Sex & Gender Issues
The Bible provides guidance for our proper understanding of sex and gender and for determining responsible sexual behavior. Sex is God’s good gift, and God intends it for the enrichment and fulfillment of human life. God created two genders, and they are part of God’s good creation. The Bible teaches that the proper place for sexual intercourse is within the covenant of the marriage relationship between a man and a woman.
The Bible provides guidance for our proper understanding of sex and for responsible sexual behavior. The Bible teaches that sex is neither a deity nor a demon. The Bible shows that sex is God’s good gift, and God intends it for the enrichment and fulfillment of human life.
God created two genders, and they are part of God’s good creation.
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, NRSV)
God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. ... (Genesis 1:31, NRSV).
The Bible teaches that the proper place for sexual intercourse is within the covenant of the marriage relationship between a man and a woman.
But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband (1 Corinthians 7:2-3, NRSV).
Within the marriage covenant, there are several purposes of sexual intercourse.
- Sexual intercourse establishes a “one-flesh” union.
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh (Genesis 2:24, NRSV).
He [Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,’ 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’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4-6, NRSV).
- Sexual intercourse provides an intimate means whereby a husband and wife come to know each other physically and emotionally. The Bible even refers to sex as a matter of knowing a spouse.
Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the Lord” (Genesis 4:1, NRSV).
- The procreation of children is another purpose of sexual intercourse.
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28, NRSV).
- One purpose of sexual intercourse is the mutual pleasure of husband and wife.
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
May her breasts satisfy you at all times;
may you be intoxicated always by her love (Proverbs 5:18-19).
The Bible teaches that sexual intercourse is not essential for a person to be fulfilled as a human being. God provides the grace for some to live without sexual intercourse.
Jesus spoke directly to the facts that some people are not capable of sexual intercourse and that God has “appointed” some to live without sexual intercourse.
“There are different reasons why some men cannot marry. Some men were born without the ability to become fathers. Others were made that way later in life by other people. And some men have given up marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. But the person who can marry should accept this teaching about marriage [that sexual immorality is the only acceptable reason for divorce].” (Matthew 19:9-12, NCV).
Jesus noted that there is one acceptable reason for ending a marriage – sexual infidelity.
The Pharisees asked, “Why then did Moses give a command for a man to divorce his wife by giving her divorce papers?” Jesus answered, “Moses allowed you to divorce your wives because you refused to accept God’s teaching, but divorce was not allowed in the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman is guilty of adultery. The only reason for a man to divorce his wife is if his wife has sexual relations with another man” (Matthew 19:7-9, NCV).
The Bible warns against five misuses of sexual behavior.
- Premarital and extramarital sexual intercourse.
… Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. … Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! … Flee sexual immorality. . . (1 Corinthians 6:13, 15, 18a, NKJV).
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3, NIV).
You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14, NRSV).
“No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 18:6, NIV).
“Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion” (Leviticus 18:23, NIV).
- Homosexual Behavior
… God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error (Romans 1:26-27, NRSV).
… Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NIV).
“You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27).
God is willing to forgive sin, including sexual sin.
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9, NRSV).
… Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NIV).
God’s redemptive action in Jesus Christ makes responsible sexual behavior possible. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13, NRSV).
His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4, NRSV).