24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Sex is a three-letter word that pervades much of our culture. However, it is a culture that has perverted God’s design of it. This document should help us understand what the Scriptures tell us about God’s original design for sex; within marriage as well as our individual sexuality, and also give hope in the face of the brokenness we may have experienced as a result of the perversion of sex in the world.
“In the beginning God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” 1 With the creation of humans, we see God designing people to bear His image. God purposely creates two distinct sexes. This concept is foundational to the understanding of who we are as humans and to understanding our sexuality and gender as a part of our image-bearing identity. We see this further at the end of chapter two of Genesis. The distinct creation of woman was so man and woman could become one flesh, united together as husband and wife.2 Right away, we see God’s design for our sexuality to be expressed and fulfilled strictly within marriage between a man and woman. This is a beautiful thing. As Genesis 2:25 reminds us, they were “both naked and they felt no shame.” God created sex as something to be celebrated and enjoyed within marriage. It is the ratifying act of the marriage covenant before God. It seals the commitment between a husband and wife before their Creator.
Consequences of Sin
It is not until sin enters the world that shame exists (the first thing that Adam and Eve realize after they disobey God is their nakedness; thus, covering themselves with fig leaves 3). God’s design to enjoy each other’s nakedness was corrupted by the fall. Something meant for good is now tainted with shame, a feeling of guilt and the desire to hide. From this point forward, we see Bible history laden with stories of abuse, homosexuality, jealousy, greed, selfishness, immorality, prostitution, rape, orgies, pornography and so on.4 Our ability to experience a good gift has been marred. The consequences of sin are apparent through the confusion of sexual identity, adultery, sexual impurity and abusive relationships, which pervade our society.
Hope in God’s Redemption and Restoration
This would be truly tragic if not for the redemptive nature of God, which leaves us with joyous hope;5 hope that the broken understanding of sexuality can be restored for His glory.6 By faith we can be new creations in Christ! 7 We can now experience the good gift of sex within marriage, understand God’s design for our sexual identity, and find healing from sexual abuse of any kind. 8
Now that we have a greater understanding of the theology of sex, we can see how that plays out in our lives as we seek to have a gospel-centered perspective. As you read through the following ask the Holy Spirit to work in your heart, and allow God’s word to penetrate your very being. May you allow these principles to guide you to live out God’s design for sex.
One question to ask is: are you pursuing holiness with your sexuality or are you seeing how much you can get away and still be “saved”? The Bible does not give us all the do’s and don’ts about sexuality, but it does however give us numerous principles to apply. Scripture does not explicitly lay out whether kissing before marriage is wrong, it does not say anything about masturbation, it does not give guide lines for how should dancing, nor does it tell us if girls should wear a one or two piece bathing suit. But remember, it has principles that can help us check our hearts to see if we are honoring God concerning such things as lust and modesty. Here are a few verses that deal directly with living out God’s design for our sexuality.
- Galatians 5:16-25
- Ephesians 5:3
- 1 Corinthians 6:18-19, 10:13
- Matthew 5:27-30
- 1 Corinthians 6:18
Scripture makes it clear that any sexual relationship outside of marriage between a man and a woman is a violation of God’s design. In Scripture, we see Leviticus 18 and Romans 1 specifically condemn sex between members of the same gender. If one struggles with same sex attraction, we are called to surrender that daily to the Lord, asking for the power of the Holy Spirit to help not give in to the temptation but to live out God’s design for your sexuality.
This is not a sin to be demonized above any other sin. But it is yet another area in which we see the brokenness of our sexuality.
- James 1:13-15
- Genesis 1:27
Healing From Abuse
One of the most devastating consequences of the perversion of sex is when it is manifested in abuse. To experience true healing from abuse is not an overnight event. It often takes time and work to experience freedom, and this freedom is only found through God. Throughout Scripture we see the nature of God as being one who heals not only our sins but also our physical, emotional and mental brokenness.9 We can run to our Lord with our burdens, seeking refuge in Him and allowing Him to do the work in and through us. We can also cling to the Truth that God is a perfectly just and all will have to account their actions before Him.
Psalm 147:3 – God heals our broken hearts.
Psalm 103:3 – God heals our diseases.
Psalm 10 – God hears the cries of the oppressed.
Matthew 11:28-30 – We can run to Jesus with our burdens and find rest.
Matthew 18:5-6 – There is judgment for those who mistreat children.
Philippians 1:6 – We have the promise that when God begins a good work in us, he completes it.
1 Corinthians 13 – We may have to relearn what love it after we have been sent mixed messages through abusive relationships.
Romans 12:1-2 – Renewing our minds is a daily battle to replace the lies with the truth of who we are.
Sex in the Covenant of Marriage
Sex – the way God designed it – is to be celebrated! Sex is God’s gift to us, not only for reproduction but also for unity in marriage through a pleasurable experience. The Song of Solomon is full of erotic imagery and poetry. One look at this book and we will be reminded of the joy that comes from sexual relations with one’s spouse. As mentioned in the theological basis for God’s design, sex is the covenant seal. Thus, every time a husband and wife have sex, it is a reminder of what they committed to each other before God.
Sex, although a very natural thing, can take a lot of work within marriage for many different reasons. This document will not explore all the possible reasons here but may the reminder of God’s design for sex spur you on toward honoring God with your sexuality in marriage as you seek to reflect his image.
Song of Solomon – Sex is to be enjoyed by a husband and wife!
Genesis 2:24; 4:1 – Sex is the covenant seal between a husband and wife.
Genesis 2:24-25 – There is no reason for shame when having sex in marriage.
1 Corinthians 7:1-5 – We are called to serve our spouses sexually in marriage.
Mark 12:31 – Love as we want to be loved.
Ephesians 5:28 – Husbands are called to love their wives as they love their own bodies.
1 Corinthians 13 – Remember what Love is.
God of Redemption
We experience the redemption of God when we put our faith in Jesus; our sins are traded for the righteousness of Christ. However, the fullness of our redemption is being worked out while we are still in this life. As we surrender all areas of our life to God, His spirit continues to make us more like Christ, perfect and holy.10 This includes our sexuality. Our journeys will look different depending on what our pasts look like. Our story may be that we have already had sexual intercourse, oral sex or simply been intimate with partners outside of marriage. It may be that we have committed adultery, struggled with a pornography addiction, or had sexual relations with the same gender. Our story may be one where we have prided ourselves on being so pure that the attempts to be intimate with our spouse brings great shame. No matter what our journey has been, God redeems all. No sin is too big or too small to be covered by the blood of Jesus. Let the truth of God’s Word permeate your mind, heart and actions.
1 John 1:9 – When we confess and repent, we are forgiven and made righteous
Romans 12:1-2 – Transformation takes place through the renewing of our minds, replacing lies with truth.
Colossians 3:5-17 – We are called to put to death our old ways of life.
2 Corinthians 5:17 – We are new creations in Christ!
Sex is good! It is something we can celebrate when experienced between a man and a woman in the context of marriage. Understanding God’s design for sex can better help us to see how the consequences of sin have perverted what sex is. Although our understanding of our sexuality been broken as a result of sin, we do have great hope in Christ. We have the hope of redemption and the ability to experience the wholeness of God’s design through the victory over sin that Christ completed his death and resurrection. Praise the Lord!
- What is your story? Where is the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart? What truth do you need to be reminded of or convicted of concerning God’s design for sexuality?
- What are some of the lies that you belief about sex? And what does the truth of God’s word say about them?
- What are next steps to more fully live out the gospel and experience of the power of our risen Savior?
Song of Solomon 2:16
1 Corinthians 7:3-4
Psalm 147: 3
How does this study reinforce your belief in the gospel?
- Genesis 1:27
- Genesis 2:18
- Genesis 3:7
- Genesis 7:20-27, 12:10-20; 2 Samuel 11
- Job 19:25
- Galatians 3:13
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
- Colossians 1:13-14
- Exodus 15:26b
- Romans 8:29