Background Verses

Background verses for Current Issues.

Verses for discussing Government, Death Penalty

Paul makes the following positive statements about government, even though he was living under the repressive Roman Empire:  1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Romans 13:1-4.  “bear the sword” means the right to use death as a punishment.

The death Penalty

After the flood, God says this to Noah:  6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed;
for in the image of God has God made man. Genesis 9:6.  Since people are made in God’s image, they are so precious that killing them must be punished.

Background verses for Discussing Marriage

The Bible explains the beginning of marriage in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, chapter 2:  But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.   (New International Version)

In the New Testament, the relationship between husband and wife is compared to the relationship between God and people.  Paul writes the following in Ephesians, chapter 5, and notice that he quotes the Genesis 2 passage to back up his teaching:

21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ; 2Wives, to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church– 30for we are members of his body. 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”32This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Background verses for discussing Divorce

Matthew chapter 19:
3Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[1] 5and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[2] ? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
7“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery

1 Corinthians chapter 7 (written by Paul):

10   But to the married I give instructions,  not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband
11   (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
12   But to the rest  I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her.
13   And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.
14   For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are  holy.
15   Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called  us  to peace.
16   For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

Background verses for discussing “sex outside marriage.”

How do we answer those who claim,  “The Bible doesn’t say we can’t do it.”  One of the Ten Commandments says “You shall not commit adultery.”  Since the word  adultery means that married people should not have sex with someone else, they feel that God does not prohibit sex between unmarried people.  But the Bible does not limit its commands about sex only to people who are married.

Consider the experience of Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham, the one who was sold as a slave into Egypt.  This quote is from Geneses chapter 39:

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

Though the woman was married, Joseph was unmarried, and already at that early stage of history God’s people knew that sex outside marriage was against God’s will.

In the New Testament, the Greek language is used.  In the quotes below, the phrase “sexual immorality” does not translate the Greek word for adultery, but translates a different Greek word that means all sex outside of marriage:

1 Corinthians 6:18 says:  “Flee sexual immorality.   All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you?”

It is legitimate to ask what the meaning of that term “sexual immorality” is.  Fortunately, we can find the answer, because this term is used 53 times in the New Testament.  In all cases, it is presented as something God does not want.  A few of these times, the actual action is described, and so we can know what is included in the term.  It is clear that it is not just a command to married people.  Here are some of the places:

1 Corinthians 6:13.  The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!

1 Corinthians 5:1.  1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. 2And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?

1 Thessalonians 4:3.  3It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control his own body[1] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you

Following are Small group discussion questions:

1.  What are some reasons people use to say that sex should be saved for marriage?

2.  What are some reasons people use to say that it is OK to have sex outside of marriage?

3.  Does the Bible have input on this issue?  From the Bible standpoint, is it moral or immoral to have sex outside of marriage?  What is clear and what is unclear about the Bible input?

4.  Are there people who call themselves Christians who also have sex outside of marriage?  What might be their reasons?

5.  What can be done to help our culture become more moral in this area?

Verses about same-sex activity

The Greek word for homosexual activity is  “arsenokoitus” which is the last word in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and the second word in 1 Timothy 1:10. arsen means “male” and “koite” means bed, which is used euphemistically in the New Testament, as it is in English, for intercourse, as in Hebrews 13:4.

Romans 1: 24-28 is in plain language and does not rely on knowing word backgrounds to be clear. Leviticus 18:22 is also in plain language.

“Homo” is the Greek word for “same,” so homosexuality contrasts with heterosexuality, which means intercourse with someone of the opposite sex. To have a fruitful conversation, make sure all in the conversation are using the terms in the same way, that is, whether talking about an act, a personal identification, or a life-style.


Throughout Christian history, far before modern theological revisions, Church teaching was anything but nuanced on abortion. Further, Scripture’s own testimony about the unborn is clear: that they are “knit together” and “known” by God in the womb—that they sometimes “leap for joy,” and that Jesus Christ, God Himself, came to dwell with us as an unborn Baby. Early Christians opposed abortion:

As early as the beginning of the second century, Christian documentscondemned abortion.  The Didache or “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” admonished readers, “you shall not kill a child by abortion nor kill it after it is born.” The first- or second-century Epistle of Barnabas says, “Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born.” The fifth-century Church Father John Chrysostom called abortion “worse than murder,” asking, “Why then do you abuse the gift of God…and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given childbearing unto slaughter?” And Tertullian, who lived in the second century, even described an abortion using a copper instrument strikingly similar to what one might find at a Planned Parenthood—and he condemned such killing in the strongest terms.
(quoted from article by John stone street March 3, 2022:

More Resources

Dr. Ed Seely has written valuable essays on issues.
The LCMS has many reports on issues

Return to Key Topics menu