This is the second post in a two-post series on premarital sex. In the former post, the author presented four positions on premarital sex as formulated by Reformed theologian Lewis Smede, Catholic theologian Ronald Rolheiser, student X, and student Y. Here, the author attempts to articulate his own position on the issue.
Let me now begin articulating my position towards premarital sex by first stating my loyalties and sympathies. On the one hand, as a Christian, I am committed to submitting to the authoritative wisdom of Scripture, guided and enriched by tradition. I am, however, keenly aware of the contribution of what is often called cultural hermeneutics, that is, the recognition that the biblical writers may themselves have been working with presuppositions particular to their cultural-historical situation, presuppositions that should not be taken to be transhistorical, absolute, and normative. The task, as I see it, is to uncover the spirit behind a particular concept found in the Bible, then applying it allegorically to a contemporary situation; “for the letter kills,” Paul writes, “but the spirit gives life”.1 For this reason, I wholeheartedly applaud Smedes’ distinction that “weddings are inventions of cultures,” reflecting the legal and social conventions of a certain context, whereas it is marriage – its transcultural meaning manifest in concrete cultural forms – that is an “invention of God”.2 Together with Smedes, it will be affirmed that “today’s young people cannot be [held] responsible within Abraham’s culture”, or even Jesus’ or Paul’s for that matter; “they can be [held] responsible only within their own”.3
This is the first in a series of posts about Christian perspectives on premarital sex. Here, the author introduces the subject and examines four differing positions on the topic. You can read Part 2, where he explicates his own position, here.
The traditional Christian injunction against premarital sex, writes C. S. Lewis, “is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it is now, has gone wrong.”1 Indeed, in an age where chastity is often viewed as an outmoded ethic of a bygone era, in a culture where premarital sex has become a perfectly acceptable and even celebrated practice for many, it is very tempting and easy to dismiss the conventional biblical teaching that reserves sex as the exclusive privilege of the married. But Lewis continues: “Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong.”2 Taking heed, we might ask: what if it is indeed our sexual instincts that have gone wrong? How has it gone wrong? Why does Christianity forbid premarital sex, after all? Is it ever possible for premarital sex to be permissible or even good? These are some of the questions that this present study attempts to address.
his article was originally published in the Summer ’06 issue of Revisions, Has American Culture Killed Christ?
Thrust into Shinjuku
Beneath the endless canopy of garish neon
They gaze blankly at the panoply of objects
Placidly proffering themselves
Pachinko machines driven mad by their own ringing
Blond haired youths dancing their lives away in front of machines
Karaoke kitsch in loud mangled engrish more…
This article was originally published in the Spring ’07 issue of Revisions, Can Technology Save Us?
I watched Cast Away again this past weekend, and remembered why it remains one of my favorite movies: an allegory of existential aloneness and solipsistic loneliness. Yes, it reminded me of that familiar plunging feeling whenever my heart is sinking, sinking, into despair, into hopelessness — into that impossible longing for divine plenitude.
While staggering along in search of your departure gate you decide your laces are loose. You prop your leg on a row of chairs, and before you know it, that shadowy figure reclining at the corner stirs. Mister, could you spare me a dollar? I’m hungry.