Today I was reading through a section of the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters on the issue of sexual ethics. As many others have mentioned, I believe this will be one of the foremost issues that the church faces in the next few years. How will Christians stand for the sexual ethics that have been understood as being “biblical” or “true” or “healthy” for so long? How will Christians better interact with homosexuals given such a hurtful and checkered history? Will Christians continue to interpret Scripture to speak negatively against homosexual lifestyles (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; Rom. 1:24-27)? How does Scripture function as an authority in relation to sexual ethics?
There are many questions that arise from this topic. Thus, D. F. Wright’s essay on the subject is helpful. Consider the first issue he addresses, “Avoiding Porneia”:
The greater frequency of references to sexual issues in Paul than in the Gospels reflects the laxer sexual mores of Hellenistic society. Paul stresses the incompatibility between a life of sexual license and the kingdom of God: “no pornos (‘immoral’) or impure person … has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph 5:5). Some of the Christians at Corinth, before being “washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God,” had been pornoi (prostitutes?), adulterers and homosexually active (1 Cor 6:9–11). The inclusion of idolaters among these different sexual offenders (1 Cor 6:9) indicates the gravity of their sinfulness. Foremost among “the acts of the sinful nature” are “porneia (‘sexual immorality’), impurity and debauchery” (Gal 5:19; cf. 1 Cor 10:8). It was chiefly in the disordered sexual vices of the Gentile world that Paul discerned God’s judgment on the godless (Rom 1:18–27).