Casting God’s Vision for Sex and Sexuality

Divinely separated, divinely ordained

In today's highly charged political environment, it's sobering to note that Bible-believing Christians seem to be known more by the things we are against than the things we are for. Recent books, including unChristian by David Kinnaman of the Barna Institute, have properly offered the sometimes uncomfortable suggestion that perhaps the ways in which Christians have engaged the culture on important social issues like homosexuality fall short of the Biblical command to represent Jesus in both truth and grace.

And while it's easy to see from Scripture that homosexuality is contrary to God's created intent for human sexuality—and is therefore sinful—all too often we seem to compromise a more effective witness for Christ by primarily focusing on the negative prohibition against the behavior instead of casting God's positive, life-giving and glorious vision for sex and sexuality. Here, it would seem that there is truth in the old adage, "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

As part of our ministry to families, parents and individuals, Focus on the Family has worked for decades to equip the church to respond with truth, courage and grace to the complex and often confusing issue of homosexuality in the lives of our loved ones, friends, neighbors, co-workers and fellow brothers and sisters in the church. It is precisely because we love those who experience same-sex attractions and have great compassion for them that we are motivated to intercede in prayer on their behalf and encourage them in the often difficult journey to steward their temptations according to the Biblical sexual ethic.

A central component to the message of grace, compassion, love and truth is the overarching framework of God's plan for sexuality that is laid out in the opening chapters of the Bible and carried through to the closing chapters of Revelation. Tragically, much of the evangelical church has failed to teach this most basic understanding of who we are as male and female, and flowing from this, how we bear God's image on this planet as individuals and in families.

The Bible teaches, and nature demonstrates, that humans are "sexually dimorphic"; there are clear differences between male and female. On a theological level, both sexes reflect God's image. And on a biological level, both are necessary for reproduction and sustaining life. And from here, we can clearly see God's goodness in setting boundaries—for our own protection—that limit sexual expression to the context of one-man, one-woman marriage that leads to the procreation of new life and the formation of families as the most basic building block of a stable and productive society.See also, for example, Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson and Robert P. George, What is Marriage? (New York: Encounter Books, 2012); Glenn Stanton, Why Marriage Matters, (Colorado Spring: Piñon Press, 1997); and Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage (New York: Broadway Books 2001).

Thus we cast God's positive, healthy and life-affirming vision for the two sexes. This is our starting point and our main focus, not the prohibitions against homosexual behavior in the Bible. In doing so, we more properly frame the wide variety of cultural issues associated with sexuality in the context of Scripture, thereby putting out honey instead of vinegar.

Sex and sexuality: divinely separated, divinely ordained

As Christians, we know from the creation account in Genesis 1 that God creates by "calling forth" by His spoken word ("Let there be…"). We also learn that His creation and ordering of the world involved a series of "separations." These separations include heaven and earth, light and dark, day and night, morning and evening, clouds and seas, and water and dry land. Profoundly, the Hebrew concept of "separation" is rooted in the word kadosh, which—while often rendered as "holy" in English—here carries the sense of being "set apart" (separated) unto the Lord. Thus, in this series of separations, we see a consecrated separation, a holy ordering, which at its essence reflects a "setting apart" unto the Creator God of the Universe.

Out of this paradigm, the creation account further delineates a distinct separateness for plants and then seasons, followed by all manner of living creatures found in the seas, on land and in the air. Finally, in the 26th verse, we see the pinnacle of God's creation, mankind, called forth into being. Specifically, in humans we see not only a separation from the animals, but also a separation of mankind into two sexes—male and female—wholly complementary, yet each uniquely and mysteriously bearing God's image: the imago Dei.  It is in this bearing of God's image as male and female that we humans are called to make visible the invisible Creator God on this planet.

It is out of the diversity and distinctive separateness of male and female that we humans are called to represent God in the proper and ordered stewardship of His good and wonderful creation. In addition, a man and woman come together in complementary unity and be joined as "one flesh" in order to bring forth new life that will also somehow look like God and bear the imago Dei.Moses, Paul and Jesus all teach this truth: Genesis 2:23-24; Matthew 19: 3 – 6; Mark 10: 6-9; Ephesians 5:28-32.

As it was from the beginning, so it is to this very day.

Christian clarity in the midst of confusion

  • Focus on the Family is dedicated to defending the inherent honor, dignity, value and equality of the two sexes as created in God's image, intentionally male and female, with each bringing unique and complementary qualities to sexuality and relationships.
  • Each of the two sexes is a glorious gift from God, and our sexuality is meant to be offered back to Him either in complementary unity with the other in the context of marriage for union, procreation and mutual delight or in celibacy for undivided devotion to Christ.
  • Not only do male and female together reflect the image of God, but their coming together in a marriage relationship to bring forth new life is used in Scripture as the deepest and most intimate analogy of God's relationship with His people. Throughout both Testaments, God and His people are often portrayed as husband and wife or as a groom and bride. The creation account in Genesis lays out this male and female based, matrimonial picture and sets the stage for the final, eternal union of God and His people—of Christ and His bride—described in Revelation.
  • Biological sex matters. In recent years, a revisionist gay and "transgender" theology has been put forth in some theological circles that violates God's clearly articulated and intentional design for the sexes – thereby distorting His image and His plan for sexuality, marriage, family and the just and proper ordering of society.

Standing for truth in love and compassion

  • We affirm God's design for the two sexes, male and female, and sexual expression as between one man and one woman in a marital relationship.
  • We disagree with revisionist gay and "transgender" theology as contradictory to foundational Christian doctrine and the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic found in Scripture.
  • Because homosexuality and "transgenderism" violate God's intentional design for sex and sexuality, we believe that this is a cultural and theological battle that we must engage and win. The modern gay and "transgender" movement is systematically working to dismantle the concept of biological sex, which the Bible teaches and which the world has heretofore largely understood. If these movements succeed, there will be striking consequences for marriage, family and society at large.
  • While God's intent for biological sex and sexuality is being turned upside down, we must remember that those who struggle with same-sex attraction and gender identity issues have lived lives of great pain, confusion and rejection. And just as Jesus went out of his way to reach the outcasts of society, we're called to humbly share His love embodied in the Gospel, to lift them up in prayer and to allow the Holy Spirit to bring about conviction, healing and transformation.
  • We call upon all parents to take a proactive role in their children's development by teaching them about marriage and providing them with a strong, Christian example of marriage and of what it means to be male and female. Children must be taught that just as each individual life has inestimable worth, so too does each sex bring its own unique characteristics of inestimable worth to relationships, family and society. Parents should be involved in their children's education and respond with love and truth when controversial sexual topics are raised.
  • Christians are called to proclaim the truth and beauty of God's design and the redemption of sexual brokenness in our lives and culture through Jesus Christ. Like everyone else, homosexual, bisexual and "transgendered" individuals are desperately in need of God's truth and deserve to know the love and compassion of Christ as shown through His people.

Talking points on God's created intent for the sexes

  • Attempts to change biblical truths to meet with human experiences lead men and women to accept lies. Those with a personal interest in pro-gay and pro-"transgender" theology often twist the Scriptures in ways that defy logic and common sense to support their behavior.
  • The biblical creation account teaches that in the beginning God created man and woman in His image (Genesis 1). Sex distinctions serve as the foundation of marriage, the family, and subsequently, society. As God intended, male and female co-exist in equal and complementary roles in ways that mysteriously reflect who God is and lead to the general betterment of civilization. And even though sex-based roles have changed over time and varied among cultures, an understanding of general and specific distinctions between male and female has remained.
  • The movement promoting the normalization of homosexuality and "transgenderism" radically redefines the clearly articulated vision for the sexes outlined in the Bible. Significantly, the image we humans bear of God as male and female mysteriously and gloriously reflects who God is on this planet.
  • The confusion embodied in the revisionist gay and "transgender" theology is a direct result of living in a fallen world. And as with the temptation of mankind in the Garden of Eden, the enemy of God casts doubt on God's clearly articulated order by acknowledging a well-known truth and then supplementing it with a blatant lie. In this case, the truth about the two sexes is exchanged with the lie that male and female are unimportant, interchangeable and even "fluid" for some individuals.
  • If the homosexual and "transgender" movements succeed in redefining biological sex to include a virtually unlimited number of "genders," then the God-ordained concept of sex—male and female—will be rendered meaningless.
  • Regardless of the sex-based roles that exist or have existed within different societies at any given time, the general and specific distinctions between male and female have always been recognized. More importantly, as Christians, we acknowledge that the general and specific distinctions between male and female have been instituted by God from the beginning.
  • Ironically, the same activists who tell us that "sexual orientation" can't be changed also want us to believe that somehow biological sex can be changed!
  • Gay and "transgender" activists are committed to completely changing the traditional and biblical understanding of one of the most basic and important distinctions in creation, biological sex.
  • Efforts to codify homosexual behavior and "transgenderism" in public policy necessarily and inexorably deconstruct the most basic organizing principle of human life and society—biological sex—and render it meaningless.