Romance is not “Dirty”Harley Austin
Recently, more than a few articles have appeared across the publishing world pushing back on the archaic notion that romance is somehow "dirty". Romance authors who write "steamy", "explicit" or otherwise detailed romantic scenes are being labeled by certain elements of society as purveyors of "smut", "porn", "filth", "sin", and whatever other derogatory label these often misguided religious folks parrot from the pulpit.
Romance that doesn't involve sex is labeled as "clean" while romance novels that do describe a sexual encounter are labeled as "dirty".
Who is spewing this "dirty" nonsense?
I spent the better part of 40 years in various mainstream Christian churches. I left the Christian faith around 2010 to achieve a more personal relationship with God. I left the Church because of what I saw as a boatload of hypocrisy with regard to not just what the Church taught, but how people treated others who didn't agree with the Church's misguided views. The sheer arrogance of the leadership when it came to what their Scriptures actually said versus what the Church was teaching was too much for me to put up with.
A Christian Church's leadership often arrogantly pretend to speak for God; but all too often, they are simply regurgitating centuries of man-made tradition. From what I've seen, too many Christian leaders wouldn't know the heart and mind of the God of Creation if God showed up inside their own sanctuaries. Once God actually began teaching, I'm more than sure the Church would throw God out of their buildings, just like the Pharisees did with Jesus.
The truth and irony is, Jesus wasn't even "Christian" (in his beliefs about God), he was quite Jewish in that regard. As such, Jesus would not recognize the Christian Church of today as anything he or his hand-picked Apostles ever started.
If you have ever played the game "Telephone" where one person says something into the ear of another, then that person whispers the same phrase to the next person in line, by the time the last person in line gets the message, the final whispered message is often not even close to what was originally communicated. And writing it down doesn't help the situation at all. If someone doesn't like or misreads what was written, for instance, they change it to what they do like or understand the original message to be.
A boatload of books have been written describing this phenomenon and the Bible has not been immune to it. Sure, Christian leaders say and irrationally believe that somehow "God protected the Bible" from mistranslation and miscommunication, but that is simply and quite provably not the case.
Even as late as the 1970's, the International Bible Society removed the name "Lucifer" from their NIV Bible specifically because "Lucifer" was a man-made mistranslation and misinterpretation! First, "Lucifer" isn't even a proper noun (a name); and second, the passage isn't referring to Satan. In doing so, the IBS just invalidated some 1,500 years of Christian's calling the devil "Lucifer". There are perhaps millions of Christian books that refer to Satan as Lucifer, but now have ZERO Biblical support for doing so. None. This is not just some minor error in translation / transliteration issue. A man-made error was inserted into the Bible and then corrected. If you have to correct something, it's not "inerrant" (without error).
But let's go back even further, to the prophet Jeremiah, where God chastises the then priesthood some 3,000 years ago for "falsely handling" the Law of God with their "lying pens." ( Jeremiah. 8:8) I'm not making this up. I wonder why Church leaders never focus on this passage? Because it utterly destroys their belief that the Bible is without error.
In her groundbreaking book, The God Jesus Knew and Christianity Forgot, lay scholar Serena Evenson lays out what I consider to be the foundation for what I hope will eventually build into the next Reformation of the Christian Church. In many ways, the Church and its teachings are simply a body of inherited traditions from more puritanical centuries, and not really what God is like or all about.
So now that we have a beginning foundation of understanding, let's ask the simple question ...
Is Sex a Sin?
I'm going to just cut to the chase: Most Protestant denominations claim that their Bible is the foundation of their teachings. But no where within the Judeo-Christian Scriptures does God ever call sex "dirty". In fact, within the same Bible Christians are told to believe is the Word of God, we have the Songs of Solomon, a rather "dirty" book that describes in detailed "purple prose", men and women getting together and having sex. But somehow this prose is "holy" while others writing at the same level of detail is considered "sin". Right. Got it. The hypocrisy, I mean.
Oh, wait. Someone will demand that what the Bible is describing within the Songs is between a married couple. Oh really? While that can be implied, and while Solomon was indeed the king and married, he'd married some 700 women and also had an estimated 300 concubines, women with whom he was in a sexual relationship with but that he was not married to. In most of the Songs, the Scripture doesn't always say who is having sex or whether or not they are married.
The point is, nowhere within these Scriptures does God ever explicitly say that sex outside of marriage is a sin. In fact, God never even proscribes marriage. It's there, referenced within the Scriptures, God talks about marriage, but God never says someone has to be married in order to have sex.
This "sex outside of marriage is a sin" dogma is merely a man-made tradition, an INTERPRETATION, a religious custom invented by man; it is not a Law or Commandment of God.
Is being Gay a Sin?
Here is where the Church also get's hypocritical. Torah (the Law) does say that same-sex relations are a sin. Okay, but within the same book, not a few verses earlier, God also says that SHAVING is a sin. Both are punishable by death. According to the Church, no sin is greater than another.
So the question need necessarily be asked: "If being gay is a sin, why doesn't the Church condemn people who shave as well?"
The Church has been confronted with this not so little conundrum for centuries. Their patented excuse is that the Law of God was separated into "Moral" and "Ceremonial" laws. Ceremonial laws were just for the time or for the priesthood or anyone but the New Testament Church. The so-called Moral laws are eternal and meant for everyone.
The only problem with this excuse is that it is, again, just that: a man-made excuse; an INTERPRETATION. NOWHERE within the Torah (the Law) does God delineate "ceremonial" versus "moral" laws. Yes, God does proscribe certain things the priesthood was to do and not do, but those are clearly spelled out as being for the priesthood; and not "shaving" wasn't just for the priests, or the Jewish people—it was meant for everyone.
After reading Jeremiah and how Bible publishers corrected the Bible, what we are left with is: 1) there is simply man-made period culture within the Bible being elevated to the Law of God; 2) Christian leaders are cherry-picking from the Bible what they want to believe and they are simply ignoring what they do not, or what their congregations do not want to believe.
I know that I'm not going to change certain people's minds with a blog post, in fact, I doubt God could change the mind of most Christian leaders. However, it is time that the religious among us realized that God does not hate sex outside of marriage, nor does God hate gay people any more than he hates people who shave.
If Solomon's Songs are any indication, then there is nothing "dirty" or "sinful" about a writing a detailed romance. What is sinful is man inventing traditions that put words into the mouth of God, words that God never, ever said. That, ladies and gentlemen, is called a lie.