Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Bible and Sexuality (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6)

With human sexuality at the forefront of the news lately, I thought it might be helpful to revisit what the Bible says about it.

The beginning of the book of Genesis contains the account where God created man and woman, and the first marriage: “But for Adam no suitable helper was found.  So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.  Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The man said,
‘This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.’
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:20-24, NIV)

Jesus affirmed this when discussing marriage and divorce with a group of Pharisees: “’
Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that 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.’” (Matthew 19:4-6, NIV).

From these two accounts, we learn the following about God’s intention for human sexuality:

1. Human sexuality was designed to be expressed between one man and one woman, united together for life.  The Bible contains many stories of the miseries that arose because of deviant sexual acts such as polygamy (Genesis 29-30, 1 Samuel 1:1-8), adultery (2 Samuel 11), prostitution (Judges 11:1-3), rape (Judges 19; 2 Samuel 13), etc.  Sex was designed as a uniting bond between a man and his wife (the Hebrew root words used in Genesis 2:24 are “ish”, meaning “man, male” and “isha”, meaning “woman, female”). 

From this one verse, Genesis 2:24, we learn the order of marriage – an adult man removes himself from his parents and clings to his wife (only his wife, not the wife of another man, which is adultery), his female wife – (“isha”, feminine, but not to another man), and they shall become one flesh (this term can refer to the combining of man and woman as one flesh in their conceived children, which excludes sex with animals).  These restrictions also apply to women, since the verse ends with “and they (plural, both the man and his wife) become one flesh.”

2. Marriage is a lifelong commitment.  Jesus said, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9), “And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:12, NIV). 

3. All sexual acts that fall outside of this definition of marriage are what modern English translations of the Bible call “sexual immorality”.  The Greek root word is “porneia”, sometimes translated as “fornication”. defines fornication as “voluntary sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other”.  These sexual acts include pre-marital sex, incest, rape, pornography, homosexuality, prostitution, adultery, bestiality and orgies.

These are God’s instructions for humanity, regarding sexuality.