You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the Lord your God. (Vayikra / Leviticus 18:4; ESV)
One of the most controversial aspects of the Bible as far as the current culture is concerned is its regulations with regard to sexual behavior. In 1967, in my country of Canada, then Justice Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who later became one of our most memorable Prime Ministers, played a key part in transforming the government's role with regard to personal moral issues. It was during that time he made one of his most famous statements: "There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” (http://tinyurl.com/trudeau-bedroom-quote [includes video]). In the western world before then, governments tended to see regulating personal morality as essential to their overall responsibility. With the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the general mood has been that intimate personal issues should be at the sole discretion of consenting adults. For many, if not most, people in western society, it has become extremely distasteful that an outside agency, such as governments, should impose their moral values upon them. As Trudeau went on to say “what's done in private between adults doesn't concern the Criminal Code [of Canada]”.
So it is no wonder that the Bible, which includes all sorts of regulations governing sex, would be viewed as old fashioned and oppressive. Worse than that! Because the older values of the West were based on a Judeo-Christian worldview, the Bible is blamed for the oppression from which many believe to have been set free.
Even some who claim to adhere to the Bible's teaching regard its rules as oppressive. They prefer to divorce passages of liberty and freedom from anything that smacks of outside control from God or any other authority. Others believe that these rules were good, but only for the time in which they were given. Either modern society with its technological advances and body of knowledge no longer needs what would have been helpful safeguards in an otherwise backward society that didn't know better, or the Coming of Yeshua makes rules redundant as if faith in him automatically produces godly, healthy living.
Let’s work through these rejections of the current relevancy of God’s sex rules. First, the concept of good living as an automatic result of faith in Yeshua is not a biblical concept. The New Covenant Writings, which are often credited for this misguided teaching, don’t support such a notion. Every book provides directives to follow with regard to life issues, sexual behavior included. We wouldn’t know these life principles if we didn’t read them. Second, viewing biblical teaching on sexual matters or any other issue as old fashioned unnecessarily breaks the commonality of human experience through time. There is nothing in the Bible’s teaching about sexual morality that suggests that it is dependent upon the particular cultural contexts of their day. It is instructive as well to see how the morality of the Hebrew Scriptures as given by God to one people group was much later applied to all nationalities via the New Covenant Writings. While there is a development of morality in the Bible, we see it becoming stricter not more liberal as in the cases of polygamy and divorce, for example. Third, good rules—and God’s rules are good rules—are not restrictive. Understanding the limitations of how something is designed is key to its effective use. God’s sex rules were given to human beings to provide optimum health and prosperity.
God knows how powerful sexual desire is. Without objective standards imposed from the outside of ourselves, our drives will destroy us. The pleasure of sex which is designed to draw men and women together can easily put us off course unless we remain within the boundaries set by our loving Creator. Either we submit to God’s sex rules or sex rules.