May 30, 2012

Sacred Sex, Celibacy and the New Testament Part 2: Adulterous Lust

"Why does my wife call me an adulterer? Sure, during the salsa dance, I asked her hot sister to sneak away with me to make love, but I struck out. I never seduced my sister-in-law."

Jesus Christ warned about adultery in the heart:

[27] "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' [28] But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. [29] If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. [30] And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:27–5:30)
I heard many people misinterpret the above verses from Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. The faulty interpreters suggest that Christ condemned all sexual temptation when he warned about lustful looks at beautiful women. But the same Gospel that warns against lustful looks also says in Matthew 4:1–11 that Christ resisted temptation. Likewise, mere thoughts and feelings of temptations are not sinful. In the case of lustful looks, those looks go beyond temptation in the sight of sexually appealing eye candy.

The warning against lustful looks goes back to the tenth commandment in Exodus 20:17. That commandment warns men that they shall not covet their neighbor's house, wife, or anything that belongs to their neighbor. And the word "covet" refers to an excessive desire.

For example, in a modern day scenario, a man named John might see that his next-door neighbors own a stunning house and the wife looks stunning while she dives into her pool or applies sunscreen. This might instigate John to feel temptation. He might feel tempted to takeover his neighbors' house and make love to the wife. At this point, John has not coveted the house or wife. And if he refuses to harbor the temptation while following the Lord, then he avoids the sin of coveting.

But if John decides to feed these temptations, then he begins excessive desires for forbidden possessions. He might begin to make plans. He sees no way to steal the house, but he plans to seduce the wife. When opportunity arises, he tries to make the wife feel special. After developing a rapport with her, he subtly makes suggestive glances while trying to seduce her. He tries to pace the seduction over a few days or even a few months, but nonetheless, John commits adultery in his heart.

Regardless of how far John goes with his adulterous plans, God calls him to repentance and restoration in the name of Christ.

Copyright © 2012 James Edward Goetz

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

May 28, 2012

Sacred Sex, Celibacy and the New Testament Part 1: Matthew 19:3–12

Jesus Christ taught about divorce, marriage, and celibacy in Matthew 19:3–12. Jewish leaders called Pharisees challenged Christ about divorce laws. Christ responded with a powerful teaching about marriage and sex:

[3] Some Pharisees came to him [Jesus], and to test him they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?" [4] He answered, "Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' [5] and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? [6] So they are no longer two, but one flesh." Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.'' [7] They said to him, "Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?" [8] He said to them, "It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but at the beginning it was not so. [9] And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery."

[10] His disciples said to him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry." [11] But he said to them, "Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. [12] For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can." (Matthew 19:3–12)
During the days of Christ, Jews debated about the two rabbinical views of divorce taught in the school of Hillel and the school of Shammai. Hillel taught that a Jewish husband could divorce his wife for any reason and Shammai taught a husband could divorce his wife only in the case of a sexually immorality. Likewise, in the case of divorce, Christ sided with the school of Shammai.

Christ also used this opportunity to teach about marriage. He referred to Genesis 1:27 and said that God made humans both male and female. Then he referred to Genesis 2:24 and said a man should leave his parents and join his wife to become one flesh, which refers to marriage and sexual union between a husband and wife. Based on these precedences, Christ proclaimed that nobody should divorce.

The Pharisees then asked why Moses commanded to give certificates of divorce. Christ replied that the biblical law about certificates of divorce was written for the hard-hearted Israelites. That biblical law was an accommodation apart from the biblical model taught in Genesis 1—2. Christ then clarified that nobody should divorce his spouse except for a severe violation such as adultery. Christ also taught that remarriage after divorce for a non-severe violation was adultery. For example, a no-fault divorce is invalid in the eyes of God while God requires such a divorcee to remain faithful to his spouse.

This strictness alarmed Christ's disciples. They suggested to Christ that abstinence from marriage was better than the risks of a disappointing marriage. Christ then taught about the option of deliberate lifelong celibacy while referring to three types of eunuchs: (1) males born as eunuchs, (2) males involuntarily made into eunuchs by castration, and (3) males choosing the life of a eunuch for God's kingdom.

The term "eunuch" in ancient Jewish tradition referred to (1) pagan males castrated in childhood to later to serve in harems without sexual temptation, (2) males with presumed congenital infertility, and (3) various governmental officials who could enjoy marriage.1 Christ first referred to males born as eunuchs: that is, males with presumed congenital infertility. He second referred to castrated males. He third figuratively referred to normal males deliberately choosing lifelong celibacy to fully serve in God's kingdom.

Christ's discussion of eunuchs focused on normal males who choose lifelong celibacy to fully serve in God's kingdom. Given the ancient context that Jews prohibited castration,2 Christ never suggested the concept of literal self-castration. Instead, he referred to Jews who choose lifelong celibacy to fully serve God.3

Christ taught paradoxes about marriage. First, divorce is impermissible because God made the husband and wife one that should never separate, but extreme violations make divorce permissible. Second, God commands humans to leave their parents and marry, but lifelong celibacy is also an option from God. What is more, Christ chose lifelong celibacy.
1. "Eunuch," accessed May 28, 2012,
2. "Castration," accessed May 28, 2012,
3. For example, the Jewish sect called the Essenes avoided marriage as much as possible. See "Essenes," accessed May 28, 2012,

Copyright © 2012 James Edward Goetz

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

May 5, 2012

The Impossibility of Infinitely Elapsed Planck Times

Observation indicates that a flat universe with an incomplete past (1) begins, (2) endlessly expands, and (3) forever develops a finite age. Nothing ever binds the continuous aging of a flat universe while the universe endlessly develops a finite age. Despite an infinite number of Planck time coordinates independent of phenomena, an infinite number of Planck times will never elapse in a single lineage. Likewise, an infinite number of Planck times have never elapsed in a single lineage. Time and the universe could not have been past eternal.

Imagining time travel to any past event in a world with an eternal past also helps to explain the impossibility of infinitely elapsed time. For example, if a time traveler in a world with an eternal past could survive a two-minute journey in a wormhole to any past event, then the time traveler could never possibly travel an infinite number of Planck times but only possibly travel to time coordinates with real values. The apparent unlimited time travel ability would never cover an infinite number of Planck times.

The observations of limits for the elapse of time in time travel and the aging of a flat universe exclude the possibility of all cosmology models with a past infinite number of Planck times. For example, Mithani and Vilenkin [1] recently refuted three categories of models with an eternal past: (1) past eternal inflation, (2) cyclic evolution, and (3) emergence from eternal static seed. Apart from reasons supported by Mithani and Vilenkin, those models also fail on the grounds that infinitely elapsed time is impossible.

Susskind [2] responded to Mithani and Vilenkin by arguing that the universe is past eternal. He supported his argument by using an analogy of a semi-infinite one-dimensional landscape with an incomplete past and an infinite population size of people. However, Susskind's semi-infinite landscape falsely analogizes a universe/multiverse with an incomplete past except for a multiverse with at least one node that simultaneously branches into an infinite number of branches, which Susskind does not model. Apart from the respective exception, an indefinitely branching multiverse with an incomplete past will never have a landscape with a semi-infinite size. Susskind's assumption of a semi-infinite landscape is invalid.

In sum, any scientific model of cosmology must have an incomplete past: that is, a beginning. And all apparent merits in cosmology models that include an infinite elapse of time are futile unless the merits are transferable to models with an incomplete past.

1. A. Mithani and A. Vilenkin, "Did the universe have a beginning?," arXiv:1204.4658 [hep-th]
2. Leonard Susskind, "Was there a beginning?," arXiv:1204.5385 [hep-th].

Copyright © 2012 James Edward Goetz