Purity And Passion: -- By: Howard E. Frost
PP 5:3 (Summer 1991) p. 10
Purity And Passion:
A Biblical Approach to Mutually Edifying Relationships
Dr. Frost is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Bundesinstitut fur Ostwissenschaftliche und Internationale Studien, Cologne, Germany. While most of his publications have dealt with foreign and security policy issues, he has been involved in the field of developmental psychology of sexuality for fifteen years. He is collaborating with Drs. Kaye Cook and Lance Lee on the book Man and Woman. Alone and Together: Gender Roles. Intimacy, and Identity in a Changing Society (Victor Press, forthcoming 1991). He is a member of the Park Street Congregational Church (Boston), and has served through that church as a missionary to the Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
The extent of appropriate sexual interest and involvement outside of marriage is an important question young adults face. It is also a question of concern to any Christian regardless of age or marital status. Our sexuality, in all its dimensions, is a wonderful gift from God, to be enjoyed and appreciated. Indeed, it is much more than a gift: it is an essential component of our personality and is as ever-present as our consciousness. The physical expression of our sexuality, just as our use of any gift, needs to occur in the right contexts.
While the Bible puts any kind of extra-marital sexual intercourse clearly off limits, it is less explicit about other expressions of sexuality. Instead, in the area of sexual activity, Scripture places a heavy emphasis on mature, righteous behavior patterns that fully recognize one’s own strengths and weaknesses. It also stresses the need to avoid becoming a stumbling block for others. Although the Bible is not specific about the activities it proscribes short of intercourse, it is very clear about the need to build edifying personal relationships that honor God. Thus, no one should pursue sexual activity right up to the very limits of temptation and morality. The appropriate question to ask is never “How far can I go?,” but “How far should I go?” I suggest that careful consideration of one’s thoughts and actions in the sexual sphere can be used to develop a sort of “moral friction” —a strong sense of moral discretion—to help avoid these problems before they start.
The theological concepts implicit in epithymia (eh-pee-thee-MEE-ah: “lust”, “passion”) and other words in New Testament verses concerned with sexual thought and activity provide a good biblical basis for developing “moral friction” in these areas.
Exploring the Meaning of “Passion”
While Paul makes a strong case in his letters against porneia (“sexual immorality, literally, “forn...
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