Saturday, June 11, 2011

Biblical Sexuality

The purpose of this study is to discover God's view of human sexuality as presented in the Bible. All study will be done based on the belief that the Bible is God's Word to us. It was written by human authors, under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit and is therefore completely without error in the original autographs. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. All other truth must be filtered through and judged according to God's written truth in the 66 books of the Bible.

This study will be conducted by searching the whole Bible for any verses/passages relevant to human sexuality and then examining each through the use of an appropriate interpretation method.

The biblical interpretation method chosen to guide our study provides us with the basic guidelines and rules for “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

This method is most easily understood through the L.I.G.H.T.S. Acronym.
Literal Interpretation
We are to interpret the Word of God just as we interpret other forms of communication — in its most obvious and literal sense. Most often, the biblical authors employed literal statements to communicate their ideas (such as when the apostle Paul said of Jesus, “By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth” — Col. 1:16). And where the biblical writers express their ideas in literal statements, the interpreter must take those statements in a literal sense. In this way, the interpreter will grasp the intended meaning of the writer.

Of course, this is not to deny that Scripture employs figures of speech. Indeed, the biblical writers often used figurative language to communicate truth in a graphic way. And, in most cases, the meaning of such language is clear from the context. When Jesus says He is “the door” (John 10:7), for example, it is obvious He is not saying He is composed of wood and hinges. Rather, He is the “way” to salvation.

Illumination by the Holy Spirit
The illumination of Scripture that can only come from the Spirit of God. First Corinthians 2:12 says: “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” Because the author of Scripture — the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21). — resides within the child of God (1 Cor. 3:16), he or she is in a position to receive God’s illumination (1 Cor. 2:9-11). And, indeed, the Spirit of truth not only provides insights that permeate the mind, but also provides illumination that can penetrate the heart.

Grammatical Principles
Scripture is to be interpreted in accordance with typical rules of grammar — including syntax and style. For this reason, it is important for the student of Scripture to have a basic understanding of grammatical principles. It is also helpful to have a basic grasp of the Greek and Hebrew languages. If you do not know Greek or Hebrew, however, don’t panic. Today there are a host of eminently usable tools to aid you in gaining insights from the original languages of Scripture. Besides commentaries, there are “interlinear” translations that provide the Hebrew and Greek text of the Bible in parallel with the English text. As well, Strong’s concordance has a number-coding system by which you can look up the Greek or Hebrew word (along with a full definition) behind each word in the English Bible. Moreover, there are dictionaries of Old and New Testament words that are keyed to Strong’s concordance. Tools such as these make it easy for the layperson to obtain insights on the original Hebrew or Greek of the Bible without being fluent in these languages.

Historical Context
The Christian faith is historical and evidential (Luke 1:1-4). The biblical text is best understood when one is familiar with the customs, culture, and historical context of biblical times. Thankfully, there are a host of excellent Bible handbooks and commentaries to aid us in the process of understanding the people and places of the Bible.

Teaching Ministry
The illumination of Scripture ultimately comes through the ministry of the Holy Spirit but God has also provided the church with uniquely gifted human teachers (Eph. 4:11). Therefore, as we seek to rightly interpret God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15), we would do well to consult those whom God has uniquely gifted as teachers in the church (cf. Tit. 2:1-15). Of course, following the example of the Bereans (Acts 17:11), we should always make sure that what human teachers say is in line with Scripture (cf. 1 Thess. 5:21).

Scriptural Harmony
Individual passages of Scripture must always be in harmony with Scripture as a whole. The biblical interpreter must keep in mind that all of Scripture — though communicated through various human instruments — has a single Author (God). And, of course, God does not contradict Himself.

How to Start?
Begin collecting related verses, using the bible search tool on this site, and compiling them by copying/pasting the whole verse into comments on this post. When posting verses, make sure to include only one version in the post with book/chapter/verse. When searching, use all words associated with our study topic to find relevant verses.  After finding the verses, use the words within those verses for more ideas for new words to search. Once we have established that all the relevant verses for our study have been found we will begin using the L.I.G.H.T.S interpretation method to study the verses in depth.

I am confident that God will use this study, along with reflection on His consistent character, to help us understand what He thinks about human sexuality. 

We then can wrestle and pray about how we can follow what He reveals to us.  It is not going to be easy but I look forward to taking this journey with you.


*Biblical Interpretation method chosen was created by Hank Hanegraff