The “Old Ways,” Are actually New Ways?

By: B.J. Ouellette

What is called traditional or old ways, when it comes to the sexual conduct, rules, and formats are not really old or traditional at all. What is really old is what in today’s culture is considered new! It’s actually quite the opposite of what we have been told over and over again. Have you ever thought about that? Don’t believe the hype. Read Sex In History by Reay Tannahill or any book on the history of Sex at all for that matter and you will come to find out that the sexual ways of humans have been normally non “traditional.”

When we use the term traditional or old ways, we are, more than not, referring to a monogamy format in relationship (Leave It To Beaver like). But not just monogamy, but the belief in strict monogamy. What I mean by strict monogamy is one man and one woman staying together without sexual relations with any other human being as long as they both shall be alive on this planet. But is this the norm?

For instance…in the ancient middle eastern cultures men had many sexual partners. Lamech is recorded of having multiple wives very early on in the history of mankind according to the Bible. And after the fall of Adam and Eve (no not the porn company Adam & Eve), strict monogamy was never the norm. In the Bible it is clear that the norm was anything but. And if monogamy was adhered to, the kind of patriarchy that was in effect (or happening) meant men did divorce their wife for practically any reason. Divorce breaks strict monogamy. If you have been divorced, you might have been in strict monogamy, but though you might be in another monogamous marriage, the first is broken. Strict monogamy is one man and one woman for life. The end. To say that the Jews followed strict monogamy is like saying people drive the posted speed limit. Liberties were taken. So much so that by the time Jesus is in dialog with the religious leaders of his day, he has to explain to them that from the creation of mankind, divorce was not a part of what was called “good.” Divorce is iniquity; a bending of what was straight.

In ancient eastern culture sexual ideas revolved around their ideas of enlightenment, like Tao. “If in one night he can have intercourse with more than ten women it is best,” (Sex In History, Tannahill, pg. 164). Sex was a exchange of not just a physical pleasure but a energy transaction. This is not strict monogamy.

In ancient greece, young boys were often used as sexual partners for men of power. “The bloom of a twelve-year old boy, ” said Straton, “is desirable, but at thirteen he is much more delightful,” (Sex IN History, Tannahill, pg. 85). Another telling quote is; “We have hetairai for our pleasure, concubines for our daily needs, and wives to give us legitimate children and look after the housekeeping.”

There is also the famous lustful behavior of the Greek pantheons. Cronus the god of earth and sea cut off the testicles of his own father and threw them into the sea! His father’s seamen gave birth to Aphrodite! As the gods are, so are the heroes of Greek myth. Heracles was said to have 5 virgins in one night!

There have always been many kinds of sexual relationships defined in our world: Concubines, prostitutes, escorts, mistress etc…All had different roles in the lives of men. And there were few cultures where women had the sexual freedom to enjoy their own desires (See Wednesday Martin’s book, Untrue).

We read a good short paragraph on wikipedia concerning general non-strict monogamy:

“While forms of long-term sexual relationships and co-habitation short of marriage have become increasingly common in the Western world, these are generally not described as concubinage. The terms concubinage and concubine are used today primarily when referring to non-marital partnerships of earlier eras. In modern usage, a non-marital domestic relationship is commonly referred to as co-habitation (or similar terms), and the woman in such a relationship is generally referred to as a girlfriendmistressfiancée, lover or life partner.”

What is being described in that brief paragraph is something that has been in our world for ever. But what is new is the idea of a better world through strict monogamy without divorce. The world has experienced for far longer the old way of ‘everything you desire,’ man driven, sexual behavior. The Christian way was clear. Jesus said, “have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female. And for this reason a man shall leave mother and father and be joined to his wife. And the two shall become one.” From that point on for the believer in Jesus, strict monogamy was the way to go. This is what was intended, and Jesus would not bend to accept another way. He already declared this monogamy good, why would he succumb to another order?

To drive the point further, Jesus says that if you marry a divorced woman (speaking to men) you make her an adulteress! Why? Because she will likely marry again while her first husband is alive. It was not so from the the very, very beginning. No divorce. Jesus and Paul never talk about remarriage to another while your wife is still living. Why? Because the bar is set real high in God’s view of marriage. One man and one woman for life. Everything else…everything else is a distortion.

Some certainly will argue that you can divorce your spouse for sexual immorality. But this does not help us. It still does not tell us a person can remarry after the divorce. Another interesting thought is that trying to figure out when is a proper time to divorce and remarry (what is meant by the term, sexual immorality, in Matthew) could very well be moving us right into the same mind frame that the Pharisee’s had when asking Jesus the question about divorce! “When can a person remarry Jesus?” “Can you divorce for lust, self gratification, pornography, an emotional affair?” All these questions could very well be answered by Jesus the same way he did with the religious of his day. “Have you not read, He that made them from the beginning made them male and female.”

Divorce, no matter under any conditions is a distortion. If you think this is the narrow road, you are right! Is is the path least taken. How many really want to remain single after a divorce? Maybe our bickering over divorce and remarriage is a avenue to feel better about ourselves. Who wants to think they have disobeyed God? Yet we do. All do. Sorry if you thought you were the exception.

Most of us have a pagan tradition! Pagan was a term that was used by early Christians to show disgust for the worship and lifestyles of opposing cultures. It is a derogatory word, and one I am not sure should have been used so much (not convinced it helps in reaching out). When Jesus was discussing who really worships the right way with a woman of Jericho, he said, “We know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” It was clear to Jesus that Samaritans and other cultures influenced by opposing ideas on God from the Jews were wrong. But he did not use a term like pagan to describe them. He used the word Gentile.

This term had at first not the slightest connection with religion. Derived from the Latin pagus, the country, a paganus denoted a peasant or villager. Removed from the refinement of the cities such a one had, of course, very little acquaintance with the complicated system of Roman mythology. On this account only could it be said that those who remained unconverted to Christianity were Pagans. .https://www.definitions.net/definition/pagan

Interesting for sure…What does it mean? Whether we use the term pagan or another, we can be sure that our great, great, great…etc…grandparents were into all kinds of sexual practices that go against strict monogamy. But not just that. Most of our Christian ancestors did not uphold a strict monogamy as well. Christians throughout the ages divorced for many reasons. The strict monogamy way is certainly the new compared to the normal way of sexual relationships. It is so super difficult to live this way that it might be just a very few that never deviate.

“more than 83% of human societies were preferentially polygamous, and that polygamy was also prominent in the ancient Near East from which that presumed Western move to monogamy originated. So my question for now is: Why did such a large segment of human society switch from polygamy to monogamy? And my first answer is: at present, we don’t know.” David P. Barash Ph.D.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pura-vida/201603/how-monogamy-helps-men

The reason today’s culture see’s the ‘old way’ of pagan behavior as ‘new,’ is because all it has known is the new prosperous way of stricter monogamy as a dominant structure in society. The reason I say prosperous is because I am not convinced the women’s liberation movement could thrive in any other circumstance than in a monogamous culture. Could it have progressed in a commonly oppressive polygamous one? It didn’t. It was a monogamous culture that gave way for women rights, and for the husband (one man) to think once again about how he treated his spouse.

Though this structure has been in place due to the strong influence of Christianity, we now are finally realizing that maybe we don’t want the Christian way dominating our lives? Maybe the old way of doing things was better, or at least we can do it better today with our more civilized way of treating women and children. Today’s version of humanity will do better. But this logic if taken as true presumes that the past society’s version of humanism also believed it was doing better than the one before. This becomes a infinite regression of thinking we are doing it better, but if that’s the case, we can’t say we are doing it better, as a future generation is sure to think our way is unorthodox or even destructive. It is normal for us to think we have it down better. This was atheist Christopher Hitchens argument. We can do it better. Humanism has improved. But when one says, ” this is better,” there must be a best, and ideal. And who’s to say what that is?

But in a supposed civilized society which we all like to think we are in, there is the constant de–humanizing and objectification of one another through the various forms of entertainment we have around us. Our music, games, movies, etc…all portray ill behaviors that do not benefit the other. This is just a reflection of us, is it not? Are we really becoming more civilized or just greater pharisees? I’m reminded of a great quote by Blaze Pascal at the moment (but I’ll spare you).

There is a three year rule we see in the Bible. It’s found in the book of Judges. After three generations the people of Israel go right back to there old ways of following hard after other gods. They forgot the “I AM,” altogether. The book of Deuteronomy Chapters 4 and 6 focus on remembering God and what would happen when they would’t. Maybe the reason King David told His own soul to bless the lord was that he knew how prone he was to forget.

Christianity says that there is an objective way to determine was is best. It is not what we think, but what God has revealed. Can Christianity be true? If there is just a tiny bit of possibility that it could be, then all current judgements should be measured by the surety of what could be after we die. As Pascal once said, “Death is eternal…no matter what state it is in.” If we see a lack of evidence for God, it could be that He does not exist, or it could also indicate that we are that bad, to be unworthy of such a God.

It’s easy in any generation to forget what has been! Our human condition thinks we are inventing the new. But is there anything really new under the sun? I tend to think we are in a game of chess. We can move positions, but we still are on the board. Humans can only play according the rules of human nature. We have always, only been able to do that.

So in a way, what we call traditional marriage today isn’t really traditional. We have it all backwards! The liberal view of sexual relationships is actually the traditional way that has dominated the globe. It is the strict monogamous peeps that are wanting to do the “new thing!”

Many times we read things like the below quote, “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goals consist solely of one’s own ego and desires.” From a homily given by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

This is the way of mankind. It always has been. Selfishness is the norm, we are woefully given over to it! A super natural grace is needed to pull us out of such a place. This is where the words of Jesus penetrate the most! If you being evil know how to give gifts to your children, how much more will my Father give you the Holy Spirit! And isn’t that what is needed; Something new…really new!

The Christian Myths on Lust? A response.

Sometimes you read a blog that must be responded to.  Below is a link to a blog on The Christian Myths of Lust.  After the linq below, you can read Peter Martin rebuttal of the article.

http://www.thechristianleftblog.org/tcl-blog/christian-myths-lust

1 Peter 1:22 “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.”

Recently I read an article entitled “Christian Myths: Lust” which focuses on Matthew 5:28 and how we are to deal with this passage as Christian men. “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Now there were good things in this article that I would like to mention first. The article does condemn the idea of using the “law” to beat our fleshly sinful nature. There is a thought in the church today that in order to have purity and righteousness with Jesus, we need to focus on the law, meaning a list of things that we can or can’t do in order to gain that righteousness. So in regards to this particular sin of sexual lust, what this mindset would tell me to do in order to deal with this is that I need to force myself to not think about lustful things in my own strength because I know that it is wrong. This mindset is what led Paul to write Romans 7:15 “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”

In this chapter Paul expresses the pain of struggling with controlling his thoughts and his heart that constantly rebel against God, and this chapter is one that I can most definitely relate to in my own struggles. For years I struggled in the darkness of porn addiction, constantly yearning for freedom, not wanting to lust, not wanting to fantasize about or objectify women, but finding that what I willed to do, I couldn’t do, but that which I hated, I was practicing. This mentality of trying to change myself for the sake of God, led only to more failure, deeper addiction, and mind numbing amounts of guilt while walking in the darkness of un-confession. Understanding the law and trying our hardest will never give us freedom from our sin, at best all we will find is a physical abstinence from sin, but in our hearts we will still be thinking our impure thoughts and lusting after our old life; and Paul makes this abundantly clear in Colossians 2:20 “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations- do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, which all concern things which perish with using- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”This is also true of the churches’ attempt to chain lust in the church through rules and regulation. I would also agree with this article, that segregating men and women, sticking to ridiculous dress codes, and constantly fearing affairs between church members is not the way to deal with our flesh.

So while the article does show the failure of our own flesh to set us free, it makes a crucial error in denying the purpose of the law and the power of Christ working in our hearts toward wonderful purity. The primary focus of the article is actually on the idea that, since we can’t fight our lustful desires, we should instead not resist them and eventually that sin will lose it’s negative appeal over us. Unfortunately this logic doesn’t stand up in light of the word of God when it comes to dealing with your flesh, Proverbs 27:20 “Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” The idea that indulging my flesh will make it better simply doesn’t hold water, and it is the same twisted logic that keeps addicts in bondage, always repeating the phrase, “one last time, or one last cigarette, or one last drink… and then I’ll get it out of my system and quit.” Now I do not doubt the sincerity of the author of this article in that him getting rid of the “wrongness appeal” of lust he now doesn’t focus on it as much, but what this hasn’t done is give him a genuine purity of heart. And for someone like me who has been an addict, if I took this mentality I would sink deep into my sin again.

Not to mention the fact that as I read the words that he used about women calling them “sexy”, “hot”, and things like that made me physically cringe because I know my own heart in using words like this. What I learned from growing up in this lustful world that is saturated with porn, is to be selfish toward women and to objectify them and to only enjoy them based on what they could do for me. One argument against the evil of lust that this article uses is that the Greek word for lust that Jesus uses is a word that means to “covet”. I really didn’t understand this argument since I firmly agree with that definition, lust is coveting, or wrongfully and selfishly wanting something that isn’t yours for your own use, after all, love doesn’t seek it’s own, while lust can only seek it’s own. And this is the exact mentality that I lived in for so many years, seeing everyone lustfully, always seeking my own in all my relationships. In all the years I spent lusting after the beauty of women, I never once thought about honoring them, serving them, or bettering them in any way. Even the nice things that I did were only an extension of my own selfishness and desiring a particular response or return of favor from those I was serving. I simply knew that it felt good for me to objectify women and to fantasize about them, I was completely self seeking, not at all like the selfless love that Jesus demonstrates to us. He then also makes the point that it isn’t wrong because God created women beautiful and he is simply admiring this beauty and admiring their intelligence that God gave them as he sees these women and talks to them. Not one porn addict would tell you that he doesn’t see beauty in these women, and even atheists can enjoy the beauty of a woman and enjoy her intelligence in a conversation, but their admiration is manifested in lust and doesn’t bring one ounce of glory to God.

I believe that God did create women to be beautiful, and I would agree with him that the church trying to ignore this beauty or cover it up has led to more harm than good. But there is a balance, like in all things, and that balance is found in Romans 1:24 “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” God’s creation is truly beautiful, but notice the mistake that these people fell into, they saw the beauty of the creation and stopped there and worshiped the creation, instead of seeing this beauty as a sign pointing to a far more beautiful Creator. And understanding the beauty of the creation in a God glorifying way is the path to purity that we as Christians should be on. But this still leaves us with a problem, how do we gain this new purity if not through the law or indulging our flesh?

1 Corinthians 12:31 “And yet I show you a more excellent way….”

This verse is the end of chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians and leads us right into chapter 13 which is all about God’s perfect love. We as Christians need to understand, that there is nothing wrong with the law, Jesus’ statement about lust wasn’t meant to just be ignored, but at the same time it was never intended for us to try to fulfill in our flesh. The purpose of the law is to convict us of sin, in order to show us our own inability to make it to God in our own strength. So in the beginning of the article when the author expresses his frustration with Matthew 5:28 because he had these uncontrollable desires to lust but then was told not to, was actually the intention of this law. Galatians 3:24 “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” If we look to the law to set us free than we missed the point, the law shows us all as sinners, and that is what makes Jesus so beautiful to a sinner like me. Jesus fulfilled the law, was tempted in all ways and yet without sin, laid down His perfect life on a cross, and has set me free from the condemnation that the law brings. Now that I am justified by grace, and am now a child of God, by His grace alone, I have freedom from guilt and shame, and I also have the ability to gain freedom by the power of the Holy Spirit working in me. Colossians 1:27 “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,” My hope as a Christian rests only in the work of Christ in me alone, to do in me what I could never do in myself. Freedom in the Christian life doesn’t happen by saying “I think I can” but instead in knowing that we can’t, but Jesus always can. This is how we can glorify God even in our weakness, freedom from sin comes through humility and surrender, not in strength and willpower.

I am so unbelievably thankful for the purity that God has been giving me these past couple years, daily renewing my mind from all of the garbage that I put in it over the years, and daily training me in how to love out of a pure heart as opposed to lusting out of a corrupt heart. And all praise, honor, and glory goes to Him alone who broke my chains and set me free; you see my freedom didn’t come by me valiantly going out and slaying my flesh, but it came by Jesus washing my feet, and so for that all I can do is honor Him. Now, God is showing me how to love women out of a pure heart, no longer looking at every girl and fantasizing about her, or being nice to girls while secretly thinking about how I could be in a relationship with them if I wanted to. But now I truly see the unbelievable value that my Father has placed on each and every one of them, and I no longer yearn to objectify them with my eyes, but to honor them in purity. But this is a product of God’s perfect love working its way through me, not in me somehow mastering my thoughts. I also want to emphasize though, I don’t always see girls in this purity, I still do daily fight with my flesh in this way. On the days that I can see girls in purity, I don’t let my eyes linger in order to respect these girls and I thank God for the purity that He is giving me; but I certainly don’t fantasize about them and call that respect. And on the days where it is harder for me to not lust, I tend to avert my eyes and I keep in prayer with Jesus taking these thoughts captive unto Him and thanking Him that He enables me to do that. And every day I fight, I know that more and more of my flesh is dying, and the closer I get to Jesus, the more I enjoy Him alone, and the more I see I need to grow, I am certainly not perfect but my joy is in pursuing Christ, Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” I haven’t attained yet, but I will daily press on toward my prize and treasure in Christ, daily seeing how much greater His perfect love is, and how much more joy comes from serving rather than being served. Oh how I pray we would be brothers and sisters in Christ who desire to love one another fervently and with a pure heart, not abstaining out of fear of the law or giving into our lustful natures and saying that we are honoring God, God’s way is so much more beautiful and pleasurable.

Psalm 36:8 “They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.”