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Clarity about Sexuality

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Staff Member
There’s a beautiful, yet simply written poem called Not Understood by Thomas Bracken that reminds me of what it means to long to be understood. Bracken writes:

Not understood. We move along asunder;
Our paths grow wider as the seasons creep
Along the years; we marvel and we wonder
Why life is life? and then we fall asleep,
Not understood

Not understood. How many breasts are aching
For lack of sympathy! Ah! day by day,
How many cheerless, lonely hearts are breaking!
How many noble spirits pass away
Not understood.

Oh, God! that men would see a little clearer,
Or judge less harshly where they cannot see;
O God! that men would draw a littler nearer
To one another, they’d be nearer Thee,
And understood.

When I think of the emotions and confusion that swirl around sexuality and gender today, I think of that poem. Sexuality is a powerful part of the human experience. It not only pertains to our physical pleasure but also to our emotional well-being. It has a mysterious gravitational tug on our identities. That’s why anger and misunderstanding are such potent factors that keep real conversations from happening. Understanding doesn’t require agreement, but it does require an empathy that can bridge the gulfs between us.

The Bible doesn’t shy away from declaring sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman to be sinful. And yet it is all too common in today’s culture to turn sex into something common and cheap. Each of us—whether same-sex attracted or not, whether conflicted about his or her gender or completely sure of it—has veered from our originally intended purpose. All of us are fractured in every way, including but not limited to our sexuality. We’re broken in different ways, but we are broken together. Together we need restoration. When Christians think of others as more broken than themselves, they flirt with an unbalanced view of biblical sexuality and the sinfulness of humanity.

As my friend Christopher Yuan often says, we are not to strive for heterosexuality, but “holy sexuality.” The Bible isn’t arbitrarily prohibiting certain sexual behavior. Instead, it’s protecting sexuality’s sacredness. There’s a reason why the law recognizes the difference between physical assault and sexual assault. There is something sacredly fragile about sexuality. And that which is fragile and sacred needs boundaries to protect it. Fundamentally, God wants to protect the sacredness of our sexuality from becoming common.

The reason is simple: Each of us is made in God’s image. In 1 Corinthians 6:9–11, Paul writes to fellow believers to tell them that having found their true identity in Christ, they have been washed, sanctified, and justified from their past. Their honor has been restored. The boundaries God has placed on sexuality are there to protect its sacredness and, in turn, our sacredness.

Because a human being is the sacred product of sex, the sexual process by which that person is made is also sacred. But there is still further depth to the sublimity of biblical sexuality. Sex is also sacred because it affords us the joyous privilege of reflecting something beautiful about God Himself. God, as the ground of all being, is also the grounding of all knowledge. Human sexuality is about knowing another person (Gen. 4:1–2). Animal sex is based on mere procreative instinct. But human sex is about knowledge. Indeed, the capacity for knowledge is part of what it means to bear God’s true image. And the creative aspect, to produce another life with God’s help, shows the sacred splendor of what sexuality was meant to be.

The bonds of marriage between one man and one woman also frame the beautiful portrait of unity in diversity. From our chromosomal and hormonal differences to our diverse tendencies and temperaments, men and women are gloriously different. The best explanation of why we—the effect—crave relationships and delight in the unified diversity of relationships is that God—our Cause—exists as an eternally unified diversity in the community of the Trinity.

God has chosen marriage between a man and a woman to foreshadow the ultimate reconciliation of humanity to Himself. God made us for covenant relationship with Him because He is a triune being in relationship. Unity in diversity forms the bookends of eternity. It exists in the uncaused Creator of all things and is the state in which we will exist forever. Biblical sexuality and marriage reflect that beauty. We are given the honor of reflecting an aspect of the divine splendor. That’s why Paul says that same-sex behavior “dishonors” us—it takes us away from what God bestows (Rom. 1:26). Our sanctity is restored to us when we strive to reflect the divine once again (1 Cor. 6:11). God wants that beauty and sacredness for each of us—whether we are dealing with infidelity, emotional betrayals, addictions, or same-sex attractions. Romantic and sexual desires don’t define us. Nor does sexual attraction. It is God who ultimately defines us.

  • How does the truth demand something of us? Why would the truth of Christianity demand that we yield our desires and desired identities to God’s providence and sovereignty?
  • Why is it a mistake to bifurcate sexuality into the supposedly unbroken (heterosexual) and the broken (everyone else)?
  • If our sole purpose is to transmit DNA into the next generation, as atheists like Richard Dawkins assert, then how could naturalism ever validate same-sex attractions?
  • What the Bible says about same-sex desires and behavior is well understood. But in your own words, how would you explain why the Bible says what it does?
  • The Bible affirms that we are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). Why is this claim unique to Christianity and how does the sacredness of humanity infuse sexuality with sacredness as well?
  • Contemporary culture tells us that we are our desires—whatever they may be—and that if we don’t fulfill them, we won’t be fully ourselves. But two of the most influential people in history, Jesus and the apostle Paul, were single. Examine their lives. Do either of them seem socially or emotionally broken as a result of their singleness?
Bible Passages
  • Leviticus 18:22; 20:13
  • Romans 1:24–27
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9–11
  • Genesis 4:1–2
  • Genesis 2:24
  • Revelation 19:7–9
  • Mark 2:19–20
  • 2 Corinthians 11:2
  • Revelation 21:2–3
Devotional by Abdu Murray @ RZIM