Maintaining God’s View of Sex
OUR loving heavenly Father created our first parents with the marvelous gift of sex. He put in them such a strong desire for marriage and its accompanying relations that the continuation of the human family was assured. Certainly, when we think about this arrangement and the great potential that it has for bringing pleasure and happiness to humans, we are moved to praise our Great God for conceiving of such a wonderful way to populate the earth.—Genesis 1:27, 28.
It is little wonder that when Satan the Devil rebelled against God, he set about to corrupt this fine arrangement for bringing into existence a whole human race. Working on the minds of humans now born in imperfection, he was able to pervert their attitudes toward the proper use of their God-given sexual powers. The Bible shows that by the time of the Flood, ‘the inclination of the heart of man had become bad from his youth up.’ (Genesis 6:5, 6; 8:21) As the human family sank into a course of moral wrongdoing, the angels in heaven were watching.
The Involvement of Angels
God did not create angels with a desire for sexual relations with humans. Yet Satan evidently was able to get some of them to think improperly about such matters. Thus within certain angels a desire was cultivated for something that God purposed only humans should enjoy within the proper bounds of marriage. These angelic “sons of the true God” did a wicked thing, leaving their positions in heaven to come to earth to marry women. (Genesis 6:2) Such action was motivated by a wrongly cultivated desire, not a natural desire put in them by God. Since angels can develop such unnatural sexual desires, we should not be surprised that humans can as well. Writing under inspiration, the disciple Jude drew a parallel between the angels who desired the daughters of men and certain humans who became passionately involved with persons of their own sex. He wrote:
“The angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place he has reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day. So too Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, after they in the same manner as the foregoing ones had committed fornication excessively and gone out after flesh for unnatural use, are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.”—Jude 6, 7.
Sexual Perversions—Past and Present
As Bible students, we know what happened in ancient Sodom—how the sex-mad men and young boys of the city demanded to have relations with those whom they viewed merely as Lot’s male house guests. (Genesis 19:4-11) This event took place only about 450 years after the Flood. In those early times it also became common for humans to have sexual relations with animals. Thus, some 400 years later, in four different places, God’s Law to the nation of Israel condemned this practice, with death being the penalty for violators. (Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 18:23; 20:15, 16; Deuteronomy 27:21) In addition, God’s Law to Israel made sexual relations with persons of one’s own sex a capital offense—violators being sentenced to death.—Leviticus 18:22; 20:13.
Nevertheless, in the centuries that followed, the peoples living round about the Israelites were so deeply involved in homosexual practices that the Israelites themselves time and again became involved in homosexuality. (1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46) On one occasion a Levite was a houseguest in the Benjamite city of Gibeah, and the men of the city surrounded the house shouting: “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may have intercourse with him.” (Judges 19:22) Practically the whole tribe of Benjamin was wiped out at Jehovah’s direction because of this matter.
‘But why bring up such unpleasant Bible history,’ some may be thinking. Because today we live in a society that has sunk to greater depths of immorality, and God’s present-day people are also endangered. Consider briefly the extent of homosexuality and its influence:
“Roughly 30% of [San Francisco’s] population is homosexual,” states the Medical Tribune of September 23, 1981.
“The issue of the ’80s is the growing impact of gay culture on heterosexual life and—more importantly—heterosexual values. . . . The general acceptance of gay culture is a signal that our fundamental beliefs have been changing,” reports Maclean’s magazine of February 18, 1980.
“The large gay concentration in the entertainment and media fields puts gays in a position to mould values and opinions,” notes a professor at the University of Sydney in Australia.
People’s attitudes are definitely being molded to accept homosexuality as being normal, even proper. According to The Toronto Star of August 24, 1980, “Young members of the United Church . . . welcome the idea of homosexual ministers.” The London Daily Mail of June 5, 1980, says: “Homosexuality should not be a bar to holding office in the Methodist Church, a revised report recommends.” And when a woman wrote to say that she was shocked to learn that her 23-year-old grandson was gay, a newspaper columnist answered: “God didn’t write the Bible. Homosexuality is as old as mankind . . . What you must do now is learn to accept him the way he is. He is still a fine young man.”
Bible View of Sexual Perversions
Due to worldly propaganda even some among God’s people have been influenced so as to view homosexuality and similar sexual perversions as ‘not so bad.’ However, God’s Law to Israel was that homosexuals should be put to death! And in the Christian Greek Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 says, according to the New International Version: “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral . . . nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.” And, according to this same Bible translation, Romans 1:26, 27 says: “Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men.” Ro 1 Verse 32 continues: “Those who do such things deserve death.”
Surprisingly, some who have become involved in immoral conduct, such as bestiality, did not feel that what they did was really so bad. Yet having sexual connections with an animal is wrong. It is grounds for being disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation. Similarly, some have expressed ignorance regarding what are homosexual practices. What, then, is homosexuality?
What Is Homosexuality?
To help get this clear, consider dictionary definitions of homosexuality:
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language: “Erotic activity with a member of one’s own sex.”
The American Heritage Dictionary: “1. Sexual desire for others of one’s own sex. 2. Sexual activity with another of the same sex.”
The Random House Dictionary of the English Language: “Sexual desire or behavior directed toward a person or persons of one’s own sex.”
It is interesting that, according to dictionary definitions, homosexuality includes sexual DESIRE for others of one’s own sex. Yet the Bible makes a distinction between the practice of what is bad and sinful desires or tendencies. These desires may be present despite determined efforts to eradicate them from mind and body. Because of their earlier life environment, and perhaps other factors, we may have Christian brothers and sisters who from time to time have the urge for sexual relations with members of their own sex. But they fight that unnatural, Satan-inspired desire—and they do not give in to it. So they are not practicing homosexuals. They get control of their thinking, knowing that wrong desire that is allowed to grow fertile is bound to express itself in wrong acts.—James 1:14, 15; Colossians 3:5-10.
What is condemned by God in the Bible, and is a disfellowshipping offense, is the “erotic activity,” or ‘sexual behavior,’ directed toward another person of one’s own sex. This activity, or behavior, does not necessarily have to be sodomy in order for it to constitute homosexuality. Any activity involving the genitals of at least one of these persons, such as kissing, fondling, rubbing one’s sexual parts against another, or other such behavior designed to obtain sexual pleasure with another member of one’s own sex, is homosexuality. And while most people think of homosexuals as males, the term applies equally to females who carry on similar practices, though they are generally termed lesbians.
Avoiding Wrong Sexual Conduct
Persons who may have homosexual desires need to fight hard against them. At the same time, we should be careful that we do not become the victim of a person whose wrong desires may be getting the better of him. At times homosexual acts have been precipitated by things that in themselves are not wrong, such as the giving or accepting of back rubbing or of back washing in the shower. Or sometimes persons will playfully wrestle and become aroused sexually. There is a need for caution. Be aware that such activity can lead to, and on occasion has led to, homosexual acts, even among Christians.
Why is it that some become involved in sexual offenses—in homosexuality, bestiality, Peeping Tomism, and so forth? It has been found that the minds of the offenders were on sex to a great extent. Sometimes they were avid readers of pornographic literature. Seemingly without exception, they were habitual masturbators. Since this matter of masturbation repeatedly has come up in connection with sexual perversions, let us examine this practice in the light of God’s Word. What does the Bible say about masturbation?
The Bible’s View of Masturbation
There are those that have said that the Bible describes masturbation in Genesis chapter 38, and that Onan was put to death for the offense. But this is not true. The Bible says that when Onan “did have relations with his brother’s wife he wasted his semen on the earth.” (Genesis 38:9) So apparently Onan interrupted sexual relations with Tamar, spilling his semen on the ground rather than giving it to Tamar. He did this because he did not want to raise up children in the name of his dead brother. And it was for this failure to perform “brother-in-law marriage” that Onan was put to death.
Two other passages in the Hebrew Scriptures have been discussed in literature dealing with the Bible’s view of masturbation. The first, Deuteronomy 23:10 and 11, tells of the situation when the Israelites were in a military encampment. According to Today’s English Version, it says: “If a man becomes unclean because he has had a wet dream during the night, he is to go outside the camp and stay there. Toward evening he is to wash himself, and at sunset he may come back into camp.” But what is mentioned here is not masturbation. Masturbation is defined as: “Erotic stimulation of the genital organs commonly resulting in orgasm and achieved by manual or other bodily contact.” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1981) Jehovah God so created males that, when they do not engage in sexual intercourse, they will from time to time spontaneously emit semen during sleep. This emission is often accompanied by an erotic dream, hence the expression “a wet dream.” Since the emission usually occurs at night, it may also be called a “nocturnal emission.”
The other passage discussing this matter is Leviticus 15:16, 17, which says: “Now in case a man has an emission of semen go out from him, he must then bathe all his flesh in water and be unclean until the evening. And any garment and any skin upon which the emission of semen gets to be must be washed with water and be unclean until the evening.” Apparently this passage is not referring to masturbation. Evidently it is referring to the aforementioned “wet dream.” Although the Bible mentions an ‘uncleanness’ in association with the emission of semen, this is a ceremonial not a moral uncleanness. This is obvious when we note in the next verse Le 15:18 that an Israelite man and wife incurred the same uncleanness when engaging in their God-approved marital relations.
Well, then, do the Christian Greek Scriptures say anything about masturbation? No, they do not discuss the subject. Not even wet dreams are mentioned. But does that mean that the Christian Greek Scriptures give no direction in forming a proper attitude toward masturbation? No, it does not. Consider Colossians 3:5, which reads: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness.” And 1 Thessalonians 4:4, 5 says: “Each one . . . should . . . get possession of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in covetous sexual appetite such as also those nations have which do not know God.” Such counsel applies to married Christians as well as to those who are single, but even more restraint needs to be exercised by single persons since finding relief of passion by sexual relations is limited to those who are married.
Can you see that masturbation is a practice that violates the command to deaden “sexual appetite”? True, Jehovah created humans with an appetite, or desire, for sex, even as he created us with an appetite for food and drink. So the Bible is not saying that having sexual appetite is wrong, just as it does not condemn having a natural, proper appetite for food and drink. Yet we know that in our imperfect condition, appetites can get out of control. A person can come to have an inordinate desire for food or alcoholic beverages and become a glutton or a drunkard. Similarly, sex can become a chief or prominent part of a person’s life, and he can thus become like people of the nations who have a “covetous sexual appetite.”
A person who masturbates is putting improper emphasis on sex. He feeds and enlivens his sexual craving in a wrong way. Yet not only men are involved; there has been an increase of masturbation among women. God, however, provided humans the gift of sex to use within the arrangement of marriage. But a masturbator is using sex outside the marriage arrangement for personal gratification. Such a person needs to deaden his sexual appetite in order to please God. He needs to cultivate the self-control that is necessary to de-emphasize sex in his life and to leave his sexual organs to adjust to any pressures in the normal way.
Jesus taught: “Everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) A masturbator often has such kinds of passionate thoughts, fantasizing about having sexual relations. Such a person is certainly not living in accordance with Christ’s teaching. There can be no question that these who feed their sexual appetite by masturbating are violating God’s instructions to DEADEN their sexual appetite.
But how can a person deaden his sexual appetite and keep from masturbating? True, for people who have practiced this type of self-abuse, it can be a real fight to stop it. But one should not give up in the fight! With Jehovah’s help, a person can succeed. He should first develop a hatred for the practice. (Psalm 97:10) Then it is vital that he make the firm determination in his mind and heart to stop masturbating. He must make it a continual subject of his prayers; then he needs to work at what he prays for. He cannot, as it were, feed the flames of passion by reading or looking at things that stir his sexual appetite. Nor can he be talking about matters that feed his inclination to masturbate. Rather, he must keep busy in theocratic pursuits, in meeting attendance, field service, making return visits, conducting Bible studies, helping others spiritually, and he will receive the strength to control his sexual appetite. If the problem persists, he should not hesitate to seek help from an elder in his congregation. A sister with the problem might seek the help and support of an older sister in the congregation.
There is no question about it—keeping integrity to Jehovah calls for a hard fight. But it is worth it! If we fight now against our sinfully inclined flesh, then Jehovah will grant us complete victory in his righteous, clean New Order. Just imagine! Then we will see Jehovah’s glorious purpose fulfilled—an earth filled with people living in Paradise—all of them brought into existence as a result of the marvelous gift of sex with which God created us.
[Blurb on page 24]
God’s Law forbade any sexual connection between humans and animals
[Blurb on page 26]
Why do some persons become involved in sexual offenses?
[Box on page 25]
Homosexuality—Is It Normal?
A recent American film entitled Making Love is a good example of the clever, calculated propaganda by the entertainment media to condition the public to think that homosexuality is normal.
“The homosexuals in the film could be your doctor, your brother or the boy next door,” observes a writer in the New York Sunday News Magazine. This appearance of normality is no accident. “My hope for the film,” says its screenwriter, “is that it in some way alters people’s perceptions of homosexuality. So that they might come away with the idea that liking men doesn’t make a guy a misfit or a degenerate.”—Italics ours.
Does the film ‘alter people’s perceptions of homosexuality’? It seems to have had that effect on one of the stars, actress Kate Jackson. “There is a physicality between the men [in the film] and it is surprising,” she told an interviewer. “When I saw the rough cuts, I knew what was coming and I still went through three stages. I was surprised and then I found that I said, oh, I understand that, and then I went to the next stage which was, ah hah, I accept that.”
Regardless of how such propaganda is altering “people’s perceptions of homosexuality,” it is just as abhorrent to the Creator of the human body as it ever was. God’s Law required that homosexuals in ancient Israel “be put to death without fail.” (Leviticus 20:13) And God’s law for Christians shows that his mind on the matter has not changed. The Bible says clearly that “homosexual perverts” are classed along with others who “will not possess God’s Kingdom.”—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, Today’s English Version.