Applying Biblical Principles

Vitruvian Man, 1492, Leonardo DaVinci’s sketch of a naked man.Because these are different times, times that have never before been seen on Planet Earth, many well meaning individuals have sought to address the current issues we all face. As I read the thoughts of others who have commented on Solo Sex in the life of a Christian, especially those who are solidly against it, I see one idea over and over again. They keep repeating that we need to “apply Biblical principles” to things not directly addressed in Scripture. And of course we do need to. In a day when knowledge and “witty inventions” are increasing exponentially, so much so that it is almost impossible to keep up with it all, we need all the divine direction we can receive.

Clear Scriptural Commands

But, this idea of applying Biblical principles can be tricky. For example, we don’t need to do it in situations clearly spoken of in Scripture. People quite often “apply Biblical principles” (well, misapply actually) when they want license to circumvent the clear commands of God’s Holy Word they don’t like, especially those about sexual sin. Apply all the principles you want; some things always have been, are, and always will be wrong.

Things as Old as Time

And we don’t need to suddenly start "applying Biblical principles" to figure out what to do about those things that have been in existence since the beginning of time. If God wanted to say something about it, He would have - especially regarding sexual matters. People have always been tempted to commit fornication, and adultery, and to engage in homosexual acts; even bestiality is not new. And the Bible makes clear statements about each one. It is against them, one and all.

If it really
was a concern,
God would definitely
have said something.

Masturbation is one of those things that are as old as human history. But even though we have been doing it ever since Adam got his first erection God’s Word does not forbid it in any way, at any time. It is not even mentioned directly. If it really was a concern, God would definitely have said something a long time ago. He certainly would not have left us to figure it out by ourselves by searching for "principles" to help us with our "problem." After all, it is the most primary and prevalent expression of our sexuality. So, “applying Biblical principles” to prohibit self stimulation is not justified, and it is not right. (Mind you, that doesn’t seem to stop the anti-advocates from doing it.)

Legitimate Applications of Scriptural Principles

But there are times when it is legitimate to apply scriptural principles. After all, the Word of God cannot be expected to name such things as the carriers of 21st century media - television, radio, the internet, and whatever will come next. So in discerning the proper use of these things it is legitimate to apply scriptural principles. The same can be true of ethical issues around things like plastic surgery, corporate greed, and environmental issues, as well as photography, video, computers, and cell phones. These are all relatively new. They were not in existence in Biblical times.

But, I repeat, Solo Sex is definitely not new. Against any and all opposition it has prevailed throughout human history. And in all that time God never spoke against it, not even once. Why? Because there was no need; no need then and no need now.

Legalism is Not Holiness!

As I said, some try to apply Biblical principles in a way that provides a license for sinful behavior. This is bad, and self deluded. But others do so with legalism in their hearts, looking for a way to forbid what God does not condemn. And this is just as much a violation of Christianity as the other.

While the Biblical call to holiness is legitimate and very much needed, the old “Holiness Movement” of the past century believed that the more enjoyment you gave up the more you pleased God and the closer to Him you could become. Many Evangelical and “Spirit-filled” churches come out of this pietistic tradition, and vestiges of this thinking remain in their theology. Those who understand God’s grace and His love for his creation know that this is simply not true.

And if we are legalistic and regard God as a celestial killjoy who gave us sexuality merely to test us we are liable to presume masturbation is wrong and search for principles to justify that position. But, if we see God as a loving Heavenly Father who delights in giving good gifts to His children, we just might be inclined to see Biblical principles as permitting solo sexual pleasures.

Tricky stuff, eh?

Misapplied Principles

So yes, we are living in times far different than Biblical days. And yes, we must apply Biblical principles to the issues of this day. But a misapplied principle can be a very dangerous and destructive thing. We must apply them wisely, accurately, with intelligence, and most of all with sensitivity for whom and what we are as human beings living in the 21st century. Let’s not formulate a theology that heaps unnecessary condemnation upon sincere souls who are simply trying to live as authentic a Christian life as they can in challenging times.



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