Immorality Is Selfish Individualism

The lesson draws on the first 20 verses of Ephesians 5 to tell the members of the Jesus movement how to act. In summary, believers in the resurrected Christ should abandon their egocentric lifestyles and turn their attention to “walking in the light of God.” In practical terms, this new enlightened journey is guided by imitating the divine action in human history as revealed in Jesus: to love all of creation without regard to self-interest. 

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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NT Wright: Ephesians

The only thing made clear by scripture, and the countless divergent historical uses of it, is that anything can be considered biblical.

Maybe someday individuals will understand this concept and realize that they cannot manufacture a relationship by reading a book any more than people can get group rates for admission into heaven.

IOW, organized religion has only assertions and promises to support the claim that people might someday be saved en masse.


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Well done Alex. Another example, unfortunately, of the dictum there is a “plain reading of the Bible” which is so obvious that culture, nuance, and thoughtful insight are unnecessary. Hence, women can be secondary, men alone can own property, sex is for child-bearing and questioning the “plain reading” is heresy.


There are a few axes to Paul’s argument, which you have noted: collective v. individual, positive ethic v. negative. Ephesians also focuses on Gentiles who have become Christians and, “no longer live as the Gentiles.” So, there is a tension between the church as a place for all, and the church as a community with moral expectations.

Paul’s challenge is not for the Gentiles to become like the pre-existing believers, but for both to be a new humanity - a challenge for both the Gentiles and the established church. This is still our challenge - not to expect other Christians to be like me but for us both to be imitators of Christ.

I find this a helpful model when considering, eg. claims that homosexuality is inherently immoral. Those who make such claims often forget that immorality is at least as possible for heterosexuals. As a Christian, whether homosexual or heterosexual, the expectation for self-less, committed relationships is the same.

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In my church today - in the teachers preparation - we practically left aside the “sex” theme - not for denial or disavoval, really not ! - But we all came togehter after a week of earning our living - or me, the retired one from pubic service just remebering my past and my are “little businesses” now :

Cheating, bribing, blackmailing, dealing with an insurance, making fake offers, adapting foul bills, a word ruining anothers career - - , questionable witnessing, the little thefts - - -

Verse 11 and 12 : “unfruitful works of darkness - - done - - in secret - -” Well, about some great deals we here now learn by reading the daily news of yesterdays on a trial in the criminal court. The most still and even more are Verse 6 : kept “secret” - -

Verse 16 : Carefully check the market of this time (KJV : redeeming the time) (GNT : EXAGORAZOMENOI )- since we all simpy need this market - the offers, the - - goods - - - - -

When post-exilic Judaism separated itself from the pagan cults, this meant condemning the fertility rituals involving sex as a means of “worship” and influencing the fertility gods. These were holy rites involving holy personnel, male, female, and however we term the other gender. The sacred persona of the female and the sacredness of the sex act were both negatively affected by this act of Othering; and in a system of patriarchy, women and their sexuality were subordinated to the system, while homosexuals become outcasts and sex among them an abomination. This also sets the stage for God creating mankind male and female (Genesis 1,27). Possibly the blame placed on women as temptresses also references this early cultic activity, its attraction to men of Judah, thus abolishing it. This could also reference Jewish women who went back to the pagan cult because of infertility. The context may also address honoring the religion of father and mother, and not returning to the pagan cult for help.

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