The Bible Is Tellingly Silent on Premarital Sex

brandrobMy blog friend Brandan Robertson has written a post about premarital sex and Evangelical Protestant culture. The summary is: 1) young people want to have sex, 2) Bible doesn’t say they can’t, 3) maybe they should be able to:

It is also stunning how silent scripture is on what the qualifications for sexual activity are. There is no word in Greek or Hebrew to refer to premarital sex and while the Bible is very clear that adultery is a sin, it has little to say about sex before one enters in to a marriage covenant.

How right he is, and yet how wrong. First, Brandan is right that it is very difficult to come to the conclusion that premarital sex is wrong from the Bible alone. This is the same quandary Martin Luther faced over polygamy, and Luther famously endorsed polygamy because he could find no condemnation of it in the Bible.

What is lacking is the authority of sacred Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium. The Church has consistently taught that sexual intercourse is reserved for marriage alone. That is God’s design. St. John Paul II wrote his landmark Theology of the Body explaining this in beautiful detail. The serial monogamy that Brandan proposes as a possibility can never be moral.

Why not? Because we are made to give ourselves freely, fully, fruitfully, and faithfully. Serial monogamy presupposes that children won’t arise from the sexual act. What if they do? That’s the first clue that something is wrong with it. The child will likely be deprived of the father or mother that he or she deserves.

I wrote about this type of Protestant dilemma in my book. The problem is that, going off the Bible alone, nothing says you cannot have sex before marriage. Nor multiple wives. Nor a host of other things. Protestants are realizing that they have been following a Protestant tradition when they reject non-marital sex, and that that tradition–if Protestantism is true–is only a human one. Therefore it is a discardable.

Because Catholicism is true, Tradition is authoritative and the decisions of the Magisterium are binding. And the Tradition that sex outside of marriage is immoral is true and right. Brandan’s a smart young fella. I think he’ll come to see this in time.

Posted in Catholic Life, Faith and Reason, Masculine Spirituality, Theology of the Body | Tagged | 70 Comments

Leithart-ed Claims

firstthingsPeter Leithart is staying put in a Presbyterian church. He explains why and includes several assertions that warrant analysis, beginning with this bold claim:

Jesus will unite his church. He asked his Father to make his disciples one, and the Father won’t give his Son a stone when he asks for one loaf.

He is of course referring to John 17. But Leithart’s statements imply that the Church is not currently united. All of this later arguments depend upon this assertion.

But the Church is united already. The Church is a unity, because she is Christ’s Mystical Body, and His Body is a unity, not a collection of severed parts. So his first premise is false, and therefore it is not surprising that his later statements are wrong.

He goes on to say:

But the united church won’t look like any of the products presently on the market. God is an entrepreneur who is in the business of creating new markets.

Ah, a consumer metaphor! Very apt for Protestantism and a Protestant understanding of the Church. This line of thinking is similar to that of Alister McGrath, the great Anglican scholar: Christianity is an evolving organism that can mutate to adapt to new circumstances, even if it may then change in substantial ways that render its new manifestations unrecognizably different from older forms that died out.

So all the current Churches and communities are “products on the market.” A new market will be created by God that will somehow be the venue through which the united Church will emerge (or reemerge?).

That brings up an interesting question: has the Church, in Leithart’s opinion, ever been united? He doesn’t say. If the Church has never been united, then one wonders why he thinks it will be pre-Parousia. If the Church was once united, one wonders what event occurred that divided her, and how this change in her essentials doesn’t falsify various promises Christ made in the gospels.

It is easy to claim such things. Anyone can do so all day: the Church is this and is that and God will make a new market and sell new stuff. But what is the basis for thinking that these claims are true? Intuition? It’s certainly not the Scriptures, or sacred Tradition. Leithart is, at the end of the day, just giving us his opinion. An unauthoritative conjecture by a frail human being who “can’t see past the horizon.”

Leithart employs some examples to support his claim that the Church’s new unity won’t be like its old unity (whatever that was; remember he never says):

The Jesus who rose was the same Jesus who was torn on the cross, yet he was so transformed that even his disciples didn’t immediately recognize him.

Yes but even when Jesus was “torn on the cross,” He was still Jesus. He was still a unity. He wasn’t a collection of cut-off body parts. The image he paints here is more aptly applied to the Church, before and after Christ’s return in glory: the Church is wounded by schisms as Christ’s body was wounded on the Cross, but one day the Church, Christ’s Bride, will be transformed in such glory that we will barely recognize her.

The Church has been wounded by schisms and sin, but her essential unity has not been destroyed by them. That is the fundamental difference in understanding between Catholics and Leithart.

Regarding why he is not Catholic or Orthodox, he says:

I continue to have standard, biblically grounded Protestant objections to Purgatory, to Marian doctrines, the Papacy, and icons, as well as lingering puzzlement about ambiguities concerning justification and the role of tradition. 

But this begs the question of course. He claims to  have “biblically grounded” objections, but really that just means that his own opinion about what the Bible says contradicts Catholic and Orthodox doctrine. In other words, he is a Protestant, which means his ultimate interpretive authority is himself. No surprise there.

Out of the blue comes another wild opinion:

Though both are crucial to the future of Christianity, neither Roman Catholicism nor Orthodoxy is the Church of the future.

Huh? How does he know? Crystal ball? Private revelation? Since his first premise is faulty, this later premise has no legs to stand on. Really it should say, “If Protestantism is true, then neither Roman Catholicism nor Orthodoxy is the Church of the future.” But Protestantism is not true, and so the statement is false.

I find it interesting to even talk about the Church “of the future,” as if she is disconnected from the Church of the past and the present. The Church of the future is the Church of the past and present. She is the Church that Christ founded and remains with. Christ didn’t plan various do-overs for His Church; He doesn’t need mulligans. He got it right the first time.

Posted in Faith and Reason | Tagged | 64 Comments

Win The Protestant’s Dilemma and a DVD!

dilemmaFriends, I’m giving away a free, autographed copy of my new book, The Protestant’s Dilemma, as well as a copy of my interview with Marcus Grodi on The Journey Home.

One lucky winner will get both. Enter to win using the rafflecopter giveaway. The options you will have to increase your chances of winning are: tweeting a link to this post, following me on twitter, leaving a blog comment, and/or liking the Catholic Answers facebook page. But you have to go through the rafflecopter thing so it knows you did one or more of those things and can give you credit. It will then randomly choose a winner.

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Posted in Faith and Reason | Tagged | 25 Comments