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Why Gender & Sexuality Matter
Your Gender Matters
As embodied creatures, human beings are either male or female (Gen. 1:26-27); indeed, gender is a fundamental reality of human existence. God does not create a generic human being and then add on gender; rather, he creates a human being either as a male person or as a female person. Human genderedness means that a man is conscious of and knows himself as a man, he relates to other human beings as a man, and as a man he relates to God. Similarly, it means that a woman is conscious of and knows herself as a woman, she relates to other human beings as a woman, and as a woman she relates to God. Try as I might, even urged on by my wife, I cannot see life from her—a woman’s—perspective! Human beings are perspectivally gendered—as designed by God. Accordingly, men and women should be thankful for the gender with which God created them, and any sense of superiority or inferiority because they are male or female is wrong and dangerous. Gender differences should be celebrated, and men and women should learn to enjoy personal, pure relationships with the other gender (1 Tim. 5:1-2).
Sexuality and Marriage
An important aspect of gender, and hence of human embodiment, is sexuality. Indeed, God created human beings as both male and female so that they could fulfill the mandate to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). This universal command means that the majority of people will be married, and the biblical portrait is that marriage is between a man and a woman who commit themselves to living in a monogamous relationship. Sexual intercourse is to be enjoyed within the bounds of this covenantal framework and is designed for several purposes, including pleasure, procreation, a guard against immorality, and unity. Tragically, the fall into sin wreaks havoc with human sexuality, and Scripture presents instructions intended to help people overcome temptation and failure in this area. For example, Paul denounces sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:12-12), urging Christians to flee from it. Elsewhere (1 Thess. 4:3-8) he commands married people to engage in sexual activity in a God-honoring and spouse-respecting manner while avoiding immorality. The close relationships that Christians enjoy with one another should never be allowed to cross the lines of proper morality so that members defraud one another by taking that which does not belong to them.
Sexuality and Singleness
Paul also addresses the reality of singleness (1 Cor. 7:7-9). This state, like that of marriage, is a gift of God (v. 7). Paul’s preference is that people remain single (v. 8), for celibacy offers many advantages (1 Cor. 7:25-40), including avoidance of troubles and anxieties, and promotion of “undivided devotion to the Lord” (v. 35). The advantages of singleness are many, yet only those to whom this gift is given should remain single (v. 9). Those with the gift of celibacy are not asexual beings who lack sexual desire, but they are able to control those urges by channeling them in God-honoring ways. Lacking such self-control, people should pursue getting married so they are not overwhelmed by sexual desire and thus fall into immorality. We are certainly aware of the many troubles Christians and the church encounter in this area: rampant sexual immorality, adultery, homosexuality, sexual abuse, pornography, prostitution, and other problems. Cognizant of these many challenges, we should never lose sight of the fact that human sexuality and sexual intercourse between married couples are wonderful gifts from God for his embodied creatures, gifts that should be celebrated and enjoyed. To be continued.