Monday, July 25, 2011

Marriage and sex in the Christian family

The companionship between man and woman, the differences between the sexes is frequently mentioned in the Holy Bible. Much of the subjects mentioned in the Old Testament acquires full meaning only in the New Testament and that too after Jesus’s arrival on planet earth. ‘Male and female he made them’ - This is the first mention of the sexes in the scripture. (Gen. 1/27). The Holy Bible tells us that man was made in the image of God., man meaning here both species. After the creation, but before the making of woman, God found that everything he had created was good.

But God, who saw that everything He created was ‘good’, found that it is ‘not good’ for man to be alone. He thought, “I will make a helpmate for man.” Then came Eve, made from Adam, by removing the re productery part of Adam’s body. Then God gave the duo the power to continue His creation of man through sex. So sex is Holy because it was created by God Himself, as “it is not good for a man to be alone sans a partner.” Sex, therefore is not something indecent as many Christians think today. Sex is a sacrament since Jesus made it, a sacrament by attending the marriage at Cana, (where according to a strand of legend, the shy groom is supported to be Nathaniel who is a native of Cana).
Sex was not something to be ashamed of before God who made both sexes, for the Bible says that “both of them were naked felt no shame.” (Ibid 2/25). It was sin that brought this difference for the first time,for God asked Adam “who told you that you are naked.” In the NT Paul says that “We are all one in Jesus Christ” denoting that there is no difference between male and female (Gala 3/28).
The fruitfulness of marriage is found everywhere in the Bible (canticle of canticles 4/1, 5/9 and 6/11) “Find joy with your wife in your youth.” (proverbs 5/18) Even in the time of Jesus, marriage was regarded sacred. Once Jesus tells that “They are no longer two but one body .” (Mth 19/4) St. Paul tells the Colossians re sexual duty, “Do not refuse each other, except by mutual consent. That too for an agreed time” (7/5). The Jewish rabbis were expected to marry. All of Jesus’ apostle, save John, were married, though Jesus glorified the celibate life saying “ There are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom.” (ibid 19/12) Paul also advocated celibacy though he was himself married. For the Christian community of Paul, sex was sacred and identified as a sharing of God’s creative act.
While this was the situation in Israel, the pagans around them however did sacrelize sexuality. They even had sacred prostitutes to represent divinity. In pagan Rome the empress Messalina, who messed up her early life with sex, used to visit brothels at night, using a different name, (Lyshiska) less she be identified by her clientele.
But what was the situation stance of sex in the old testament Israel? It was at the beginning that Eve, our first mother and first woman God created, said “I have acquired a man with the help of Yahweh” (Gen 4/1). She uttered this after giving birth to her child. In the NT, we have Jesus forgiving the sinner of Magdala, Mary, for her previous extra sex life.
The woman caught in adultery was forgiven too. (Jn 8/11) Jesus even went to the extent of saying that, “even prostitutes and such like will inherit the kingdom, because of their faith and repentance, while the so called devout Jew, will forfeit it.” Did Jesus glorify sex? Oh no. He only meant that even sins of sex will be forgiven if repented and confessed. The Jewry of Jesus’ day were obstinate and averse to repentance. Marriage in the OT was sacred that even priests were allowed to marry but disallowed marry the harlots and divorcees which is how that sex is sacred. (Lev . 21/7) Paul tells that people of immoral lives, Sodomites and adulterers will never inherit the kingdom (1 Cor. 6/9) All these things go to show that sex in the Christian family is not at all immoral.
Jesus affirmed the indissolubility of marriage on several occasions. We believe that God has joined man and woman in sacred matrimony, which the church has institutionalized as a sacrament. They become as ‘one flesh’ after been blessed by the celebrant at the Nuptial service. That their first marriage act is sex, goes to show that there is nothing bad in sex in marriage, but outside it, it is sin and need to be avoided. Marriage for a Christian family is for life and no divorce is permissible under any circumstance, save death of a partner. In Christian marriage the wife and husband should have the relationship that the church has with Jesus Christ. “Every man should have his own wife and every wife have her own husband,” Says St. Paul, (Ibid 7/2).
This was two millennia ago and since this dictum was broken by permissive society, today we have the often advertised slogan, “keep one partner for safe sex” as an advice to avoid the feared plague ‘AIDS’ which society invited with its free sex mentality, casting away God’s command and inviting trouble thereby. It is of the sex desire of each partner that St. Paul says on Christian marriage, this “A woman should fulfill her duty as a wife and each should satisfy the other. “Paul also did say that the body is not to be used for sexual immorality, but to serve the Lord. ”(ibid 6/12-17)
In Mathew 19/1-9 we have a series of teachings of Jesus about marriage. When some pharisees with a view to trap Him, asked, “Does our law allow a man to divorce ?” Jesus in reply said that a man leaves home and parents to unite with his wife and that the two will become one and no man has a right to sunder that union. Continuing, Jesus said that a man who divorces his wife commits adultery if he marries another. Adultery which was forbidden in the OT, took new meaning with Jesus who said that anyone who looks at a woman and want to possess her, commits adultery.
(Mth 5/27-29)