cannot be done to produce clear ethical guidance for today. For example,
Problems of exegesis make it very difficult to reach assured conclusions about what, if anything, Jesus actually taught to Jews about the morality of specific sexual acts. the question whether the details of sexual morality fall within or outside the range of revelation. (p. 41)
Attempts to develop sexual ethics based on the "one flesh" concept are criticized because Matt. 19:3-6 represents only an ad hominen argument by Jesus against the Pharisees and cannot be universalized beyond its context, and because Paul's use of the "one flesh" idea in I Cor. 6:16 "is questionable exegesis on his part and seems to involve the logical absurdity of a Casanova's being 'one flesh' with a multitude of women simultaneously." (p. 44)
With the negative aspects of the biblical revelation thus taken account of, the third principal argument turns to the question of creative loving in the modern world. Such creative loving is to be contrasted to the "taboos and prohibitions" which often characterize historical Christianity (p.6), to a concern for self-purity rather than the well-being of others based on Jesus' treatment of the woman who anointed Him in Luke 7:36ff (p.10), and to a preoccupation with premarital chastity and virginity (pp.27-29). There is emphasis upon the ends that sexual relationship should produce, e.g.,
those sexual expressions which build up communion between persons, establish a hopeful outlook on the future, minister in a healing way to the fears, hurts and anxieties of persons and confirm to them the fact that they are truly loved, are actions which can confirm the covenant Jesus announced. (p. 11)
the creation and celebration of meaningful communion with another person. (p. 28)
and the implicit or explicit assumption that these ends can be reached only by removing restraints previously applied with biblical sanction. Since sax is a human need, the demands of Christian love call for that need to be met among single as well as married individuals, so that "the church has at least the obligation to explore the possibilities of both celibate and noncelibate communal living arrangements as ethically acceptable and personally fulfilling alternatives for unmarried persons." (p.36) Love is essentially contrasted to law, in the manner of situational ethics, with the conclusion that "where obedience to a higher principle requires it, the inferior details of the law must be disregarded." (p.'42) With direct biblical guidance gone, the question, "What sort of behavior in this sort of society is best going to bear witness to the presence and spirit of the saving Christ?" (p. 44) is left open to a broad subjective interpretation.
In conclusion it should be mentioned for completeness that the report of the Task Force does argue for fidelity within marriage with the positive statement, "Sexual fidelity is important because it ... has always been suggestive to Christians of the fidelity of God to his people and of Christ to his church." (p. 31)
Each of the three arguments described and documented above for Sexuality and the Human Community is repeated, extended, developed and usually carried further in Honest Sex. In many ways, therefore, Honest Sex is an indication of where the continuation of the ideas set forth in Sexuality and the Human Community naturally lead. The reason that it merits our concern here is that it is written by authors with a Christian commitment and with a Christian concern for the "sexually disadvantaged, perplexed or arrogant in our time." (Dedication)
The authors of Honest Sex see us as living in a wholly new time, a critical time that calls for basic changes if Christian witness is to survive in our particular culture. (ph). When Ecclesiastes says that there is nothing new under the sun (1:9), "Ecclesiastes is dead wrong. In America today, nothing could be further from the truth." (p.26) Traditional sexual morality is useless (p.15), the sex ethics taught by the Church are only the ethics of a past society (p.17), "much of what Christian authority passed off as God's revealed truth was in fact human error with a Pauline flavor" (p.60), modem man repeatedly verifies by his own experience that the Church's "eternal verities" are false (p.17), commands like "Thou shalt not commit adultery" are "Divine fiats" arising "from conflicting texts written for nomadic societies two or three thousand years ago." (p.24)
Man himself, and especially the modem woman, must be recognized as essentially a "new species" (p. 27) in view of the possibilities of completely controlled conception, personality influencing drugs, the problem of extra leisure time, an increase in the frequency of man-woman contacts, the high public level of sexual stimulation, the vanishing of the family as a reference group, the inclusion of explicit sex language in our culture, and the advertising of sex as fun without reference to marriage. (pp. 27-36) To meet this modern challenge the authors have prepared an in depth study through questionnaires, research and interviews with 150 persons designated subjectively to be "creative Christians." The manuscript of their completed work was reviewed by "most theologians-and many sociologists and psychologists-actively writing in this field in America and some in Great Britain," (p.l4) none of whom posed any "major objection . . . to any of the positions . , . taken (p. 14)
Starting with definitions provided by C. S. Lewis in The Four Loves, the authors define four types of love: (1) Affection-warm and tender relationships, (2) Friendship-personal commitment of persons to a common goal, (3) Eros-male/female romantic attraction excepting sexual relations, and (4) Venus-sexual desire. To these the authors add the biblical Agape - God's love-not as another love beside the four, but as a love which must and can be manifest only through the four human loves. Agape is defined in terms of "nonreciprocated, planned acts of concern for another." Within the framework of this model (for this is what the authors as scientists have constructed) it becomes possible to redefine words like "adultery" so that they have a relevant meaning:
The terms unchastity or adultery are more meaningfully applied when the relationship can he described as pure Venus, than when a minor Venus strand is found inter woven with strong bonds of Affection, Friendship, and eros.
Roy: My early childhood experience reinforced a viewpoint that equated the deepest commitment to the faith with a genuine freedom from the legalisms of religious and social tradition.
In this way the Venus of the play Tea and Sympathy (in which an understanding
married woman gives herself sexually to a young student to help him appreciate
the reality of his manhood) can be interpreted as a Christian act of love since
it was done unselfishly and in the context of the other forms of love existing
between the woman and the student.
Its their research the authors and their colleagues have found that "the Bible as a whole provides no clear legalistic guidelines for relations between men and women." (p.67) They are amazed that the "typical American" still believes that the Bible clearly indicates that God's law includes monogamy, premarital chastity, proscription of adultery, and an injunction against masturbation. (p.68) (The last of these is somewhat in the nature of a straw man since the argument is based 00 the disobedience of Onau (Genesis 38) ), which almost all Christians recognize is a case of coitus interruptus and not of masturbation, and that the judgment against Onan was for disobedience, not for the act.) Of these propositions which the "typical American" still mistakenly believes to be of God's law.
Infinitely better scholars than we have established that one cannot find any literal or simple connection in the Bible claiming that the above statements were God's law or will. - . . There are no laws of sexual behavior consistently spelled out in the Bible. (p. 68)
If the attempt is made to force modem man into the old outmoded sexual ethics, only guilt and anxiety are produced. These are points that "creative Christians" unanimously agree on. We have not met a single creative Christian who has not found the old roles wanting in some respect. Not one of them thinks that the Christian response should be to torn the volume op on the Church's transmitter proclaiming premarital chastity, pore monogamy, and abstinence from adultery .... All ethics ore contextual or situational
ethics nowadays. (p. 72)
In view of the conviction that "the Bible cited by Protestant theologians as an unerring source of ethics or theology is now a useless dodge" (pp. 72,73), where then is the source of guidance? The authors reply that "the source of our ethic is God-the revealing God speaking via the Bible, and Church, and human experience; speaking most clearly in the Christ event; and being interpreted by fallible, sinful, manipulative men like ourselves." (p.73) "Love alone", "love ... always preferred to law," and "our interpretation of the mind of Christ revealed in his actions recorded its the New Testament set in the historical tradition of the Old" are to he the guides. (p.77)
The result of such interpretation by the authors and their colleagues is another model: the model of the "saturation relationship." Such a saturation relationshi involves complete and thorough knowledge of eac person by the other, complete and thorough commitment of each to the other through life and death, a side-by-side commitment to the same goals, and "the primary concern of each party for the good, the happiness and well-being 0f the other." (p- 85) The conclusion then is,
Wherever a saturation relationship exists, the maximum sexual expression is right and proper and even desirable. (p. 85)
Bube: If we follow "a Christ" who leads us where Jesus of Nazareth has forbidden us to go, who contradicts the one who lived and died and rose again, we follow "a Christ" of our own imagination and find ourselves enmeshed in idolatry.
Although the authors agree that such saturation relationships
normally find their
greatest fulfillment within the marriage relationship, they are by no means to
be restricted to the marriage relationship. A variety of other
opened up. Limitations on space prevent us from doing more than
mentioning a few
1. A legalistic approach to sex and personal relationships assumes that everyone has the capability of having a saturation relationship with one and only one person at one time. Assessment of the real situation, however, will show that although some persons can never attain a fully saturated relationship with anyone, others can attain saturated relationships with two, three or more other persons at one time. Thus "it may be 'unethical' to impose a uniform monogynous Gode on the whole population." (p.93)
2. Since "rightness or wrongness has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with whether or not physical juxtaposition of sex organs has occurred," (p.100), premarital sex must he considered as a viable possibility, if not the rule.
3. Since "study and conversations" indicate that sexual relations short of a saturated relationship are not actually harmful-even if they do not fulfil the ideal, the possibility of sexual relations without a full saturation relationship should he considered a viable possibility for certain circumstances or groups, such as young people not ready for marriage, or for older persons. (pp. 104,105)
4. Since "as Christians, we do not know precisely what adultery means" (p.110), the "word adultery
must also he abandoned because it cannot any longer he separated from the wrong pejorative connotations" (ph0), and we must instead consider a variety of co-marital (non competitive) and extra-marital (competitive) relationships. Being willing to share one's spouse sexually with another is a test of our real Christian love.
It is utterly ridiculous to say on the one hand, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends," and to assert immediately that it is impossible and unnatural for a man (or woman) to agree to share his (or her) spouse with another. (p. 112)
For a married person to have sexual relationships with an unmarried person is right when a deep relationship exists, and when human need exists, e.g., the need of the single person for sexual relationships. Usual strictures against such activity carry no weight.
The data are from history and modern sociology, and from conversations with half a dozen persons with some theologically informed self-awareness who have been part of a en-marital relationship . . . . The flat assertion that no man can have good deep relationships including sexual intercourse with more than one woman at a time is patent idiocy. (p. 115) It is the business of the Church to develop guidelines for "creative conduct" in such co-marital relationships.
5. Even when both persons are married, why should expression he restricted to one person? Again empirical data "on studying the entire gamut of reported practice in which husbands and wives, by mu tual agreement, are both involved in sexual relations with other partners" (ph22) indicate positive benefits.
The reports on the experience are so favorable-including a great deal of unanimity on the improvement of the marriage as a result of such experience ... a new and real warmth of gratitude toward the spouse . . , an actualization of freedom. (pp. 123,124)
6. The category of "single woman" represents a large and growing sexually deprived group in our society. "Singleness is involuntary suffering for the vast majority" (p.132), and the Christian is called upon to alleviate this suffering by whatever means are possible. To do otherwise is to deny one of the purposes of our existence.
Men and women were not created to belong exclusively to each other in a marriage contract. They belong only to God and to all of Man. (p. 137)
Any difficulties or pain that may be caused in providing sexual satisfaction for single women cannot be compared to "the pain of unrelieved loneliness and its deadening effect on sensitivity to others' needs." (p. 143)
7. The realization "that the Christian ideal of unselfish Agape, concern for all, does not restrict all sexual expression to marriage," makes possible "many obvious yet radical changes." (p.l53) These changes will actually strengthen the institution of marriage by reserving it for those actually prepared for its requirements. We should make marriage harder and divorce easier. In this way precipitous marriages will he prevented, and we will gradually accept bigamy, polygamy, and polyandry.
The Church, of course, is silent so far. It has no real plans for the aged, nor for the involuntarily single. Let us hope that it will not wait ton long before it even considers the merits of polygamy (and polyandry) in meeting the needs of millions of persons for whom it has no other hope to offer. (p. 156)
Finally-without the specific authority of the Bible, and with no clear word from God, how shall we as Christians avoid pure subjective responses to these kinds of sexual issues? The authors reply in a Scientific Postscript,
Only from experimental data can we learn how various patterns of sexual behavior . . . fit the requirements of living as followers of Christ in our own day and situation . . . . We have no doubt that individual Christians and groups can he found to volunteer to try controlled experimental patterns of all kinds. (pp. 200,201)
ISSUES AND ARGUMENTS II
I find the above summary of the issues and arguments by Bube admirably fair although I would, of course, have presented and worded them somewhat differently. Rather than try to alter them in detail, I wish to present a very short preface and a statement of the principal issue-which is in fact a direct continuation of the last issue dealt with by Bube.
A small fragment of personal history will introduce the topic. I was horn into a third generation (on both sides) Christian family in India which has a 33 generation family tree of Kuleen (i.e., priests to the priests) Brahmins behind it. Ours was among the first Brahmin families converted in North India. For decades, spanning two generations, the cultural Hinduism (e.g., not eating beef, marrying within the 'right' caste, etc.) continued within this very devoted, active, articulate Christian enclave. With my parents, however, came a definite break from their inherited pattern, not because of greater secularization but because of my father's radical Christian commitment. This spanned his Oxford Group pietism, a social activism when it was against societal trends, and a deep devotional life. (We children 'vent to chapel twice a day, and three times on Sunday-and liked it!) Thus my early childhood experience reinforced a viewpoint that equated the deepest commitment to the faith with a genuine freedom from the legalisms of religious and social tradition. That conviction is, as I read the Bible, the main "religious" revolution that Jesus effected. It is neatly caught up in Paul's pungent question to the Galatians: "0 foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you and his theory of why grace overrides law totally. It is caught up in the themes of Augustine (Love God and do as you, then, please) and Luther ("Peccate fortiter," and salvation by grace).
The argument is so thoroughly and specifically treated at such length that I cannot understand how anyone who takes the New Testament seriously can possibly debate it. The entire letter of Paul to the Galatians, especially Chapter 3, has put the law in its proper place-as the prelude to faith (Ch. 3:23-24). Since they are not Jews, why do Christians persist in ever again putting law above grace. Yet, today, I suppose that the family of those who acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ could ultimately he divided into two groups. One group claims as ultimate authority their total perception of Jesus the Christ, revealed through the Bible, through history, the great saints and interpreters, theological illuminations, our contemporary understanding, and all sorts of new knowledge including all of science, which shed light, and not least
Roy: The Christ I follow is the Human Face of God - - - breaking into history in the person of Jesus. . . - Not only rising again, but most importantly living still as the "active principle" of the God-seeking man. . - . None of this is in the Bible which is a fragmentary record of Jesus' sojourn in Galilee. The story of Jesus, the Living Lord, is a much longer serial than that-it is still running on every local station. There is but a thin line between idolatry and bibliolatry.
in that direct contact we call prayer or meditation. The other claims that the Bible, literally interpreted by himself, or a particular authority he selects, is the sole authority (or, at least, the final arbiter).
The Principal Issue
The principal issue is therefore joined. What truth has claim on a Christian? Over what area is zoy interpretation of the Bible, final authority? (Interpretation here may he equated to a weighting scheme for the data, since clearly Jesus' words are weighted more heavily than say those in Leviticus.) Or is a Christian only, repeat only, under obedience to a Grace-ous Living Lord, the central figure of the New Testament which thereby acquires its significance. I wish here not to debate this issue, only to state my stance with the latter group.
The Second Issue
The second issue is immediately contiguous. Over what area and in what degree of detail does the mandate of distinctively Christian ethics operate? Surely it stays my hand from killing my neighbor in anger. Does it prescribe what I wear? (Notice the vast change in attitude to uncovered heads and length of skirts in two decades.) Property laws? Lending laws? (Notice the changes from the Old Testament laws.) What I eat? Remember that one. We will come back to it.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. Can love function meaningfully without the guidance of law? How does one know what "to love" means?
Bube: Not only are love and law not mutually exclusive but in a Christian context neither can be understood without the other. Law is the guide to what it means to love (Psalm 119:97-104); and love is the Milling of what the law requires (Romans 13:10). Examples of extreme pitfalls are legalism on the one hand, which forgets the intent of the law in favor of its letter, and situational ethics on the other hand, which in seeking no law but love so subjectiveness love that it retains little content. In order to love, we must act in accordance with the real world; we do not love a child by giving him everything he wants, nor do we love our neighbor by seeking his presumed "welfare" at any cost, When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment in the law, he answered that it was to love God and to love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). On the night before his death, he linked love and law indissolubly together when he said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (John 14:15) To claim that one can love without reference to the law is to deny implicitly the created reality in which we live. The principles of the law inform us as to what it means to love.
Roy: Because love is the careful working for the good of the Other, it will frequently codify the meaning of love in general situations into "laws." But these laws have validity because, and only insofar as, they fulfil the concern of love. Under "special" circumstances they may be superseded by other dictates of love as understood (with Kierkegard's Fear and Trembling) by the individual.
That is what the incarnation (of Love) was all about. For a Christian as distinct from a Jew, the Law can never have supreme validity. There are ample illustrations from the life of Jesus which speak directly to the point. The long list of episodes (healing on the sabbath, eating with unwashed hands, eating corn in the fields, etc. Matthew (12:1-12), Mark (2:23-28), Luke (13: 10ff; 14:5), with which Jesus categorically makes his point-that "laws" are subject to situational modification-is simply impossible to argue against. The spirit of the new Testament is "The letter (of the law) killeth, the spirit giveth life." (II Cor. 3:6) Jesus saying "I am come to fulfil the Law," (Matt. 5:7) can best be read as "complete and subsume;" it is absurd to twist it to say I am come to prove how good the Law is, by complete obedience to it, when in fact I am breaking its letter every day.
We have excellent analogies in Science. The old Wien and Stefan-Boltzmann radiation laws in apparent conflict with each other, were both shown to derive within certain limited boundary conditions, from the new, more general Planck relationship. The laws of Newtonian mechanics were, after all, not abolished by the discoveries of quantum mechanics-just shown to be special cases involving large numbers and bodies. Situation ethics is the statistical mechanics of individual life, to the thermodynamics of the ten commandments for large numbers. While the large-system-society may run best on the latter, it does not allow us to decide the (best) behavior of an individual.
2. What is biblical "law?' Is it the social derivation of a primitive people, or is it at least a partial description by revelation of the created structure of interpersonal relationships according to the design of creation?
Rube: In speaking of biblical law, I mean the principles of living laid down in the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and other similar and related prophetic and apostolic exhortations for godly living. This biblical law is given to us by God's revelation of the nature of the created universe and of interpersonal relationships in that created universe because He loves its. Biblical law tells us what it means to live as a child of God, as He has intended us to live by creation, in the real sinful world in which we find ourselves. If we kept the first of the Ten Commandments, we would need no others; our human situation, however, is such that this is not possible, and God has provided for us a variety of guidance in practical living in the real created world. When this law tells us, "You shall not steal," or "You shall not commit adultery," it is indeed reflecting the real content of actual human experience, but it is not ultimately derived from this experience as a relative end in itself. The content of human experience confirms that it is a better world without stealing and adultery because this is the very intrinsic nature of the created world. It is divinely revealed and it is experientially verifiable; one description requires the other, and does not eliminate the other. The commandment "You shall not commit adultery" tells us quite simply that committing adultery can never be an ultimate exercise of love in the real world; its effects are not "up for grabs" any more than the law of gravity or the laws of electromagnetics are at our subjective disposal We can never love a person by pushing him off the top of a tall building because he feels like floating.
Roy: The problem is, who selects out his set of Biblical laws? If taken literally, "Biblical law," includes a whole lot of Numbers, Deuteronomy and Leviticus. No ordinary U.S. citizen could live under Biblical law. The credit system and the supermarkets could not be patronized. This is problem enough for Jews, but as a Christian I cannot grant all of "Biblical Law" any claims whatsoever on me. I believe that the evolutionary thought development through the Old and New Testaments does, in fact, provide the most profoundly accurate analysis of the nature of Man, of his relation to others, to Nature and to the Ground of his own Being (God). Because they are so profound and basic these laws must he sufficiently general. They are much more useful because they are general, and hence may he applied to the enormous diversity of human situations and solved for each particular situation. We cannot have it both ways. Either God entered all of human history in Jesus, and hence provided us with a general solution (a kind of Unified Field theory) as the Lord of time and space; or Jesus was only the Messiah of the Jews (and rejected by most of them).
The commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," tells us, I believe, that adultery as then typically understood-seen as cheating or stealing from the third party (partly connected with property and inheritance rights) was wrong. It simply does not read on the kind of situations, where any or all of these new elements are present: genuine acceptance of the third person into a relationship by husband or wife; mutually "open marriages," or even the honest "swinging" of the Houston apartment houses. By no means do I believe that these latter are generally acceptable under the "law of love;" the only point I make here is that the seventh commandment by itself is not sufficient to help us decide. We are not the only people to have trouble with this commandment. Our Lord had trouble with its literal application, even by the most conservative reading of John (8:13), and in Matt. (5:28) he totally did away with this particular law, substituting at once a much more rigorous and yet more flexible law: "But I say unto you that whosoever shall lust after a woman in his heart has already committed adultery . . ." That is the single Biblical law on adult sexual behavior to which Christians should repair: I call it the law against lust, allowing love some leeway.
3. Who is the Christ we follow if
not the Christ of the Bible?
Rube: It was Jesus of Nazareth who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me." (John 14:6). It was Jesus of Nazareth who said, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word... (John 14:23) It was Jesus of Nazareth who lived, died and rose again, commanding his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that he had taught them (Matthew 28:19). We have no past knowledge of Jesus the Christ, arid no present knowledge, except that which is given to us by revelation in the Bible. If we claim to follow "a Christ" who leads us where Jesus of Nazareth has forbidden us to go, who contradicts the one who lived and died and rose again, we follow "a Christ" of our own imagination arid find ourselves enmeshed in idolatry, not in the worship of the true God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Roy: The Christ I follow is the Human Face of God (that is the title of J. A. T. Robinson's brand new treatise on Christology) breaking into history in the person of Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth. Not only rising again, but most importantly living still as the "active principle" of the God-seeking man. When Einstein speaks 0f the mystery of the intelligibility of the Universe, he is struggling with the same issue; when Bonhoffer participates in the plot on Hitler's life he is (he deeply believes and I agree) informed by that same Living Christ. None of this is in the Bible which is a fragmentary record of Jesus' sojourn in Galilee. The story of Jesus, the Living Lord, is a much longer serial than that-it is still running on every local station. There is but a thin line between idolatry and bibliolatry. We walk that line only in faith, knowing that He who created man but a little lower than the angels, gave him the capacity and the responsibility to make this fateful judgment, and not to hand it over to any idol or any catch phrase or highly selected quotation.
4. Has the role of sex in interpersonal human history?
Bube: From the description of the sinless creation, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply ...'" (Genesis 1:27,28), to the first event described in the fallen creation, "Now Adam knew Eve his wife (Genesis 4:1), the role of sex for union between man and woman on all levels of consciousness and experience shows no indication of changing. The belief that we are living in a new and liberated day requiring new practices and escape from old sexual taboos betrays a lack of appreciation for history. The sexual relationship, the symbol of union between Christ and his church, has always been one of God's finest gifts to man; for that very reason it has always been one of the most abused gifts among men who do not know God.
Roy: It is history that teaches us that the organization of human behavior, including those in the interpersonal area have undergone enormous changes. A variety relationships changed in the coarse of of sexual styles has coexisted among the highest and most moral groups and individuals who indeed know God-ranging from the evidence of Hindu temples, from the testimony of Plato and Socrates, to Mohammed and his followers, through Christian monks, to Shaker and Oneida communities in America. What sexual patterns do they have in common? Even just the Christian set. One of our major theses is that this role has been changed in the last 25 years in the biggest step-function discontinuity since life began on this planet. We refer to the simultaneous development of completely controlled conception and to the necessity to stabilize or decrease the population, thereby frustrating on a massive scale the very biological genetically coded sexual instinct. The Pauline analogy to the union of Christ and his Church was surely used in reverse; i.e., Paul used the human experience of marriage to explain to his readers by an analogy his vision of Christ's relation to the Church. Regrettably the imputation of sacred tones to ordinary human sexuality, caused by repeating the erroneous reading of this passage has caused trouble for hundreds of years.
5. Can sex be treated as only a biological function, or at least as no more than eating, sleeping or scratching? Or does sex inevitably involve more of the whole person for either positive or negative consequences?
Bube: The biblical treatment of sex within the "one flesh" concept emphasizes that this relationship is at least intended to correspond to the closest union of man and woman possible. It must be admitted, of course, that sex can he approached on a much lower level than this, and that sexual relationships cart be in practice treated as nothing more than the fulfillment of a biological need. But this is possible only because it is possible for man to forsake the image of God with which he is endowed by creation, and to behave as if indeed he were nothing more than an anima' "' n the category "human" is inappropriate. Whenever sex is treated casually and is experienced outside of a lifelong commitment of love, both parties involved forsake the potentialities and destiny of their humanity, lose the concept of united personhoods, and to a greater or lesser degree pattern their behavior after sub-human creatures.
Roy: The highest uses of the sexual function of man are found within the context of a deep, loving, committed, relationship. The question at issue in today's world is: Granted this is so, is there any reason why admittedly lesser uses of the sexual function are "bad"? Or are they merely less good? Take the simplest case: Is masturbation in the single unmarried person, had or wrong? Indeed, is not taboo against the expression of sexuality within other than the best or ideal situation, responsible for much greater losses to the individual, and to the Gospel in whose name such taboos are enunciated? Obviously there are millions of legal marriages which are veritable hells of relationships, yet we accept sexuality within that context. Do we thereby grant the right to create the "rightness" of sexuality to any kind of piece of paper from any country, or deny it only because that piece of paper is missing?
Let me take this as the point for introducing my major new position (beyond that taken in Honest Sex). Is not the pre-occupation with sex instead of love wholly a waste of time and energy for Christians today? Is sex not already far on the way to becoming 'autonomous,' and hence not even a sensible topic for Christian ethics any longer. Take food as an analogy.
All religions have, or have had, taboos against eating some kinds of food. Yet
slowly at first (e.g., Christians, as distinct from Jews, eating
pork); and rapidly
now (Hindus and Muslims living in the West eating beef, Roman Catholics eating
meat on Friday, etc.) all these proscriptions are falling away. We are surely
wholly autonomous on what we eat and drink. Some Christians are
enjoy huge steaks, some don't
eat shrimp, others avoid pork, etc. Some drink like Jesus, others abstain. Sex
is not identical to eating, but from the beginning of time the analogy has been
The greater complexities in sexuality are due to the involvement (most of the time) of two (or more) persons, and the possible involvement of pregnancy and property. Now that property is not involved, that fear of conception can be eliminated, that new sexual affluence can often he had by mutual agreement among all concerned to their benefit (as they claim), what do we say? I say with Paul, "All things are lawful, not all things edify." And also, If meat cause my brother to stumble, I will not eat meat." (Rom. 14:15) I find that these are more effective guidelines or riders on the law of love to guide the behavior of the autonomous Christians than any simple prohibition. It means that although any sexual act may be "legal," it still may not be loving. The Christian law of love is frequently more demanding than the pre-Christian law of Moses.
Bube: The biblical revelation and general empirical data available on society as a whole indicate that the assumption that "saturation relationships" in the sense of a "lifelong commitment of love" (involving sexual intimacy) can exist outside the 1 man/1 woman relationship is based on an illusion, contrary to the created structure of interpersonal sexual relationships.
6. Can a person with a need for love be satisfied only by sex? If so, why not make a sex-machine?
Bube: There is a purely biological urge involved in sex, and the physical release from this urge can be achieved through masturbation or some kind of "sex machine." The very failure of these methods of relief of the biological urge only, when problems of the whole person in loneliness and need for love are concerned, is self evident. Sex is not the answer to the need for love. Nor need it be supposed that the need for love cannot he satisfied without sex. Many in recent years, caught up in the despair of life without God, have sought to deify sex as the ultimate mystical experience, the answer to life's problems, and the slogan "Make love, not war" can be appreciated but not understood except in this context. When one person uses another to obtain relief from his or her sexual drives, the persons involved are being treated as "things"-and this is certainly one of the basic attitudes condemned by the Christian position.
Roy: Never. There is little relation between sex and love; including that within the legal frameworks. The Christian affirms the "giving" of love as the primary descriptor of his life-style. There are biological bases for sexual needs, which are clearly not as biologically affecting as those for food. How does a Christian who is under Jesus' injunction to "feed the hungry," "clothe the naked," etc., minister to those who are sexually hungry? Tell them to take cold showers? Try to reorganize society? We are faced with a paradox. To be true to our Lord we should try to "feed" the sexually hungry, not give them Bibles only. But this might violate the seventh commandment. Given the new circumstances, maybe such acts could he legitimized. But if so, such sexual caring should be in the context of a loving relationship, i.e., most likely with close friends and not strangers. Note that this is exactly the most demanding type of responsible relationship. Sex with strangers is much simpler-(aka Johnson and Masters surrogate partners). Sex with a machine may be the simplest (i.e., least complicating) but certainly not the best.
7. Is it possible to have "meaningful, celebrating, person-affirming communion" through nonlife-committing and non-self-committing love relationships? If not, why not marry?
Bube: The biblical perspective is that sexual relations between man and woman fulfil their proper role when experienced in the context of a lifelong commitment of love. It is this lifelong commitment of love-as opposed to the brief giving and taking of casual liaisons-which makes it possible to have meaningful celebrating, person-affirming communion. To claim that the pursuit of "meaningful, celebrating, person-affirming communion" is possible without a lifelong commitment of love has neither biblical nor empirical support. If this is indeed the ease then why should such a man and woman hesitate to publicly affirm their mutual commitment-i.e., get married? Is it not eminently likely that a refusal to give assent to such commitment publicly is really an indication that such commitment is not given? And if such commitment is indeed not given, it makes little sense to continue to justify sexual relations on the hypothetical grounds that a "meaningful ... etc." relationship is involved.
Roy: There is a quantitative aspect which is missing here. The question implies that all life-commitments are equal, and equal to marriage. There are all degrees of commitment and all degrees of fulfillment. The empirical data are clear that "life-long" commitment taken on in a typical marriage thoroughly approved by the Church, is highly unlikely to go more than 14 years! Equally deep commitments to love (not to sex) are made by many persons, e.g., members of many religious communities to each other; a nun or a,, priest committed to their vocation; a man and a woman who cannot marry. Is all sexual contact forbidden to them? Are five and ten year relationships with a vast amount of contact, concern, love, insufficient to justify any sexual relation, while the casual liaison of a typical weak marriage justifies everything? The latter are prominent in statistically validated samples of marriages, and legalists get all tripped up justifying horrible acts and relations if they affirm "meal ticket" sex as their only moral standard. (Meal tickets may be purchased for $2.00 and a blood test.)
8. Which is a better measure of the reality of human nature: the biblical revelation or empirical surveys?
Rube: This is an improper question, and I have formulated it primarily to emphasize this fact. It is improper because good theology (theology that is faithful to the biblical revelation) and good science (science that is faithful to the real world) do not provide measures of human nature which can be categorized as being one better and one worse. Unfortunately it is easy to come by both had theology and had science, and both of these enter discussions of the sexual revolution. Bad theology does not take full account of the biblical revelation concerning human nature: it either neglects the creation-intended redemption-restored potential goodness of human nature, or it neglects the fallen and sinful nature of man living in the world today. It is this neglect of man's sinful nature today that permits the fabrication of sexual Utopias (no less than political Utopias) based on the presupposition that human nature is essentially good and capable of self perfection. Bad science underestimates the problem of assessing the character of reality and attributes to limited empirical surveys significance beyond their merit. Bad theology and bad science are combined when it is concluded that because it appears that people can do something without serious harm, it follows first that they may do it, and then finally that they roust do it. This is the familiar "is-ought" fallacy which attends any and every attempt to derive a system of ethics from empirical investigations. In response to this question, therefore, if it is interpreted to ask whether the test of the effect of adultery is better given by attention to the biblical revelation, or to the opinions of a few perhaps well-meaning individuals with a particular set of philosophical presuppositions, I must conclude that the biblical revelation is infinitely more reliable.
Roy: Since Truth is of a Unity-they both contribute. All of modern science (not only silly sociology surveys) and Biblical revelation are, axiomatically, wholly compatible when both are properly understood. If there are apparent conflicts we better cheek the data, and! or revise our understanding.
I'm a great proponent of the primacy of Biblical insight based on its statements on the nature of man, fallen but redeemable, which have been empirically validated by 5000 years of recorded human history.
Man's sinful nature makes me question all his artifices to dodge his God-given responsibility of using all of creation to serve his fellow man and thus serve God. Hiding behind comfortable legalisms is one such artifice. For hundreds of years the Church used what is the most explicit Biblical material in the whole area of marriage and sex, i.e., the proscription against divorce (Mark 10:2; Matt. 19:3-9), to foil what was empirically obvious: That in some cases the loving thing for all, was to permit divorce (and re-marriage). Today everyone has forgotten that this was the cutting edge of the "moral" issue a century ago. If you don't believe me, try to find a legal loophole for divorce as practiced by tens of millions of Christians every year. Well, even the Roman Catholics may "re-understand" the Bible on that one soon . . . (Sic transit . . .) Similarly with premarital intercourse; we can see that the empirical evidence and our rereading of the Bible find no way to fault it, in the absolute and blanket way in which the Church has done in recent generations. The empirical data are that today a high percentage of concerned, loving, active Christians have had wholly positive experience with pre-marital sex: some equally with pre-marital abstinence. Both are options for Christians today.
9. Do we obtain real freedom by ignoring human nature as it is, and treating it as it might be if sinless?
Bube: Freedom is never achieved by neglecting reality. To be truly free one must know and live in response to the limitations of the structure of reality. Freedom from the law of interpersonal relationships is as impossible to come by as is freedom from the law of gravity. Absolute freedom never exists in a real world. To neglect reality is to neglect truth, and to neglect truth is always tantamount to losing freedom. If, in a subjective quest for freedom from the law of gravity, I walk off the top of a tall building, I pay the penalty and am no longer free at all. If, in a subjective quest for freedom from the laws appropriate for human beings in interpersonal relationships according to God's creative will, I deliberately violate these laws, I cannot escape paying the penalty and losing my freedom. Jesus tells us, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. (John 8:31, 32)
Roy: Never. Likewise, however, we get nowhere by neglecting other aspects of human nature. This Man is also acquisitive, power-driven, creative, inventive, and he was made in the Creator's image; he is a co-creator now. He will and must flex his muscles, and try his wings. He will, for absolutely certain sure, use his new sexual affluence. Our problem is to solve the simultaneous equation: Given sinfulness and sexual affluence, what patterns are best? (Do not respond by giving solutions for pre-1950 sexual poverty.) Here again, is an example where the Bible could not have spelled out an appropriate law, because during its time, such a situation did not exist and could not have been conceived.
Roy: The evolutionary thrust of history leaves us no doubt as to the outcome. The Church will sooner or later accede to Society's patterns and then find the rationale to justify co-marital, loving (including sexuality) with persons other than the spouse. The question is: should not the Church lead the way?
10. What is the good news of the Gospel to men and women? Does it always allow us to end all and every kind of deprivation?
Bube: Perhaps the saddest quote given above from Honest Sex, if we take it literally, is the next to last,
in which the authors call for the church to consider the merits of polygamy and polyandry "in meeting the needs of millions of persons for whom it has no other hope to offer." If the church has "no other hope to offer" in its mission of preaching and living the good news of the Gospel, we are in the words of Paul, "of all men most to be pitied." (I Corinthians 15:19). In the RSV version of the New Testament, to cite a statistic, the word "hope" appears 73 times in 19 different books of the 27 New Testament books. Some of these, of course, are used in ordinary English conversation like, "I hope to see you," but the vast majority speak of the Christian's hope in Jesus Christ. The good news of the Gospel is that we need no longer live separated from God by sin, but that God has acted on our behalf in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, so that if we accept for ourselves the grace of God offered in Christ, we may be forgiven, accepted and received back into personal fellowship with God both here and now, and forever. The good news of the Gospel is that God loves us and has made it possible for us to love Him and each other. The good news of the Gospel is that all power in heaven and earth is in the hands of Jesus Christ, who is with us always. Nowhere in the biblical revelation are we promised that this good news means that all suffering, deprivation, and even persecution will be taken from us in this present sinful world; what we are promised is that God is always with us and will grant us both to overcome and to triumph in and with the suffering and deprivation.
If we arrive at the point where the removal of suffering and deprivation justifies any means, then we have forgotten the heart of the Christian message which calls for us first to love with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and then in that context to seek every way possible to love our neighbor.
Roy: The good news of the Gospel is the offer of (the) Reconciliation effected
by Jesus Christ. By no means does that suggest that every mouth will be filled,
every want satisfied. Indeed the recognition of the inevitability of much pain
is part of the Biblical insight. But we only earn the right to preach the good
news when our lives say that we have bent every effort to clothe the
the hungry, minister to the sick. The wording in the quote cited by Bube is not
clear: perhaps "new programs" substituted for "hope" would
clarify it. If the Church were doing all it could to meet the needs
friendship and sexuality, of the single, aged, etc., it would, of
course, he proclaiming
its unique message of Hope. Indeed, the importance of the gospel for modern man
is that in spite of the despair which, rationally, we must all face, about the
potential of feeding and clothing the world, man can still live
Dimitriu's Incognito, which must surely rank as one of history's
novels makes this acceptance of "the world as it is" come alive. Yet
this serenity in the face of despair must be held paradoxically or
against Christ's imperative "to teed, clothe, serve."
11. Is a "saturation relationship" outside of a 1 man/1 woman relationship possible?
Bube: This is the kind of question which presumably is a prime candidate for answering on empirical grounds. Such a "saturation relationship" is or is not possible-except, of course, that our empirical investigation is severely hampered by difficulty in objectively defining and identifying a "saturation relationship." Because a "saturation relationship" is claimed does not make it actual. If the term "saturation relationship" is to be identified with our term, "a lifelong commitment in love," then the biblical revelation is fairly clear in providing a negative answer. A positive answer to the question would follow only if God had made men and women so that total lifelong commitments in love could be made at one time by one man to many women, or at one time by one woman to many men. Again the biblical revelation and general empirical data available on society as a whole seem to me to indicate that the assumption that "saturation relationships" in the above sense can exist outside the 1 man/1 woman marital relationship is based 011 an illusion, contrary to the created structure of interpersonal sexual relationships.
Roy: This is precisely where empirical data are making inroads on our previous understandings, and for new boundary conditions not dreamed of previously. The data of many careful highly moralistic observers say yes to this question. I know of "saturation relationships" among several threesomes, and foursomes. Some of these saturate at much higher values than a high proportion of marriages. Also, however, in the last few years, the saturation level justifying coitus has moved downward, both within and outside of marriage. There is an enormous struggle in the psyches of most concerned active Christians, societal values against new sexual patterns absorbed during their childhood development, coming into conflict with a reasoned Christian position, and their own loving and sexual desires.
The evolutionary thrust of history leaves us no doubt as to the outcome. The Church will sooner or later accede to Society's patterns and then find the rationale to justify co-marital, loving (including sexuality) with persons other than the spouse. (Remember the much worse fight over divorce.) The question is: shouldn't the Church lead the way by affirming its eternal principles of love-and-law to guide our new condition of sexual affluence? The question is how many more millions will see the Church and the entire gospel of Jesus Christ as irrelevant, simply because some pusillanimous Church leaders couldn't keep their minds on love, instead of law.
12. Granting the possibility of exceptional situations, should such exceptions be made the pattern for the normal?
Bube: This question is prompted by my perception of this kind of approach repeated on several occasions in Honest Sex. I am perfectly willing to admit that the existence of an Absolute ethical principle does not guarantee the possibility of giving that principle absolute expression in every instance of human life. I can conceive of situations where the choice to perform a known evil might be the consequence of realizing that in this imperfect world not to act would result in a known greater evil. But such exceptions retain validity only as exceptions, never if they are treated as a guide to the norm. Bonhoffer, for example, was willing to work for the assassination of Hitler as a crisis exception in his life, but he was absolutely clear that if such forsaking of the normal demands of ethics ever became the guide to the norm, we would all be lost. Even in his case, he was overruled by God, who judged Hitler in His own way.
Roy: Exceptional situations should of course not be generalized as a possible
norm. Honest Sex may have
done this by implication by insufficiently careful wording. Our main thesis was that there is no single value norm. There is a distribution of norms. Hence, obviously, within that distribution of norms, some situations (exceptions?) occur less frequently than others. History is creeping up on that too, and the center 0f the norms are shifting. In 1973 more than half the U.S. population felt that premarital sex was no longer immoral-a 500% change in two decades. Some of these data are like Jesus' reference to the 'Clouds no larger than a man's hand.' They are early warnings before the event itself.
13. Is marital exclusiveness reprehensibly justifications?
Bube: The claim that sexual exclusiveness between one man and one woman who have become one flesh in a lifelong commitment of love, and who are seeking to live out in their lives a representation of Christ and the church, is the result of human selfishness and is incompatible with the requirements of loving one's neighbor, seems to me to be a gross misreading of the biblical revelation. The Bible persistently treats marital infidelity as an analogy to spiritual apostasy for precisely the same reason; as man is to love only God with heart and soul and mind above all else in life-because this is the only way to fulfil the creation purpose of man, so a man and a woman in a lifelong commitment of love are to keep each only for the other-again because this is the only way to fulfil the creation purpose of man and woman. If men and women and sex and human nature were differently constructed, different possibilities might be available. But we are designed to live in the world that God has made, and He has loved us enough to reveal to us what this entails.
Roy: Marital exclusiveness in sexual relationships is a beautiful and fulfilling option for any couple where love and tenderness exist between them too, and where it seems to make them more serving of other's needs. Marital exclusiveness which prevents deeply caring relations to all kinds of others is utterly un-Christian and selfish and therefore reprehensible. That is to say if a man spends so much time and love on his wife that he has no time to care for the kid in trouble, the prisoner recently released, or the widow of his friend, that cannot be squared with a Christian commitment. Furthermore, given our world (America 1974) even marital sexual exclusivity is not the only option open to caring couples. Certainly that option is praised and romanticized in literature. But what of the open marriage which in addition to a sturdy love between the couple permits the caring for the hungry, sick, needy and included among those-the lonely who may need sex and love as well as the gospel? Can the very rare mature marriages, because they are solidly based, allow the joy and beauty of other relationships of each partner to include celebrative sex? Such marriages are exceptions among the hundreds we know, but no more so than ideal marriages everywhere. We are just emerging from the era where this kind of couple would have been a pipedream. Now, they are the new breed, who may be up to preaching the ever-new Gospel to twenty-first century sexually affluent man.