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Why Sex is a Big Deal: Part 1

Biblical Sexuality (Part 1): Why Sex is a Big Deal

In case you didn’t get it from listening to Andrew’s sermon on Sunday, sex is a big deal!

It’s at the heart of every major cultural battle we’re seeing take place in America; the same-sex marriage and homosexuality issue, human trafficking issues, contraceptives/health care issues, the abortion issue, feminism, etc. The list could go on into our pervasive exposure to sex in media, movies, social media, and more.

In the first post of this 2-part blog on biblical sexuality, I want to get to the bottom of why sex is a big deal, especially if you’re a Christian. In the second, I want to get at what biblical sexuality pushes us to do as Christians.

Does it get deep and difficult? Yes. But some issues are worth wading around in for a while, so stick with me.

 

Jesus on Sex

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus ties our view of sex to our heart. Sexual lust is adultery of the heart. So ultimately, our view of sex is a heart-issue. That’s important, because it shows us that sex is profound. It’s not just our actions, but our desires and motivations that matter, because sex is more than just a physical act; it involves all of our faculties as humans.

So, I would argue that sex isn’t “just another issue” we face in our culture today, but it’s one of the most important issues we face as Christians, because it’s directly tied to the meaning of life itself. That’s a big statement, I know; but Jesus takes us there, and he gets it from Genesis. So let’s get into it.

 

Sex and God’s Image (Genesis 1:26-28)

According to Genesis 1:26-28, God created humanity “in his image.” He created us to be like him, and to bear his image to the world around us. That means we’re created to be stewards of God’s image to God’s creation. It’s why we exist, and it gives God glory.

But, stewardship of God’s image isn’t an individual endeavor. Notice the language used in the passage. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (1:27). God created both male and female to bear his image.

This is further explained in Genesis 2 when we catch a more detailed glimpse of why God made both genders.[1] Genesis 2:18 tells us that God saw man in need (“It’s not good for man to be alone”). It is implicit, then, that the man lacked something.

What did he lack? Was he lonely? Did he lack companionship? I doubt it. He had God, after all.

The text is driving at something further. Man lacked what was necessary to completely bear God’s image. He couldn’t be who God wanted him to be—he couldn’t fulfill his purpose for living—without a companion to help.

[1] In case you aren’t aware, Chapter 1 explains the creation story like we’re in an airplane looking at the earth from 30,000 feet. We can see the big picture, but not really the details. Chapter 2 zooms in to more like 300 feet. We can start to grasp the details of how things unfolded in God’s creation of the human race.

 

The Importance of Male-Female Relationships

This is why the male-female relationship is so important to Christians. Because together, both male and female, we bear God’s image to the world around us, and we are able to fulfill the mandate to “be fruitful and to multiply,” and to steward the earth and everything in it (Gen. 1:28).

This, we’re told by the author of Genesis (in 2:24), is why marriage exists: It’s a specific depiction of—and protective institution for—bearing God’s image. Incidentally, this text also implies that sex (joining together and uniting in one flesh) is to be within that marital structure only. Sex and marriage go hand-in-hand throughout the rest of the Bible.

So, this is a big reason why we uphold the “traditional” view of marriage between one man and one woman. Homosexual sex, polygamy, and other variants, even if in a committed relationship, cannot properly image God. Human sexuality is integrally tied to God’s own character. And the male-female sexual relationship in marriage was exclusively designed for that.

This also flies in the face of the new idea in our culture that genders are valueless. Gender-neutrality isn’t a celebration of human equality; it’s a sad viewpoint that fails to celebrate a unified diversity within humankind. Both genders are equally valuable in imaging God, but both contribute different characteristics to that end.

 

Sex and the Church

Later, in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, he references Genesis 2:24 as the foundational teaching on marriage (Eph. 5:31). He goes on to teach that marriage ultimately shows us how the church (universal) is the fullest depiction of when women and men come together to bear God’s image, because marriage is a specific illustration of how Christ relates to his people.

This, for example, is how those who never marry can still take part in bearing God’s image. Just by being a part of Christ’s body, we bear his image. It’s important to remember, though, that they do take part in bearing His image as either a male or female, even within the context of the church.

But on the flip side, this is also why I would consider marriages outside of the Christian context as being less purposeful than those within. Though they follow the natural order of God’s creation, they miss out on the unity Christ brings to the marriage relationship. As Andrew said in the sermon, “Without a good biblical theology, you can’t understand sex and marriage.”

The meaning of life is to be like God, and to enjoy an eternal relationship with Creation and Creator, for God’s glory. Therefore, the why of creation is intimately tied to being sexual. In other words, humans were created for the purpose of bearing God’s image, but to bear it together as two distinct sexes (genders) in relationship with one another.

That’s why sex is such a big deal. It’s connected to the very nature of what it means to be a human. Our view on sex can either give God glory, or try to strip it from him.

Carter Mundy is the Outreach Director at Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center. Part of his role there is to teach biblical sexuality to students and parents. He is also a community group leader at Mercy Hill, and is currently in process to become an elder.