Living in the World - Issues that Christians face

I provide a summary of my paper here, together with questions arising from that paper. The questions are placed in the paper itself in relation to the section to which they are relevant; and some of them are slightly rephrased here as they appear on their own.


1.    I have questioned the popular idea that there is a particular view of marriage in the Bible (you will need to read the section called “Marriage and the Bible”)
2.    I have tried to explore a different, but biblical, ethical basis for sexual behaviour in the notions of faithfulness, friendship and virtue (in the section “Sex outside marriage” and the final paragraph of the section preceding).
3.    I have explored different understandings of marriage in the history of Christianity to show how complex a relationship it is,
4.    I have argued that we cannot hold a sexual ethical position that excludes single people, so that we have to explore the demands of the single life, including the place of sexual activity within the single state (“Sex outside marriage” and “Being single”).
5.    My central argument in all this has been that marriage and singleness have ethical demands that are similar in important ways.
6.    Further, I have argued that if there is no single biblical view of marriage as between a man and a woman exclusively, the way is open to recognize that the central features of an ethics based in faithfulness, friendship, and virtue may be just as much in evidence in same-sex relationships as in heterosexual ones.
7.    This means that marriage and heterosexuality are no longer to be held up as ethical norms, controlling and defining what is acceptable sexual behaviour.

Discussion questions

1.    Has this section on marriage in the Bible surprised you at all? How would you articulate “a biblical view of marriage”?
2.    If consent makes marriage, is a sexual relationship between people who have “consented” (but are not formally married) wrong?
3.    What is the meaning of a public ceremony, and why is it necessary?
4.    Was exchange of goods involved in your marriages or those of anyone you know? Is there  a remnant of this aspect of marriage today in the UK?
5.    What is the purpose and value of sex to human well-being? Do you think marriage should be defined by first sexual intercourse, or do you think that intercourse outside marriage may, in some circumstance, be morally OK?
6.    Do you think divorce should be allowed? For what reasons? What about remarriage?
7.    Do you think a process understanding of marriage would help the church’s ministry today?
8.    Do you think my assertion has merit that same-sex relationships can demonstrate the essential features of an ethical relationship?
9.    If the church emphasizes the blessings of marriage, what blessings are there for single people? What valid place does sex have for single people? 

Tim Long, 20/10/2013