Sexual Morality in a Christless World

By Tim Challies - Posted at Challies.com:

The times are changing. Sexual morality is undergoing nothing less than a revolution as traditional morality gives way to something radically different. The former morality, based on the Christian scriptures, is being shoved aside by a new one that not only departs from the Bible, but outright rejects it. Meanwhile, Christians who abide by those traditional sexual morals are increasingly seen as outcasts, backward people dangerously hung up on ancient, oppressive principles. It is all very disconcerting.

Into the fray steps Matthew Rueger with his book Sexual Morality in a Christless World. Though the last few years have brought us no shortage of books on how to live on this side of the sexual revolution, Rueger offers something unique in examining and explaining the historical and cultural backdrop to the New Testament’s teaching on sexual morality. In this way he shows that Christian sexual morality has not always been traditional but was at one time its own revolution. In other words, Christians have been here before, and there is much we can learn from our own history.

Rueger turns first to the Roman context in which the early Christians lived and into which the Bible was written. Here he offers a fascinating, disturbing examination of what Roman culture considered good and normal. “Rome’s sexual climate is a model of the utopia for which today’s sexual ‘progressives’ are striving.” Yet it was hardly utopian. He shows that “In the Roman mind, man was the conqueror who dominated on the battlefield as well as in the bedroom. He was strong, muscular, and hard in both body and spirit. Society looked down on him only when he appeared weak or soft.” Respectable men were permitted to have sexual relations with just about anyone, provided they were the aggressors rather than receivers of such sexual acts.

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