Regarding your comment "As far as many Christians are concerned I've already broken one of their 'rules', which makes it that much harder to look at the rest of the rules and figure out just what applies."
As far as some christians are concerned – we all break some other christians rules. Drink Tea or Coffee – some dont allow that. Watch TV or Listen to the Radio, some dont allow that. Alcohol – some dont allow that. Paul said we shouldnt marry unless we really have to….yet most aspire to marriage.
I dont say that to trivialise the importance of ethics or morality – as they are extremely important to our sense of well being. The point I want to make is that what is more important is that you make your own sense of morality and ethics and stick to those……
One of the points of the protestant reformation ( Excuse me if Im simplifying a little here) was that all ( Baptised ) christians are part of the holy priesthood and that the Bible is the only source for Divine Knowledge. Churches have shifted on morality many times in the past – and will no doubt do so many times in the future so I would seek what you know to be right within yourself.
Ultimately you need to work out what works for you in terms of morality (expecially sexual morality) but in case its useful here are some thoughts that I have found useful for myself
Even though the old testament is completed and I personally dont use it much for moral lessons – I find the 10 commandments a pretty good start.
Then I work through the commandments of Jesus
If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Mat 5:38-42
Love your enemies
pray for those who persecute you,
Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them.
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Mat 6:1-4
when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.
do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Mat 6:5-8
Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Mat 7:1-5
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! you have neglected justice, mercy and faithfulness. Mat 23:23
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. John 15:12-14
This is my command: Love each other. John 15:17
To me – personally – these are a good basis for a personal morality and these are the more important things to focus on ….
Jesus befriended prostitutes and tax collectors (who were socially looked down on) although he didnt like adultery much – but apart from that – his focus was much more on hypocrisy, not helping the poor and so on. I figure that what he thought was important is probably a pretty good guide to how important they actually are. (He doesnt mention homosexuality once for example – so he didnt see it as much of an issue – and if he didnt – why should I)
As an aside – and Ive grabbed this from another post – from SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) publishes the following list of behaviors of a sexually healthy adult:
* appreciate ones own body
* interact with both genders in respectful and appropriate ways
* affirm one’s own sexual orientation and respect the sexual orientation of others
* express love and intimacy in appropriate ways
* avoid exploitative or manipulative relationships
* exhibit skills that enhance personal relationships
* identify and live according to one’s values
* communicate effectively with family, peers, and partners
* enjoy and express one’s sexuality throughout life
* express one’s sexuality in ways congruent with one’s values
* engage in sexual relationships that are characterized by honesty, equity, and responsibility
* prevent sexual abuse
* avoid contracting or transmitting a sexually transmitted disease
* demonstrate tolerance for people with different sexual values
* avoid behaviors that exhibit prejudice and bigotry
* educate others about sexuality
I hope that may help you think things through a little.