God’s intent for sex in marriage, by Dr. Peter Payne

This is from a friend who is now touring Europe debating atheist.  I thought he made some good points.  Comments?

God intends sex to be part of the bond that unites a man and a woman in life-long love, that brings them together into a complementary whole, a whole that reflects the union of Christ with his church, and that provides a setting within which children can be raised and receive the complementary nurturing of a father and a mother.

 Differing visions on right and wrong

      Secular ethics — Christian ethics

Secular Ethics:  Free to do as one wants (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else)

                        Seek to promote others’ happiness

                        Every person is of great worth

Christian Ethics:  Love God with all your heart

                            Love your neighbor as yourself

                            Every person is of great worth

    Western secular ethics arises out of Christian ethics and shares much in common with it.  E.g. both agree on the third point—something not true in the ethics of most non-Western cultures.  And for both, ethics implies a concern for the welfare of others (2nd point).  Note, however, that “Love your neighbor as yourself” is stronger than the secular mandate.  Christian ethics, however, differs radically from secular ethics on the first point.  It is not the case one is free to do whatever he/she wants.  Love for God and the desire to do as God calls us to do, takes precedence over what we think will make us happiest or what we want.  Doing the right thing does not always equate with what I think will make me happiest.

Christian Sexual Ethics  vs  Secular Sexual Ethics

Secular:  (a)  Sex for the fun of it    (but be careful)

               (b)  Sex with a life partner      (“true love”)


    1.  Oxcitosin  – Why “sex for the fun of it” hurts.

    2.  The societal need for strong controls on sex.      

          Marital stability, longevity, fidelity for healthy 

          child rearing.  (Modeling of father and mother)

Secular sexual ethics has two elements.  One is that one can do whatever one wants (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else) but be careful!  The other is that once you get married, you should be faithful to your spouse.  What this often means is that you can play around with sex for a while, but when you decide to get serious, you limit your sex life to that one person.  The earlier pattern makes more difficult the latter constraint.

     These two ways of thinking can bring about problems.  One is that the sex act releases oxcitosin in the brain which creates emotional bonding.  You may want sex just to be for fun, but biology runs contrary to this, and when the relationship breaks there is hurt.  (About twice as much oxcitosin is released in women than in men, so women often feel the emotional hurt stronger than men.)  

     Another problem is that there is a societal need for long-lived strong marital bonds, bands needed for raising emotionally healthy children who become mature contributors to society.  And this means that there is a societal need for strong controls on sex.  Sexual freedom—do as you please—undermines the stability and longevity of marriages for it makes it more difficult to maintain the vow to sexual fidelity once one enters into marriage.  Traditional Christian ethics is good for society even though it can mean that the individual’s desires are not met.

     (A point made earlier in my lecture was that one can have a rich and fulfilled life without being sexually active.  The high standard for sexuality in Christianity entails considerable self-restraint on the part of heterosexuals as well as homosexuals.  And homosexuals are not the only ones for whom marriage is not a option according to Christian standards.)  

Christian Sexual Ethics  vs  Secular Sexual Ethics

Secular:  (a)  Sex for the fun of it    (but be careful)

               (b)  Sex with a life partner      (“true love”)

Christian: (a) Being sexual activity is not a right

                (b) Sex only within the marital bond of husband and wife

                (c) Personal happiness does not determine what is right and wrong

                (d) Ethics involves relationship with God not just relationships with 


(Conceivably, there could be a society that strongly restricted sex to marital unions and applied this to homosexuals as well. But for such societal norms to hold there would need to be corresponding values and beliefs to ground those norms.  It is doubtful that secular ethics is capable of providing the needed values and beliefs.  [Note: The need of sexual fidelity for good child rearing would only apply to homosexual couples raising children, making even more problematic a secular justification for insisting on sex only in a marital bond.] One can ask why God hasn’t mandated such a system for sexual ethics,  but he hasn’t.  And it is rather rash on our part to claim that we know that such an arrangement would be better than one that meets all the elements present in the statement above—namely the statement about God’s revealed intention for sex.)


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