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Premarital sex is a sin according to the Bible (1 Corinthians 7:9; Hebrews 13:4). I wonder how queer theology churches such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) understand this topic. Do they believe extramarital sex is a sin?

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    Since same-sex couples can marry in the United States, what makes you think that these churches might not simply believe that marriage is God's will, both for same-sex and different-sex couples?
    – Obie 2.0
    Oct 11 at 22:59
  • Anyway, your interpretation of Corinthians and Hebrews is not unassailable. Many translations give 1 Corinthians 7:9 as something like this: "But if they do not have self-control, they should marry, since it is better to marry than to burn with desire" (CSB). The last word, πυροῦσθαι, is not taken to refer to damnation, but rather to burning with desire. This would seem to present intercourse before marriage as inferior to marriage, but not obviously a sin. Hebrews 13:4 only explicitly mentions adultery, not premarital sex, and the word πόρνους means if anything those who visit prostitutes.
    – Obie 2.0
    Oct 11 at 23:06
  • I am assuming that you meant nonmarital sex, not extramarital sex. Do you actually mean extramarital sex in the sense of sex outside of marriage by someone who is married?
    – Obie 2.0
    Oct 11 at 23:11
  • It would be better to phrase the opening statement as, "Some believe..." It's much like the debate between those believing in infant baptism and those who don't. Different interpretations exist.
    – Jess
    2 days ago
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My understanding of the ELCA branch of the Lutheran church, is that the morality of sexual intimacy being restricted to the rite of marriage is de facto an open question. That is, if it feels good do it, as long as it is by mutual consent. For example, see this site.

Also, Nadia Bolz-Weber was installed on August 20 as the first pastor of public witness in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She was called to the role of pastor of public witness by the ELCA’s Rocky Mountain Synod and remains a leader in good standing. In her interviews she has gone on public record as saying the following about being divorced:

...I get divorced, like the most amicable divorce you can imagine. No lawyers, no acrimony. It was great, right, it was like actually really lovely. But I get together with my boyfriend and start having sex and...it felt like an exfoliation of my whole spirit. I'm like 'This is so good for my brain chemistry, and my body, and my heart. And I’m like...why in the world would the Church say ‘Don’t do this?’ Like I could tell it was what I needed, and it was so good. And then 10 days later, after we get together...I have to go to Europe for 3 1/2 weeks on a book tour, because the U.K and the German edition of my book came out...3 ½ weeks after years of sexlessness and 10 days of having sex, right, my mind was like swirling, I was like ‘What...is happening?!’ (Sourced from here.)

In respect to the two passages mentioned, I suspect they would view those as cultural accommodations with the abiding principle that sexual intimacy is fine if done with mutual consent. They might appeal to 1 Corinthians 7:36 which seems to allow sex with whoever is past the bloom of youth, but with the encouragement of marriage being an added exhortation:

If anyone thinks he is acting inappropriately toward his virgin, if she is past the bloom of youth and it seems necessary, he should do what he wishes; he does not sin. Let them marry...

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    I'm not going to down vote this, because the question asks about ELCA's position, and I can't speak for it being incorrect in that sense. As to whether that position is Godly, however... I would exhort any who call themselves Christian to consider the many, many verses speaking against sexual immorality (not to mention homosexuality) and to consider that it seems clear in context that "do what he wishes" specifically means "get married without waiting"; reading it as "engage in non-marital intercourse" is a lot like asking "did God really say...".
    – Matthew
    2 days ago
  • The libertine position would argue that the passages against not engaging in orgies, etc, are targeted in relationship to idolatrous practices. The Roman historian Titus Livius (lived 64 or 59 BC – 12 or 17 AD), gives a description of how an off shoot of the Bacchus religion engaged in such practices. I believe the Nicholationist (i.e. spouse swapping) movement in the early church would be similar to libertinism. To what extent this movement is gaining traction in the ELCA is subject to much debate. The links provided above are no longer active sites. That might indicate a change is going on.
    – Jess
    2 days ago
  • I don't agree with the libertine position. It's just that I believe in presenting opposing viewpoints as persuasively & as accurately as possible. The early Jewish view of licentiousness (ἀσέλγεια) was that it involved sexual practices of intimacy apart from heterosexual monogamy. I interpret the N.T. as affirming those kosher principles as being valid apart from ceremonial laws. "Not that contraceptives have removed the obviously uncharitable element in fornication I do not myself think we can expect people to recognize it as sin until they have accepted Christianity as a whole." - C.S. Lewis
    – Jess
    2 days ago

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