Human sexuality, including all its physical, emotional, and spiritual intricacies, was God’s invention. He gave sexuality to His human creations as a gift with two functions: to perpetuate the human race and to create an intimate bond between husband and wife. The right use of sexuality leads us to understand intimacy with God in greater ways; the wrong use of it destroys intimacy with God and substitutes sexuality in His place. In order to understand the biblical view of sexuality, we will examine its multi-faceted nature one aspect at a time.
The first mention of sexuality in the Bible is in the Garden of Eden. God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth” (Genesis 1:27–28), a command that necessitates sex. Shortly after that, we read that Adam “knew his wife Eve and she conceived” (Genesis 4:1). That use of the word knew is a more complete translation of the concept than more modern phrases such as “had sexual relations with.” It suggests much more than a physical act. When Adam “knew” his wife, the first couple was experiencing sexuality the way God had gifted it to them. Sex was to be a unifying action they entered into together that was to be unlike any other connection. It was specially designed by their Creator to be the single most intimate action two humans could experience. Within covenant marriage, sexual union is a binding force that draws the couple together as “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:6). They discover and share with each other in ways that are exclusive to the couple and creates a sacred unity.
Whatever God creates, Satan perverts. It did not take long for fallen humanity to distort and destroy God’s sacred gift of sexuality. By the time God gave the Law to the Israelites, He had to forbid all sorts of sexual perversions that were accepted by the cultures at the time. God had already designated one man for one woman since creation but now had to clarify and forbid all manner of perversions people had invented. And as the population of the earth increased, God tightened the ethical boundaries about marrying close relatives. Leviticus 18 and 19 detail many of those forbidden practices, such as sex with a close family member, adultery, and homosexuality.
Although polygamy was tolerated during Old Testament times, partially due to the lack of options for single women and the need for men to have many sons for survival of the family line, the practice was fairly non-existent by New Testament times. In fact, Jesus reiterated God’s initial purpose for marriage when asked about divorce. In Matthew 19:3–6 Jesus said, “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Being the husband of only one wife was a requirement for church leadership (1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6).
A significant percentage of the world’s problems stems directly or indirectly from our abuse of God’s gift of sexuality. Imagine the world we would have if every human being followed God’s standards for sexuality. Abortions, divorce, STD’s, AIDS, pornography, sex trafficking, fatherless children, single mothers, rape, abandoned babies, and pedophilia would all cease or be greatly reduced. The ripple effects of those changes alone would completely transform every continent, every nation, and every culture. Economies would rebound, disease would plummet, and mental hospitals would have empty beds.
God knows what He is talking about when He includes boundaries with His gifts. Electricity is an incredible discovery and if used correctly benefits all mankind. Used wrongly, however, electricity can maim or kill. So it is with the power of human sexuality. When we seek to live within the healthy boundaries God instituted for our well-being, sexuality is once again a good gift.