Personhood, Gender, Marriage, and Divine Order

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It cannot be denied that sexuality is an expression of personhood.[1]  God designed humanity to exist in one of two genders. The male and female genders are complimentary physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Wayne Grudem summarized the implications on human sexuality from God’s creation of humanity in his image when he wrote: “According to God’s original design, human sexual conduct was to occur within the context of marriage between one man and one woman….Differentiation of the human race into two complementary sexes (“male and female”) is the first fact mentioned in connection with being ‘in the image of God.’”[2] Tom Schreiner also described Genesis 1-2 as “the indispensable framework for interpreting the NT teaching on homosexuality” and he added that “God made man in his own image, but the image of God is reflected in two distinct genders, male and female.”[3]

God designed this complimentary male and female existence. John MacArthur wrote, “Gender is deeply embedded in human identity and is established at conception….At birth, all recognize that gender exists….Gender is defined permanently at conception and revealed at birth.”[4] Although correct, MacArthur’s comments will need to be updated because the gender revolution has moved past even this once firm boundary published in 2017. The creation of two genders is important because it shows that God designed the two genders to compliment one another in emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects to fulfill the divine design and purpose of creation. Furthermore, as MacArthur stated, “Both God’s creation of gender and the biological reality of gender show that sexuality is objective. It is not subjective, as if it could be determined by the whims of individuals and societies.”[5] God created two genders because the two genders are necessary to for God’s design and purpose of creation.

To rebel against the two gender design or the design of the two genders is to rebel against God’s original created order. However, this is exactly Matthew Vines’ argument. Vines would have Bible students to reinterpret the way the main six passages about homosexuality are viewed, but he would also have Bible students to reinterpret the way the entire story of Scripture is understood. Dr. Mohler noted that Vines,  “argues that same-sex sexuality can be part of the goodness of God’s original creation and that when God declared that it is not good for man to be alone, the answer to man’s isolation could be a sexual relationship with someone of either sex.”[6]

Dr. Mohler also recognized that this is a “massive misrepresentation of Genesis 1 and 2 — a misinterpretation with virtually unlimited theological consequences.”[7] This rebellion against God’s created order and the massive ramifications were also acknowledged by Schreiner.  He wrote, “same sex relations invert what God has intended so that human beings opt for same sex intercourse instead of engaging in sexual intercourse with the opposite sex.”[8] Even Judith and Jack Balswick, who argue for the compassionate acceptance of homosexuality among Christians, recognized that God’s original design was for a heterosexual union of marriage.[9] Sexuality, by God’s design, is an essential aspect of the human experience which is essential for life.[10]

Jesus rooted appropriate marriage relationships in the creation of man and woman. When Jesus was asked about appropriate marriage relationships (Matt. 19:4-6), he answered the seemingly difficult question by going back to God’s original design manifested at creation. That original design was a “male and female” creation (Gen. 1:26-27).[11] That sexuality is a part of God’s design for the human experience cannot be denied. The question is how that sexuality is to be enjoyed. How has God designed humanity to take part in sexual relationships? This question can only be answered by exegesis of the relevant texts and by reflection on the true nature of God revealed in the texts.

That original design in creation included a woman as a fitting helper for a man (Gen. 2:18).[12] That original design also stipulated that a member of the male gender should “leave his father and his mother” (a genetic male and a genetic female) in order to “hold fast to his wife” (a member of the female gender) so that the two could become “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). This union of man and woman as “one flesh” must be related to the creation of humanity as the imago Dei. The two gendered union is what immediately follows God’s pronouncement that he will make mankind “in his own image” and “in the image of God.”  Since the divinely ordered relationship includes two genders, a homosexual relationship would promote disorder and difficulties in both  the individual and the relationship.

But is homosexual behavior acceptable and is homosexual behavior at the core of God’s design of individuals? Edser described homosexual life as free from Biblical constraint and at “the very core of who they are.”[13] This is a remarkable admission by Edser when one tries to fit this concept into the Christian system. Homosexuality, rather than Christ, is presented as “the very core of who they are.” This revealing presupposition demonstrates a proclivity to allow homosexual practices to shape their theological inquiry and formation. If Christ is not at the core of who we are, then surely the deceitful human heart will continue to function as an idol factory shaping the worldview, theology, and life of those who do not hold Christ at the very core of their existence.

Individuals who struggle with same-sex attraction must recognize their need to shape their hearts, attitudes, and actions to fit the moral demands re-established by the resurrection of Christ. The saints at Corinth understood that the Gospel demanded change in their lives. Paul, inspired by the Spirit of God, wrote to the Corinthians and condemned “males who have sex with males” (1 Cor. 6:8). Paul praised those for the changes which occurred when they were converted to Christ. After the clear statement that some of the Corinthians struggled with same-sex attraction and practices, Paul said, “and some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). Denny Burk concluded: “They can be sanctified when they are shorn of the elements that otherwise make them sinful when sexual possibility and intention are removed.”[14] Saved people continue to struggle with continued sanctification, but that struggle does not permit believers to shape God’s Word to fit their practices. Ongoing sanctification demands the believer shapes his or her beliefs and practices to greater and greater degrees of reflection of Christ and his glory as his image bearers.

            [1] Several scholars in several fields have attempted to study the origin of homosexual tendencies. These studies have focused on biological or genetic causes and psychological causes. However, this is a theological argument which seeks to provide theological and ontological foundations for homosexual tendencies. Since this is a theological argument, it must be addressed theologically.

            [2]Wayne Grudem, Christian Ethics, 845.

            [3] Thomas R. Schreiner, “A New Testament Perspective on Homosexuality,” Themelios 31, no. 3 (2006): 62.

              [4]John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth. (Grand Rapids: Crossway, 2017): 426-427.

              [5] Ibid., 427.

            [6] Albert Mohler, God and the Gay Christian?: Kindle Locations 68-71.

            [7] Albert Mohler, God and the Gay Christian?: Kindle Locations 68-71.

            [8] Thomas R. Schreiner, “A New Testament Perspective on Homosexuality,” 66.

            [9] Judith K. Balswick and Jack O. Balswick, Authentic Human Sexuality: An Integrated Christian Approach, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2008): 135.

            [10] Paul Tripp described how sexuality is a fundamental aspect of humanity. “So sex is not an a-religious thing. Sex is deeply spiritual. Your relationship to your own sexuality and the sexuality of others always reveals your heart. Your sexual life is always an expression of what you truly worship. Sex is deeply religious. In sex you are either self-consciously submitting to God or setting yourself up as God. In other words, sex is never simply a horizontal thing. Sex always connects you to the God who created your body, gave you eyes to see and a heart that desires, and tells you how you are to steward this aspect of your personhood.” Paul David Tripp. Sex in a Broken World (Grand Rapids: Crossway, 2018): Kindle Locations 558-562.

            [11] The “religious” or “spiritual” nature of sexual relationships is presented in the Song of Solomon. This love poem describes the love between two individuals but also has been consistently interpreted throughout history as a description of God’s love for his people.

 

            [12] Dr. Schreiner wrote, “The physical differentiation of the man and the woman, and yet the amazing complementarity of such for bearing children indicates that marriage consists of the union of one woman and one man. The creation narrative, then, functions as the paradigm for males and females, and how they are to relate to one another sexually. The two different genders signify that marriage and sexual relations are restricted to the opposite sex, and that same sex relations are contrary to the created order.” Thomas R. Schreiner, “A New Testament Perspective on Homosexuality,” 62.

            [13] Edser, Stuart. Being Gay, Being Christian: You Can Be Both, 124.

            [14] Denny Burk. “Is Homosexual Orientation Sinful?” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society: 58/1 (2015): 114.

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